Can you imagine Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller in a Detroit Lions uniform? In his latest NFL Draft do-over segment, that’s exactly what NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks wants you to do.
If you are not familiar with this series, Brooks has been going back over past drafts and re-doing them with hindsight. The Steelers of course drafted Miller with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Virginia, but in Brooks recent do-over he has the Lions picking him 10th overall instead of wide receiver Mike Williams.
Heading into the 2005 draft, Miller had recently had hernia surgery and arthroscopic knee surgery and those procedures resulted in him not being able to perform at the combine. Despite those medical red flags at the time, however, Miller was easily still the top-rated tight end in the draft class and it wasn’t even close.
After giving away Miller to the Lions, Brooks goes on to give tackle Michael Roos to the Steelers at the 30th overall spot. Roos, who wound up being drafted in the second round with the 41st overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, has missed only one regular season game in his nine years in the league. In 2008, he was a Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro selection.
In 2005, however, the Steelers still had Marvel Smith as their staring left tackle, but he did miss time late in the season due to an injury. Max Starks was the starting right tackle that year and Trai Essex was asked to fill in for Smith at left tackle when he was sidelined. Of course had Roos been drafted by the Steelers, Essex likely wouldn’t have been drafted in the third round that year, so there you go.
Had the Steelers not landed Miller in the first round, they would have had to still address the position in the draft at some point, because any combination of Jerame Tuman, Walter Rasby, Matt Kranchick, Matt Cushing and Marco Battaglia wasn’t likely to be enough. Yes, all five of those tight ends were under contract with the Steelers heading into the 2005 draft.
So, who were the other tight ends that were drafted in 2005? Alex Smith, Kevin Everett, Jerome Collins, Bo Scaife, Joel Dreessen, Billy Bajema and Andy Stokes. Yikes.
Miller of course went on to catch 39 passes for 459 yards and six touchdowns during his rookie season and he finished second on the team in receptions behind Hines Ward. His backups that season, Tuman and Kranchick, combined to catch four passes for 63 yards.
It’s funny how these things work out. The Steelers of course went on to win the Super Bowl that season and Miller is still producing after all of these years. I bet Miller is happy with the way things turned out. Those medical red flags ended up being a blessing for him and the Steelers.