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.