The theme to the Steelers' in-season roster moves as well as the draft has been "standout characteristics."
Undrafted free agent Ronald Patrick fits in line with that theme. The University of South Carolina graduate is a project, but there aren't many offensive guards with 34-inch-plus arms. Of the 12 of them who measured in at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in February, only Patrick had a 10-yard split time of under 1.8 (1.76).
He stands at only 6-foot-1, making his arm length particularly unique, but being a two-year starter in the SEC has to count for something. He was also a three-time academic all-conference selection, having started in 19 straight games over the span of those two seasons.
His bio at South Carolina listed him as having an 80-inch wingspan, although he measured a bit under that at his pro day last year. Either way, you're looking at excellent length and great short-space speed, two excellent characteristics for a guard in an offense that pulls their guards quite a bit.
The Steelers selected David DeCastro with the 24th overall pick in 2012 and immediately inserted him in the starting lineup. DeCastro ran a 1.79 10-yard split at the Combine that year.
No one is saying Patrick is DeCastro, but that's the level of short-burst speed Patrick has. After the team lost Adam Gettis, another project guard, when he signed with the Giants' 53-man roster this week, they picked up Patrick, who has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys.
Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko was impressed with Patrick in watching him against Central Florida last season:
Senior guard Ronald Patrick played a pivotal role in South Carolina’s run-game success on the road versus a tough Central Florida team. Quick and aggressive to his targets when stepping down on nose tackles or reaching 3-techniques, Patrick secured and turned open multiple holes as the playside blocker. On other occasions, Patrick also showed mobility and blocking skills on the move. Pulling, locating and securing targets downfield, Patrick was sound with his angles, balanced downfield and decisive in attacking defenders. All in all, it was an excellent performance for a player that is working toward securing a late-round draft selection.
It's the time of the year when younger players get picked up for the sake of evaluating them in preparation for the team's off-season roster moves. Patrick replaced Gettis, and whether the Steelers had their eyes on Patrick the whole time remains to be seen. Perhaps he's able to stick around through the off-season and compete in the May minicamp. He has the physical makeup the team is looking for in a pulling guard, if he can add some power without losing speed.