Sure, McFadden has size (5-11 3/8, 190 pounds) and speed (4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day).
But he just might have been the most explosive cornerback
available in this year's draft. Need proof? McFadden scored
above the magic 70 in how the NFL measures explosiveness,
with his 10-foot, 10-inch standing broad jump, 23 repetitions of
220 pounds on the bench press and 38 1/2-inch vertical leap.
That showed that he was not only one of the most explosive
players in this year's draft, he was THE most explosive
"Those are very, very impressive numbers," said Steelers'
defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau of McFadden. "They all go
into the portfolio into the young man when you're thinking about
drafting him. . But when you start vertical jumping up around 40
inches and broad-jumping over 10 feet, you're jumping pretty
Obviously, the ability to leap high into the air is important. But
NFL teams also look at the broad jump as a way to help
measure a player's ability to deliver a blow. And McFadden
doesn't come up short in that respect.
"The one thing we look for in our system are corners that can
cover and that can tackle well," said Steelers' defensive backs
coach Darren Perry. "We think that is an important element to
have a successful defense, especially on the island of the
McFadden is flattered by how much the Steelers like his ability to
hit and tackle. But don't get the idea that McFadden can't defend
the pass as well.
"I'm not a give-and-take corner, a corner that takes an
interception, but gives a TD," McFadden said. "I feel that I have
great fundamentals. They can be a lot better, but as far coming
from a major college, I think my fundamentals are a little bit
higher, probably, from the other corners. And my technique. I feel
as if play with nice technique . to either make a play or break up
The Steelers liked McFadden's combination of coverage and
physical ability enough to consider selecting him in the first
round of the draft. In fact, had eventual first-round pick Heath Miller not been available, McFadden was one of another group of
players the team would have considered taking in the first round.
"The biggest question about me was that I can't run," McFadden
said. "But if you watch film, you aren't going to see anyone
getting in behind me or me chasing people."
The Steelers don't expect him to be chasing anyone in the NFL,
either, despite playing in a division that includes Cincinnati's
Chad Johnson and Baltimore's Derrick Mason. And when you
also consider the Browns selected Michigan's Braylon Edwards
and the Ravens took Oklahoma's Mark Clayton in the first round
of the draft, you begin to see why the Steelers felt they needed to
bring in a corner with McFadden's skills.
"If you look at the receivers in our division, we need some
corners with some size," said Perry. "(McFadden) brings that. He
can run, he is quick and he plays with good technique."
The Steelers also had a good idea about McFadden as a
person. Not only did head coach Bill Cowher get to spend a
good amount of time talking to him at Florida State's pro workout
day, but McFadden is also close friends with Steelers' starting
free safety Chris Hope, another former Seminoles' star.
"He hosted me on my official visit to Florida State in 1999," said
McFadden, who was considered by many services to be the top
high school corner in the nation that year. "We started a
relationship there. I ended up going to Florida State and we
played together in the secondary there. I'm looking to
re-establish where we left off at Florida State."
Because of that personal relationship with Hope and their own
meetings with him, the Steelers felt they knew enough about
McFadden to add him to what is now a promising group of
corners. Deshea Townsend and Willie Williams return as
starters, while Ricardo Colclough - a second round pick in 2003
- and Ike Taylor - a third-round pick in 2002 - are the backups.
But Williams is now 34 years old and the Steelers are hoping
that one of the three youngsters they now have on their roster will
establish themselves as a starting-quality corner in training
camp this year.
"It might be unrealistic initially to say that, but I don't want to
anything out," said Cowher of the possibility of McFadden
winning a starting job. "We will see how it unfolds. I know he is a
smart kid. I know how he plays. He fits what we like to do and he
has played at a high level. He has been exposed to a lot of good
players, but we will see."
Snapshot: Bryant McFadden
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