We’re finally in the month of April, arguably the most important month in the offseason for any team as the NFL draft gets closer by the day. The Steelers, as per usual, are quiet during the free agency period. They take care of their in house players by offering tenders to those they want to keep and move forward with draft preparations.
The wide receiver position, as early as last year, seemed to be full of promise for the future. Now it’s one that is definitely in question. There’s no need to keep beating the Mike Wallace dead horse; he’s still a Steeler and likely will remain so for at least 2012. He’ll eventually sign his 1 yr. offer and with any luck the team will be able to get him signed long term during training camp or preseason. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are still under contract for now and this offseason should be a lesson that even the highest rated restricted player rarely draws significant interest from other teams. Both Brown and Sanders will be RFA’s next year and I’m sure the hype will start up as soon as 2012 ends if the team doesn’t either or both to extensions before then. The Steelers are still in constant talks with Jerricho Cotchery as well and hope to bring him back.
While receiver still doesn’t figure to be on the Steelers draft board as a top priority with a premium pick, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be looking for value at this position at the very least. One of those players that could be had late in the draft is Toney Clemons out of Colorado. He is scheduled to meet with the Steelers on April 18. It would be prudent to note that the Steelers always have many visits scheduled with potential interests on their draft board, but it’s no guarantee that will aggressively go after any one of them. These meetings are as much for them to gauge how he might fit in with them as it is for the player to get an idea of what playing for a team like the Steelers is all about. The fact that they are scheduled to meet with him though indicates they are intrigued by him at the very least.
Clemons is as of now projected as a 6th -7th draft pick but could also finish out draft weekend without getting a call at all. If that happens you can bet his phone will be ringing with interested teams who are looking for depth and future talent at receiver. The Steelers could very well be one of those teams, and based on his recent work out as you’ll read below from Bill Beckner Jr., he could be a steal for someone like Pittsburgh.
One head-turning performance by a college standout can draw that fine line between the beginnings of a pro career and selling insurance for a living.
Valley grad Toney Clemons had one of those attention-grabbing pro days earlier this month in Boulder, Colo., and it could have unlocked a door into the NFL.
“It came down to 80 yards,” said Clemons, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver who wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but played in a senior all-star game in Arkansas. “Two 40 (-yard dashes). I had a quiet confidence and was ready to compete that day.”
The Colorado grad blistered the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds — the fastest 40 time in the former track star’s career.
“Officially, it’s the fastest,” said Clemons, 23. “You have some great athletes running the 10 split in 1.50 or 1.49. I did it in 1.47. You want to be able to perform when it counts most.”
A tidy performance, which also saw decent ratings in the broad jump, 20- and 60-yard shuttle runs and position drills, caught the attention of draft gurus.
“With a terrific pro day workout, Clemons demonstrated the combination of size and all-around athleticism to intrigue any NFL scout,” said Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a partner of CBSSports.com. “In not gaining an invitation to the scouting combine, Clemons was viewed by scouts as late as a month ago as unlikely to be drafted. The pro day workout, in itself, won’t guarantee that Clemons will be drafted, but it will force clubs to take a longer look.”
Clemons, who started his career at Michigan, transferred and sat out a year per NCAA rules, had productive junior and senior seasons at Colorado.
A rarity in that he played in three conferences, Clemons had back-to-back 43-catch seasons, with a career-high 680 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year.
“I have the draftable grades,” Clemons said. “To be picked would be a great thing. I feel I have done what I needed to do. It’s incredible to be in a position where I once saw myself getting to.”
Clemons’ stock is rising. After the solid pro day workout, he went from the No. 82 ranking to 71 out of 347 wideout prospects on the NFLdraftscout.com’s board.