Every year, it seems as though the Pittsburgh Steelers sign an unknown gem as an undrafted rookie free agent, with a player coming from nowhere to make the squad. This year, the team signed a handful of prospects, who hope to be that player.Drew Butler would seem to be the odds on favorite to be that player at this early stage of the offseason. The former All-American from the University of Georgia has NFL bloodlines, and performed well (albeit erratic) in the toughest conference in college football.
Another player, who is more unknown than Butler, also may have a viable shot at a roster spot, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun from Southern Connecticut. The Steelers will have at least one roster spot open at defensive end behind starters Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, and top back up, last years number one pick Cameron Heyward. As the team enters camp, competition for this spot should be one of the best battles in Latrobe.
At this point, Steelers 101 believes that one of last year’s undrafted rookie free agents Corbin Bryant, who should have made the team in 2011, has the inside track at the position(defensive line breakdown May 2012). The 6-4, 300 pound defensive end was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out f Northwestern in July 2011 and spent time between their active roster and practice squad during the 2011 season, at one-point taking the spot of Aaron Smith when he was placed on injured reserve. However, like last year when he was challenging for a roster spot, he will face stiff competition.
Igbinosun may be from a small school, but he has solid athleticism and is said to be a leader on and off the field. The senior defensive end has good size (6-3, 288 pounds) and was a bull against the small school competition he faced over his career. As a senior, he was named All-Northeast-10 Conference, All-ECAC and Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-Region honors for his play. In all, he recorded 58 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and seven sacks. He followed that outstanding season with an amazing pro-day workout, where he posted some impressive numbers including a 4.94 40-yard dash at 288 pounds.
If he shows up and flashes that same tenacity and athleticism, he could make it difficult for the Steelers to ignore him and keep him from the opening day roster. Although, they could try to limit his exposure in exchange for a year of development on the practice squad.
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