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Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

The Steelers could choose a Hercules, a bouncer or a guy with a big butt that he can “anchor,” but can any of them catch a javelin?




photo by pittsburgh steelers | karl roser

 

One of the drills designed to separate suspects from prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is called “The Gauntlet,” an exercise in which players are tasked to run from one sideline to the other while catching passes thrown at them from either side of the field in rapid-fire succession.

The players being looked at as potential converts from collegiate defensive end to professional outside linebacker –– an annual pre-draft exploration –– had a particularly difficult time meeting their “Gauntlet” responsibilities back in February.

Footballs kept hitting their hands and then hitting the deck at an alarming rate at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“With some of these guys, if that football was a javelin they’d be dead,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock observed.

The Steelers should probably scratch those guys off of their list, if they haven’t already.

There are plenty of others to choose from heading into Thursday night’s NFL Draft, so many that even with the pretenders removed from consideration the process of selecting the right players in the right spots can become daunting, and often does.

It can degenerate into a kid-in-a-candy-store conundrum for coaches, scouts and personnel gurus who are usually only looking for a few good men at best.

The question is, which ones?

And when?

They come from everywhere; this year there’s an offensive lineman available from Humboldt State (Alex Cappa).

“I didn’t even know where Humboldt State was,” Mayock admitted during Combine coverage on the NFL Network.

It’s in Arcata, California, for the record.

I didn’t know, either, but apparently they coach ‘nasty’ there.

“He’s a bouncer,” NFL Network analyst Sean O’Hara gushed about Cappa. “You turn on the film, you just see bodies, carnage everywhere.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

And there’s more where Cappa came from (although not necessarily from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference).

This year’s draft class, as usual, is over-stocked with prospects in possession of attention-getting physical characteristics and impressive resumes.

There’s a running back (Kalen Ballage of Arizona State) who once scored eight touchdowns in a single game (twice as good as Al Bundy, in other words).

There’s the valedictorian of the Miami School of Business (Braxton Berrios, a projected seventh-round selection who ought to at least be able to negotiate a favorable contract).

There’s a Hercules (Washington State defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa) and a son of Hercules (Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s father, John, is a former two-time “Mr. Universe”).

There are players of all shapes and sizes, even a linebacker with one hand (Central Florida’s Shaquem Griffin), a tight end with nine digits (Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli is missing the index finger on his left hand) and a 6-foot-21/2, 308-pound offensive lineman from Georgia whose backside is front and center.

“He has that big butt,” Mayock pointed out. “He can drop it. He can anchor it.”

Good for him (I think).

There are sons of ex-NFL players, brothers of NFL players, sons of coaches, a son of an NFL  general manager (Tennessee defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, the descendant of Oakland’s Reggie) and even the cousin of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan available for selection, if you’re into bloodlines (although it’s uncertain as to whether Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey goes by “Mikey Ice”).

And the best namesake on the board has to be Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell.

He was so christened because his father’s favorite movie is “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (“I reckon so”).

So much to choose from, and so few selections …

The Steelers have seven of those, starting with the No. 28 overall pick on Thursday.

They could do worse than to use it on Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes or Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Both are sought-after defenders that would help a defense in need of all the help it can get.

And if one of them can actually catch a javelin, so much the better.
 

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