Tebow in the Steel City? Makes Sense to Me

To all the haters out there, I have to do it. I think I’ve found a way Tim Tebow sneaks into the first round.

Roger Goodell laid down perhaps the most compelling suspension of his short tenure as NFL commissioner Wednesday when he banned Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first six games of 2010.

The Steelers anticipated the move and signed veteran Byron Leftwich earlier in the week as an insurance policy.

Rumors are now swirling that Roethlisberger may be on the trading block if the right offer comes their way.

I don’t know who’d be willing to trade for the guy, considering he’s an elite level talent, which would warrant giving up a heck of a lot to get him, when he is only eligible for 10 games next season.

So I offer up a solution to the Steelers’ predicament.

What quarterback in this year’s draft is big, with somewhat unorthodox mechanics but an uncanny knack for winning just like Big Ben?

Yes, it is Tebow.

And he comes with a bonus!

Unlike Roethlisberger who, between motorcycle escapades, strip club extravaganzas and sports bar bathroom run-ins, has found his way into trouble much too frequently, Tebow comes with a No Baggage Guaranteed plan.

There’s no need to give the Tebow character lecture here; we all know what he brings to the table besides a strong left arm.

But seriously, ever since last year, I’ve drawn the on-field comparisons between Tebow and Roethlisberger.

Both weigh more than 230 lbs., though Tebow’s build is a bit more defined.

Both make a career by making throws on the run – neither could ever disguise for Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but that’s not what makes them tick.

And lastly – most importantly – no matter how ugly it may look at times, they both win games at an alarming rate.

Tebow’s two national titles in college were a sign of his leadership (he was an integral part of the 2007 title even if he didn’t start, they wouldn’t have won it without him).

Roethlisberger already owns two Super Bowl rings in his career.

I’ve said all along that Tebow belongs with a franchise that plays destructive defense, relies on a power running game and short to mid-level passes. In other words, he belongs in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers own the 18th pick in the draft, which is dangerously high to take Tebow.

If they could somehow trade Roethlisberger and either move down in the first round or get a late first-rounder in return, it would provide the perfect opportunity to take Tebow.

Even if they don’t make a deal involving the suspended star, they can still move around some picks to take Tebow at a more appropriate place in the draft.

They just better be careful, because something tells me some team that covets Tebow is going to freak out that he could go off the board before it’s their turn to take him, and trade up to get him earlier than anticipated.

If Pittsburgh does snatch Tebow up, he could learn quite a bit from the veteran Roethlisberger.

Come to think of it, Roethlisberger could learn a lot about character from Tebow.

Taking the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida would also send a message from Steelers brass that they truly are serious about a cleaner image than what Roethlisberger has given them in recent months.

The Steelers do have more pressing needs than quarterback, obviously. Leftwich would do a fine job in the first six games of the year; Pittsburgh would likely be no worse than 3-3 with Big Ben returned.

But the dynamic of Roethlisberger and Tebow in Pittsburgh might just be what the Steelers need at the moment.


Finding this year's surefire top 5 pick

Which draft slot is best?

In less than 24 hours, war rooms across the country will be jam packed with the anointed “greatest minds” in all of football, conglomerating to choose a player they think will alter the fortunes of their respective franchise.

More specifically, management in St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Washington and Kansas City are in the prime slots to take a player that will rejuvenate such moribund enterprises as themselves.

Or are they?

By breaking down the top five picks from the past 10 drafts, not every top pick was created equally.

I’m on a mission to find out the perfect top five draft pick.

Every year, starting the day after the draft concludes, people begin looking for who will be next year’s Golden Boy franchise quarterback.

It’s quarterbacks that draw ESPN such high ratings to watch Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson and Mel Kiper, among others, talk about 40-yard dash times and “upside” for eight hours straight.

Some of those top-five quarterbacks include Joey Harrington, David Carr, Alex Smith and JaMarcus Russell.

Others include Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer.

The reality of the matter is that 12 quarterbacks have been taken in the top five since 2000. Of those 12, seven have never made a pro bowl, and none have ever been named all-pro.

Only one has even played in a Super Bowl – Eli Manning, who won Super Bowl XLII with the Giants.

Most quarterbacks that get drafted highly typically sit on the bench at least half of their rookie season, if not the entire first year.

Coaches are scared to throw their $50 million investment into the fire too early and never see them blossom into stars. This thinking may not be all too far off.

Of the seven number one overall picks that were quarterbacks, only three have ever made a pro bowl, and just four are still starters in the league today.

The three that no longer start, all started games their rookie season. JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, and Michael Vick were forced to save their franchises in a hurry.

To be fair, Vick had quite a bit of early success, taking the Falcons to the playoffs twice before he turned into a jailbird.

Other teams may wish to take cornerstone tackle to protect a young quarterback.

All in all, it is a bit of a safer bet. Of the eight players taken in the top five since 2000, four have played in a Pro Bowl, and two have been named all-pro.

A couple picks have been home runs. Jake Long has made the Pro Bowl both years in the league, as has Joe Thomas in his three seasons. Chris Samuels made four Pro Bowls in his ten-year career.

The second overall pick in the draft is usually a good place to take non-skill players. In fact, no quarterback has gone number two since Donovan McNabb in 1999.

Only one player taken second overall has paid serious dividends, and that was Julius Peppers in 2002.

Other names under the “2nd overall pick” category include Leonard Davis, Charles Rogers, Robert Gallery, and Reggie Bush (let’s face it- he had megastar written all over him, and it hasn’t happened).

