Steelers hit jackpot with pick of Amos
Long after even the most ardent fans finally had
succumbed to the nearly 10 hours of waiting, dealing and shuffling of picks
known as the NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock
with the final selection of the first day.
Oh, what a selection they made. Drafting Mountaineer tailback Amos
Zereoue with the 95th pick could pay off big for the Steelers.
By the end of the 1998 season, Pittsburgh
was in dire need of an offensive transfusion. Kordell Stewart, the lightning-quick
quarterback, was hesitant to run and woefully inaccurate with his passes.
Jerome Bettis suffered behind a constantly shifting offensive line and
the loss of fullback Tim Lester. Bettis also fought off injuries
most of the season. And then the receiving corps, already devoid of a deep
threat, lost Charles Johnson to free agency.
Zereoue will not be an every-down tailback in the
NFL; his lack of size will see to that. But what he does bring to
Pittsburgh is the ability to make big plays. With Zereoue, the Steelers
acquired a back with the knack of making things happen.
Whether its using his speed to give the offense
a different look, catching a screen pass to pick up a vital first down
or even as a decoy to draw a linebacker out of position, Zereoue will help
the Pittsburgh offense.
Check out what Bill Parcells did in New York and
New England with Dave Meggett. Parcells already had every-down backs (Ottis
Anderson with the Giants, Curtis Martin with the Patriots), yet the player
defenses often feared most in critical situations was Meggett. Meggett
routinely made key plays to keep drives alive.
Also, when Meggett came on the field, defenses immediately
shifted to stop him. Subsequently, other players often found open running
room. A running play that normally picked up four yards broke open for
A pass that normally was thrown into double-coverage
was thrown to a receiver who had beaten a cornerback.
Meggett helped lead the Giants and Patriots to Super Bowls.
If Pittsburgh uses him correctly, Zereoue could
do the same in the near future for the Steelers.
Charles Fisher is a prime example of what patience
and perseverance can accomplish. At the beginning of the 1998 season, Fisher
was fighting for a spot in the starting lineup. He may not even have been
thinking about the NFL Draft.
But following a solid senior season and great workouts,
he was taken by Cincinnati with the 33rd pick.
Fisher was taken ahead of better-known WVUplayers Zereoue, John Thornton
(Tennessee Titans, 52th pick), Solomon Page (Dallas Cowboys, 55th pick)
and Gary Stills (Kansas City Chiefs, 57th pick). And because of that, you
can be sure he also will be tops among his former teammates in another
category: Highest salary.