Sifting Through The Wreckage

There are several top-shelf prospects currently re-habbing injuries. One late-rounder might be worth it for the Steelers.

There's a defensive lineman who in his last three college seasons has started at nose tackle, 4-3 tackle, and 3-4 end and who's being hailed by some as the best interior lineman in the draft because his quick first step rivals that of Aaron Donald's.

This player projects nicely to the 5-tech position, at which the Steelers are so very thin, and he no doubt will be available at pick 15.

Of course, there's a problem, because Dominique Easley will have to sit out training camp, at least, as he rehabs the second ACL injury of his young career.

Easley, it's being said, will make a great second-round pick, but only for a team that has enough depth to give such a player a scholarship through most of his rookie season. Easley tore his ACL after the third game of Florida's 2013 season.

The San Francisco 49ers have that kind of depth, and they did give "scholarships" last season to re-habbing rookies Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore.

The 49ers are at it again this year, or so it seemed last week when they hosted Aaron Colvin, the physical cornerback from Oklahoma who tore his ACL during one of the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.

Colvin would make a great third-round pick, but, again, that's probably too rich for a Steelers secondary that will need all hands on deck this coming season.

So, we go to the fourth round, where analyst Daniel Jeremiah has said that the best pick will be Brandon Thomas, a 6-3, 317-pound offensive lineman with 34 3/4-inch arms and 4.97 speed. He also jumped 35 inches vertically at the combine.

Thomas made 36 starts for Clemson the last three years at left tackle and left guard, and was a second-round lock before tearing his ACL while working out for the New Orleans Saints the first week of April.

The Steelers have only one pick in the fourth round and, again, need their first four picks to shore up a depth chart that has inevitably been weakened since appearing in three Super Bowls between 2005-2010.

But the Steelers have two fifth-round and two sixth-round picks, and there's one remaining injured player who's fallen from a lofty perch and could be available, and he plays at a position of need. But don't be fooled by Trey Millard's puny stats because it's his versatility that makes him so attractive.

"It just depends on what team picks me and where they want me to fit," Millard patiently repeated for combine reporters who wanted to know which position he'll play, or prefers to play, in the NFL.

"I'll be ready for whatever position," he said.

Millard played running back, fullback, tight end and three special teams at Oklahoma, and that all adds up to a player who can take up multiple roster spots for some lucky NFL team.

The problem, again, is that he suffered a torn ACL and a partially torn MCL while covering a kickoff last Oct. 26. It ended a career in which Millard rushed for 538 yards (5.5 avg.) and 6 touchdowns and caught 70 passes for 677 yards and 7 touchdowns.

He was a four-year starter and a captain at Oklahoma, where the 6-2.3, 255-pounder blocked like the guy after whom he hopes to pattern himself in the NFL, Vonta Leach.

Vonta Leach?

"I guess it started in high school," Millard said of his thirst for contact. "I was a fullback before I became a running back in high school. Just getting back to that mode because some great coaches have helped me along the way at OU to help me as a blocker."

Still, Millard's favorite play at OU occurred with the ball in his hands.

"It was one against Texas two years ago," he said. "I hurdled and trucked a guy at the same time."

Millard's spirit will no doubt live on at OU for years. Just recently coach Bob Stoops pointed to a freshman fullback during spring drills and said, "This is the first guy in three years that we felt reminded us of Trey Millard, because they aren't easy to find."

No they're not.

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