It is no secret that the Steelers have been making roster moves this week. The buzz about who has been signed and who has yet to be signed has moved throughout the Steeler nation.
The latest signed 2009 draft picks include:
Emmanuel Sanders (WR) – SMU
Stevenson Sylvester (LB) – UTAH
Jonathan Dwyer (RB) – G. TECH
Antonio Brown (WR) – C. MICH.
The Steelers have been quick to add 10 draft picks this summer. Perhaps the OTA’s showed the coaches and team that there was real spark in these youngsters.
Sanders was the Steelers’ third round pick in the draft. His accomplishments in college include being the SMU’s career leader in receptions, touchdown catches, and receiving yards. He ranked sixth in the NCAA with 103 receiving yards per game (in 2009). As a receiver, Sanders is undersized (5’11”), but he makes up for it in hustle. He was a first-team all-Conference USA selection. That says a lot about the guy. His biggest asset to the Steelers may be his ability to get to the ball quickly and have soft hands. If the Steelers put him in as a slot receiver, you will see him across the middle taking heat off of Ward, Wallace and a handful of other receivers.
Sylvester was selected in the fifth round. He was the defensive MVP of the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl. His 81 tackles for Utah made him the team’s best defensive player. His two years as a captain for Utah is a great asset to the Steelers defense. He will come into training camp with experience being a leader. The Steelers defense needs linebackers who can decimate offensive lines yet keep the run stuffed. They have several to choose from. Anticipate Sylvester to get rotated in, especially against the run or a quarterback that likes to stay in the pocket too long.
Brown was picked in the sixth round in the draft. He was Central Michigan’s all-time leader in receptions. That made him second-ranked in MAC history. His ability to go up for the ball may be his greatest asset for the Steelers. At 5’10”, he isn’t a tall guy, but he makes up for it in leaping ability and a true sense of where he is on the field. Signing him may be a signal to Randle El, Ward, and other Steelers receivers that the team is not going to show favoritism, nor are they going to tolerate poor performance on the field. A lot of pressure will be put on receivers to create opportunities for the offense. The quarterback on the field during the season will need outlets, and Brown can provide that.
Dwyer was also picked in the sixth round of the draft (ahead of Brown). Dwyer was highly productive as a rusher at Georgia Tech. He was a workhorse. His 1,395 rushing yards both in his sophomore and junior years (yes, he matched the yards perfectly) was in the top 5 in school history. With the addition of touchdowns, Dwyer was a force to be reconed with. Opponents had to pressure the offensive line in order to keep Dwyer from shuffling through for a big gain. At 5’11”, 229 pounds, Dwyer is in great shape and a good sized back with strong legs. The Steelers can use help in their running game, and he may just fill the gap.
Unfortunately, seven free agents will not be a part of the Steelers team this season. Those who have been released are:
Jason Chery (WR)
Piotr Czech (K)
Derrick Doggett (LB)
Adam Gressle (P)
Cordarrow Thompson (NT)
Bradley Vierling (C)
Trae Williams (CB)
Czech really didn’t have much of a chance competing against franchise kicker, Jeff Reed, who has been solid with the Steelers. Reed had a field goal percentage of 87.1 last season. His longest was a 46 yard kick. Reed signed a one-year franchise tender in April. He enters his ninth year as a Steeler ranked first in the team’s career field goal percentage (.833). He ranks second in all-time scoring with 855 career points and 189 field goals. In 2009 he made 27 of 31 field goals and 41 of 41 PATs. That made 2009 his seventh consecutive year in which he posted at least 100 points in a season. Losing him would have been a gamble for the Steelers.
Derrick Doggett (LB) was acquired through free agency this year. He played college ball for Oregon State. However, he may have been cursed by the number of linebackers the Steelers have with last names beginning with “F”. James Farrior, Larry Foote, Keyaron Fox, and Andre Frazier. Farrior has spent 14 years in the NFL, but he’s a monster. Foote and Woodley saw a lot of the playing time last year as well. Woodley was drafted in the second round in 2007. Larry Foote has 9 years of experience behind him. Add Lawrence Timmons and you’ve got a full set of linebackers who can get the job done defensively. The Steelers also have the following linebackers on their current roster: Patrick Bailey, Johnny Williams and Renauld Williams. None of the linebackers on the roster is under 6’0″ or 220 pounds.
Steelers have eight of 10 draft picks signed, Maurkice Pouncey next
Pittsburgh Steelers daily digest: Two more players signed to team
Steelers announce terms have been made with two 2010 draft picks
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