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Updated: 21 min 44 sec ago

Some Steelers fans want Najee Harris no matter who else is available

1 hour 11 min ago
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Some fans are dead-set on taking the Alabama running back.

We are less than two weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft, and some Steelers fans have put their blinders on when it comes to prospects. With a clear need to upgrade its running game, fans have honed in on Alabama running back, Najee Harris. Of course Harris is viewed as the top back of this class, but based on his position is far from the best value. After posting a poll question on twitter, I quickly discovered the fanbase’s burning passion to have Harris in the black and gold, even if it meant turning their nose to a superior class.

Which #Steelers draft would you prefer?

A: 24 Christian Darrisaw, 55 Creed Humphrey, 87 Trey Sermon

B: 24 Najee Harris, 55 Quinn Meinerz, 87 Spencer Brown

— Michael Beck (@MichaelBeck56) April 15, 2021

In my poll I offered two options. In Option A the Steelers would draft two offensive lineman that are more valuable than the spots they are taken, but scoop up a significantly worse running back. In Option B the Steelers get the draft’s top ranked, yet arguable reach, Najee Harris, and reach yet again for Quinn Meinerz, but get good value in Spencer Brown. Bottom line is Option A is the more valuable draft class, while Option B has a better running back.

Nearly 4,000 votes later and fans went with top running back. The results were surprising to me, I almost expected a blow out for the Option A side. But, in the end, Steelers fans went with the player they believe can solely turn the rushing attack around.

These results made me think, why did Steelers fans vote this way? There are two likely scenarios as to why so many would want the running back over the better draft class.

Scenario 1: Fans are so fed up with the rushing attack they just want somebody with star potential to take the spot instead of mediocrity.

Scenario 2: People really don't know what they are doing when it comes to the draft. They only recognize the name ‘Najee Harris’ and bypass the offensive lineman they haven't heard of before.

If it’s the ladder, well Kevin Colbert would not make that decision.

While Harris is a talented back, we must keep in mind that his presence alone will not fix the league’s 32nd ranked rushing attack. It all starts up front, and if an offensive lineman who was expected to be taken in the Top 15 falls to 24, I would bet a pretty penny they take him.

But what do you think? Should the Steelers take Najee Harris no matter what? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Steelers join growing number of NFL teams who will be sitting out voluntary OTAs

2 hours 53 min ago
Handout Photo

Organized Team Activities are set to start in the NFL, and many teams, including the Steelers, are not going to be participating in the voluntary workouts.

The NFL and NFLPA have a signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which was signed by both parties prior to the 2020 season. This is an important fact to get out of the way before going any further.

However, the NFLPA is not happy with the NFL’s decision to have offseason workouts, as they were constructed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting things down. The players’ union believes the situation with COVID-19 is not at a level which is conducive to teams being present for the voluntary portions of the offseason workouts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now joined a long list of teams who have made a public statement regarding them skipping these voluntary workouts. This per the NFLPA’s official Twitter account:

A statement from the Pittsburgh Steelers players: pic.twitter.com/aVHvka6j8C

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 16, 2021

It should be clear the NFLPA is telling players to avoid voluntary workouts, but since the league is holding strong on these offseason workouts players could be disciplined if they don’t attend mandatory minicamp.

There are a lot of caveats here to unwrap in this tug of war going on between the league and the players. First, and as illustrated by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, there is the issue of injury. If a player is injured at one of these workouts, they are covered. If they are working out on their own, there is no coverage from the organization.

Another NFL memo to clubs tonight noted a primary incentive for players to show up to voluntary workouts: Get hurt at the team facility, you have injury protection. Get hurt elsewhere, you don’t and “a club will not be responsible for the player’s compensation or other benefits.” pic.twitter.com/oS46ZkzpAB

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 15, 2021

On top of injury issues, the NFLPA is not answering the fact some players have workout incentives in their contracts. Also, what about those second-year players who were deprived of these workouts, and an opportunity to not just learn, but show the coaching staff what they can do as they learn the new system. Of course, rookies will want to get their feet wet at quick as possible.

If you look at last year as an example, when workouts were supposed to be virtual, Tom Brady orchestrated several in-person workouts. Likewise, when the Tennessee Titans were told to stay away from the facility, they were caught working out at a local high school to prepare for the rest of their season.

Meanwhile, the NFLPA is citing the pandemic, and shoddy precautions, as a reason to remain virtual in 2021. Whatever the reason, this seems to be the beginning of a standoff between the two sides. The vast majority of the teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have yet to make a stand on these offseason workouts, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for these workouts and the upcoming NFL Draft.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Determining all 8 Pittsburgh Steelers selections

3 hours 36 min ago
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Playing Steelers GM for a day, a group of loyal BTSC podcast viewers helped select the Steelers eight picks in a full seven-round draft simulation

On Tuesday night’s BTSC podcast of The Scho Bro Show, we held a mock draft simulation where those in attendance as part of our live chat on YouTube or Facebook got to chime in to help make the Steelers picks. The simulation was done through thedraftnetwork.com and used their player rankings to select the other 31 NFL franchise’s picks while we chose those of the Steelers.

Before getting into the selections, we realize the chances of getting any, let alone all, of the selections correct is a very long shot. In last year‘s exercise where the Steelers did not have a first-round pick, we did not correctly select any players taken by the Steelers. The draft plays out in strange ways, and a player we selected in the fifth round was taken three spots before Alex Highsmith in the third round. This is what makes watching the draft so exciting and entertaining as you never know what is going to happen.

Additionally, remember that this was a simulation and that our options were based off of players who could have already been selected by other teams. One person was quick to comment on the podcast listing out all the players we should have taken in the simulation. To nobody’s surprise, the first five players they listed had already been drafted before the Steelers had the opportunity to take that player where they suggested.

As this draft played out, I became nervous as the Steelers were not addressing the needs of the offensive line in what would be the first two days of the draft. When it came time for us to make the Steelers pick, players who would be good value at the selection were already gone and others appeared to be too much of a reach. Fortunately, it worked out for the Steelers to get offensive linemen for both of our fourth-round selections.

So here are the eights selections taken by an attempted consensus of BTSC viewers in the live chat. Remember this draft was not including any possible trades.

NOTE: This simulation was done before the re-signing of Vince Williams. Whether or not it would have affected any selections is hard to determine.

Round 1, pick 24: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

The only player available who was ranked higher than Harris was edge rusher Azeez Ojulari from Georgia. Running back to Travis Etienne had already been drafted, so even though there were some other lower-ranked players according to TDN, the consensus was to draft Harris since there wasn’t a surprise drop of another player in the first round.

Round 2, pick 55: Asante Samuel Jr, CB, Florida St.

