Its been a while since the Watch Tower’s lights have shined, but not for lack of subjects to focus on as the Steelers 2014 off season has been one of the busiest on record.
Undaunted by the delay the Watch Tower begins by focusing its lights on the Steelers 2014 Draft
The Steelers Shazier Surprise, For Some….
Heading into the 2014 NFL Draft everyone in Steelers Nation knew that the Steelers 1st and 2nd round picks would be cornerback and wide receiver, in some order. Most people thought they had the players down pat.
- With several of those players still on the board, the Steelers shocked everyone by picking Ryan Shazier with the 15th pick.
That’s everyone except Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell, who tweeted this shortly before the draft:
Maybe my mind’s getting as soft as my body from all this desk work, but Ryan Shazier is really growing on me for pick 15 #Steelers #buckILB.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) May 6, 2014
As Wexell himself pointed out via Twitter, in his pre-draft story, Wexell stuck with the conventional wisdom and predicted the Steelers would draft Michgan cornerback Darqueze Dennard. However, in that brief Twitter exchange Wexell confided that a 4 minute (his tweet said “month” but we’ll assume that was a typo) led to the Ryan Shazier tweet.
- In other words, Wexell did what a good journalist does, and modified his forecast based on new reporting, reporting which clearly came from a knowledgeable source.
Did another credentialed or even non-credentialed member of the Steelers press corps publicly predict the Steelers picking Shazier?
- The Watch Tower suspects not, but stakes no claim to certainty.
But Jim Wexell did and for that the Watch Tower gives him “Bragging Rights.”
BTSC Bags Bragging Rights for 2014 Mock Done in 2013
And speaking of bragging rights, what about those mock drafts? No, we’re not taking about the 144 cubed mock drafts published in the months before the 2014, we’re talking about one published in the shadow of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Normally the Watch Tower would mock (pun intended) the idea of mocking the coming year’s draft mere days after the current draft has ended. But in this case Big Jay’s from Behind the Steel Curtain (full disclosure I also write for BTSC) deserves special merit.
Last year, on the day after the 2013 NFL Draft Big Jay Mocked the 2014 draft, and he did a pretty good job.
As BTSC editor Neal Coolong observed:
He called 11 first round picks, including top pick, Jadeveon Clowney going to Oakland. He also picked Johnny Manziel to Cleveland (at No. 8 overall) and had the Steelers picking an inside linebacker – C.J. Mosley, who went two picks after the Steelers took Ryan Shazier.
Jay also entertained the idea Stephon Tuitt going to the Steelers, although Tuitt was still considered an automatic first round pick. Calling 11 of 32 first round picks more than a year in advance is nothing to sneeze at and Big Jay also bags “Bragging Rights.”
Bouchette Offers Insight into Steelers Draft Room Decision Making
Just how do the Steelers decide on their draft picks? It’s a question that Steelers fans want to know apparently, and one that fans regularly pose to those closest to the story, the credentialed journalists.
- During the era of the Super Steelers (and the decade or so of mediocrity that followed it) the Steelers had a collaborative process, but there was no question as to who had the final word, and that was Chuck Noll.
Covering the first draft of the post-Noll era, Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola mentioned that the process would be different ,as there would no longer be anyone with the final word on draft day, indicating that the Steelers would reach decisions more by consensus.
But what does that really mean? Well, Ed Bouchette lifted the lid:
Who has final say on @Steelers draft pick? It’s long been dbated. Here, Bill Cowher explains how it works http://t.co/S9gQZbSjYZ
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) May 7, 2014
To get his story, Bouchette went right to the source, questioning former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. The Watch Tower does not like the steal the thunder from fellow writers, and encourages you to click on the link (and then scroll around) to read Bouchette’s story yourself.
But one of the more interesting things about Bouchette’s reporting is solid communication is critical to the success of the process he outlines. And with that in mind, it is easy to see how the Steelers draft misfires began in earnest as the relationship between Bill Cowher and Tom Donahoe deteriorated.
Cole Coins a Term…
Who wouldn’t like to invent a phrase and have it enter the vernacular? Yours truly attempted to do just that upon my arrival in Argentina with “Chau for now” (Spanglish for “bye for now.”) It didn’t work.
My friend and colleague Ivan Cole at Behind the Steel Curtain appears to have had a little more luck. Way back on October 8th 2011, Cole had this to say:
The Lake Effect.
Of all the criticisms and anxieties surrounding the Steelers at this point, has anyone noticed that the defensive secondary really hasn’t been part of that discussion?…
….Spin it any way you want, the fact remains that these guys are leading the league in pass defense. William Gay is starting and no one is calling for his head. Keenan Lewis is doing well. The two of them are doing so well that at least for the time being it appears as Brian McFadden has lost his job. A tip of the hat to Carnell Lake anyone?
Describing Carnell Lake’s impact on the players he tutors as the “Lake Effect” began on that day. And while it might not have spread like wildfire, the term is catching on. Back in August of 2013, Mark Kaboly of the Tribune Review wrote about Steelers DB’s benefiting from the “Lake Effect.”
Shortly after the draft ESPN’s Scott Brown did the same referencing Lake’s influence on both Antwon Blake, Brice McCain and newly drafted Shaquille Richardson.
Now that’s not quite the same as “Lake Effect” becoming the catch phrase on everyone’s lips in Steelers Nation, but it is catching on, but it says here it started with Ivan Cole. Kudos to you Cole.