In the past, college quarterbacks who moved positions to enter the NFL draft usually did so reluctantly, or did so because the move to the wide receiver position fit their diva personality. Antwaan Randle El, Kordell Stewart, Ronald Curry, Josh Cribbs, and many others have made the move to skill positions to ensure that they remained in the spotlight in the NFL. Some successful running quarterbacks never make it in the NFL, Eric Crouch being the most notable example. So a player like Trent Steelman has a lot to prove if he wants to break into the NFL.
The Army quarterback set plenty of records at West Point, and certainly produced in his collegiate career. He was the leader of a very strong option rushing attack, never showing the ability to throw the ball well on a consistent basis. In an era where Tim Tebow and Brad Smith are unable to crack NFL lineups as quarterbacks, it’s unlikely that a thrower of Steelman’s calibre will be lining up as a starting QB in the NFL any time soon (Unless the Cardinals get desperate). This is a fact that Trent understands, and his time spent at the East-West Shrine game shows his willingness to do whatever it takes to make an NFL roster.
Steelman played slot receiver and long snapper during the Shrine Game, and also lined up at quarterback and rushed for a touchdown. According to an article printed in the Tampa Bay Times, Steelman made some impact plays as a wide receiver in practice, especially considering he is learning the position. He is built like a running back, which is typical of an option quarterback. According to NFL Draft Scout.com, he runs the 40 yard dash in the 4.6 second range, which is going to be a negative mark on his draft resume. He’s around six feet tall, and weighs in at over 200 pounds. Essentially, Steelman has the opportunity to be a slot receiver who has the running power of a power running back but the speed of a tight end.
I think the most intriguing and attractive aspect of Steelman as a draft prospect is his willingness to put his skills to use however the team sees fit. This was a quote many would use about Tim Tebow, and despite his use on special teams and as a pass protector with the Jets, Tebow seemed more focused on winning the starting quarterback job from Mark Sanchez. Steelman, on the other hand, has no reservations playing other positions, and spoke with excitement and respect about his opportunity to play wide receiver and long snapper. Steelman may not be worthy of a draft pick in any of the 7 rounds, but watch and see who signs him when all is said and done. I believe that he has the potential to be a hard working contributor to the special teams unit of an NFL franchise, and could also bring a wrinkle to the quarterback position that has been proven to work by the likes of Colin Kaepernick and others. And with a strong work ethic and a desire to get better, Steelman could develop into a very good NFL player. I hope the young man gets a chance, and I would be thrilled if that chance is with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
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