Over the course of Tuesday, July 26, the Steelers agreed to terms with a total of 18 undrafted rookie free agents. The list includes 10 offensive players – one running back, two tight ends, four wide receivers, one center and two tackles – plus seven defensive players – three defensive linemen, two linebackers, one cornerback and one safety – and one long-snapper.
Following are brief profiles of the 18 undrafted rookies:
John Clay, 6-1, 230, Wisconsin: After a redshirt season in 2007, Clay played in 13 games in 2008 and rushed for 884 yards (5.7 average) and scored nine touchdowns. He was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 when he finished with 1,517 yards rushing (5.3 average) and 18 touchdowns. In 2010, he missed two games with a sprained MCL but still rushed for 1,012 yards (5.4 average) and 14 touchdowns. It was reported that Clay’s weight ballooned into the 270s during his junior year, and over the course of his career at Wisconsin he lost carries to some younger backs. Clay is a power back who has decent feet and runs behind his pads, which makes him a load to bring down, but he is not a guy who showed the receiving/blocking skills necessary to be a third-down back. He lost nearly 40 pounds in the run-up to the 2011 NFL Draft.
Vaughn Charlton, 6-5, 253, Temple: Began his college career as a quarterback, and he played the position for three seasons before volunteering to move to tight end during the spring of his redshirt senior season of 2011. As a quarterback at Temple he completed 53.3 percent during his career for 2,615 yards, but he also threw 11 interceptions in his final season at the position. Recognized at Temple for both his academic performance and leadership ability, Charlton added 20 pounds to play tight end in 2010. He finished that year with three catches for 15 yards in seven games.
Weslye Saunders, 6-5, 270, South Carolina: During his first three college seasons, Saunders played in 36 games and accumulated 60 catches for 718 yards and three touchdowns. Was used as the blocking complement to fellow tight end Jared Cook in 2008, and Cook became a third-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2009. Initially, Saunders intended to come out for the 2010 NFL Draft, and the situation ended with him being investigated by the NCAA for improper contact with an agent. He was dismissed from the team in September 2010, and Saunders then sustained a stress fracture in his left foot while working out at the NFL Scouting Combine last February.
Eric Greenwood, 6-6, 212, Idaho: In 2010, Greenwood was a second-team All-WAC selection after leading the team with 46 catches for 741 yards and six touchdowns. He finished his career with 89 catches for 1,246 yards and 11 touchdowns in 39 games. Greenwood ran a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash during his pro day workout on March 11, 2011.
Terrence McCrae, 6-3, 193, Ohio: Was a full-time starter in 2010, and he finished with 35 catches for 505 yards and nine touchdowns. Also had 35 catches for 545 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009. McCrae will have a chance because of his measurables, which include 4.4 speed, and he has good hands and the ability to high-point the ball to be a threat in the red zone. McCrae showed a willingness to go over the middle and the toughness to hold onto the ball in college, but he is
raw in a lot of the nuances of the wide receiver position. Not a kick returner.
Adam Mims, 5-8, 195, Furman: A fifth-year senior, Mims finished his college career with 198 catches for 2,433 yards (12.3 average) and 13 touchdowns. He averaged 10.1 yards on 35 career punt returns and 19.5 yards on 24 career kickoff return yards. Mims also was used to run some reverses at Furman. In 2008, his first year as a starter, Mims led the team in both catches with 58 catches and receiving yards with 711. Those 58 catches represented the fourth-best total in school history. At the Coastal Carolina Pro Day on March 29, 2011, Mims ran a 4.4.
Armand Robinson, 5-11, 197, Miami (Ohio): In 49 career college games, Robinson caught 210 passes for 2,550 yards and 15 touchdowns, with his most productive seasons being his final two. In 2009, Robinson was named third-team All-MAC after catching 67 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns, and he bettered that in 2010 with 94 catches for 1,062 yards and six touchdowns. In his team’s biggest game in years – the 2010 MAC Championship Game – Robinson caught 14 passes for 176 yards and the game-winning touchdown against Northern Illinois. Robinson’s status for the NFL Draft was hurt when he ran a 4.7 during a pro day on March 29, 2011.
Colin Miller, 6-3, 299, Central Michigan: Miller was a two-time second-team All-MAC choice at center. He started 46 career games, including 42 at center. Miller was one of only two offensive linemen to start every 2010 game for a Central Michigan offense that ranked second in its conference in passing and third in total offense. Miller missed four games to injury in 2008. During a pro day workout last March, Miller ran a 5.3 and did 32 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.
