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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Drafting answers for our readers

Is it just me or is it drafty in here? The readers ask, and we answer. Today s e-mailed queries build a bridge from the just-completed NFL draft to the upcoming NBA draft.

From Fred: I get a kick when you and other so-called experts grade teams on their [NFL] draft picks within 24 hours. It takes years to know for sure. So, instead of guessing, try some hindsight. What was the best single draft ever?

Well, Fred, since you mentioned team grades, I am going to presume you re asking about the best single draft for one NFL team and not the best draft, top-to-bottom, of all time. The best team draft is easy; the other would make me break a sweat and actually do something akin to work. And everyone knows we alleged experts prefer guessing to working. Geesh!

The great Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s weren t built in one day or one draft. It started in 1969 when new coach Chuck Noll s first-ever pick was Mean Joe Greene, a defensive tackle out of North Texas State. Later in the same draft, and this has to be one of the great steals of all time considering he lasted until the 10th round, Noll picked up another D-lineman, L.C. Greenwood.

Terry Bradshaw, the quarterback, and cornerback Mel Blount came on board in 1970, followed by linebacker Jack Ham in 71, and running back Franco Harris in 72.

The Steelers 1974 draft, though, put the team over the top and has to be the best ever as it included four Hall of Famers and led to four Super Bowl titles in the next six seasons.

In that one draft, Pittsburgh added wide receiver Lynn Swann (first round, No. 4 overall), linebacker Jack Lambert (second round, No. 46), receiver John Stallworth (fourth round, No. 82) and center Mike Webster (fifth round, No. 125).

If there s a draft class better than that, well, the e-mail address is down at the bottom. Feel free.

From Barbara: Why do you always have to be so negative about the Lions? This could be a good draft. They ve had good drafts before.

It has been a long time since Barry Sanders was drafted in 1989. It has been longer still since 1967 (defensive back Lem Barney, running back Mel Farr) and 68 (tight end Charlie Sanders, quarterback Greg Landry).

From BuckeyeBob: Greg Oden was one thing. Kosta Koufos was another. But B.J. Mullens? What a joke.

If you re referring to Mullens, the 7-footer from Ohio State, declaring for the NBA draft, well, the joke may be on you. True, he won t be the top pick, ala Oden in 2007, but it s possible he ll be a tail-end lottery pick. If not, he could still go higher than Koufos did at No. 23 a year ago.

After UConn s Hasheem Thabeet, Mullens is probably the next best center in the draft. He s athletic and mobile and more skilled than his 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes might indicate. Frankly, there are about as many questions out there regarding how he was used last season as there are about his pro potential.

Regardless, OSU coach Thad Matta must be tiring of constantly rebuilding from one-and-done centers. But two of them are millionaires and another is about to join them. Joke or not, it s hard to argue.

Contact Blade sports columnistDave Hackenberg at:dhack@theblade.comor 419-724-6398.

Hack talks sports with Mark Benson on WXKR, 94.5 FM, Thursday mornings at 8.



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