As I was scouring through the different positions along the offensive line to see who is available, I was scolded by the live chat that I was even considering any other pick than Samuel at this position. Since he was available and the overwhelming majority voted for the selection, we had the Steelers going cornerback in the second round.

Round 3, pick 87: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan

This pick took some time as I was really struggling with what to do. As much as I wanted to draft McGrone, I was afraid of waiting too long to address the offensive line. After scouring through the possibilities and feeling any of the available linemen at that point would be a bit of a reach, I finally felt the live chat didn’t think it was crazy to take McGrone with this selection.

Round 4, pick 128: Walker Little, OT, Stanford

By talking things out in our little “war room” of our live chat, I felt the players we specifically were looking to add on the offensive line would be available when the Steelers were on the clock in round four. With both player still available, we selected the higher of the two and landed the Steelers an offensive tackle.

Round 4, pick 140: Trey Hill, C, Georgia

With the Steelers picking only 12 selections later, the other player we decided to target while making our third-round pick was still available. With next to no discussion, Hill became the Steelers final selection before the long break where they did not select again until the sixth round.

Round 6, pick 216: Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn St.

Once getting to the sixth round, we begin to really narrow down our positions to ones that we felt Steelers were likely to add in the draft. It looking at edge rushers, Toney seemed to be the best fit as to what the Steelers would possibly be looking for at this point of the draft.

Round 7, pick 245: Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida St.

It wouldn’t be an NFL draft unless the Steelers drafted a wide receiver. After some debate, it seemed like a good choice to take a flyer on Terry as there is a lot of potential. Plus, it allowed the Steelers to keep up the tradition of drafting multiple players from the same school in the same draft.

Round 7, pick 254: Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio St.

Last but not least, the Steelers could use some more players at the tight end position. Being a seventh round pick, it’s hard to say if Farrell could help the Steelers significantly in 2021, but as much as the Steelers like to draft Ohio State players it seemed better than the other choices.

So there are the eight selections from the live chat of The Scho Bro Show this past Tuesday. How do you think we did? How many of these draft picks could you see realistically landing with the Steelers? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to watch/listen to the entire show to see what other options were available, or just to hear me butcher the pronunciation of players’ names, the Youtube link and audio podcasts are below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Podcast: A Steelers fan’s etiquette guide to the 2021 Draft

4 hours 11 min ago

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis talk news of the day and everything surrounding the Steelers. All of this while mixing in fun and frivolity like only they do.

Every draft is very important to the teams selecting their future. For the Steelers, the 2021 version seems to be crucial. Now more than ever, fans seem to be gripping over the team possibly selecting a player at the wrong position. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold and there you have the topic for the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis. Join the triumphant trio as they combine the down all things Steelers and with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the week
  • How not to freak out during the draft
  • Trivia

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel.

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Anthony McFarland Jr. must slow down in order to speed up

5 hours 11 min ago
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Steelers RB Anthony McFarland Jr. needs to calm his mind to take full advantage of his game changing speed.

Sometimes failure is all about the timing. Like how the Steelers were unable to win a Super Bowl in the mid 90's even though they had the best defenses in the NFL during that tenure, but they lacked a franchise QB capable of leading them to the promised land. Or how the offensively top heavy Steelers of the past decade; lead by the Killer B's, failed to field a equally championship caliber defense. When it comes to playing championship football, timing is everything.

I have written multiple articles over the past couple of years openly pining for the Steelers to somehow acquire a running back with superior speed. For years Steelers Nation watched as Le’Veon Bell regularly broke off 10 to 20 yard runs, but lacked the necessary speed to break away for long touchdown runs. With the obscene amount of offensive talent surrounding him during his peak seasons, there was plenty of open field and big plays to be had, but not the necessary speed to exploit the opportunities.

When James Conner took over as the Steelers bell-cow running back, he shared plenty of similarities to his predecessor, including the lack of breakaway speed. Not only has HC Mike Tomlin been resistant to utilizing a running back platoon system, but somehow the Steelers managed to fill their depth chart with players even slower than the starter. Finally, after I had honestly given up any hope that anything would change anytime soon, the Steelers finally drafted a running back with breakaway speed in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. His name was Anthony McFarland Jr. from Maryland.

Last season McFarland and the Steelers learned all about the importance of timing, the hard way. Although the Steelers finally had a runner with big play potential at their disposal, they lacked a offensive line capable of opening running lanes consistently; due mainly to injuries and Father Time, severely limiting their backs the opportunity to reach the open field. Even when McFarland had the opportunity to make an impact play, which were few and far between, he appeared to get so overly excited that he basically tripped over his own feet.

All running backs crave and covet enough touches early in a game to get in their comfort zone. Getting in the zone refers to a running back getting enough carries to work through any early game jitters; basically being overly stimulated mentally, to the point that the game slows down enough for the runner to read and react instinctively. The zone is a state of being that all athletes strive for in any athletic competition.

Needless to say, McFarland never received enough regular touches at any point in the season to find any semblance of his comfort zone. His mind appeared to be racing a thousand miles an hour and his physical appearance and performance reflected his mental state. To say he was antsy and anxious would be a understatement. There was no questioning his intensity nor his desire to make a big play for the offense, it showed in his frustration and disappointment.

The main contributor in McFarland's inability to make a impact in his limited amount of appearances was the Steelers offensive line being unable to create running lanes. However, there were other contributing factors at play. Without the benefit of being a part of a regular running back rotation, McFarland was viewed as a specialist of sorts only utilized to run a specific set of plays. This made his usage predictable and limited his effectiveness.

There could be some good news on the horizon. The Steelers running game finally hit rock bottom last season, finishing dead last in the NFL. The Steelers offensive line has grown old and ineffective, and the team is in the process of trying to rectify that particular problem. Maurkice Pouncey's retirement and multiple free agency losses guarantee there will be a complete overhaul along the offensive line, with RG David DeCastro being potential the only holdover.

The Steelers even prompted former assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm to the top spot to bring a new voice and aggressive mindset to the meeting room. Along with the change in philosophy and personnel along the offensive line, McFarland can expect a new face in the running back corps and some changes on the depth chart. That should make for an interesting and competitive training camp, and competition brings out the best in any true competitor. Keep the faith, young man. The best is yet to come.

Could Kelvin Joseph be a CB diamond in the rough for the Steelers?

6 hours 41 min ago
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

For teams who are looking for a cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft, Kelvin Joseph might be a prospect to keep an eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a cornerback in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their defensive back depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.

Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but after players like Patrick Surtain, there are a lot of talented defensive backs who could be available to the Steelers at pick No. 24, or after.

There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a cornerback to bolster their depth at the position in 2021, and if Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph is available when the Steelers pick in the middle rounds, is he an option for the team? Or would Joseph be just another mid-round cornerback selection we’ve all seen so many times?

