The Steelers made a surprise move today, signing New Orleans rookie bust Al Woods to the practice squad and dropping Doug Worthington, a seventh-round pick from Ohio State who showed great promise for Pittsburgh in the preseason.
The recently released Woods was a fourth-round pick by the defending champion Saints, who actually gave up their sixth-round pick in the draft to move up to take him in the earlier part of the fourth round. The Steelers have released Fred Gibson, Orien Harris and Ryan McBean in recent years, but fourth-round picks rarely are released before their rookie season unless they are bad in training camp.
That was evidently the case with Woods, a 6-foot-4, 307-pound NT/DE who may have been drafted too early out of LSU, since many prognosticators had him going in later rounds. Saints coach Sean Payton did not speak highly of Woods following his release.
Woods, who only started 16 games for LSU, obviously has size and some talent that the Steelers will try to develop. Ideally, he could replace veteran Chris Hoke (who will be a free agent after 2010) as Casey Hampton’s backup at nose tackle or veteran Nick Eason as a reserve end on the roster in 2011. But he will have to show improvement with the Steelers over the next 12 months to do so.
While I am cautiously excited about getting a free, rookie fourth-round pick for the practice squad, I was surprised and a little disappointed that the Steelers opted to keep often-injured, second-year defensive lineman Steven McLendon on the practice squad ahead of Worthington.