Steelers give big present to Big Ben
Big Ben Roethlisberger finally has his big wide receiver.
Limas Sweed, who stands nearly 6 feet 4, became the Steelers' tallest wide receiver when they selected him on the second round of the draft yesterday. It fulfilled a wish Roethlisberger expressed in mid-January, when he said he would ask the team to add a tall receiver in the offseason.
"No doubt, man, I think I fit it," the Texas University product said last night. "A lot of people were saying he was looking for a big wide receiver and now he has one."
The Steelers not only had a first-round grade on Sweed, they ranked him among the top 25 players in the draft and the best three receivers. They used the 53rd pick of the draft to get him.
A big reason others may have shied away from Sweed is a wrist injury. That August injury required surgery Oct. 16 and it limited him to 19 catches last season after he caught 46 for 801 yards (17.4 average) and 12 touchdowns in 2006. He was not fully healed by the Senior Bowl, but he impressed the Steelers with his individual workout at Austin. All their medical tests judge him to be fully healed.
"We just couldn't understand why Limas was still out there," Steelers receivers coach Randy Fichtner said.
No receivers were drafted in the first round, and then they came off the board in clumps -- Sweed was ninth of 10 wide receivers selected in the second round.
"He can break tackles, he's still got size and probably a lot more room to get bigger,'' said Fichtner, mentioning the wrist injury limited his ability to lift weights. "But he definitely finishes on tape. When he catches a ball across the middle, there's a chance that he can take that and finish it, and the year prior to [last], he did it a lot."
Fichtner said the thought of having Sweed join his receiving corps "tickles you too death." He lumped Sweed with starters Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward when he said, "You're looking at a three-group that's really strong and a possibility of Nate Washington being four is really exciting."
"I love his range," Fichtner said. "The circle of catches is extremely large. The area of miss is big. He's got the longer arms. When we were down there [in Austin], he vertical jumped 36 or 37 [inches] compared to 33 or 34 at the combine. You couple that with the idea that he's almost 6-4, you're talking about a larger frame and target."
He's just what Ben Roethlisberger ordered.
First Published April 27, 2008 12:00 am