I did some digging on Joseph, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.

Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Joseph. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!

Let us know your thoughts on Joseph in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Draft Profiles The Draft Network

Kelvin Joseph is a long perimeter cornerback prospect who should have the opportunity to develop into a starting outside option for a team. Joseph, who was an early entree into the 2021 NFL Draft, has the kind of length that is very popular right now in the NFL game and has been exposed to a number of different roles throughout the course of his career. He was charged with periodically following Florida TE Kyle Pitts but also has played deep third coverage against some of the more prominent offenses on the Wildcats’ schedule—including Alabama. Joseph enjoyed a fruitful season at Kentucky and found the football on a number of occasions, illustrating down-the-field ball skills and effective contesting ability at the catch point. A former LSU Tiger, Joseph has about as slim of a resume as you can get; he played nine games for the Wildcats in 2020 after sitting out the 2019 season on account of transferring in from LSU and will take his talent to the pro game with just 20 total games played at the college level. Because of his inexperience, expect sporadic results in coverage and inconsistent recognition skills until he’s able to allocate more reps and increase his route combination awareness and add more polish to his technique. I wouldn’t endorse an early role, but the three-year projection looks much more favorable than the one-year forecast in 2021.

Ideal Role: Developmental starting outside cornerback.

Scheme Fit: C-3 or Quarters coverage frequency in zone. Can play press-man coverage for more aggressive defenses as well.

Orlando Sentinel
  • Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
  • Weight: 197 pounds
  • Arms length: 31.875 inches
  • Hands length: 9.25 inches

Defensive back Kelvin Joseph only played one season for Kentucky after transferring from LSU. During Joseph’s lone season as a Wildcat in 2020, he recorded 25 tackles and four interceptions in nine starts before opting out of the final two games.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein compares Joseph to NFL cornerback Maurice Canady.

“Joseph has physical dimensions and natural athletic talent that are easy to get excited about, but his lack of experience might be a secondary concern to the lack of maturity that is sometimes shown on the field,” Zierlein wrote. “He has the length and strength to re-route and bully the early stages of the release from press and displays a sudden twitch to attack throws if asked to play an off coverage.”

Fan Nation

Overview:

Joseph arrived at Kentucky as a transfer after playing in 11 games as a true freshman at LSU. After sitting out 2019 due to the NCAA transfer rules, Joseph burst onto the scene in his one year starting at Kentucky in 2020. Active feet in press coverage that move with excellent quickness on a lateral plane to mirror the release of the wide receiver. Impressive movement skills away from the line of scrimmage when watching him flip his hips on vertical routes to get back in phase. Noticeable burst out of his breaks when driving downhill on the ball whether he is in zone or man coverage. Displays beautiful ball skills that teams will covet to go along with his impressive length at the catch point. Lacks twitch in the short to intermediate area of the field playing away from the line of scrimmage. Inconsistent in his route recognition leads him to be susceptible to double moves and blown coverages, showing his inexperience up to this point in his career. A late Day 2 cornerback prospect who has room to grow into a top-tier starting cornerback as he develops with more playing experience.

Breakdowns / Highlights Game Film Other Breakdowns

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RB

ILB

TE

OT

CB

Which NFL team has drafted the best since 2000?

7 hours 56 min ago
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s no perfect way to judge how well a team drafts, but I gave it a shot by breaking it down numerically.

During a recent podcast of the Steelers Preview, Bryan Anthony Davis laid down the challenge for me of determining a method for judging how well a team has drafted over the years. Of course, it’s difficult to back down from a challenge of this nature, so I did my best to use available resources to calculate which team has performed the best throughout the NFL draft.

First of all, I had to set the parameters of how far back I would go. The year 2000 seemed like a wonderful starting point because not only was it the beginning of a new millennium, it also was the start of the Kevin Colbert era for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So rather than going back a nice round 20 years, I encompassed the last 21 NFL drafts.

The next, and definitely the most difficult, step was to determine a metric for measuring a franchises ability to draft. How do you judge more recent draft as it takes a few years to fully determine if players are going to succeed in the NFL or not?

In order to get this process going, I decided on a method to help make this more possible: Let somebody else do all the hard work. Therefore, I decided to use the Approximate Value rankings determined at Pro Football Reference. Specifically, I was looking at Career Weighted Approximate Value which is slightly different.

Here is an explanation of Approximate Value from pro-football-reference.com:

Created by PFR founder Doug Drinen, the Approximate Value (AV) method is an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year (since 1950).

Doug’s Brief AV Explanation:

“AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can’t be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player. But I am pretty confident that the collection of all players with 16AV played better, as an entire group, than the collection of all players with 14AV.”

“Essentially, AV is a substitute for --- and a significant improvement upon, in my opinion --- metrics like ‘number of seasons as a starter’ or ‘number of times making the pro bowl’ or the like. You should think of it as being essentially like those two metrics, but with interpolation in between. That is, ‘number of seasons as a starter’ is a reasonable starting point if you’re trying to measure, say, how good a particular draft class is, or what kind of player you can expect to get with the #13 pick in the draft. But obviously some starters are better than others. Starters on good teams are, as a group, better than starters on bad teams. Starting WRs who had lots of receiving yards are, as a group, better than starting WRs who did not have many receiving yards. Starters who made the pro bowl are, as a group, better than starters who didn’t, and so on. And non-starters aren’t worthless, so they get some points too.”

Additionally, here is an explanation of Career Weighted Approximate Value from PFR:

Weighted Career Approximate Value

At the top of every player’s PFR page, you will see “Weighted Career AV” and a ranking since 1950. This is Doug’s way of balancing peak production against raw career totals; for each player, he computes the following weighted sum of seasonal AV scores:

100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his 2nd-best season, plus 90% of his 3rd-best season, plus 85% of his 4th-best season, ....

So now that I have a metric that quantitatively measures how well a player performs in given years throughout their career, it is a starting point for measuring how well a team drafts. I decided I was going to look at this in a two-fold manner: Drafting top of the line players (Superstars), and drafting every game players (Key Contributors).

When looking at what I called Superstars, I was looking for players with a Career Weighted Approximate Value (now called AV from this point on) with a score higher than 50. In order for a player to reach this level, they would have had to have played successfully for several years or have a very long NFL career which is not the easiest thing to do. When looking at the Key Contributors aspect, I was looking for players with an AV of 20 or above, which would obviously include the first category.

Although I looked at these numbers, I did not implement them in the same way in order to draw my conclusion.

To put these numbers into perspective, T.J. Watt as a career AV (weighted) of 47. He is on the cusp of being in the Superstar category after only four seasons and should get there next season barring the unspeakable. This obviously puts him solidly in the Key Contributor group. Players such as Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, and Maurkice Pouncey are all well over the 50 AV score with 77, 68, and 78 respectively.