If I had one piece of advice for general managers, it would be to stay the hell away from the fourth pick. That selection has produced zero all-pros, no rookie of the years, and only two pro bowl appearances since 2000.

The only good pick in that spot is Philip Rivers, who was traded from New York for Eli Manning on draft day.

Some (less than) notable names taken fourth include Peter Warrick, Justin Smith, Mike Williams, Dewayne Robertson and Cedric Benson.

Couple that trend with the fact that the traditionally pathetic drafters, the Washington Redskins, have that pick, and it could spell bad news for the nation’s capital.

The fifth pick has also been unforgiving, save for one future hall-of-famer.

LaDanian Tomlinson accounts for four of the six all-pro selections from fifth picks, and five of the nine all-pro selections.

Carnell Williams did earn Rookie of the Year honors with Tampa Bay in 2006.

Jamal Lewis also had a banner year when he topped the 2,000-yard mark in 2003.

Two of the highest-rated players in this year’s draft are defensive tackles. Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy are expected to be both taken within the first four picks at worst.

Here are the names of the other three defensive tackles to go top-five in the last decade. Gerard Warren, Dewayne Robertson and Glenn Dorsey.

Dorsey is still young, but clearly using such a high pick on this position does not pay dividends.

Understandably, this draft class is relatively weak at the top, and there are not too many other options with the top picks other than Suh and McCoy, but this is a warning that neither may turn out as great as they were cracked up to be.

The money pick is lucky number three. Only three players have been taken third and not earned some sort of honors in their careers thus far.

Names in that group of third picks include Samuels, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards, Vince Young, Joe Thomas and Matt Ryan.

Players picked first, second, fourth or fifth have accumulated 31 Pro Bowl appearances in their careers. The third pick has provided 17 appearances by itself in the past decade.

Though Johnson and Fitzgerald were both home runs at no. 3, taking wideouts this high is a risky business. The other receivers to go top five include Peter Warrick, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams among others.

Reflecting on all this list of 50 players, more than half of them struggled to live up to anywhere near expectations as pros.

The safest pick seems to be the third spot, and of all the positions traditionally selected early, offensive linemen have had the most success.

Using this logic, the best player to come out of this draft would be if the Buccaneers took Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung with the third pick.

How likely is this? Not very, considering most everyone believes the Rams will take Sam Bradford, then the Lions will take Suh, leaving the Bucs to take McCoy.

However, a little look back at recent history could give the Bucs some greater insight on how to get a much greater return on a franchise-altering decision.


Red Sox Spirit Lives On

So much for being defensive-minded, eh Red Sox?

Take your pick from any of the adjectives you’d like that people used to describe the 2010 Red Sox. New-look, reinvented, refocused – whatever.

Runs weren’t hard to come by in the Sox’s 9-7 win over the Yankees on opening night Sunday.

After C.C. Sabathia gave up two runs through 5 1/3 innings, Boston hit its stride, torching the Yankee bullpen for seven runs to take the game.

This game had just about everything a season opener could handle.

Curtis Granderson, the centerpiece of New York’s off-season acquisitions, homered in his first at-bat in the second inning. The Yankees held a commanding lead, and the grumbles of a much weaker Boston offense than usual began to circumvent Fenway Park.

Beginning in the bottom of the fifth inning, Boston proved that while the make-up might be different, they are still the same old Sox.

In typical Sox fashion, Boston erased a four-run deficit over two innings to even the score at five runs apiece. If that was not enough, the Yankees responded with two runs in the seventh inning.

*Pause – during the seventh-inning stretch, Boston had a “very special” guest sing God Bless America. Steven Tyler, the lead singer for Aerosmith, wailed the song like someone was holding an electric leash around his crotch.

In what will surely soon be YouTube famous, Tyler clearly glanced off-camera for every next line of the song. All the while, he was quite affectionate with what I can only hope is his 18-year-old (at least) daughter, who I wouldn’t argue about if Maxim gave her a call.

In recap, so far we have: Red Sox comeback turned choke, followed by a screeching, drunken rendition of God Bless America with a rather tasty brunette just off-center in the frame.

Back to the game…

Boston’s favorite son and 2007 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia made chop suey of a Chan Ho Park change-up, blasting a 2-run shot over the Green Monster to tie the game.

The runner he drove in was Marco Scutaro, who has assumed the shortstop duties for the Sox in 2010, in spite of the fact the position seems to come with less job security than teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Joe Girardi then inserted Damaso Marte on the mound, which led to one wild pitch and another passed ball. That allowed Boston’s Michelin Man, Kevin Youkilis, to advance to home easily.

An inning after the debacle that was Tyler’s act, whoever schedules the musicians at Fenway got it right when Neil Diamond himself led Sox Nation in singing Sweet Caroline.

With the comeback in full swing and the moist crowd swaying away to the old Sox classic, it felt good to be a Sox fan again.

Another Pedroia RBI in the eighth inning should have sealed the deal.

The only thing left was Jonathan Papelbon to close the game with a save. Sox fans had not forgotten his destructive, three-run catastrophe in game three of the ALDS last year against the Angels.

It was the first time he ever allowed a run in the postseason, and Sox fans needed to see a rejuvenated Papelbon to know everything was okay.

Save for a Jorge Posada single to right field, and Paplebon made quick work of the Yanks in the ninth.

Everything just fit. The night was electric, the mood was spectacular. Everybody in red and white went home happy.

Whoever thought this Red Sox team was different, for better or for worse, think again.

Some of the players may change, but Red Sox spirit never will.

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