Steelers look to Austin for defensive help


AUSTIN, Texas — At Texas’ pro day held Tuesday it didn’t take me long to figure out the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top draft needs.

The Super Bowl team sent its head coach, general manager, and entire defensive staff to take a look at defensive backs Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown, as well as pass-rusher Sam Acho. They weren’t alone.

Among the 53 coaches, scouts and personnel men, all 32 teams were represented. The contingent included two head coaches, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, and about 30 assistant coaches, which tells me their teams’ scouts gave the Texas players high grades and they were present to verify the reports and poke around some more.

Others included Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Cowboys director of scouting Tom Ciskowski, Jets defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman, and Broncos scout Cornell Green (a basketball player from Utah State I signed as an undrafted free agent in 1962).

Also on hand to help out with drills were six former Longhorns from the NFL  — Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson, Falcons OT Justin Blalock, Redskins DE Brian Orakpo, Titans DB Michael Griffin and Raiders defenders Lamarr Houston and Michael Huff.

Here’s a breakdown of the workouts:

Acho (6-1 ¾, 259 pounds) stood on everything at the combine. He had an excellent workout. He showed great change in direction, which will help him as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.

Chykie Brown (5-11 5/8, 191) ran 4.40 and 4.37 seconds in the 40, had a 39-inch vertical, and stood on everything else from the combine. His workout was pretty good.

G Mike Huey (6-4, 304) ran 5.16 and 5.18 40s, to go with a 33 ½-inch vertical and 9-5 broad. He also had a 4.60 short shuttle, 8.31 3-cone drill, and did 35 bench presses at 225 pounds.

Williams (6-0 1/8, 201) ran 4.44 in the 40. He had a good, solid workout and lived up to expectations.

TE Greg Smith (6-4 1/8, 245) ran 4.78 and 4.83 40s and had a 39-inch vertical. He also ran a 4.30 short shuttle and 7.15 3-cone drill.

WR James Kirkendoll (5-9 7/8, 174) ran 4.41, 4.42 and 4.47 40s, had a 38-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump, and ran 4.15 in the short shuttle and 6.92 in the 3-cone drill.

The day culminated with one of the things everybody enjoys about Texas’ pro day, which is the big dinner served by Bert’s BBQ. I always joke with Longhorns coach Mack Brown that he thinks NFL folks come to see the players. No, they come for Bert’s.

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