The Pittsburgh Steelers also signed 13 undrafted free agents following the conclusion of this weekend’s NFL Draft. I’m not going to give a thorough scouting report for each one since my fingers are still sore from yesterday’s Kiper-riffic breakdown and the fact they’ll all be extreme long shots to even make team. I will highlight a handful I think may bear watching when those intolerable pre-season games begin.
First we have punter Drew Butler. Butler was the second ranked punter in this year’s draft but, thankfully, the Steelers learned from past mistakes and didn’t waste a valuable draft pick on a non-football player. Trust when I say doing so not only would’ve sent Rich Eisen into another epic meltdown but I’d likely need a new television. Butler is the son of former Bears kicker Kevin Butler, who I recall being one better kickers in the league during the late 80s/early 90s. I won’t bother with statistics since the bottom line will be who kicks better in pre-season although Jeremy Kapinos won’t have the advantage of being a
mistake Kevin Colbert doesn’t want to acknowledge former draft pick ala Daniel Sepulveda so if Butler performs well, I imagine he’ll make the team. The Steelers also signed a kicker from Missouri, Grant Ressel, but he’s probably just training camp filler. Teams always bring multiple punters and kickers into camp just so the non-football players have somebody to drink coffee and hang out with while the actual athletes get into football shape. Ressel had outstanding accuracy his first couple seasons, missing only 3 FGs out of 46 attempts, but a hip injury last season caused him to go down the crapper (9 for 16) and fall off the NFL’s radar. Even though Shaun Suisham absolutely sucks, I can’t see the Steelers going with a rookie kicker unless he makes multiple 60 yarders.
Now let’s talk some real football players, the Steelers also signed Marquis Maze (WR Alabama), Desmond Stapleton (G Rutgers, and, yes, he’s Darnell’s younger brother), Ryan Lee (G Furman), Ike Igbinosun (DT South Connecticut State), Jake Stoller (DL Yale), Adrian Robinson (OLB Temple), Robert Golden (CB/S Arizona) and Terry Carter (CB Louisiana Tech). Of local interest, they also signed wide receiver Connor Dixon from my dad’s alma mater Duquesne and Brandon Lindsey from Pitt. Dixon is a big (6’4 200 pounds) target who originally went to Michigan State as a QB. Lindsey was a fairly productive DE for the Panthers but he’ll be converted to OLB ala LaMarr Woodley in the Steelers scheme. Our depth chart is littered with young linebackers so it’ll be a uphill climb for Lindsey although remember James Harrison was once on the practice squad. As far as the non-locals, Maze and Golden seem to be the most likely to open eyes in camp. Maze is really tiny (5’8 186) which is probably why he wasn’t drafted but he’s considered something of a return specialist (think Stefan Logan). Golden bounced between corner and safety at Arizona but at 5’11 210 pounds and a natural hitter, he’ll be a safety in the pros. The Steelers don’t have much depth at safety besides the mediocre Ryan Mundy so if Golden plays well and contributes on special teams, I can see him making the squad out of camp.
Perhaps the most interesting signee was a young quarterback from Division III Monmouth named Alex Tanney. Tanney is most known for the above trick shot video he posted on youtube. He has no chance to make the main roster with Charlie Batch, Troy Smith and newly re-signed Byron Leftwich in camp but I’ll be rooting for the kid to at least make the practice squad. He may be raw and those tricks may have nothing to do with football but, man, he has a cannon for an arm. If JaMarcus Russell can fool the Raiders into picking him first overall because he could throw the ball 50 yards from his knees, Tanney should at least earn a spot on the practice squad. He may not be polished as the vets or even fellow camp invitee Jerrod Johnson but he already throws a better deep ball than Big Ben.
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You know, I love football. I mean, why else would a normally sane man devote hours and hours of his free time to blogging about his favorite team instead of engaging in more productive activities such as pwning fools on Call of Duty or treating his girlfriend to a five star evening at Dave & Busters? Still, even I have to shake my head in wonder sometimes. I realize we’ve entered that traditional dead zone after free agency and before the draft where football news (and, as a result, my blog posts) slows to a trickle but are NFL fans really jonesing so badly for a hit of their favorite sport that Nike unveiling their take on the league’s official uniforms is major news?
If the Mayans were correct and the end of civilization is upon us, I can’t help but think future historians from the planet Betelgeus will someday find a tape of Tuesday’s spectacle and think, “Yep, they got what’s coming to them.” Granted, when it comes to Nike, I expect nothing less than full-on spectacle. This is, after-all, the company that buys athletes, coaches, colleges, arenas and everything else under the sun then proceeds to market the hell out of it with “attitude.” So naturally when Nike was contracted to be the NFL’s official uniform supplier, they couldn’t just debut their line during the pre-season when the players first take the field. Nope, they had to bring in a representative from every team, trot them out in full regalia, and have them parade around and answer questions like a Bizarro Miss Universe contest.
