6 Undrafted Pittsburgh Steelers Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
The Pittsburgh Steelers wouldn't have six Lombardi Trophies if it weren't for contributions from undrafted players.
There might be a lot of hype surrounding the NFL draft, but as soon as Mr. Irrelevant's name is called, the frenzy to sign undrafted players begins.
A lot of teams round up more undrafted players than drafted players. The Steelers signed 15 undrafted players this year and drafted nine.
Some undrafted Steelers are worth keeping an eye on. The next Willie Parker or James Harrison could be among the Steelers' 2012 and 2013 undrafted classes.
Reggie Dunn, KR
Reggie Dunn is the rock star of the Steelers' 2013 undrafted players.
Dunn set NCAA records with four 100-yard kickoff returns in 2012 and five in his career at Utah.
The 5'10", 172-pounder wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at Utah's pro day, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. That would have made him the fastest player at the 2013 combine.
If Dunn makes the team, it would likely be as a kick return specialist, and Steelers fans will want to make sure they don't go to the fridge or bathroom during opponents' kickoffs. All eyes must stay glued to the TV screen when Dunn touches the ball.
Nik Embernate, OG
It's always nice to have offensive linemen with a nasty demeanor.
It might be safe to assume that a guy nicknamed "Embernasty" has that quality.
That moniker was coined, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, when Nik Embernate was ejected from a game for fighting during his freshman year at San Diego State.
Embernate reined in his aggression and started 46 games for the Aztecs. Although primarily a guard, the 6'4", 300-pounder played all five offensive line positions in college, according to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider (subscription required).
Wexell also said Embernate was given a "draftable grade" by the Steelers for the 2013 draft and that tape exists of him controlling Ziggy Ansah, the BYU defensive end chosen No. 5 overall by the Detroit Lions.
The Steelers have only seven offensive linemen with more than one game of NFL experience. That opens the door for Embernate to make the team if he maintains that nasty streak.
Robert Golden, S
Robert Golden can do something about the Steelers' shortage of depth at safety.
The Steelers signed Golden as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona after the 2012 draft.
He moved ahead of a drafted player (fourth-rounder Shamarko Thomas) and a player entering his third season (Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith) to take the No. 3 safety spot at the Steelers' organized team activities, according to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider.
The Steelers moved Golden from cornerback to safety last year, so he has the versatility to play any spot in the secondary.
Golden played primarily on special teams in 15 games last season but saw some defensive snaps late in the season. He made three tackles in the Steelers' loss to the Dallas Cowboys and earned praise from Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who told Wexell (subscription required) "I think Coach Tomlin’s judgment was definitely reinforced in that game.”
Mike Golic, OG-C
Doug Legursky signed with the Buffalo Bills, so the Steelers need a backup center.
That means Mike Golic, son of the former NFL defensive tackle of the same name, will get a long look at Steelers training camp.
Dan Pompei of National Football Post listed the 6'3", 300-pounder from Notre Dame among the top undrafted rookies of 2013.
Golic started all 13 games for the Fighting Irish in 2012 and helped them reach the national championship game. He started at guard but has played center.
In 2012, Golic was part of an offensive line that helped Notre Dame rush and pass for more than 200 yards a game for just the third time in school history, according to UND.com. Notre Dame averaged five yards per rush in the 2012 regular season, the program's highest average since 1996.
Golic hoisted 31 reps in the bench press at Notre Dame's pro day, according to NFL.com. That would have placed him in the top 10 among offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Golic also has NFL bloodlines going for him. That counts for something.
Adrian Robinson, OLB
One of the Steelers' storylines at outside linebacker this summer is the position battle between first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones and underwhelming incumbent starter Jason Worilds.
That will allow Adrian Robinson to fly under the radar.
The Steelers signed the 6'1", 250-pound Robinson as an undrafted free agent from Temple in 2012. He made an impression during training camp and the preseason and played in 12 games on special teams in the regular season.
According to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider (subscription required), Robinson has played as the blindside pass-rusher during organized team activities this spring.
As a sophomore in 2009, Robinson was named Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 12 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.
In 2011, Robinson made 13.5 tackles for loss and had 6.5 sacks to finish with 22.5 sacks in his four years at Temple.
If Robinson can display his 2009 and 2011 form in 2013, his name could be mentioned in the same breath as Jones and Worilds.
J.D. Woods, WR
Now that he doesn't have Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey on his team, J.D. Woods will have a chance to show what he can do.
Austin and Bailey both caught 114 passes for West Virginia in 2012, and Woods got in on the action with 61 catches.
According to National Football Post, Woods has big hands and can make difficult catches, like this one-handed grab (pictured) during the Mountaineers' 70-63 win over Baylor in 2012. It was one of a career-high 13 catches for Woods that day
The 6'1", 190-pound Woods doesn't have elite speed but is tough to bring down and could make it as a possession receiver, according to National Football Post.
No receiver should be expected to be the next Hines Ward, but if Woods can be a hard-nosed possession receiver over the middle, he could give the Steelers offense an element it's been missing since Ward retired.