Tracking Pittsburgh Steelers' 2012 NFL Undrafted Free Agent Signings
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Yes, the NFL draft is over, but that's just one component to a team's roster-building activities this time of year. After the draft, a pool of hundreds of players is ready to be mined for talent, and that's just what the Pittsburgh Steelers did starting on Saturday evening.
Here's a quick look at the 12 undrafted free agents who can, at least for now, call themselves Pittsburgh Steelers.
Drew Butler, P, Georgia
I think Drew Butler's about to punt the football, guys
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The Steelers needed to add a punter—it's as simple as that. And no, they didn't want to go the route of the Jacksonville Jaguars and take one in the third round.
Bringing Georgia's Drew Butler on makes a lot of sense: It fills a need without costing a draft pick. He'll probably stay on the roster.
Terry Carter, CB, Louisiana Tech
Terry Carter is a bit undersized but worth a minute of the Steelers' time (Photo courtesy: USA Today)
Louisiana Tech cornerback Terry Carter is a bit undersized at 5'10" and 184 pounds, and he comes from a college team that struggled against the pass in 2011.
However, he was the best player in Louisiana Tech's secondary, with 60 tackles and 10 passes broken up last season. He's also fast, running a 4.57 second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
He'll need to bulk up if he's going to make any impact on the field for the Steelers, but he could make for a good camp body at least, and he may be a solid contributor on special teams.
Pittsburgh needs to build a little depth in their secondary, and competition never hurt anyone. Carter is the only corner the Steelers picked up from the free-agent pool.
Connor Dixon, WR, Duquesne
Getting Duquesne WR Connor Dixon might just be a FA steal for the Steelers
The Steelers went local when they picked up Duquesne wide receiver Connor Dixon. He has good size at 6'5", is fast, athletic and has good football smarts.
He was particularly impressive at his pro day, and it's likely that the Steelers got to know him pretty well considering it's just a short trip down the road to see him.
Pittsburgh already has a solid crew of receivers on the roster, but things are likely to change in 2013. They need all the depth they can get at the position, and Dixon has all the tools to stand out.
Robert Golden, S, Arizona
Here's Robert Golden, intercepting a pass
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While I'm convinced that the Steelers drafted linebacker Sean Spence to move to strong safety, that doesn't mean their need to build depth at the position has been filled by any means. Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are both in their 30s, and Ryan Mundy may not be the answer as a starter.
Pittsburgh has a number of all-purpose defensive backs on the roster, so expect quite the battle at camp for any of them to remain on the team.
Robert Golden could be a diamond in the rough, but he certainly needs some polishing. He's got a quick temper that makes him a bit over-aggressive on the field, and he needs to add some bulk. But he's fast, a good tackler when he doesn't over-pursue, and he has leadership abilities and durability. He could make the roster.
Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, DE/DT, Southern Connecticut State
You can just call him "Ike." (Photo courtesy: Sports Page Magazine)
Little is known about Southern Connecticut State defender Ikponmwosa Igbinosun except that he has an unusual, nearly-unpronounceable name.
Igbinosun had an impressive pro day and is solid against the run and as a pass-rusher. He could compete for a spot, but remember, a lot of players are going to be cut, with 90 men now allowed on the roster.
Ryan Lee, OG/C, Furman
Furman offensive lineman Ryan Lee is athletic (Photo courtesy: Times-Georgian)
Furman offensive lineman Ryan Lee is strong (with 40 bench press reps at his pro day) and fairly fast for his size, running a five-second 40-yard dash.
The Steelers did a lot to improve their offensive line in the draft, but considering the team had a whopping 25 different player configurations protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last year, with few of them working with any consistency, Pittsburgh is wise to bring on another body to help out and compete for a roster spot.
Lee can play either guard or center; that versatility should prove helpful in his battle to make the Steelers' 53-man roster.
Brandon Lindsey, LB, Pitt
Brandon Lindsey excels at getting his hands on the quarterback
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Brandon Lindsey isn't the fastest linebacker (or defensive end), but he still manged to put up great sack numbers in his time as a Pitt Panther. He's extremely aggressive which sometimes works against him—that's something he'll need to work to get under control.
Lindsey will be a two- or three-year developmental prospect for the Steelers who may blossom into an every-down starter in the future. He needs to build bulk and stamina, but he could contribute on special teams in the short-term.
Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama
If Maze impresses in camp, he could see time on the field this year in the slot
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Marquis Maze is easily the Steelers' most high-profile undrafted free-agent acquisition. He's fast, has great hands and is extremely reliable on the field. The only downside is that he's but 5'8" tall, which likely contributed to him going undrafted this year.
Maze will take the field this year and could also win out as a kick and punt returner. If he does anything of note for the Steelers, it will be in the slot—he's too small to be a red-zone threat.
Grant Ressel, K, Missouri
Grant Ressel is a kicker, and the Steelers surely needed one
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The Steelers had no kickers on the roster heading into the draft, making it a distinct possibility they'd use a seventh-round pick on one. Instead, they chose to pick their man out of the undrafted free-agent pool, going with Missouri's Grant Ressel.
Ressel had been extremely reliable heading into the 2011 season, missing only three field goals in 46 attempts, but his production dropped off in his final year at Missouri, of which he missed half with a hip injury.
Pittsburgh may bring in another kicker to compete with him for the starting job, but for now, it's his.
Adrian Robinson, LB, Temple
Now that's a small linebacker
Temple's Adrian Robinson is fast, but that's about it. He's but 6'1" and 250 pounds, meaning that, without significant improvement to his strength, he won't contribute as a linebacker.
He does have special teams coverage skills, so if he does make the roster, expect this to be the area of his expertise.
Desmond Stapleton, OT, Rutgers
Stapleton has more drawbacks than positives and thus may not last on the Steelers' roster for long (Image courtesy: Newark Star-Ledger)
Desmond Stapleton is another undersized prospect that the Steelers may be hoping to mold into a stronger, more fundamentally-sound football player.
Pittsburgh needs to add depth to the offensive line, as I said earlier, so it makes sense they'd bring on another offensive tackle from the free-agent pool. I just don't see Stapleton making enough of an impression to remain on the roster.
Jake Stoller, DE, Yale
Stoller was a solid defender in the Ivy League but that may not translate well to the NFL (Photo courtesy: YaleBulldogs.com)
There's little information out there about the talents of former Yale defensive end Jake Stoller, which doesn't bode all that well for his chances to make the Steelers roster.
Stoller is 6'3" and 284 pounds—a good size for a Steelers defensive end or outside backer—and had 4.5 sacks and 15 tackles in 10 games in 2011.