The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: What draft pick were you sure was a great move but the player turned out not to be what you expected?
As promised, here is the flipside to yesterday’s question. I do want to try to exclude injuries as a factor here. You may be convinced that Senquez Golson was going to be great, but he never got a chance to show it one way or the other, for example. Guys who never got a chance or whose careers were derailed by injuries, like Sean Spence, I’d rather not knock here.
I do think it’s important to keep track of our false positives when it comes to evaluating talent. Not only does it help to keep us humble, it’s also an important self-evaluation mechanism. You can go back and figure out what you got wrong and why—or at least try to. Sometimes there’s no good reason for why a great-looking prospect fails.
I’m assuming a popular answer is going to be Curtis Brown, a six-foot cornerback out of Texas the Steelers took in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was definitely a guy who had all the tools to play well in the league, but he never put it all together.
I thought Thaddeus Gibson from the year before could have been a mid-round surprise. It didn’t help that they released him midway during his rookie season because they had an injury need at another position and didn’t want to put Aaron Smith on injured reserve, but he never did much anywhere else either.
Shamarko Thomas is another one, and his first preseason seemed to confirm my perception of him. He seemed to play with great instincts, even during his rookie year when he was on the field, but the next year, and then in 2015 when he was supposed to take over for Troy Polamalu, it was as though he lost that.
I didn’t exactly think he was going to be a Pro Bowler, but I certainly had higher aspirations for Dri Archer than he delivered. His college tape looked like he was being playing in fast forward while everybody else was at natural speed. But he always went down at first contact. I thought at least he could develop into an explosive return man, but not even that happened. Maybe they ended things too prematurely when they released him to sign Jacoby Jones, but I doubt he would have progressed much.