Back in 2007 heading up to the NFL Draft I had an obsession with 3 players on defense. I thought there were 3 game changing guys in that draft. Those three players were Patrick Willis, LaMarr Woodley and Darrelle Revis. The rest of the draft was solid but these three guys were going to be the biggest studs in the draft. They have shown that is the case.
As the draft came along the Steelers were slotted with the 15th pick. The draft was falling nicely. After pick 10 all three guys were still on the board. When the 49ers came up at pick 11 they snagged Willis. That left Revis and Woodley on the board. Three more picks went by and Revis was still out there. Carolina was on the clock. They were not going to take a cornerback. They had Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas on the squad. The Steelers were in prime position to snag Revis.
Revis had been rumored to the Steelers all during the draft process. Revis was a hometown kid. He was a PITT prospect and had been working out in the Steelers facility for 3 years. The two teams share a facility and the Steelers were basically able to scout Revis from the time he was recruited to PITT. There was no secret on how much the Steelers and Mike Tomlin wanted Revis on the team. It went the same way for Revis as well he was hoping to be Steeler. He was told that if he was on the board at 15 that he was the pick no matter what.
That may have been the downfall for the Steelers as the Jets traded up ahead of the Steelers and snagged Revis right out from underneath of them. Revis was there for the taking and the Steelers came up one pick short. The Jets knew the Steelers were going to take Revis so they made the move to come up and get him. The Jets gave up their first, second and fifth round pick as they knew how good Revis would be. The Steelers ended up selecting Lawrence Timmons instead.
The Steelers did end up drafting LaMarr Woodley in the second round. He has not been a disappointment. Woodley made the game ending play in Super Bowl XLIII. He stripped Kurt Warner and the Steelers recovered the ball and won the game. Woodley has been dominant against the run and good against the pass. He is best known for his pass rush ability though. Woodley has 48 career sacks in 5 seasons. He is almost averaging 10 sacks a year while playing sparingly in his rookie season.
Which brings me to my question. Would there be a Revis Island if the Steelers had drafted Revis instead of the Jets?
The Jets took Revis and even with a hold out of 20 days still put him in the starting lineup from day one. Revis played his entire rookie season as a starter. He progressed as the year went on and by the end of the season was considered a top caliber corner. He picked off 3 passes and also broke up another 17. Revis was a star in the making.
Would the Steelers have done that? Would they have made a fuss about Revis holding out? Would they have put him in the starting lineup?
The likelihood of Revis being in the starting lineup day one if he would not have held out would have been less then 50/50. With a hold out it would have been zero. The Steelers do not like to put rookies on the field. Especially not Dick Lebeau. Talent does not mean starter. Learning every little bit of the defense means starter. Coach Lebeau does not like putting guys in the lineup until their 3rd year. They have to master the defense first.
A perfect example is Woodley. Woodley was drafted to take over for Clark Haggans. He was the LOLB of the future. Woodley had to make a position switch. He was DE in college and would be a LB in the NFL. Woodley had a hamstring injury during training camp. It cost him some time on the practice field. When he returned he showed he was going to be better then Haggans.
That did not mean the Steelers were going to put him on the field. Woodley got to play sparingly. He played when the Steelers were way ahead or way behind. That being said he still had as many sacks as Haggans while not really playing at all. Haggans came out of the game against Jacksonville for Woodley and Woodley picked up 2 sacks in the playoff loss to the Jags. From that point on Woodley was the starter. There were no questions.
Would that same thing have happened to Revis? Would he have had to sit out because he held out and was a rookie? Even though as a rookie Deshea Townsend could not have kept up with Revis if he had to. Darrelle most likely would have sat on the bench because he did not have enough time in the defense. He may not have seen the field for any real amount of time his entire rookie season. That would have put him a year behind. That year he got to progress with the Jets would have been a year lost and he would have had to progress in year two.
Another reason to take a look at whether or not there would be Revis Island or not is the Steelers defensive scheme. The Steelers run a zone blitz scheme. That is how Dick Lebeau plays whether that is what his personnel calls for or not. That is his defense and that is what the team is going to play.
Revis is a man to man corner. He is a get in your face, bump you at the line of scrimmage and take you out of the game type of player. He takes away one entire side of the field for a defense. He is not a drop 10 yards off the ball and let them catch it in front of you while you make the tackle type of guy. Even though he is a good at making the tackle. Revis is not a bend do not break player. He is a shut down corner.
Revis is smart enough to do this but since he spends most of his time taking away the other teams best player he does not excel as much in a zone scheme. His abilities are wasted. You can see that when the Jets drop to zone. He still makes the plays but his effectiveness is taken away by that type of defense. It makes him look average even though he is a top tier talent.
Would the Steelers have adjusted to Revis? Unlikely. They had Ike Taylor who also likes to play man. They could have shut off both sides of the field with an adjustment in scheme. I do not think that would have happened though. Can you imagine if it did? Two shut down corners taking away the two best receivers. Our pass rush could have been out of this world. The safeties and linebackers could have doubled the tight ends and third receiver and blitzed like crazy. That is another topic for another day though.
While the Steelers may have wanted Revis and Revis may have wanted to be a Steeler I think Revis is in a better situation for himself personally. As a Steeler he would have had to sit out and learn the defense for a year. He would have had to play a zone defensive scheme which would have wasted his talent. Revis would just be another good corner right now rather then the superstar that he truly is.
If Revis was a Steeler there would be no Revis Island. I would have loved to have gotten him on this team and he would have been great but he would not be DARRELLE REVIS the cornerback everyone fears. He would have just been another piece to a great defense and his talents would not have been appreciated the way they are now. He would have been under appreciated. Revis while he may not have that championship yet should be happy to be a Jet where his talents are in view. He will get his championship one day.
Revis is now a top 5 player in the NFL. He is definitely the best cornerback in the game. He is the leader of his team and the face of the Jets. His talent is unmatched at his position. He takes away the other teams best receiver every week. If you want to move the ball on the Jets you should not go Revis’ direction. He is that good.
While we all wish he was a Steeler you can’t help but be happy for the hometown product. Good Luck Darrelle. Enjoy your time on Revis Island!
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