With Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall being suspended on Tuesday by the team for conduct detrimental to the team the talk about the Steelers 2008 draft class immediately jumped up as a topic of discussion right after it.
The writing has been on the wall for sometime now that Mendenhall, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, will not be back in Pittsburgh next year as he will go to the highest bidder this upcoming offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Safety Ryan Mundy, the other remaining player from the 2008 draft class, will also be an unrestricted free agent as well, but of course teams will not be beating down his door to sign him.
With the above recap out of the way, the 2013 Steelers final 53 man roster will obviously not include any of the players that were drafted in 2008. While it is easy to Monday morning quarterback the selection of Mendenhall in the first round five years later, that is not the pick that everyone should be focused in on.
Mendenhall is not above criticism for his recent refusal to not show up on Sunday after learning he would not for the game and I don\’t think that you will find many that will defend him for it. He also did not plan on tearing up his knee in the final regular season game last year or his Achilles strain that he suffered in just his second game back this season.
His two fumbles in the loss to the Cleveland Browns earlier this season is what landed him at the bottom of the depth chart and he has nobody to blame but himself for that. The fumble in the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers will forever be etched in the minds of Steeler fans as well.
Mendenhall, however, was not an awful draft pick and several that are bitching now about him were jumping with joy when he fell to the Steelers at the 23rd overall selection. His rookie season of course was ruined by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, but his next three saw him post nearly 3,900 total yards of offense and 30 touchdowns.
When you consider what the grade on Mendenhall was in that draft, and what was left on the board at that time, (please spare the Chris Johnson argument as you know good and well that he was never going to be drafted by the Steelers in the first round), Mendenhall was the right choice.
After drafting Mendenhall in the first round there was no way the Steelers were going to draft Ravens running back Ray Rice in the second, nor were they going to draft Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles in the third.
The selections of Limas Sweed, Bruce Davis and Tony Hills in rounds two through four were flat out bust and those are the picks that should disturb you the most when criticizing that draft class. Sweed and Davis are now out of the league for good, while Hills is hanging on by a thread in Indianapolis. Those three players have combined to play in 42 games with 1 start between them.
Am I a Mendenhall apologist? Absolutely not as he is not on my top 100 list of all-time favorite Steelers. His actions this past Sunday made him an even bigger butthole in my eyes. I am just looking at the entire situation without blinders on the way most don\’t. That being said, the screen door can\’t him in the ass fast enough now, but that door will not slam on him until after the season is over.
There is certainly spilled milk to cry over from the selections made by the Steelers in that 2008 draft, but Mendenhall is drop of that milk that was drinkable for three seasons.