Superstars

For players with an AV of 50 or above, I used it as a raw number per franchise. I didn’t simply rank these number of players, because that would not be fair. After considering it more, teams who are constantly drafting in the top 10 of the NFL draft should have more of these players. So my ultimate equation came to this:

(# of drafted players with an AV of 50+) — (# of top 10 draft picks since 2000) = (Raw score)

Before I go any further, I want to explain that I did not specify which team any draftee played for in order to earn the score. Whichever team drafted a player, their entire career counted towards the score. I did this, first of all, because I could not easily separate it. Additionally, if a team drafts a great player who leaves after four seasons for a big payday and continues to have a great career, it doesn’t mean that said franchise did not do a great job in evaluating the talent, they simply could not keep it (the New York Jets are actually a good example of this). Therefore, these are simply players career score regardless of which team they actually played for. As an example, Drew Brees counts as the San Diego/Los Angles Chargers, as does Eli Manning.

For this comparison, I simply looked at the raw score with the highest being the best. The one team who was at a slight disadvantage was the Houston Texans as they did not join the NFL until the 2002 NFL draft. Here was the breakdown for the Steelers in the AFC North:

PIT: 15
BAL: 9
CIN: 4
CLE: -6

Next, here are the top seven scores in the AFC:

PIT: 15
NE: 15
IND: 13
LAC: 11
KC: 10
BAL: 9
DEN: 9

Just for fun, here were all the zero and negative scores in the AFC:

MIA: 0
JAX: -4
LVR: -5
CLE: -6

Now let’s look at the NFC. There were two teams stood out above the rest and only four which matched the score of the AFC’s top seven:

NO: 18
GB: 15
SEA: 10
PHI: 9

And for consistency sake, here were the NFC teams with a negative score:

DET: -2
TB: -2
WAS: -4

Key Contributors

Now that we’ve seen which teams are the best at drafting the Superstars category, I looked at how many players each franchise have drafted with a score of 20 or more in career weighted AV. Rather than look at this as a pure number, I divided it by the total number of draft picks the team has made since 2000 and looked at it merely as a percentage.

What is interesting is how there are a few teams who did well in both categories while some of the teams that had low or negative numbers in the superstar category still managed to do well in the Key Contributors.

Here was how the AFC North played out:

PIT: 27.54%
BAL: 27.22%
CIN: 24.59%
CLE: 23.16%

Next, here are the top five teams in the AFC:

PIT: 27.54%
TEN: 27.53%
NE: 27.42%
NYJ: 27.40%
LAC: 27.33%

As much as the AFC ruled drafting Superstars, the NFC blew them away in drafting Key Contributors. Here is the top 10 in the NFC:

NO: 32.59%
ATL: 32.47%
CAR: 31.61%
DET: 28.56%
AZ: 28.39%
PHI: 27.91%
NYG: 27.74%
GB: 27.51%
DAL: 26.95%

Conclusion

In case you didn’t notice, even though the Steelers were the top team in drafting Key Contributors in the AFC, they would have ranked ninth just ahead of the Packers in the NFC. When looking at all the numbers, it’s the New Orleans Saints which came out on top of the entire NFL in both categories.

Of the three teams which were tied behind the Saints in the Superstars category, they all finished extremely close in the percentage of Key Contributors drafted. Ultimately, it went Pittsburgh, then Green Bay, then New England, but we’re only separate it by 0.12%

So the final results are as follows:

1.) NO: 18; 32.59%
2.) PIT: 15; 27.54%
3.) GB: 15; 27.51%
4.) NE: 15, 27.42%

The results or so close from two to four, they are all basically tied. The reason teams like Atlanta and Carolina, both of which were above 30% in drafting Key Contributors, is because their Superstars numbers were low at four and six respectively.

So how did I do in determining my methodology? Does it at least make sense numerically in determining the best drafting NFL teams since 2000? Feel free to tell me everything I did wrong in the comments below.

A Letter From the Editor: With the draft approaching, we want to deliver for Steelers fans everywhere

9 hours 11 min ago
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft is on the horizon, and we here at BTSC are hoping to deliver for all Steelers fans around the globe.

It might seem hard to believe, but we are about two weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft, and we here at BTSC are hoping to deliver for the black and gold faithful around the world.

With that said, I felt it to be the right time to give the annual update on what we plan on providing to our readers/listeners leading up to, and during, the draft.

Considering how our podcast platform has grown, I felt it would be important to have this broken down into two sections: Editorial and Podcast. Let’s start with Editorial, considering you are reading this article.

On the editorial side we will want to provide you, the reader, with the most comprehensive breakdown of the draft possible. Leading up to the draft you will continue to see my draft breakdowns of specific players, mock drafts, the big board and film room breakdowns. Pretty much what we’ve been doing this past month.

During the draft things will shift and you will see a change in both how the site looks, as well as the coverage of the draft. I will be creating what are called “streams” for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks, then one stream for Day 3 selections. These will be on the main page, and if you click on them it will take you to all the coverage on the players in the article.

In other words, since we will be churning out the initial article, knee jerk reaction, grades, etc. it will be easy for articles you slip by you. Be sure to check those streams so you don’t miss any of the breakdowns, film rooms and more on every player picked.

It is a big weekend for the site on the editorial side of things, and we hope you all are as excited as we are for the big three day event!

As for podcasts, we plan on providing as much quality content/analysis as possible for all three days of the draft. Dave Schofield will be providing an immediate Breaking News podcast talking about every pick made by the Steelers, this show will be no more than 10 minutes in length.

After that, we will be using our entire podcasting team to give you individual podcasts with plenty of opinion, analysis and breakdowns of all of the picks. There will be individual shows for picks in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds, a show for both 4th round picks and a show for the Day 3 selections.

It will be crazy, and chaotic at times, but we want to leave no stone left unturned when the draft rolls around. I also have to be honest, we are doing this not just because of page views or downloads, but because we, as a staff, are extremely excited about the Steelers upcoming draft class. We hope you are equally as excited, and will enjoy the content!

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to put a comment below and we’d be glad to talk about the upcoming coverage!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Podcast: The Steelers are getting the band back together, is that a good thing?

10 hours 41 min ago

Jeff Hartman brings an AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

Vince Williams and Joshua Dobbs signed one-year deals this week, becoming the latest players to return to the team after seemingly being gone. Is this a good thing or is the recycling of players counter-productive? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

What happened to the Steelers’ 2016 draft class?

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft at the end of the month, let’s look at how some of the Steelers’ drafts played out.

