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Dunlap: Imagine Some Pirates On The Gridiron

It seems like this has become an annual pilgrimage, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin visited Bradenton and Pirates Spring Training camp on Monday. On his visits, Tomlin normally has a chuckle with the media, catches up with his pal Clint Hurdle and takes in a workout, game or both. But as he was there on Monday, it got me thinking … what if Tomlin had to, legitimately, select someone out of Pirates camp to take to St. Vincent?

That is to say, what if he had to pluck someone from the Pirates to throw the pads on and go through Steelers workouts, with the possibility of joining the franchise. This is purely hypothetical, but some thoughts …

Andrew McCutchen – Who in Pittsburgh hasn't thought about what it would look like to see Cutch catch a punt, dart left, then right, then left, then right again, then sidestep someone, then finally cut it upfield and go. And go. And go. And go some more for a long touchdown. Up until last week, I know I thought about his dreads popping out of the back of his helmet as he breezed through the men trying to tackle him, but now I just envision him cruising through the would-be tacklers.

Neil Walker – A two-time member of the Post-Gazette's Fabulous 22 in football as an outstanding defensive back, receiver and return man at Pine-Richland in his high school days, Walker is scrutinized for his range at second base now, but when he was in high school could flat-out fly … and also run through you if he needed to. Could he play football now? Who knows. But at 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, his blend of size (he'd have to put on weight) and athleticism is intriguing. I know this: If it was third-and-6 right now and I needed a possession receiver to run a crisp route and make a play in a huge situation for a first down to secure a game, I swear Walker could get it done.

Pedro Alvarez – H-back? It's a thought.

Josh Harrison – Don't know about you, but I'd love to see how running a reverse to an in-motion Harrison would look, as he caught the pitch, turned the corner and then used his escapeability to attempt to dart through a secondary. Maybe he'd make it through the secondary, maybe he wouldn't --- but if there was ever a guy who could wriggle and squirm his way out of jams, it has been Harrison.

Gerrit Cole – Go ahead and try to tell me he couldn't be Ben Roethlisberger's body and stunt double in uniform if Big Ben ever needed to film a commercial. To that end, I'd love to see Cole take a few snaps (with a sidecar left) and see what he could do. He does have that cannon.

Jared Hughes – Certainly the Pirates reliever has the on-field demeanor for the football field, with the way he hurries in from the bullpen as if he's responding to an emergency wherein his life is in the balance. Hughes has the size too, at 6-7, 245 pounds to throw on the pads and be a tight end in the NFL or, perhaps, one of those undersized rush ends who can beat the tackle around the edge with speed.

Radhames Liz – No kidding here, this fellow is a specimen. I've been in plenty of baseball clubhouses and this might be one of the most impressive guys --- in terms of being in optimal shape --- that I've seen. At 6-2, 185 Liz is the kind of guy who, if you dropped him off at Steelers headquarters and he sauntered into the defensive backs meeting, wouldn't look out of place in the least.

Mark Melancon -- Is there a cooler customer on the Pirates than Melancon? Is there a guy who, when faced with an enormous situation is more apt to keep all his emotions under control and be the most calm guy on the playing surface? I don't think so. Melancon was also --- before heading to the University of Arizona to pitch --- a very good high school football player. At 6-2 and 215-pounds, if I'm staring a Pirates football team, Melancon is my quarterback. Possessing equal smarts and athletic ability, I'd love to see this guy go through some NFL quarterback drills.

John Holdzkom – He's got the size and seemingly enough of a screw loose to go out there and try to push an offensive lineman around. Would Big John gain traction and footing with a hand in the dirt playing on a defensive line? I don't know. I do know that he seems like the kind of guy you'd have to injure --- and probably severely --- to get him to stop from trying, though.

Corey Hart – Stand next to this guy and he is massive. He isn't that wiry either, as he goes about 6-6 and 235. Seems to me Hart could help Tomlin out as a hybrid-tight end. And, after all, isn't that what the Steelers are missing? I mean, Heath Miller is Heath Miller and has been wonderful for quite some time, but he's undeniably slowing a bit and never was that true hybrid. Put Hart in a uniform and, man, he'd at least look the part --- bonus points for being all tatted up, too.

Jung Ho Kang – Maybe he could … No. Just no. Not happening.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can e-mail him at Check out his bio here.

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