A long time ago the late great Daniel Webster fought against the military draft but there is a present day “draft” that is desired by most young men; a draft that young men dream about, prepare for and pray to be included in almost from birth. Athletes do not try to avoid this draft. As a matter of fact, their parents, guardians or anyone else associated with them insist on promoting their skills with zeal and passion so that they may be included in it.


This is an army that recruits and drafts its soldiers with promises of fame and fortune. You don’t have to worry about mass protests, flag burnings or multiple arrests in opposition to it. In fact when an individual is called there are celebrations commemorating this life changing event. The draft that I am referring to is the 2012 NFL draft.

Draft day is fast approaching and more than a few franchises are faced with budgetary concerns such as salary cap woes. Many accountants and GM’s of the affected franchises will be burning the midnight oil in their kitchens with the burners on their Jenn-Air stoves turned up sky high as they “cook the books.”

However, the team that directly concerns me is the Pittsburgh Steelers. What will the men of steel do to get everybody on their current roster paid as well as picking a bushel or two of fresh loot from the “money tree” for the incoming new kid who will be moving onto the first round draft pick block? Check out the possible number one draft choices for the Black and Gold as well as their division foes based on their needs at the position and the projected availability of the athletes.

Position #24 Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, Memphis

Why, well because with the retirement of both Chris Hoke and Aaron Smith. NT Casey Hampton suffered a torn ACL and is also due to be paid $4.9 “big ones” in 2012. Considering the team’s “cap” troubles, “Big Snack” may be history even before mini-camp. Choosing a D-lineman is a no, no, no…brainer. I have continued to say this for the last five years; a successful draft for the Black and Gold will be; first round O-line or D-line, Second round O-line or D-line, Third round O-line or D-line, and Fourth round O-line or D-line.

Position #29; Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Konz, is being labeled by some as the Ravens center of the future. H’mm, having never played a down, I cannot see how any incoming player first round pick or not can be instantly hailed as the savior, especially in the bloodthirsty AFC North but hey, only time will tell.

Position #4 (Excluding trade) Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB Alabama

The so-called face of the Browns, Peyton Hillis may have shot his load last season claiming that he had the “Blue Flu” on several occasions and being truly dinged up a few other times. Richardson was coached by Nick Saban and if the young running back rolls into the “Brownies” training camp smokin, Hillis whose persona has shown that he will be the “ultimate” malcontent if he is forced to ride the bench may just well be the odd man out.

Position #21 Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

Marvin Lewis must have seen something in Miller and the “Bungles” running back Cedric Benson might just well be “Benson the Butler” on the sidelines. Oh, most of you who were born after 1970 probably have no idea of the meaning of the previous sentence.

Unlike Daniel Webster, the young men of today almost plead to be chosen for battle by the NFL in order to be liberated from the shackles of poverty not realizing that there is still a macabre sort of indentured servitude attached to pro sports that will never allow the umbilical cord to be severed from the reality of “paid to play.” The NFL will take young men away from their families to fight in the trenches of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, New York, Dallas and other points of battle in strange and unfamiliar places.

Boys and girls there will be no great military generals gleaned from the NFL 2012 performance draft. There will be no awe inspiring stories told around the campfire about brave individuals storming the strongholds of opponents amidst a blaze of bullets, rockets and enemy fire. The only enemy positions that the NFL “soldiers” will be storming will be the end zones of the opposing team. The only cannons being fired and fireworks being displayed during the conflict will be after a touchdown is scored or a field goal is kicked. The enemy troops will be seated in the rear with painted faces, beer spilling and spit flying.

Can’t you hear this year’s draftees singing their induction song after they receive the ultimate phone call informing them that they have been selected? “I’m in the NFL now; I found my fat cash cow. I just can’t wait, you don’t have to hate. I’m in the NFL now.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

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