The 2021 NFL draft is now only two weeks away. Each week leading up to the draft, we are going to dive into an NFL draft class starting with the Steelers 2004 NFL draft. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers will be highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. As we get to more recent years, some will be combined as many of those draft choices are still with the Steelers.

Part 13 of 15 will highlight the Steelers 2016 NFL draft, where two players had their second stent on the Steelers roster in 2020.

So let’s take a look at the seven players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 NFL draft:

Artie Burns Cornerback, Miami (Fl)

Round 1
Pick 25

When cornerback William Jackson III was taken one pick before the Steelers first selection of the 2016 NFL draft, many fans felt the Steelers reached to just take whatever corner was out there. With Artie Burns being that selection, he didn’t have the most going for him with the fan base before he even played an NFL snap. With three interceptions in nine starts as well as 13 passes defensed his rookie season, it looked like perhaps the Steelers had made a decent choice. Burns added another interception and 13 more passes defensed as he started every game in his second season, but instead of his play going on an upward trend, the opposite occurred as Burns only started seven games over his final two seasons in Pittsburgh. When the Steelers declined the fifth-year option on Burns, he signed an inexpensive deal with the Chicago Bears which did not even qualify for the compensatory formula. Unfortunately, Burns injured his knee during training camp and lost the entire 2020 season. For 2021, Burns re-signed with the Bears at the veteran minimum.

Sean Davis Safety, Maryland

Round 2
Pick 58

Used in a variety of ways his first two seasons, Sean Davis settled in as the Steelers free safety his third season in 2018. After missing Week 1 the following year due to injury, Davis returned for one game only to be injured and lost for the season. With the Steelers trading for Mikah Fitzpatrick the same day Davis was placed on injured reserve, the Steelers allowed their second-round draft pick to walk after his rookie deal which included five interceptions, 20 passes defensed, and nearly 250 tackles. Signing with the Washington Football Team, Davis did not make the 53-man roster and returned to Pittsburgh for a fifth season. After only playing 57 defensive snaps in 16 games, only two more than the previous season where he only appeared in one game, Davis once again left the Steelers and signed with the Indianapolis Colts for the 2021 season.

Javon Hargrave Defensive tackle, South Carolina St

Round 3
Pick 89

The most successful player for the Steelers 2016 draft class, Jevon Hargrave found himself a big part of the Steelers defense right away his rookie season. In his four years in Pittsburgh, Hargrave had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed, 14.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, and 22 tackles for loss. Hargrave signed a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $13 million per season where he had 4.5 sacks in 2020. The departure of Hargrave has netted the Steelers the 140th pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft.

Jerald Hawkins Offensive tackle, LSU

Round 4
Pick 123

Unfortunately, Hawkins rookie deal with the Steelers was greatly inhibited by injuries. Lost for the season with a shoulder injury in the preseason of his rookie year, Hawkins returned in 2017 and was active for five games with one start as the Steelers jumbo tight end. Tearing his quad during OTAs in 2018, it was another lost season for Hawkins. Fighting for a roster position in 2019, Hawkins was possibly going to be released on cut down day but instead was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for exchanging sixth and seventh-round picks in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft. Only appearing in one game for the Buccaneers with a total of three snaps, Hawkins signed with the Houston Texans during training camp in 2020. Landing on the practice squad, the Steelers signed Hawkins back to their active roster after the season-ending injury to Zach Banner. Hawkins appeared in 13 games for the Steelers in 2020 where he served as the jumbo tight end and logged 76 snaps on the season. Hawkins is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Travis Feeney Outside linebacker, Washington

Round 6
Pick 220

The Steelers did not have a fifth-round pick or their scheduled sixth-round pick in 2016 due to trading for Brandon Boykin and Josh Scobee the previous season. The Steelers did have a compensatory sixth-round pick, and although he did not make the Steelers 53-man roster his rookie season, Travis Feeney did land on the Steelers practice squad. Poached by the New Orleans Saints at the very end of 2016, Feeney did not appear in the Saints’ final game of the season. Unfortunately, Feeney was released in June prior to training camp and did not catch on with another NFL team. After playing with the San Diego Fleet of the AAF, Feeney signed a contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Opting out of his contract due to the CFL canceling the 2020 season, Feeney has opted back in for the 2021 season.

Demarcus Ayers Wide receiver, Houston

Round 7
Pick 229

The Pittsburgh Steelers added a seventh round draft pick in the 2016 draft by trading punter Brad Wing to the New York Giants the previous season. Landing on the practice squad his rookie year, Ayers was added to the 53-man roster for the final three games of the 2016 NFL season. Inactive in Week 15, Ayers had his first NFL reception in the Steelers Christmas Day victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The following week, Ayers started against the Cleveland Browns were he had five receptions on 12 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. With receptions in the Steelers first two playoff victories, Ayers was inactive in the AFC Championship Game. Failing to make the roster in 2017, Ayers chose the practice squad of the New England Patriots although it was short-lived for less than three weeks. Ayers spent the second half of the 2017 season on the Bears practice squad and was signed to a Reserve/Future contract in the offseason. Ayers did not make Chicago’s 53-man roster in 2018 and went on to play with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF. Drafted by the New York Guardians of the XFL, Ayers was waived before the season started. Signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, Ayers was much like Travis Feeney as he opted out of his contract for 2020 with no CFL season but opted back in for 2021.

Tyler Matakevich Linebacker, Temple

Round 7
Pick 246

While many seventh-round draft picks do not initially land on the 53-man roster, Tyler Matakevich played four seasons with the Steelers and only missed one game. Used primarily as a special teams player and reserve linebacker, Matakevich started in one game in 2018 and had 77 career tackles with the Steelers. Signed in the 2020 offseason by the Buffalo Bills, Matakevich recently was signed to an extension with the Bills this past offseason.

Updating the Steelers’ offensive depth chart 2 weeks before the NFL draft

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

With the draft now only two weeks away, where do the Steelers stand at each offensive position?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to shape their 2021 roster, some things become a little more clear as others still have plenty of questions. Looking specifically at the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers have brought back quarterback Josh Dobbs to add into the mix.

While the upcoming NFL draft will help fill out some of the offensive needs, let’s look at the Steelers offensive depth chart by position in order to give a better grasp on where the Steelers need to add pieces. Although the Steelers retained a large portion of their practice squad and signed others to Reserve/Futures contracts, we will be focusing for now on just those players who spent significant time on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2020 and anyone added from other teams who has appeared in NFL games.

