9 Late-Round Prospects That Would Be a Perfect Match for the Pittsburgh Steelers
What do Antonio Brown and Brett Keisel have in common?
Both were drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the fifth round.
Such value can be found long after the spotlight has been lifted from the NFL draft. Indeed, the first day of the draft is for ticket sales, but the late rounds are where a team build its depth and occasionally finds gems like Brown and Keisel.
The 2013 season is a watershed moment for the Steelers. The organization's purported decline will materialize if no value-adding prospects can be found in the late rounds.
What players in the current draft class will provide that value?
Players' stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
NFL combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Cooper Taylor, SS, Richmond
Cooper Taylor named Defensive Player of the Week
Cooper Taylor is an intriguing prospect. Although he played strong safety at Richmond, he projects to be a linebacker.
Standing 6'5", Taylor has the size and athleticism to make the shift. He also has good speed and quickness, running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds and completing the three-cone drill in 6.96 seconds during Richmond's Pro Day.
However, he lacks bulk. At 228 pounds, he must gain at least 10 to 15 pounds to realistically make the transition.
That being said, Taylor would make a worthwhile project for the Steelers as an inside linebacker if he adds the girth.
Tharold Simon, CB, LSU
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There are a lot of questions concerning the Steelers' cornerbacks.
With Keenan Lewis gone, Cortez Allen and William Gay will battle for the empty spot. On the other side is Ike Taylor. While dependable, he will also be 33 years old at the start of the season.
After that, the quality at the corner position drops off significantly.
Drafting Tharold Simon gives the Steelers a physical corner who matches well with the demands required of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's scheme.
He does a good job reacting to the ball and excels in run support.
Although he struggles in single coverage, Simon won't be asked to be Darrelle Revis and he certainly won't start immediately.
Over time, he can develop into a solid nickel corner.
Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
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Kevin Reddick had a solid senior year for the Tar Heels, tallying 85 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Highly disciplined, Reddick reads plays exceptionally well. Built similarly to Lawrence Timmons, Reddick has the quickness to move around blockers and a stout frame (6'1", 243 pounds) to take them on.
At North Carolina, he blitzed frequently, oftentimes coming from the edge, an ability required of Steelers linebackers.
Reddick isn't an elite player, but he is athletic and versatile enough to fill a need for the Steelers at inside linebacker.
Omoregie Uzzi, G, Georgia Tech
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Now that the Steelers are committed to running a zone-blocking scheme, they will need players who can understand it.
Omoregie Uzzi is that guy.
He played in such a scheme while at Georgia Tech. He is quick at the snap of the ball and has the athleticism to move off the line to attack a linebacker.
At 300 pounds, Uzzi doesn't have the size to overpower larger nose tackles, but if the Steelers are truly committed to becoming to a zone-blocking team, Uzzi fits in perfectly.
Ricky Wagner, T, Wisconsin
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The Steelers appear to be set at the starting offensive tackle positions with Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams. But with the potential move of Kelvin Beachum to guard, Pittsburgh's depth at tackle becomes dangerously thin.
Ricky Wagner can fill that depth. He has the pedigree, hailing from Wisconsin, a venerable offensive lineman factory. While not a great athlete, he is a solid lineman that excels at run blocking.
Wagner will need his passing technique to develop and will likely never become an elite left tackle.
Nonetheless, he has the ability to become a quality backup, something the Steelers desperately need.
Michael Williams, TE, Alabama
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Michael Williams is an athletic and powerful tight end.
His 6'6", 269-pound frame can move mountains. Primarily used as a blocker at Alabama, he has the potential to develop into a decent receiver, particularly near the end zone.
Williams would contribute immensely to the Steelers' anemic running game and provide support in pass protection for the tackles.
Jasper Collins, WR, Mount Union
Mount Union is a Division III powerhouse, winning 11 national championships since 1993.
Jasper Collins shined during his time there, finishing with 232 receptions, second in school history to Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. He caught 92 passes for 1,694 yard and 22 touchdowns during his senior year.
Collins is a precise route-runner with quick feet and sticky hands. He has the toughness to take a hit and fight a defender for the ball.
The biggest concern with Collins is his ability to make the leap to the NFL.
However, the success of fellow Mount Union alums Shorts and Pierre Garcon should alleviate that concern and make Collins a late-round value pick for the Steelers.
Brandon Kaufman, WR, Eastern Washington
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Brandon Kaufman brings along a 6'5", 215 pound frame. At Eastern Washington, he caught 93 passes, for 1,850 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
He will need to add more beef to compete physically in the NFL, but that shouldn't be a problem for Kaufman.
Whether or not he can play at that level is the big question.
Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (Ohio)
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The Steelers struck gold once with a Miami of Ohio quarterback, so there might be more gold left in them hills.
While not as highly touted as Big Ben, Zac Dysert broke Roethlisberger's passing records at Miami. His skill-set doesn't match Roethlisberger's, but he has similar tools to Big Ben, mainly his ability to allude the pass rush.
Dysert won't be asked to do much accept learn under Roethlisberger. In time, he can develop into a solid backup quarterback for the Steelers.