/ AFC East / RC Pioneer Alejandro Villanueva Sacrifice Paid Off, Signed 4-Year Contract Extension Worth $24M With The Steelers

The Combine Report: Week Three Preview - Offensive RC Pioneers Look To Get Back On Track

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Week Two of the NFL was exciting as defensive players from the NFL Regional Combine stole the show with huge hits and many stops. This week, the athletes on the other side of the ball will be expecting to be let loose.

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Seth Roberts/Raiders.com

The Combine Report: Week Two - Defensive RC Talents Aggressively Attacked

The NFL Regional Combine talents were sharp on the defense in Week Two. Several squads wanted to make amends for Week One. Many put their “best foot forward” via their shoulder pads as hitting was the name of the game for the RC defensive standouts.

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Cody Davis/therams.com

The Combine Report: Week Two Preview - Will RB Penny Elijhaa Get To Face Regular Season Action?

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

The Week Two of the NFL is shaping up to feature some solid intrigue among the NFL Regional Combine pioneers. Several players turned out and had strong performances in Week One. And Week Two should be no different.

 

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Elijhaa Penny/Google Images

The Combine Report: Week One - Bohanon Find Endzone, Tavecchio Make A Case For Raiders

Week One of the NFL had its normal ups and down, along with some unexpected twists and turns. The athletes from the NFL Combine series, who always give their all, provided us with some surprises.

 

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The Combine Report: 71 NFL Regional Combine Pioneers Enters Week One, Most Ever

Seven hundred and eighty NFL hopefuls graced several NFL facilities during the annual discovery platform of the RC last winter and fifteen standouts from that grouping are no longer dreaming.

Seventy-one players from the platform made it onto team rosters, the most ever to begin a campaign. And now, they are ready to make their mark.

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The Combine Report: Preseason Week Two - Berry, Redfern, RC Defensive Standouts Nailed Competition

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Since its conception, the defensive standouts from the NFL Regional Combine have sustained the platform and helped create its value. Quietly, the kicking specialists have been a staple for the discovery stage. Week 2 of the NFL preseason is another testament of worth and excellence.

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Jordan Berry/Steelers.com

NFL Caretakers: Preseason Mid-Monthly Report

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

After a long, taxing offseason of training and preparation, the players…well, actually, the NFL officials were fired up to take to the field to perfect the game.  That’s a beautiful situation since progress towards perfection is something to embrace.

 

 

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Clete Blakeman/Google Images

The Combine Report: Preseason Week One - RC Talents Off To A Fast Start

One hundred and forty-nine NFL Regional Combine standouts were on the sidelines the first week of the 2017 preseason. While many of these pioneers were settled into their roles for the upcoming season, others were not taking any chances. When the opportunities presented themselves, these RC gems were ready to show their mettle.

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Trevor Davis/Packers.com

Nigel Harris: Do Not Let His Lean Build Fool You

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

At first glance, Los Angeles Chargers rookie linebacker Nigel Harris appears to be in the wrong position, since he looks like a wide receiver. However, when he gets his hands on an opponent, his position is no longer in question.

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Nigel Harris/Chargers.com

The Combine Report: Cardinals' RC Talent Worthy of Applause In Hall Of Fame Game

Feelings were mutual  between the Arizona Cardinals and their gems from the NFL Regional Combine platform. The Cardinals wanted to see what the RC athletes could do, and the RC athletes were eager to show their skill sets in the Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys.

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RC Pioneer Alejandro Villanueva Sacrifice Paid Off, Signed 4-Year Contract Extension Worth $24M With The Steelers

Alejandro Villaneuva/Google Images

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

In football, transitioning from one position to another is not a walk in the park. The inability to make those transitions in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business of the NFL has ended careers.

Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle and NFL Regional Combine pioneer  Alejandro Villanueva recognized what he had to do if his NFL career was to continue.  Thursday, the Steelers acknowledged his commitment with a four-year contract extension worth $24 million.

Growing up in a military family, it is not surprising that Villanueva attended West Point.  Playing for the Army Black Knights he was recruited at one position, but played three others during the course of his career.  This laid an important foundation for his future in professional football.

Villanueva’s dedication to “the team” was only strengthened as an Army Ranger and captain during three tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Army’s Alejandro Villanueva hauls in a pass as Iowa State’s Kennard Banks defends in the third quarter of their game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames Saturday night. — s0927isuarmy14jh — taken 09/26/09 Ames,IA. JUSTIN HAYWORTH/THE DES MOINES REGISTER (Via MerlinFTP Drop)

Enter the NFL Regional Combine.

In 2014, Villanueva attended the Atlanta-held RC session as a linebacker and earned an invite to the NFL Super Regional Combine in Dallas.

The Spanish American impressed several teams, and he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, only to be released midway through the preseason.

Alejandro Villaneuva/Google Images

Alejandro Villaneuva/Google Images

However, Villanueva’s athleticism and size (standing 6-9, 300-pounds at the time) could not be ignored and the Steelers snatched him up for their practice squad.

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The Steelers moved Villanueva from the linebacker position to a tight end, then to left tackle.  He was always open to play any position, which required discipline and sacrifice as he readjusted his body and mind.

Villanueva made the active roster in 2015. Midway through the season when left tackle Kelvin Beachum sustained a torn ACL, Villanueva stepped in and never looked back.

In the NFL, the athlete must embrace the situation (e.g. transitioning from one position to another) or kiss playing goodbye. Villanueva was only interested in kissing his family goodbye for a day and doing what it took to have a successful NFL career.

Starting from his adolescence, Villanueva understood sacrifice and commitment. Because of this, he has been rewarded with an impressive collegiate career, a Bronze Star for valor and now, a four-year contract extension worth $24 million.

Villanueva’s success is one of the latest examples of the importance of the NFL Regional Combine.

In 2014, Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker was the first player from the platform to cash in when he signed a six-year, $18 million contract extension with a $9 million signing bonus.

Adam Thielen/Vikings.com

Adam Thielen/Vikings.com

This year, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and RC standout Adam Thielen raked in the big bucks when he agreed to a three-year contract extension worth a maximum of $27 million with a base value of $17 million and $11 million signing bonus.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Robert should be the next standout from the NFL Regional Combine to be in position to sign on the dotted line when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year. He signed a one-year tender in April worth $615,000 to stay in Oakland for this year’s season.

Thirty-eight players from the 2017 RC trials are in the NFL. If several of the players are offered an opportunity to compete for another position to ensure a career in the NFL, they can draw from Villanueva’s experience and be rewarded.

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