Joshua Harrison, 6-4, 305, South Carolina State: Harrison finished his career at South Carolina State as one of the MEAC’s most decorated offensive linemen. A starter at right tackle for every game during his junior and senior seasons, Harrison was selected as a first-team All-MEAC lineman in 2009, and in 2010 he was voted the MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year by the conference’s coaches. During a pro day workout, Harrison ran a 5.28 and did 17 repetitions of 225 pounds. While waiting for the NFL lockout to end, Harrison went back to school where he was an industrial engineer technology major.
Trevis Turner, 6-7, 333, Abilene Christian: After his career at DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, Turner signed a letter-of-intent with Colorado State, but he never played there. Turner started at left tackle for Trinity Valley Junior College in 2006. He transferred to Northeastern State prior to the 2007 season but did not play there. Turner then went to Abilene Christian in 2008 where he started 37 games at right tackle for a team that posted a 31-6 record and earned three straight NCAA Division II playoff berths. In 2010, Turner was a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award and earned the Jim Langer Offensive Lineman of the Game Award at the Cactus Bowl in Kingsville. At a pro day before the 2011 draft, Turner ran a 5.39 and did 22 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press.
Ty Boyle, 6-3, 285, North Dakota: In 35 career college games, including 21 starts, Boyle accumulated 80 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 19 pressures and two sacks. Boyle also had one interception and blocked three kicks. A Phi Beta Kappa for his academic work in the field of economics, Boyle also served as an intern in the strategic planning department working on business operations at the CONSOL Energy Center, the home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Miguel Chavis, 6-5, 280, Clemson: It’s unusual for a nose guard to be so tall, but that’s the position Chavis played primarily during his college career at Clemson. As he gradually worked himself into the lineup during his first two seasons, Chavis had his playing time gradually increase as he finished with 10 tackles during that time. In 2009 he had 14 tackles on the season. As a senior in 2010, Chavis had 16 tackles during the first six games, but then he missed five of the last six games plus the bowl game. It was reported that at the time of the draft he was recovering from foot and ankle injuries.
Anthony Gray, 6-0, 330, Southern Mississippi: After a foot injury all but ruined his redshirt freshman season of 2007. A nose tackle, Anderson became a productive player over the course of his final three college seasons. He finished those three seasons with 112 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks. His six sacks in 2008 led the team. During his pro day workout on March 22, 2011, Gray was quite impressive. He moved very well at 330 pounds by running a 5.15 in the 40, and a 4.61 in the short shuttle. Gray also posted a 31.5-inch vertical jump and did 39 repetitions on the bench press.
Erik Clanton, 6-3, 242, The Citadel: A defensive end in college, Clanton will play outside linebacker for the Steelers. In 29 games – seven starts – over his first three seasons, Clanton totaled 52 tackles and 4.5 sacks, but then he really blossomed as a senior. In 2010, Clanton was voted first-team All-Conference after posting 14 tackles-for-loss and nine sacks. At his pro day workout, Clanton ran a 4.83 and did 11 repetitions in the bench press. He had signed with Montreal of the Canadian Football League, but he was released before the Alouettes’ season began.
Mario Harvey, 5-11, 250 Marshall: Harvey played middle linebacker in college, but he will be one of the inside linebackers in the Steelers’ 3-4 alignment. He became a full-time starter in 2008, and in his final three seasons at Marshall he had 367 tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. As a senior, Harvey also had seven passes defensed and three forced fumbles. A team captain, Harvey is muscular, has the proper temperament for the position and likes contact. A very productive player who was used both as a middle linebacker and a rush end in college, Harvey also was a standout on special teams. On his pro day, Harvey ran a 4.46 and did 27 repetitions on the bench press.
Niles Brinkley, 5-10, 193, Wisconsin: A cornerback whose father, Lorenzo Brinkley, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Steelers in 1972, Niles Brinkley led the Badgers with four interceptions in 2008, and he added two more in 2009. Brinkley is seen as a tough, competitive cornerback who is physical enough to re-route receivers off the line of scrimmage, while also being good in run support. Brinkley ran a 4.54 at the Scouting Combine, but then lowered that number to 4.48 at his pro day workout. He left college with a reputation as a hard worker.
Brett Greenwood, 5-11, 198, Iowa: A free safety for the Hawkeyes, Greenwood finished his career there with 12 interceptions to tie for sixth place on the school’s all-time list. Ten of those 12 interceptions came in 2010 when he finished the season as the Big Ten leader in that category. That was quite an accomplishment for a player who started at Iowa as a walk-on in 2006. He ran a 4.67 in the 40 prior to the draft last April.
Derek Chard, 6-3, 245, Connecticut: Chard handled all of the long-snapping duties for the Huskies during the 2009-10 seasons without incident. He also contributed seven tackles on special teams during that time.