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Steelers sign picks Hills, Dixon and Davis

| Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Steelers came to terms with three of their seven draft picks Monday, signing fourth-round selection Tony Hills, an offensive tackle from Texas, and reaching agreements with fifth-round choice Dennis Dixon, a quarterback from Oregon, and third-rounder Bruce Davis, a defensive end at UCLA who will be converted to outside linebacker.

Davis, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds, agreed last night to a three-year deal that includes a $506,000 signing bonus. Earlier in the day, Hills (6-5, 304) received a signing bonus of $304,500. Dixon (6-3, 195) agreed to a $130,000 signing bonus.

All three players will have NFL base minimum salaries of $295,000 in 2008, $385,000 in 2009 and $470,000 in 2010.

Davis was the 88th player taken overall in the NFL Draft in April. Hills was the 130th overall selection, and Dixon was taken at 156. The Steelers have yet to come to terms with No. 1 pick Rashard Mendenhall (running back, Illinois), No. 2 pick Limas Sweed (wide receiver, Texas), No. 6a pick Mike Humpal (linebacker, Iowa) and No. 6b pick Ryan Mundy (safety, West Virginia).

Players are scheduled to report July 27 to St. Vincent College in Latrobe for the opening of training camp.

Davis started 13 games at right defensive end and tied for ninth in the nation and first in the Pac-10 Conference with 12 sacks. Davis' 29 career sacks are topped only David Ball's 30.5 in UCLA history. Davis also had 12 1/2 sacks in 2006.

Hills was the 13th offensive tackle selected in a draft that opened with the Miami Dolphins taking Jake Long of Michigan first overall. There were seven additional tackles taken in the first round, including Pitt's Jeff Otah, who went 19th overall to Carolina. Hills started the Longhorns' first 11 games last season before suffering a fractured left fibula.

Three offensive tackles on the Steelers' roster are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the conclusion of the 2008 season: starting left tackle Marvel Smith, and reserves Trai Essex and Max Starks.

Dixon was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and was one of three finalists for the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards in 2007 despite missing the final three games after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. Dixon threw 20 touchdown passes and four interceptions and completed 67.7 percent of his attempts last season.

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