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-07-20-2004 #1DJRamFan Guest
Steelers ink Colclough to 4-year, $3.27M deal
By Len Pasquarelli
Cornerback Ricardo Colclough, the second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first player chosen from Division II Tusculum College, has reached agreement on his first NFL contract, a four-year deal worth $3.27 million.
A small-school standout with big-time cover skills, Colclough is the fourth of Pittsburgh's eight draft choices to come to contract terms. But his signing is almost as significant from a league-wide standpoint, given the ponderous pace of negotiations this year.
The 38th prospect selected overall, Colclough is the second-highest drafted player to date to reach an accord. The only higher pick with a contract in place is linebacker Jason Babin, the latter of the Houston Texans' two first-round picks and the 27th player taken overall in the draft. Colclough is just the third player in the second round, and the sixth player chosen in the first three rounds, to come to terms.
Overall, as of Sunday morning, only 44 of the 255 draftees have completed deals. And 26 of those players are in the sixth and seventh rounds.
While negotiations with first-round choices figure to remain slow, there should be a spate of signings in the middle and late rounds this week, as the opening of camps gets closer.
Colclough, 22, will receive a signing bonus of $1,892,800 and minimum base salaries of $230,000 (2004), $305,000 (2005), $385,000 (2006) and $460,000 (2007).
Despite being very raw and having performed in a small-school program, Colclough is a superior athlete and is expected to contribute quickly for the Steelers, who are shaking up their secondary after two seasons of surrendering too many big plays. He will compete for either the No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback spot, behind starters Deshea Townsend and Chad Scott, and could also be used on returns.
"He's definitely got a lot to learn, but he is going to help us this year," said Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau earlier this spring.
Colclough moved quickly up draft boards around the NFL after he demonstrated at the Senior Bowl all-star game that he could hold his own against top-level wide receivers. He was a true shut-down corner in Division II, but it was critical for him to convince scouts at the Senior Bowl that his talents projected well to the professional level.
He played two seasons at Tusculum, following a stint at Kilgore (Tex.) Junior College, and started in all 20 of his appearances. Colclough finished with 15 interceptions (11 as a senior), 106 tackles and 25 passes defensed. He also averaged 28.7 yards on 23 kickoff returns and 14.4 yards on punt runbacks and scored four touchdowns on special teams.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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