QB
Ben Roethlisberger
Mason Rudolph
Joshua Dobbs
Dwayne Haskins

RB
Benny Snell Jr.
Jaylen Samuels
Anthony McFarland
Kalen Ballage
Trey Edmunds

FB
Derek Watt

WR
JuJu Smith-Schuster
James Washington
Diontae Johnson
Chase Claypool
Ray-Ray McCloud

TE
Eric Ebron
Zach Gentry
Kevin Rader

OT
Chukwuma Okorafor
Zach Banner
Joe Haeg

G
David DeCastro
Kevin Dotson
Rashaad Coward
B.J. Finney

C
B.J. Finney
J.C. Hassenauer

Since B.J. Finney has started games at both guard and center in years past with the Steelers, I included him in both depth charts.

As you can see, while the Steelers do have enough players to fill out all their starting positions should they have to take the field tomorrow, there are still plenty of position groups in which upgrades could be made either in free agency or the draft. With the Steelers usually keeping right around 25 offensive players on their 53-man roster to begin the season, they have more than enough players but not necessarily at the right position groups. For example, there are more running backs and quarterbacks currently on the depth chart than what the Steelers are likely to keep. With the Steelers likely to add a number of offensive players in the draft, there are names on this current list who will not make the 53-man roster. Spots could also still be filled by players on their roster who signed futures contracts, free agent signings, or rookies added via the draft or as undrafted free agents.

So what position group stands out as being nearly complete moving forward? Which ones do the Steelers have the most work to do? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: Will the Steelers yell “Wolverine!’ in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 11:00am

BTSC breaks down what the Steelers’ draft needs from specific universities before the NFL Draft

With NFL Draft talk rising towards the forefront, the Steelers have a lot of needs. It’s possible that Kevin Colbert and company try to trade up or look for value in the later rounds of the draft. The team that gave you “Know Your Enemy” welcomes in experts from the college ranks to discuss their school’s draft prospects and how they would fit with the black-and-gold. This and much more will be pondered on the latest episode from the BTSC family of podcasts, “The Curtain Call” when Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict welcome Trevor Woods from SB Nation’s Maize N Brew, to talk the fit of RB,OL, ILB prospects and more from the Michigan Wolverines to the Steelers.

  • News and Notes
  • Special Guest: Trevor Woods from SB Nation’s Maize N Brew
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael and Geoffrey walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Would Elijah Molden be just another mid-round Steelers CB draft pick?

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 10:00am
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For teams who are looking for a cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft, Elijah Molden might be a prospect to keep an eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a cornerback in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their defensive back depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.

Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but after players like Patrick Surtain, there are a lot of talented defensive backs who could be available to the Steelers at pick No. 24, or after.

There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a cornerback to bolster their depth at the position in 2021, and if Washington cornerback Elijah Molden is available when the Steelers pick in the middle rounds, is he an option for the team? Or would Molden be just another mid-round cornerback selection we’ve all seen so many times?

I did some digging on Molden, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.

Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Molden. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!

Let us know your thoughts on Molden in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Draft Profiles The Draft Network

Elijah Molden played cornerback for the Huskies defense and aligns mostly inside. Overall, he demonstrates the athleticism to be a highly effective coverage player from the nickel slot. He’s a little undersized by ideal NFL measurables, but would suffice as an NFL slot. He is a willing tackler in the run game, so there are no reservations there. In the passing game, he excels. He plays with rare level instincts which allows him to bait quarterbacks inside and make plays. He doesn’t have elite play speed for a smaller cornerback, but his instincts help to cover his deficiencies.

Ideal Role: Starting caliber NFL nickel slot.

Scheme Fit: Any system that can creatively take advantage of his instincts and talent inside.

Fan Nation

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 191 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Washington

An undersized cornerback who has safety and nickel versatility. He lacks ideal length and height but is compact while possessing good overall athletic ability highlighted by explosive closing burst, lateral agility, change of direction skills, and fluid hips to flip to assist with his very good transitions. He has solid deep speed, but that is not his strength.

He possesses NFL quickness, which is essential for slot defenders. He has a low, squatty type of stance and has active hands despite only being marginal in press/jam situations due to shorter arms. He plays with exceptional competitive toughness and was a team leader for the Huskies. A true competitor and a guy you want in your locker room.

He has elite mental processing ability and does an excellent job seeing the field, reacting to what he sees, and executing his assignments. According to SIS, he allowed 17 receptions on 22 catchable targets in 2019 while playing zone coverage with a quarterback rating of 31.2, 3 interceptions, and three passes defended.

Allowed 14 receptions on 26 catchable targets while surrendering a quarterback rating of 87.6, along with eight passes defended while in man coverage in 2019. With that said, he had the 2nd best coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus in 2019. Was able to hold opposing quarterbacks to a quarterback rating of 28.1 in 2020.

He does an excellent job mirroring receivers in the slot, staying in phase (right in the hip pocket), and using his hands just enough not to get flagged. Good transitions with his footwork and hips, and does a good job coming off of assignments and attacking down low in man and zone when it is warranted.

He has incredible eye discipline in zone coverage. He does a very good job reading the quarterback and route concepts and attacking aggressively through his targets. He is very disruptive at the catch point and is a reactionary player who doesn’t miss much on the field. Click & close ability downhill is good as well. He has very good ball skills and does a good job getting his hands on the football.

He’s very physical with his tackles but can get a bit reckless when he doesn’t square up (when he tries to deliver the boom). He takes solid angles to the ball carriers and did a solid job cutting angles off from single high/C3 middle of the field closed defenses.

Solid in run support but could stand to clean up some technical issues with his tackling form. Plays with good play strength, despite his lack of size. Overall, Molden is a player that coaches love to have on their teams. He can slide into the NFL and start in the slot while also being a versatile second-level defender who can execute safety roles.

The Game Haus Strengths

Molden is one of the more versatile defensive backs in the draft class. He can play on the outside, in the slot or as a safety. His experience at Washington allowed him to get experience in all of these areas. Molden’s best fit might be as a nickel/safety hybrid because of his height and length.

His awareness and instincts are what sets Molden apart from other draft prospects in this class. He uses his eyes to read what the quarterback will do with the ball and reacts quickly to defend it better. His reads start pre-snap and then he also does a good job of showing that he recognizes route concepts and what receivers will do on a given play.

He is a physical player who isn’t afraid of contact despite his small stature. Molden is a sure-tackler who looks to hit hard. He will not let many players break his tackles and even gets the better out of a lot of his hits. This physicality and tackling helps him to be an asset against the run as well as against the pass.

Weaknesses

His size will be the first thing brought up about Molden as far as weaknesses are concerned. He is on the shorter side for corners as he is 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds. To go with that, he has shorter arms than most at the position at 29.5 inches. He plays bigger than his measurables, but bigger receivers can still get the better of him at times.

Molden also isn’t the most athletic cornerback. He moves decently, but doesn’t have great speed. He can get burned by faster receivers and struggles to mirror what receivers are doing at times due to his lack of agility. His tight hips come into play here as well, which makes it harder for him to change direction.

