Kevin Gorman's Take 5: Five thoughts on Steelers rookie minicamp
The first chance to see the Steelers' draft picks on a football field came this weekend, as they held their rookie minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.
Here were my quick impressions:
1. A story to tell: The safety from Virginia Tech was raised by his parents to be hard working and humble so he doesn't like to be labeled as the Steelers' top pick.
"I don't really look at myself as that first-round pick because if you have that mentality, somebody else is going to outwork you," Edmunds said. "I pride myself on my work ethic. I try to put on display how hard I work, how hard I go each and every play so that's the person I want to be looked at as. I don't want to be looked at as a first-round draft pick. I want to be looked at as a guy that puts his all out there every play."
Edmunds is the subject of my Sunday column , though his mother stole his thunder. She's the wife of a former NFL player (Ferrell) and the mother of three current NFL players, as Trey plays running back for the New Orleans Saints and Tremaine was the first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, making Terrell and Tremaine the first brothers drafted in the first round of the same draft in NFL history.
"It's definitely a unique story," Terrell said. "I haven't (embraced it) because the story going on right now. So it's not like just because we got drafted in the same draft that the story's over. We never talked as if we were going to get to the league and that would be it. We talked about bigger and better things outside of the league so now we're building to that point. We're still working up the steps now. We got to the one level; not it's on to the next."
2. Cowboy Connection: Much was made of it the Steelers drafting Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington in the second round and Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third.
On Saturday, they showed why.
Rudolph connected with Washington – No. 2 to No. 13 – for a long touchdown pass along the right sideline not once but twice. If they made it look easy, it's because they were the best pass combination in the nation last fall.
Coach Mike Tomlin talks about the playmaking of @Rudolph2Mason & @james_james28 , the communication skills of @rell_island6 & @Chico_Hndrxx , and more.Read: https://t.co/h6KbQqcPy6 pic.twitter.com/UpumtsGCrN— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) May 12, 2018
Rudolph has a nice pocket presence, standing tall and looking downfield, and is known for his touch on deep passes. The bigger question is his throws on the intermediate routes.
He isn't known for his athleticism but made a nice pass on a rollout to his right, throwing on the run for a touchdown to Damoun Patterson of Youngstown State.
Video of Mason Rudolph's talking about Ben Roethlisberger texting him on eve of rookie minicamp pic.twitter.com/9WZQVq0yMA— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) May 11, 2018
At 5-foot-11, 213 pounds, Washington is powerfully built and looks more like a running back than a receiver. He showed the speed to play on the outside and stretch the field but also made a nice stretching catch over the middle.
3. Quite a reach: When the Steelers drafted Chukwuma Okorafor out of Western Michigan in the third round, it was considered a reach, a raw player with first-round talent but lower draft projections.
And that's the first thing I noticed – his reach.
At 6-6, 320, Okorafor is massive, making for a mismatch against most pass rushers. He continually used his long arms to keep edge rushers outside in pass protection.
But he showed that he could have trouble with the inside rush when he wrapped his right arm around the neck of outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi of Toledo.
That such a tactic was used against a 6-1, 248-pound outside linebacker from a MAC school who was wearing No. 92 reminded me of someone who used to play for the Steelers.
4. Good returns: When the Steelers signed their undrafted free agents, the name who caught my attention was Quadree Henderson. Not just because he played at Pitt.
Henderson has something the Steelers seriously need, and showed it with a weaving after-the-catch run through the defense and all the way to the end zone that caught the attention of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was wearing a camouflage hoodie.
"You look like a return man!" Tomlin shouted. "I like that."
Henderson was an All-American return specialist who had seven touchdowns – four on kickoffs and three on punts – in three seasons for the Panthers.
When Quadree Henderson arrived in the Steelers' locker room yesterday, who was there by James Conner.'He saw me and he had a big smile on his face. He did my little airplane gesture when I score a touchdown towards me and gave me a big hug and told me, 'Let's get to work.'' https://t.co/92e9gZWiPX— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 11, 2018
Problem is, he averaged almost as many yards on carries (9.1) as he did catches (10.5), so it will be interesting to see if he can not only make the team as a receiver and return specialist but be good enough for the Steelers to make him active on game days.
5. Extra yardage: I didn't get to see much of Edmunds, but liked his pursuit of an incomplete sideline pass and his attitude even better: "Go get that, 'Rell!"
Christian Scotland-Williamson is another massive body, as the former rugby player from London is 6-9, 275 pounds and playing tight end. He made a catch and quickly wrapped the ball with both hands, showing that he's still transitioning to American football. Through the International Player Pathway program, the Steelers can keep him as an extra player on their practice squad if they choose.
First day on the job ✅ pic.twitter.com/J0PxXavwAY— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 11, 2018
The rookie minicamp included some long shots with local ties, from Henderson to wide receiver Jesse Zubik of Avonworth and W&J, running back Dorian Brown of Baldwin and Ohio University, guard Brandon Hodges from Pitt, tackle Larson Graham from Duquesne, wide receiver Tyler Palka from Gannon and wide receiver Trey Griffey from Arizona, who is the grandson of Donora's Ken Griffey and son of Ken Griffey Jr.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.