Apologies To Steelers Rookie Undrafted Guard Nik Embernate

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former San Diego State right guard Nik Embernate as an undrafted free agent last week and I came away unimpressed with him after watching him play against Boise State last year.

In that game, Embernate had trouble anchoring in pass protection and was on the ground quite a bit after slipping off blocks. At that time I wondered to myself why there was such a fuss about him. Instead of researching him further, I moved on and pretty much wrote him off as being way over hyped.

Shame on me.

On Sunday I came across a 2011 highlight compilation video of Embernate on Youtube, and while I don\’t put much stock in videos that only show highlights, I was impressed nonetheless and felt like this couldn\’t be the same player that I watched in the game against Boise State.

After researching the San Diego State injury report heading into their game against Boise State, I discovered that the nearly 6 foot, 4 inch, 304 pound right guard played on a sprained ankle that he had injured the week before.


After realizing that I judged Embernate unfairly, I pulled up the Poinsettia Bowl game against BYU and watched it. Embernate started the game at right guard and he gave BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who wound up being drafted in the first round by the Detroit Lions, more than he wanted with his physical style of play. A couple of times in that game Embernate even buried Ansah into the ground. He really looked like an NFL guard in that game until he had to move out to right tackle after starter Zach Dilley was injured and unable to return. I stopped watching at that point as there was no since judging Embernate at a position that he had no business playing.

I was able to track down one more San Diego State game from last season and once again Embernate did not disappoint. For a big guy he sure pulls to the left good and he is as nasty as they come. His build and style of play reminds me of Miami Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito.

Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review talked to Embernate while he was in town this past weekend for the Steelers rookie camp and the former Aztec, who goes by the nickname of “Embernasty”, said that he thinks he is a perfect fit with the Steelers.

“Going back to college, the way I played hard, physical, tough — that\’s what the Steel City is all about,” Embernate said, via the Robinson report. “That\’s what I kind of feel myself as: a blue-collar worker. I\’ve got my lunch pail going to work every day, just trying to get better and help out no matter what way I can.”

Why Emberante went undrafted in a class that wasn\’t very deep at the guard position we will never know. The Steelers had him in for a visit prior to the draft and wasted no time signing after the draft concluded, and after watching the game against BYU, I can certainly see why.

So how did Embernate enjoy his first visit to the Pittsburgh this weekend?

“I love this place,” Embernate said. “I was only here for less than 24 hours, but it was awesome.”

Being as the Steelers lack depth on their offensive line and being as it appears Embernate was more than likely one of the Steelers highest priority undrafted free agents, I have a feeling that he will be given every opportunity to make the 53 man roster and I can\’t wait to see him play in the preseason.

In closing, let this post serve as a lesson as to why you have to watch more than just one game of player that you don\’t know much about. If you are only able to watch just one game, make sure that the player that you are watching didn\’t have an injury going into that game. it makes a huge difference.

My apologies to Mr. Embernate for judging him unfairly.

  • TJimmy

    Getting too aggressive and ‘nasty’ can lead to injury. Hopefully if he makes the 53 he will remain healthy enough to be effective.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Takes a big man to admit your mistakes. I didnt understand why you threw him off the bridge but now it is understandable. Hope the kids shows something because we need it.

  • He certainly seems to have that nasty disposition we all like to see in our O-linemen and players in general..Good Luck to him because we definitely need the depth help.

  • LouPGH

    I haven’t watched much on this kid, but it sounds as though the Steelers got good value with him. From what I’ve read, it seems he just needs coached up on technique. He certainly seems to have the size and athleticism to hang in the NFL, and he said all the right things in that interview. In response to Jimmy’s comment, I’d point out that he started 45 games at San Diego State, so durability hasn’t been an issue thus far. We need depth at Guard, so I will be pulling for him to do well at camp.

    And, I hate to do this, but it’s only Monday and, even more than I hate saying something, I hate nitpicking… To the spell check Nazi in the facebook comments: Dave puts out more Steelers-related content than any other source on the Internet and, as far as I am aware, no one pays him to do it. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who needs anyone to say something on his behalf. But that said, I would suggest you either donate so he can afford to spend more time copy editing his posts, volunteer your own time to do so, stop reading, or shut up about it.

  • steeltown

    Nice.. I haven’t watched much film on him, but everything I read said he was very physical, plays hard and he moves well in the zone scheme

  • $19122620

    Awesome news! I was high on him but was disappointed to hear that maybe he was not that good after all. Glad to hear that he was playing injured in that game. Also glad to hear he loves beign a Steeler and that we may have gotten a potenital undrafted steal. Sounds like a guy that will be a hard worker and takes pride in his work. Just what we need. I think he has more talent than just making the team.

    I am hopeful for our line. Mainly we need to just stay healthy and build some rapport. I feel like if we do that we have all the personal to have an above average line.

  • steeltown

    Wow.. ok, I just watched some highlight film on this kid, he is pretty impressive, relentless and moves really well in space, sometimes knocking or pushing guys back 10-15yds out of the play
    I’ll be pulling for this kid, I love rooting for players that went undrafted (e.g. Ramon Foster, Robert Golden, A.Robinson) who work their tails off and eventually make the final roster

  • steeltown

    Yea, with all of the high draft picks we have at OL, I really hope we can find good depth without breaking the bank (Foster, Beachum) hopefully Embernate and maybe another UDFA can make some noise, maybe Ivory Wade, Golic Jr, or Joe Madsen

  • westcoasteeler

    I am pretty high on Golic Jr. Sounds like Embernate is more versatile covering for an injured tackle. Dave reported that the Steelers are working Jr. at tackle!?! Who’s gonna win the battle?

  • dgh57

    I love his nickname “Ebernasty”!!!

    Just hope he can control that nastiness! I was concerned about the o-line depth after the draft but it now seems we may have corrected those concerns with UDFAs.

  • Matt Lipner

    Do yourself a favor and watch the 2011 highlight video from his junior season. His pulling ability is almost the only thing highlighted, but it is fantastic. He is only slightly undersized, but makes up for that with impressive athleticism and tenacity. I think and hope he at least makes the PS, because he has a ton of potential

  • Chris92021

    So if it came down to it, Embernasty or Golic Jr. for the final roster spot?

  • 2443scott

    there are not to many people who write about players that will come out and say sorry for making a mistake on some one i am glad your not one them that will just move on with out correcting your error ..that just makes me want to hear more of what you have to say because its a fair commentary .

  • hergieburbur

    Probably depends on if Golic Jr. works at center at all, but it is way too early to tell.

  • steeltown

    I have read on two different articles, one about Golic Jr. and one on Embernate… saying that they were some of the best undrafted players available after the draft, I hope we can hang onto atleast one of these guys

  • steeltown

    tough call… too early to tell

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Dave I was scratching my head over some of your previous comments about him (I scratch my head a lot–lice maybe); I watched some film on him and thought he did fairly well at times. Oh well! We’re all human!

    Or are we?!!

  • LucasY59

    I’ve learned to mostly ignore the upper comment section (facebook etc.) the grammar geek is another example of why I do so.

  • dgh57

    Do you know how Embernate is in the penalty phase of the game? That would tell me if he can control that nastiness! I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why he went undrafted from all the good reports I’ve heard about him.