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.