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The Pittsburgh Steelers need cornerbacks and here's one for the middle rounds

The Steelers like quick, fast and physical zone corners. James Bradberry is a small-schooler with "lock down potential."

William Jackson, Andrew Billings, Eli AppleKarl Joseph and on and on and on the rambling has gone.

Artie Burns was a fresh name for a while. And then Vernon Hargreaves slipped into our SteelerNational consciousness after sliding to pick 25 of the yet-to-be-published Scout.com Publisher's Mock 2, as well as a couple of others (here and here) around the 'net. But that's just more hashing about of the same names.

With only about 36 hours until the actual draft, we still need another name.

And I've got one for you:

James Bradberry.

He's a 6-0 3/4 cornerback from Samford.

Yes, it's the same Division I-AA school that steered DL Nick Williams to the Steelers three years ago. I'm sure the connections remain, so even if I oversell the young man in the following paragraphs the Steelers will have a go-to man down there to ferret out the truth.

Overselling Bradberry won't be difficult. I'll start by comparing his size and workout numbers to those of Apple, the 6-0 5/8 cornerback from Ohio State.

Bradberry: 4.45 40 (1.54 10) at 211 pounds, 33-inch arms, 16 reps, 36 vj, 11-0 bj, 4.21 shuttle, 6.91 3-cone with 8 interceptions in 4 years.

Apple: 4.40 40 (1.57 10) at 199 pounds, 31.3-inch arms, 13 reps, 32.2 vj, n/a bj, 4.08 shuttle, 7.00 3-cone with 4 interceptions in 2 years.

I went through reports from a couple of media scouts and came up with the following notations on Bradberry:

"Aggressive filling vs. the run."

"Catches the ball with ease very naturally."

"Jamming and knocking down receivers in press coverage at the Senior Bowl."

"Good football intelligence."

"Makes the defensive calls."

"Raw footwork."

In summation, Nolan Nawrocki wrote, "Very effective bump-and-run corner for an aggressive defense such as the Ravens, Cardinals or Steelers."

And he put a 5th to 6th-round grade on him.

Here's what Kyle Crabbs had to say:

"Strong, natural quickness and short-area change of direction."

"Highly physical."

"Lock down potential."

"Above average burst."

"Open field redirection skills are strong."

"Flashes with wow plays on a regular basis."

"Heavy hitter in run support and will jar receivers at catch point."

"Will need refinement to clean up footwork issues."

Crabbs put a 4th-round grade on Bradberry.

In looking at the one set of cut-ups, from the Central Arkansas game, Bradberry was rarely tested, although he did break up one deep throw and on the final defensive snap blew up a running back on a screen pass behind the line.

At the Senior Bowl, after a week of raves from reporters covering his press coverage skills at practice, Bradberry was put at safety and was virtually invisible.

Hey, we all know the John Stallworth story, about the Steelers "losing" his tape from Alabama A&M, how legendary scout Bill Nunn stayed behind to re-time him after everyone else got a bad time, and then how Nunn kept quiet whilst the receiver was used at cornerback during the Senior Bowl. Stallworth and Bradberry were even born and raised 50 miles apart in the west suburbs of Birmingham.

Now, I'm not saying Bradberry is the defensive equivalent of Stallworth, the Hall of Famer, but I am having doubts that Bradberry will be available in the fourth round. Not the way some of the analytics guys are raving about him: are raving about him.

I can also imagine Carnell Lake raving about him, not that I can ever remember Carnell raving about anything, even during the peak of his playmaking days with the Steelers. But I do remember Carnell telling us what the organization looks for in a cornerback after the drafting of Cortez Allen in the fourth round of the 2011 draft:

"He’s a quick, fast guy that plays physical. He can play both the bump(-and-run) and off-coverage well," said Lake. "In our defensive scheme, you want somebody that can do both."

If the tape shows anything, it shows that James Bradberry can do both, and do them fast and physically.

Lockwood / USA TODAY Sports Images

 
(In the photo at the top of the page, Bradberry tackled Sammie Coates after a catch during a 2014 game, but Bradberry gets the pick here on a pass intended for Coates.)


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