While his physicality is a good thing, it also can go too far. When he is in coverage, Molden can be too grabby down the field to try and keep up with faster or bigger wide receivers. He will get called for way more pass interference penalties at the next level if he doesn’t trust his coverage more.

Projected Draft Range: Second Round Pick-Fourth Round Pick

Breakdowns Game Film Other Breakdowns

QB

RB

ILB

TE

OT

CB

The Steelers officially announce the signing of ILB Vince Williams

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 9:19am
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are getting the band back together, and it seems like Vince Williams is the latest member to return.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to make moves on their offseason roster up until the 2021 NFL Draft. On the same day they brought back quarterback Joshua Dobbs, it is being reported the team is bringing back inside linebacker Vince Williams.

This per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:

The Steelers are re-signing linebacker Vince Williams, per sources. He had other offers but wanted to stay in Pittsburgh.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 14, 2021

On Thursday, the Steelers announced the signing was official.

We have signed LB Vince Williams to a one-year deal. @BordasLaw https://t.co/2HZuAWh0Kb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 15, 2021

The difference between the return of Dobbs and the return of Williams is Dobbs was an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) while Williams was a cap casualty. Nonetheless, according to Fowler, after entertaining offers from other teams, Williams wanted to stay in Pittsburgh.

In his eight seasons and Pittsburgh, Williams has appeared in 121 regular-season games with 69 starts. Starting 11 games as a rookie for an injured Larry Foote, Williams did not become a regular starter again until his fifth season in Pittsburgh. With two career interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and five passes defenses, Williams has six career fumble recoveries, 20.5 sacks, and almost 500 combined tackles. In 2020, Williams was among the top players in the NFL in tackles for loss with 14.

Williams is your proto-typical Pittsburgh Steeler. He has embraced the fan base, and the fan base has embraced him right back. Throughout his career he has had several huge moments on the field, but his tough style of play has endeared him to the black and gold fan base around the globe.

With Williams back, fans should not think his return will determine what the Steelers do, or don’t do, in the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams is a great insurance policy for the team at inside linebacker in case the draft board doesn’t fall their way and a talented defender isn’t available in the early rounds of the draft.

When financial details of this deal are released, we will have that for you right here at BTSC. In the meantime, stay tuned for the latest news and notes on the black and gold as the Steelers prepare for the rest of the offseason, and the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Steelers will regret not signing a veteran wide receiver

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The young offensive skill players could learn a lot from a veteran in the room

One of the moves I expected the Steelers to make this offseason was to insert a veteran presence into one of their offensive skill positions. Despite players like John Brown and Adrian Peterson expressing interest, nothing has materialized. Furthermore, the team hasn't given any inclination that they may make a move like this. In my opinion, refusing to add some leadership into a room that is incredibly young would be a mistake.

When a video of Chase Claypool kicking someone in the head during a bar fight came to light back in March, I thought it was just another reason for the team to add some leadership to the group. This group could really use a consummate professional added to the mix. Someone who’s presence will help the Steelers youngsters see what it takes to be a man in the NFL and takes care of business off the field in the same manor.

Think back to the last time the Steelers had a real leader in the receiving core. And, I mean someone who went above and beyond their duties as an NFL player and had a clean reputation off the field while maintaining a high level of play. I think you would have to look all the way back to Hines Ward, who retired in 2011.

This needs to change, the longest tenured receiver of the group is JuJu Smith-Schuster who was taught how to be an NFL player from Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. So, I think it’s fair to say everyone could use a mentor.

There are still a number of options available on the open market including Golden Tate, Danny Amendola, Alshon Jeffery, and the ultimate professional in Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would clearly be the perfect mentor for any group, but the Pitt alum wrapping up his career in the Steel City would be poetic.

Diontae Johnson is the oldest member of the Steelers receiving core at just 24 years of age, and while there’s nothing wrong with a youthful group, inserting leadership could be what it takes to push the unit to the next level.

But what do you think? Should the Steelers add a veteran skill player before the 2021 season begins? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Podcast: A RB, TE and an LB walk into a bar

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 8:25am

Matt Peverell breaks down the Steelers salary cap and player personnel situation every week in The War Room

The Steelers draft plan is being formulated and, most likely, tinkered with daily. Once again, BTSC will dive into the cap and draft plan, Plus, three more players get added to the big board. Join BTSC’s Matt Peverell for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

Check out the newest addition to the BTSC family of podcasts and stay a while with Matty in The War Room.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Updating the Steelers’ defensive depth chart 2 weeks before the NFL draft

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

As the NFL draft quickly approaches, where do the Steelers stand at each position on defense?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to shape their 2021 roster, some things become a little more clear as others still have plenty of questions. Looking specifically at the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have added two players with NFL experience since the last update. After adding defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson, the Steelers have brought back linebacker Vince Williams a month after he was a salary cap casualty.

While the upcoming NFL draft will help fill out the various needs, let’s look at the Steelers defensive depth chart by position in order to give a better grasp on where the Steelers need to add pieces. Although the Steelers retained a large portion of their practice squad and signed others to Reserve/Futures contracts, we will be focusing for now on just those players who spent significant time on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2020 and anyone added from other teams who has appeared in NFL games.

Defensive Line
Cameron Heyward
Stephon Tuitt
Tyson Alualu
Chris Wormley
Carlos Davis
Isaiah Buggs
Henry Mondeaux
Abdullah Anderson

OLB
T.J. Watt
Alex Highsmith
Cassius Marsh

ILB
Devin Bush
Vince Williams
Robert Spillane
Ulysees Gilbert III
Marcus Allen
Miles Killebrew

CB
Joe Haden
Cam Sutton
Justin Layne
James Pierre

Safety
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Terrell Edmunds
Antoine Brooks Jr.
Miles Killebrew

While some may put Marcus Allen on the safety depth chart, he is listed as an inside linebacker on Steelers.com so that is where he will be placed for now. Miles Killebrew has been listed as both a linebacker and defensive back on Steelers.com, so he is currently placed on the depth chart at both inside linebacker and safety.

As you can see, while the Steelers do have enough players to fill out most of their starting positions should they have to take the field with this roster, there are positions such as outside linebacker where the Steelers do not have enough reserves at the moment. Additionally, the Steelers have more defensive linemen than they typically keep. Of course, there is a spot or two where an upgrade would be welcomed or even necessary via free agency or the draft. With the Steelers usually keeping right around 25 defensive players on their 53-man roster to begin the season, there are more additions which will be needed between now an training camp. Just looking purely at the numbers, there is at least one more player on defense who will be on the Steelers 53-man roster in September who is not currently on this list, assuming that all the current players make the team. Spots could still be filled by players on their roster who signed futures contracts, free agent signings, or rookies added via the draft or as undrafted free agents.

