With the annual NFL Draft on the horizon, it brings to mind some maneuvering that paid huge dividends for all involved, while others just didn't pan out for any teams or the players who were traded.
Fordham was signed as an undrafted free agent from Florida State in 1997 and played just one game. He played in 11 games and started one the following season, but missed all of 1999. His career picked up considerably the following season, as he played in every game and started eight games at right tackle when Zach Wiegert was injured.
Fordham started all 12 games that he played in 2001 and started nine of 16 for the Jaguars in 2002 before moving on to the Steelers in 2003. He opened six of 11 games at right tackle that season, but was not brought back in 2004. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a future draft pick. Fordham played for the Panthers from 2005-06, and he started right of 47 games. During his 10 NFL seasons, Fordham played in 114 games and started 44.
The Steelers used that draft pick in 2005 to take defensive lineman Shaun Nua from BYU in the seventh round during that NFL Draft. That was the year the Steelers selected tight end Heath Miller with their No. 1 pick and cornerback Bryant McFadden in the second round. Offensive lineman Trai Essex was their third-round pick, while offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu came aboard via the sixth round. These were the only players who spent a considerable amount of time with the Steelers after that draft.
The club selected Nua at No. 228 overall, the first of its two seventh-round picks. Nua was an amiable sort and a physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 280 pounds. He spent the 2005-07 seasons with the Steelers and picked up a championship ring when the team won it all in Super Bowl XL following his rookie season. But Nua never played a game in the NFL.
Nua was on the Steelers' offseason roster and practice squad during those seasons and also spent time with the Buffalo Bills from 2007-08, but he never played for them, either. However, Nua, a native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, was a student of the game and returned to his alma mater to coach.
Nua was an assistant coach at BYU from 2009-2011, but he joined the coaching staff at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012 and has been there ever since. Nua is credited with improvement by both the BYU and Navy defensive linemen during the past five seasons.
So, while Nua was never able to make it as a player in the NFL, he has been able to send some of his students to the next level. But that didn't help the Steelers during his tenure with them.
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