Ragone Would be a Good Fit in Pittsburgh

With the NFL Draft approaching this weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers as usual are playing things pretty close to the vest in terms of who they will select. The obvious need is in the secondary, but a quarterback also figures into their plans at some point.

"You don't want to pass up a chance to get a good quarterback," Coach Bill Cowher said. "Nothing deflates your team quicker than not having someone to run your team. You better not diminish the importance of that position. If you don't have options there, there can be nothing more demoralizing to a football team."

So what are the Steelers options at quarterback in the draft?

Some prospects will obviously be gone when the Steelers make their pick at number 27 and the needs in the secondary may take precedence. Drafting one of the quarterbacks who may be on the board at number 27 (Florida's Rex Grossman is the name that comes up the most) may be a reach with the first pick.

The best scenario may be Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone who is likely to be on the board when the Steelers pick in round two.

Record setting University of Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone was primed for a big senior season after guiding the Cardinals to two consecutive Conference USA championships. Many touted Ragone as a possible first round choice in the NFL Draft.

The experts didn't account for a shoddy offensive line, weak running game, the loss of Ragone's top two receivers and a weird midseason funk. The result was a 7-6 record and regression in nearly every category for Ragone. His completion percentage (54.8 percent) was the lowest of his career. Only 24 touchdowns tied a career low. Worst of all, Ragone was sacked 45 times in 13 games.

At the NFL combine in Indianapolis no quarterback was as effective as Dave Ragone. Coming off a terrible senior campaign at Louisville, this was the big lefty's last opportunity to make a statement, and he did just that.

"I feel I answered some of their questions about what kind of arm strength and accuracy I have," Ragone said. "It's hard to be accurate when you're running around back there. I just played with what I was dealt and I feel that I answered some of the critics. I'll be the first to tell you that it helps to have a supporting cast and it makes you look a little better than you are and not having a great supporting cast makes you look a little worse than you are."

He helped himself at the combine," Buffalo Bills president and General Manager Tom Donahoe stated. "He threw the ball well. The problem this year was they struggled so much on their offensive line. He's got a lot of things going for him and probably the biggest thing is his toughness, but the way he threw the ball at the combine he definitely had to help himself."

Ragone feels that there was more to his senior season at U of L than just the numbers.

"It was challenging in different ways," Ragone said. You kind of knew that when you lose that many starters and that much experience on offense that you are going to struggle. But I learned a lot from this year and to be honest with you I wouldn't give any of it back. To the naked eye people that don't know that much about football look at the numbers and say it was down from my junior year, but what I learned on and off the field last year was something that I can hopefully use in the future."

Ragone's character and his toughness are strong selling points.

"Definitely, like I said it challenged me in different ways and I think I became a better leader than I was my junior year," Ragone opined. "I was faced with a different set of problems and different types of adversity and I learned how to overcome it and it made me stronger."

Ragone had another strong showing for the pro scouts at an on campus work out. Despite the good showings for the scouts he is still pegged in the second or third round of the draft coming off his sub par senior year.

"You have your people telling you one day you're this round, the next day you're this round, Ragone said. "One day this team likes you, the next day they don't. It's been pretty steady what teams are interested and what teams are not, but you're still about a month from your name being called on draft day, so it's really hard to pinpoint where you are going. People will say I will go anywhere from the middle to the late first round some say I've fallen farther. I feel I helped myself at the combine."

From Ragone's point of view he feels Pittsburgh would be an ideal situation.

"If you were to mention the teams that I would be interested in - it would definitely be a Pittsburgh type team, Ragone explained. "I'm from a Cleveland environment and I grew up watching Pittsburgh and the towns are very similar. I have nothing but admiration for coach Cowher and I remember when I was little watching him as a special teams coach for the Browns.

"If you could wave the magic wand it would be a great location to go to. Especially being able to learn from Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch. It would be a great situation."

Notes: Louisville underclassman Dewayne White is also likely to be drafted coming out after his junior season.

"He's all over the place," Buffalo Bills president and General Manager Tom Donahoe offered. "Some people have him at defensive end and some people have him moving into tackle and some have him projected as a linebacker. He is a good athlete and pass rusher. Because of his rush ability he's going to get a lot of opportunity."

According to White the teams that seem to be zeroing in on him are Houston and Pittsburgh.

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