So what position group stands out as being nearly complete moving forward? Which ones do the Steelers have the most work to do? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

The tug of war between the NFL and NFLPA over offseason workouts continues

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and the NFLPA are at odds over virtual, or in person, offseason workouts.

This is the time of year when NFL fans typically are extremely happy.

Why?

NFL Free Agency continues to rage on, the NFL Draft is just days away and offseason workouts are finally starting up.

But after the 2020 season, one which was drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be a rift between the league and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

The rift is how the players want another virtual offseason workout program, like there was last season, yet the league wants players to report to the voluntary program as they did prior to 2020. Throughout the rest of this article, keep in mind all but a handful of these workouts are strictly voluntary for all NFL players.

Below is the schedule for the offseason workout program, this from Brian McCarthy of the NFL:

Here’s an overview of the 2021 offseason program pic.twitter.com/idMebiqtmQ

— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) April 14, 2021

Outside of the mandatory minicamp, these workouts have always been voluntary. This isn’t news. But the fact remains certain parts of the Organized Team Activities (OTAs), while voluntary, were strongly encouraged. It was considered the final primer for the team before minicamp and players heading off on their own before reporting to training camp.

This season there have been a number of teams who have, with the help of the NFLPA, released statements on how they will not be participating in the voluntary workouts this offseason.

Here is a list of teams who are staying away from workouts this offseason thus far:

#Broncos, #Seahawks, #Bucs and #Lions players have announced through the NFLPA they’ll boycott, while #Patriots players said “many” will stay away. Under the plan the NFL sent to clubs today, most in-person activities — including on-field work — won’t begin until May 17.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 14, 2021

There are a lot of caveats here to unwrap in this tug of war going on between the league and the players. First, and as illustrated by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, there is the issue of injury. If a player is injured at one of these workouts, they are covered. If they are working out on their own, there is no coverage from the organization.

Another NFL memo to clubs tonight noted a primary incentive for players to show up to voluntary workouts: Get hurt at the team facility, you have injury protection. Get hurt elsewhere, you don’t and “a club will not be responsible for the player’s compensation or other benefits.” pic.twitter.com/oS46ZkzpAB

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 15, 2021

On top of injury issues, the NFLPA is not answering the fact some players have workout incentives in their contracts. Also, what about those second-year players who were deprived of these workouts, and an opportunity to not just learn, but show the coaching staff what they can do as they learn the new system. Of course, rookies will want to get their feet wet at quick as possible.

If you look at last year as an example, when workouts were supposed to be virtual, Tom Brady orchestrated several in-person workouts. Likewise, when the Tennessee Titans were told to stay away from the facility, they were caught working out at a local high school to prepare for the rest of their season.

Meanwhile, the NFLPA is citing the pandemic, and shoddy precautions, as a reason to remain virtual in 2021. Whatever the reason, this seems to be the beginning of a standoff between the two sides. The vast majority of the teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have yet to make a stand on these offseason workouts, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for these workouts and the upcoming NFL Draft.

Julian Edelman has retired, which means there’s no way he can be linked to the Steelers

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 5:30am
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Does Julian Edelman make sense for the Steelers? Thankfully, he retired, so nobody can ever ask that question.

“Does it make sense for the Steelers to kick the tires on Julian Edelman?” is one headline you won’t be reading in the coming months from Behind the Steel Curtain or any other site.

Why? Because Edelman didn’t just have his contract terminated by the Patriots on Monday following a failed physical; he did everyone a favor by quickly announcing his retirement in a video posted to Twitter.

When I say Edelman did everyone a favor by announcing his retirement, I mean Steelers fans and media members. That’s right, Edelman quickly put those folks out of their misery regarding the possibility of Pittsburgh inking the 34-year old to a deal. “But why would anyone have wanted that?” you might be asking. I don’t know, why did anyone think the Steelers were going to bring in Jameis Winston a year ago when Ben Roethlisberger was set to return from a major elbow injury? Yes, Winston would have been an upgrade at the backup quarterback spot, but his mere presence may have given us the return of Passive-Aggressive Ben and his always cryptic media quotes.

Why did anyone ever think the Steelers were going to trade for Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson after he became disgruntled or defensive end J.J. Watt after he became disgruntled and unemployed?

Why was everyone hoping the Steelers would swing a trade for Sam Darnold once it became clear that the Jets were all-in on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson? It would have made sense in a way but not in many other ways—financially, the possible return of I Want To Play Five More Years Ben, etc.

There’s always at least a few cries to bring in one of these dangling-in-the-wind veterans once they’re available, so I figure it would have just been a matter of time before Edelman became the apple of someone’s eye.

It may have been mentioned in the live chat of one or all of Behind the Steel Curtain’s many live podcasts. I’m guessing at least one local radio personality may have said that Edelman would have been just the veteran presence the Steelers’ young receivers needed; he would have shown them all how to win, got them to stop the TikTok nonsense and be professionals.

But none of that is going to happen, thanks to Edelman riding off into the sunset. Sure, we’re having those arguments about whether or not he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but I could care less about that. Was Edelman a better receiver than Hines Ward? Probably not. Will Edelman have his likeness immortalized in Canton, Ohio, before or instead of No. 86? I can see that. You might not like to read this, but that Patriots 2001-2018 magic dust will be just as powerful as the Steelers’ 1970s magic dust when it comes to deciding who gets to wear those gold jackets. No, it likely won’t be powerful enough to enshrine 10 Patriots players (the salary cap era will prevent that), but someone like Edelman could certainly benefit—and when he’s still quite young.

There’s also the matter of Edelman possibly pulling a Gronk and coming out of retirement in time to go play with his buddy, Tom Brady, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2021 season.

Again, I don’t really care. The Buccaneers can collect every single Patriots reject and castoff until they’re unofficially referred to as New England Southeast. I realize Edelman might help Tampa Bay win another Super Bowl—as strange and improbable as that seems—but unless it’s against the Steelers, I won’t be annoyed by it.

I would have been annoyed by yet another question about whether or not it was a good idea to sign a veteran player who just recently became available.

It’s the little things that make me happy.

Podcast: The acclimation approximation of a Steelers draft pick

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 4:30am

The Oracle Dave Schofield shares his thoughts in the AM platform with the classic stats show with the Co-Editor of BTSC.

The Steelers have a good track record for drafting superstar players. But picks like Terry Bradshaw, Troy Polamalu, Cam Heyward and Bud Dupree are great examples of players that didn’t shine right away. So just how long does it take for a Steelers’ draft pick to get acclimated? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • How long does it take for a Steelers’ draft pick to get acclimated?
  • and MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

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