Steelers re-acquire McFadden from Cardinals
Many expected the Steelers to accomplish two major roster changes over the past several days -- acquire a starting cornerback and pull off a trade.
They did both, at the same time. They did not peddle quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and they did not pick a cornerback high in the draft, but they did trade to get Bryant McFadden back from the Arizona Cardinals, and he is expected to reclaim his position at left cornerback for them after a one-year hiatus.
That trade, which involved them sending little more than trinkets and beads to the Cardinals, helped to boost a sagging secondary that received absolutely no help through 2 1/2 days of drafting.
"We jumped at it," said coach Mike Tomlin, delighted to add a veteran starting cornerback to his beleaguered secondary. "You know what you are getting."
On the third and final day of the NFL's longest draft, the Steelers added two more linebackers, another receiver who could become a return specialist, an offensive lineman, cornerback, the big running back they needed and a defensive lineman.
But the big catch of the day was McFadden, swapped back to the Steelers along with a sixth-round pick (No. 195) merely for a fifth-round pick (No. 155) from the Steelers. They say they had the deal in the works for a day or so, and that may be why the Steelers did not draft a cornerback higher than the fifth round.
They certainly did draft linebackers, adding three over the past two days -- two outside linebackers (Ohio State's Thaddeus Gibson joined second-round pick Jason Worilds) and one inside (Steven Sylvester of Utah). It prompted a joke from linebackers coach Keith Butler that, "Contrary to popular belief, I don't have any pictures of Mike Tomlin."
The most intriguing player Saturday for the Steelers came way down in the sixth round, where they grabbed Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer with the 188th overall pick. Dwyer is a big man at5-foot-11, 235 pounds with quickness and some eye-popping statistics -- 1,395 yards in each of the past two years. He is not considered a finished product for the NFL because he did not block nor catch much as he ran from a 3-point stance out of the wishbone-like option offense of the Yellow Jackets.
"It's going to be relearning for him," said Kirby Wilson, who coaches the Steelers' backs. "It's like getting back on a bicycle and starting all over again."
Dwyer thought Georgia Tech's style of offense might have affected his draft prospects. Although he technically "failed" a drug test at the combine, he was cleared because he takes medication for ADA, and that was known beforehand.
"I don't know what really hurt me, maybe the whole triple-option process," Dwyer said.
The Steelers drafted another wishbone back well into the draft 20 years ago when Barry Foster of Arkansas came to them in the fifth round.
All Foster did was set the Steelers' record with 1,690 yards rushing in 1992.
"Not often do you find 230-pound halfbacks with his ability with the ball in his hands," Wilson said.
Dwyer averaged more than 6 yards a carry at Georgia Tech.
"This kid's broken a lot of long runs," said Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations. "We think there's something there we all haven't seen yet."
The Steelers added another Tennessee offensive tackle in Chris Scott (fifth round), one year after former teammate Ramon Foster made it here as an undrafted rookie. The cornerback they waited so long to draft arrived on the fifth round as well in Crezdon Butler of Clemson, who has good size (5-11 1/2, 190) and speed (4.43) to make him intriguing. Central Michigan receiver Antonio Brown came on the sixth round and could challenge Stefan Logan as a return man.
The Steelers wound up drafting 10 players in three days and added two veterans in trades, McFadden and quarterback Byron Leftwich.
"I think when you throw in Bryant McFadden and Byron Leftwich, two players we were able to pick up using picks that we acquired this year, we really think this is a nice class and we're anxious to see them go to work," said Colbert, who will add five to seven rookie free agents to it.
Said Tomlin, "Quality depth and competition has been our mantra here for the offseason. We followed that plan in free agency and we were able to follow that plan here in the draft as well.
"We truly believe that we strengthened ourselves for the challenges that await us here in the 2010 season.
"It's going to be fun to watch these guys carve out roles for themselves along with some of the new veteran players that we acquired, and we're excited about it."
First Published April 25, 2010 12:02 am