Leftwich, Pennington and Moss, of course, were recent first-round picks out of the MAC.

Yesterday, prospects from two different MAC schools visited the Steelers' practice facility."/>

Steelers host MAC Day

Steelers host MAC Day

Ben Roethlisberger considered,for about a tenth of a second, the bias NFL personnel men have against players from the small Mid-American Conference.<p>"That's my knock,coming from the MAC," said the quarterback known as Big Ben."My response is Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington, Randy Moss. That's all I have to say."<p>Leftwich, Pennington and Moss, of course, were recent first-round picks out of the MAC.<p>Yesterday, prospects from two different MAC schools visited the Steelers' practice facility.

Roethlisberger is a 6-foot-4 7/8, 241-pound quarterback from Miami, Ohio. The other visitor was Jason Babin, a 6-2 5/8, 260-pound pass rusher out of Western Michigan.

Babin, a defensive end in college, is being viewed as a potential outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense, so he obviously interests the Steelers.

Roethlisberger, however, interests the entire city. He's a first-round draft pick and potentially a player around whom Coach Bill Cowher and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can plan the future.

"From where I'm from, there are a lot of Steeler fans," said Roethlisberger of Findlay, Ohio. Was he a young fan of the Steelers?

"I grew up a 49er fan," he said proudly. "Joe Montana."

Roethlisberger isn't built like the shorter and lighter Montana, but feels he can move like the Hall of Famer.

"I think my mobility is definitely a strength nobody knows about," Roethlisberger said. "I ran a good 40 at my pro day and on the field I can move even better. I think I can throw well on the run. It's something teams will have to account for and take into consideration."

Roethlisberger admitted the off-season draft process has been "a roller-coaster." And that's what his scouting chart would indicate.

After leading Miami to 13-1 record as a junior, and completing 69 percent of his passes for 4,486 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Roethlisberger opted to leave school a year early. He was immediately viewed as a top-10 prospect but the roller-coaster ride began soon thereafter.

At the combine, Roethlisberger did what the other top prospects, Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers, did not: He threw. But he didn't throw particularly well. Roethlisberger showed outstanding arm strength but not much accuracy, and instead of surpassing Manning as the top pick, he fell behind Rivers with some teams.

Roethlisberger rebounded at his pro day. The big man ran his 40s in 4.81 and 4.82 and posted fine times in the short shuttle (4.32) and three-cone drill (6.81). His positional drills were dubbed "outstanding" by former scout and current NFL.com writer Gil Brandt, who estimated Roethlisberger threw 80 passes "with very good accuracy." By the end of the workout, Roethlisberger threw flat-footed to receivers 60 yards away.

His stock had apparently rebounded, but the team thought to be targeting Roethlisberger -- the New York Giants -- made an offer to the San Diego Chargers to move up to the first pick and draft Manning. The Chargers, reportedly interested in Rivers, would then trade the Giants' pick, No. 4, to the Cleveland Browns, who want left tackle Robert Gallery.

If such a scenario develops, Roethlisberger could slip through the remainder of the top 10 since Washington, Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Houston already have young starting quarterbacks. It's possible Roethlisberger could land with the Steelers at pick No. 11.

"It's not like college where I get to choose," Roethlisberger said. "It's all going to come down to the 24th, which is a week from Saturday. Until then, I know as much as you guys know."

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