Late last week, former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard turned sports talk radio host Ramon Foster interviewed former Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams on The Ramon Foster Show — a 78-minute one-on-one conversation that provides rare insight into the perspective of NFL players. During the wide-ranging interview, the two ex-teammates discuss everyone and everything — from Mike Tomlin to “Renegade” — wrapping up the conversation by revealing their picks for their “most athletic, freakazoid” Steelers teammates.
“Mine is probably Martavis Bryant,” said Foster, referring to the former 4th-round pick, who scored 17 touchdowns in 36 games with the Steelers (2014-15, 2017) and is currently attempting a comeback in pro football, catching passes for Rod Woodson’s Vegas Vipers, who made him a Top 5 pick in the XFL draft.
“I could see Martavis,” answered Williams, who called the Clemson product “a true freak of nature” and a “terrifying” nightmare for defensive backs.
“But I thought his inconsistency with his hands … he wasn’t a high-point ball catcher. If he was a high pointer then he would be George Pickens, right?” said Williams, who proceeded to offer up three names of his own.
No. 1: ‘5-Tool Prospect’ Minkah Fitzpatrick
At the top of Williams’ list is current Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, a 3-time first-team All-Pro.
“Minkah is a 5-tool prospect. Minkah has wide receiver ball skills, he has elite speed, elite hips (and) he’s extremely physical. He could play linebacker; he could play corner. He’s extremely intelligent…. I’ve never met a player like that. I’ve never met a person, like ‘You are perfect, you are prototypical … you were made in a lab….’ The level of versatility and the high competence at that versatility is unmatched,” marveled Williams, before noting that the Steelers rarely have a chance to draft such individuals.
“We don’t get those, we don’t get those,” he added, alluding to how the organization has not selected higher than No. 7 overall since the team drafted Terry Bradshaw No. 1 in 1970. And in fact, the Steelers had to acquire Fitzpatrick via trade, giving up a 1st-round pick in Sept. 2019 as part of the deal.
No. 2: Former 1st-Round Linebacker Ryan Shazier
“Another one that was kind of a freak show is Ryan (Shazier). You don’t really see guys that can run like that with that type of tenacity,” opined Williams, before highlighting how ex-Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton pulled a hamstring while trying to race Shazier, whose career ended abruptly in Dec. 2017 when he suffered a spinal contusion during a game in Cincinnati.
No. 3: ‘Sleeper Pick’ Vance McDonald
“My sleeper pick is Vance McDonald,” continued Williams, referring to the former 49ers 2nd-round pick, who came to the Steelers in a trade in 2017.
“Vance was probably 270, man, with feet like he was 200 pounds. He’s a ballerina,” he added, before insisting that McDonald was more agile than former Steelers 1st-round pick Bud Dupree.
“(McDonald) could do everything,” concluded Williams, before revealing why he believes the Rice University product never became a Pro Bowler, nor talked about as one of the league’s best tight ends.
“I think what really slowed Vance down is he really didn’t have an appetite for aggressive football like that,” concluded Williams.
Never mind that McDonald will always be remembered by Steelers fans for his stiff arm of a Buccaneers defensive back during a Monday night game at Tampa Bay.
As for the aforementioned Bryant, Foster laments how fans and teammates didn’t get to see more from Martavis, as he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in Dec. 2018 and has since been relegated to playing in the IFL and now the XFL.
“I threw his name out there because we never saw the rest of it and I was just like, ‘Dude, you’ve got everything waiting on you. Just get there. That’s all I wanted out of him.”