With Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly looking to his Oregon Ducks pipeline early and often for NFL talent, the team is often looked at as an extension of Oregon, the “Philadelphia Ducks” if you will. Kelly looked to cap this off by an “any means possible” approach to trade up and land his former signal-caller, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Although his plan didn’t pan out, it’s clear he has an affinity for his former players.
However, it’s also apparent the Steelers’ front office seems to be enamored with the Ohio State pipeline as well, drafting six of their players dating back to 2010. So should we give them the moniker, “The Pittsburgh Buckeyes?” In 2010, it was Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington, Cameron Heyward in 2011, Mike Adams in 2012, Ryan Shazier in 2014 and this year, Doran Grant.
For Grant, he will feel right at home in the locker room filled with familiar faces from college. Known as an aggressive, smart player that doesn’t back down from contact, Grant should excel in the Steelers’ scheme. The first player to greet him was one he was exceptionally close with, and that’s Shazier.
“He is like my brother,” said Shazier, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “We came into Ohio State together. We hang out all of the time. When we drafted him, it was drafting one of my close friends. I called him right afterwards. I was really excited about it.”
A team captain his senior year, Grant picked off five passes last year for the national champions, and looks to build on that in a city accustomed to championships.
“I play with a lot of physicality and a lot of intelligence,” said Grant, according to Varley. “I am just gritty. It’s the ‘want to’ to go tackle, beat a block, hit somebody, and not be afraid. It’s part of the game.”
The Ohio State locker room connection will undoubtedly help Grant feel more at home for the 2014 AFC North Champions, who will look to build on their success in 2014, despite the loss of suspended star running back, Le’Veon Bell, in the early going. That will put the onus on the defense to help carry their end of the bargain, and Grant looks to put his hard hat on, get to work and be ready to contribute.
Carnell Lake, the Steelers’ defensive backs coach, couldn’t agree more and spoke highly of Grant’s big-school status and how it’ll translate to the pros.
“In this sense, a corner that has matched up with some top-notch programs has seen a lot of receivers that have gone in probably the first, second or third round,” Lake said, according to steelers.com. “Ohio State has seen them. They have played them in the biggest game there is in college football and that would be in the National Championship game. To have that kind of experience and step right into the NFL, gives him a slight advantage.”
Every year on their pro day circuit, the front office will hit all the hot spots and venture to visit the big names, but there’s one campus they’re sure to circle on the calendar and that’s the one in Columbus, OH.