By Cian Fahey
Over the past few years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been very fortunate with their late round draft picks and undrafted free agent pickups. Players like Antonio Brown, Ramon Foster, Doug Legurksy, Weslye Saunders and Ryan Mundy have all been success stories for Kevin Colbert.
However for every Mundy there is a Mike Humpal, every Brown a Ra\’shon Harris and every Foster an A.Q. Shipley.
The truth is that the Steelers are no different from any other team in that they hit and miss in every area of the draft. Maybe their success rate is better than most but it is still by no means a certain science. Just look at the 2008 draft as just two, Mundy and Rashard Mendenhall, of the seven selections remain with the roster.
While I, like all of you, hope that each of the team\’s late round draft picks prove to be productive players, I don\’t expect any of them to be. In fact, I must encourage myself to curb my expectations on the earlier draft picks also because they are no certainties.
This off-season I have read a lot of talk about two players. Two running-backs.
Despite the fact that neither of these backs had played a single regular season game, in fact one of them hasn\’t even played in a preseason game, both players carried a lot of hype during this off-season and it appeared like a stigma to put any perspective on either player.
Chad Spann was a running back who had a lot of people talking about him this off-season as a potential player to make the roster. Spann was expected by some to be a part of the committee that would replace Mendenhall this season.
A few weeks ago, Spann was released.
Spann isn\’t really the issue here however. The real issue resides around a running back the Steelers drafted in the seventh round last year. Seen as a replacement for Mewelde Moore, Baron Batch has a lot of people talking this off-season.
What is all that talk based on?
It\’s difficult to really understand. It appears that he gained a lot of respect from the Steelers\’ fanbase because of a single block on James Harrison.
One single block.
Not just one single block. One single block in training camp. Training camp, not a even a pre-season. Not even a scrimmage. One single block, in a drill, in training camp.
After that block, Batch tore his ACL and was ruled out for the season. Considering the situation, Batch is more likely to be cut during training camp than even make the roster for the regular season. He is recovering from a serious knee injury after coming out of college in the seventh round. Not the first round, the seventh round.
Batch is a good football player. Everyone in the NFL is. However the idea that he is a sure thing to be a game changer for the Steelers, or even a role player, is raising the bar too high.
I know very little about Batch the football player. You can slate me for that all you like but you know very little about him as well. Don\’t tell me that he is a star, he hasn\’t played a preseason game yet. You haven\’t seen him on the field in a professional environment therefore you have no clue how he will react.
While I know very little about Batch the football player, I have gained some idea of his personality from his active blog/twitter account. Don\’t get me wrong, I don\’t claim to know him at all, but Batch has provided some insight recently into how ridiculous the notion of him even being “famous” is.
I suspect I will receive a lot of criticism for being down on Batch, some will call me a hater, I\’m not down on Batch at all. I\’m just not expecting him to do anything. As with every other Steelers player in his position, I have hope for him.
Hope, but no expectation. Expectation comes with what you\’ve done on the field. Hope comes with talent and potential sometimes even reputation.
One block in training camp isn\’t worthy of a reputation.
Just like with Tim Tebow, Batch is being unfairly treated by those expecting him to be LaDainian Tomlinson from day one. It\’s not his fault, it\’s the media/audience following him that are construing the facts.
You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf