Snapshot: Bryant McFadden

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> It's been more than two years since Bryant McFadden last gave up a touchdown pass. <br><br> But that's not why the Steelers fell in love with the former Florida State cornerback, making him their second-round draft pick.

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 cornerback available.

"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 good."

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 cornerback position."

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 a play."

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 rule 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."

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