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Thread: Heyward selection a special moment

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    Default Heyward selection a special moment

    Heyward selection in NFL Draft a special moment
    Friday, April 29, 2011
    By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Steelers waited nearly 3 1/2 hours to make their first-round pick Thursday night in New York. When their turn finally came at No. 31, they barely needed 3 1/2 seconds to take Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward.

    I'm thinking they like the big fella.

    "This is a special moment for this organization," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said. "He's one of those special players I mentioned the other day. He has impeccable character, work habits and toughness. It's hard to find a hole with this guy. We got a guy we really coveted."

    It's a pick that makes a lot of sense. Aaron Smith is 36 and coming off three major injuries in four seasons. Brett Keisel will be 33 in September, Casey Hampton 34. It's time to get younger on the defensive line.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Heyward -- son of former Pitt star Craig "Ironhead" Heyward-- was very productive at Ohio State. He should be a starter by the 2012 season.[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Who wouldn't be happy with that?

    Other than Maurkice Pouncey, of course.

    The widespread speculation that had the Steelers trading up to get Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey was crazy. He went at No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins. It would have cost way too much -- perhaps second-, third- and even fourth-round draft choices -- to move up that high. Giving up that much for a guard just isn't worth it. I'm not sure it's worth it for any player other than a franchise quarterback.

    Look at what the Atlanta Falcons had to give to the Cleveland Browns to move up to sixth from 27th to take Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones: A second- and fourth-round pick this year and a first- and fourth-round pick in 2012. That's insane. For a wide receiver? Congratulations to the Browns for pulling off that heist. They had the best first day of the draft.

    Even though the Steelers were a Super Bowl team last season, they have too many other needs to give up a draft bank for Mike Pouncey.

    That isn't to say the selection of Pouncey wouldn't have been a sexy pick and made for a wonderful story. Couldn't you just imagine him and his twin brother, Maurkice, holding down two-fifths of the Steelers' line for the next 10-12 years? What an upgrade Mike Pouncey would have been over Steelers guards Ramon Foster and Chris Kemoeatu.

    But the pressure on Pouncey would have been enormous. Steelers fans would have expected him to be just as good as Maurkice, who became the team's best lineman virtually from the first day of training camp and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Would that have been fair to Mike?

    Know this about the kid: He looked absolutely thrilled when the Dolphins called him. Why not? He was picked higher than his brother, who went to the Steelers with the 18th pick. He also gets to stay home in Florida. The family is from Lakeland. Maurkice Pouncey, who was with his brother at the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, put on a Dolphins ballcap to support his twin and almost looked jealous.


    I said almost.

    I'm happy for Mike Pouncey.

    I'm also happy the Steelers kept their second-, third- and fourth-round picks.

    Those needs, remember?

    It's nice to think the Steelers will get a cornerback in the second or third round tonight. They had better get a cornerback. They will need to pick up two if they can't sign Ike Taylor as a free agent. It's frightening to think the team will go into next season with Bryant McFadden and William Gay as its starters.

    Colbert told everyone before the draft that he wasn't as down on his corners as others were. "We got to the Super Bowl with those guys." That's true, but the Steelers' cornerbacks struggled big time against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his superb group of receivers. They're going to struggle against the top quarterbacks in the NFL. The team needs to re-sign Taylor and upgrade through the draft.

    It's also nice to think the Steelers will get an offensive lineman, preferably a tackle. Who knows how healthy Willie Colon and Max Starks are going to be next season? Or even if Colon will be on the team because of his uncertain status as a free agent? Can you count on Flozell Adams, 36 next month, who saved the team in 2010 after Colon's Achilles tendon injury? Do you want to have to count on Jonathan Scott again next season?

    Day 1 of the 2011 NFL draft is in the books. The Steelers are off to a really nice start. But they still have much to work to do. It's nice that they have the picks to do it.
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Heyward selection a special moment

    Steelers' top pick ecstatic about return to Pittsburgh
    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Addressing their defensive line and not cornerback with their first-round pick Thursday night, the Steelers selected Ohio State's Cameron Heyward with the 31st selection of the 2011 NFL Draft.

    The 6-foot-5, 294-pound defensive end is the son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, who starred as a running back at Pitt before playing 11 seasons in the NFL. Like his father, Heyward relishes physical play.

    [IMGL][/IMGL]That attribute, along with his relentless style and ability to use his hands and shed blocks, prompted the Steelers to make Heyward the second defensive end they have taken with their first-round pick in the past three years. They selected Ziggy Hood at No. 32 out of Missouri in 2009.

    "To be somewhere where you want to be is an unbelievable feeling," said Heyward, a Pittsburgh native who still has family in the area. "I always had a Terrible Towel."

    Director of operations Kevin Colbert said Heyward was among 20 players the Steelers designated as having the potential to be special in the NFL. Heyward was the last of a record 12 defensive linemen taken in the first round.

    "This is a special moment for this organization," Colbert said. "We got a guy we really wanted and still have all of our other picks."

    The Steelers will make two picks tonight — one each in the second and third rounds.

    The Steelers have more of an immediate need at cornerback, especially since Ike Taylor is an unrestricted free agent who could hit the open market as soon as next week. Despite that, the Steelers passed on Texas' Aaron Williams to take Heyward and get younger on the defensive line. Starters Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel are 35 and 32, and the former has suffered season-ending injuries three of the past four years.

    Heyward, who played four seasons at Ohio State, had 94 tackles and 10 sacks in his final two years. He had six tackles and a sack in Ohio State's 31-26 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl in January. Heyward excelled despite playing much of the game with a serious arm injury.

    "I think he's capable of doing it all," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "This is an impeccable young man."

    Heyward tore ligaments in his elbow in the second quarter against the Razorbacks, and he underwent reconstructive surgery Jan. 12. Limited at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Heyward worked out for teams at Ohio State's Pro Day on April 6, and he checked out medically with the Steelers.

    "If minicamp started (today), I'd be there," Heyward said.

    Heyward lived in Monroeville for a couple of years growing up, and both of his parents went to Pitt. His grandparents live in Highland Park, and he has several aunts and uncles in the area as well.

    When asked what kind of player the Steelers are getting, he said, "A team-first kind of player that's very accountable."
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Heyward selection a special moment

    I am very happy with the pick. A very physical and talented kid who fills a need.
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