Dreams come true

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> If not for Heath Miller, the Steelers would've considered taking cornerback Bryant McFadden in the first round. <br><br> They got him in the second.

McFadden (5-11½, 193) became the third Steelers draft pick from Florida State in the last four years. He's a cornerback and hopes to join his old teammate Chris Hope in the Steelers' secondary.

"I'm looking to re-establish where we left off at Florida State," said McFadden.

"Chris Hope had a lot of positive things to say about this kid," said Steelers secondary coach Darren Perry. "More importantly, we liked this kid as a person and we think he is a good football player. We think he can come in here and help us right away."

McFadden ran a 4.5 40 at Florida State's pro day, where he also showed plenty of spring in his legs. He had a vertical jump of 39½ and a broad jump of 11-3. However, his stats on the field aren't quite as strong. In 49 games (21 starts), McFadden had only 4 interceptions. He broke up 26 passes.

"He did not have a lot of opportunities," said Perry. "That is one of the things as coaches that we look for and have to take into account when we are watching film. Very seldom does this guy get beat, and he plays with really good technique and understands the game."

McFadden is strong and physical. He led all cornerbacks at the combine with 23 reps at 225 pounds, and also made 80 solo tackles in his career. While his speed has been questioned by some scouts, few find fault with his technique.

"He can run, he is big, he has good size. If you look at the receivers in our division, we need some corners with some size. This guy brings that," Perry said. "The one thing we look for in our system is corners that can cover and that can tackle well. We think that is an important element to have a successful defense, especially on the island of the cornerback position."

McFadden joins a cornerback group that consists of Deshea Townsend, Willie Williams, Ricardo Colclough, Ike Taylor and Chidi Iwuoma. McFadden is considered a future safety by some scouts, but not by Perry.

"This guy moves well enough and has enough hip flexibility in transition," Perry said, "so I don't see this guy having a problem in the long run in terms of staying out there on the island."

McFadden once told a reporter he didn't want to play "too far north." He was asked if Pittsburgh is too far north.

"No, sir," he said. "That's the Steel Curtain. I used to watch the Steelers all the time. My uncle used to watch the Steelers back when they had Chuck Noll, Mean Joe Greene and all the yellow towels in the stands. It's a dream come true."


Trai Essex is the Steelers' third-round pick, and the tackle from Northwestern has always been a fan of the team.

"Pittsburgh has always been my favorite team since I was a little kid," said the native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. "Ever since the Barry Foster days, way back when I was a little kid."

Essex is 6-4, 324-pounder who started three years at left tackle. Scouts love his quick feet but question his passion for the game.

"You turn the film on and see the guy play, I think he has passion for the game," said Steelers line coach Russ Grimm. "We brought him in. I think he's got great character. I just got off the phone with him and he's excited."

And the feet?

"He's got good feet," Grimm said. "He can move for a big man. We're excited to have him here."

Those quick feet will help Essex play guard, as well as tackle. That kind of versatility is necessary for a team with needs at both positions.

"He can play both tackles and we think he can play both guards," Grimm said. "He's a good football player. He's an explosive type of offensive lineman. He fits our scheme. He's a smart guy who can play more than one position. He's a guy we were looking for."

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