The video above gives you the basic idea of what went down. Unfortunately, the dorky looking Jimmy Olsen clone has some bizarre jealousy towards Ben Roethlisberger so we don’t get any of Big Ben’s sartorial wisdom but you still get a good look at the new Pittsburgh Steelers unis. Which is to say, the exact same uniforms they’ve worn for the past forty years. As my fashion sense is best summed up by a drawer full of Affliction t-shirts, I direct those that care about such things to UniWatch, who analyzed what specific “improvements” Nike made to each team. To be fair, I understand why many NFL fans were so eager to see Nike’s designs since Nike’s uniform department is primarily known for two things; hideous ArenaBall style unis that they think look “futuristic” and black alternate jerseys for teams whose colors aren’t ordinarily black (gotta get a piece of that lucrative gang banger market!).
Anyway, from one non-football story to another. I regret to inform my four female readers that the Steelers made a minor addition to their great off-season Purge – let’s call it a Spit-Up – by cutting ties with punter Dreamy Daniel Sepulveda. They didn’t exactly cut Seppy, he’s a free agent who was simply told they had no interest in re-signing, although the effect is the same. Sepulveda was a fourth round draft pick back in 2007 who suffered one season ending injury after the other throughout his disappointing career. In 2008, it was a torn ACL, his ACL went kablooey again in 2010, while last year he simply tore the cartilage in his knee.
I still can’t get over Kevin Colbert drafting Sepulveda in the FOURTH ROUND?!?! If you’re going to waste a draft pick on a non-football player, at least spend it on something worthwhile like Jacksonville’s awesome mascot or the semi-hot Bengals cheerleader accused of boinking a high school student. Punters and kickers should never ever be drafted because the purpose of the draft is to procure football players. You could go to a local high school and find a kid capable of doing what the average kicker or punter does. The career difference in average yards per punt between Sepulveda, a mid-round draft pick and two time college punter of the year, and his replacement, the undrafted Jeremy Kapinos, is .5 yards. POINT FIVE YARDS.
And before anybody says, “Geez, Chris, relax. It was a fourth round pick,” ever hear of a guy named Antonio Brown? He was picked in the sixth round.
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Sometimes it’s hard to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to follow the greatest franchise in NFL history. I realize how lucky we are to watch a Super Bowl contender seemingly year in and year out. I do not for one second take our six Lombardi Trophies for granted. Even after the most heart-breaking of losses, I never for a moment question my allegiance.
There are still times when the Steeler Way can be immensely frustrating. While it works eight times out of ten, the two times it fails, it fails spectacularly. We all play armchair GM from time to time but I wouldn’t pretend I could do a better job than Kevin Colbert. At the same time, many of his player personnel decisions continue to puzzle me.
The last two and half minutes of the Steelers-Ravens game were an absolute mess. People rightly focus on the D’s epic bed-crapping in letting Joe F’N Flacco drive 92 yards on them for the game winning touchdown. Others focus on Ryan Clark and Will.i.am Gay, both of whom played miserably all night long. However, lost in the wash, was the comical Chinese Fire Drill on the Steelers final possession where they got the ball down to the Baltimore 30, called a time out to discuss their options, sent their field goal unit out but fooled around too long and got called for a delay of game which left them with no choice but to punt.
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Hope everybody had a nice Labor Day weekend. Sorry for not updating the past couple days but as the proud grandson of a steelworker, I honor my forefathers by doing nothing more strenuous than throwing brats on the grill, cracking open a PBR and watching fireworks over Labor Day holiday.
While in absentia, the Pittsburgh Steelers finalized the roster which will lead them to legendary glory here in 2011 (and hopefully well in to 2012). The biggest surprise cut was second year cornerback Crezdon Butler. Butler played quite a bit during the preseason, struggling at times but also showing flashes of ability. The team is thin enough at corner that it’s surprising they’d just give up on a youngster so soon. It’s slightly reminiscent of last year when Joe Burnett played similarly well yet still failed to make the team. Then again, Burnett was a final round cut by the New York Giants this season so I guess Kevin Colbert knows what he’s doing.
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About those preseason games…
Sorry for being tardy with this update but watching the Pittsburgh Steelers final exhibition game last night left me feeling not unlike Alex after undergoing treatment in “A Clockwork Orange.” The tone was set early when Charlie Batch played two series then spent the rest of the game on the sideline wondering why the Panthers cheerleaders all look like they’re thirty-five years old. Mike Tomlin made no effort to disguise this farce, telling reporters afterward that if a player was suffering from anything more serious than a hangnail, they weren’t going to see action. I feel sorry for the people of Carolina who paid good money to see UFL level action at NFL level prices.
Remember, folks, Roger Goodell is all about listening to the fans.