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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2022-09-30T18:45:00-04:00
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 19

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. Everyone wants to talk about the Steelers quarterbacks, and rightfully so. The question is simple: What would need to take place for Chris Oladokun to make the 53-man roster?

2. With the addition of Larry Ogunjobi, how do you foresee the Steelers’ run defense being in 2022?

3. OVER/UNDER: 10 — Pat Freiermuth receiving touchdowns. You taking the over or under?

4. When you think about the Pittsburgh Steelers, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? It can be a player, a moment, a unit...anything...

5. No one is giving the Steelers a shot in 2022. Do you like when the pundits are talking all about the Steelers as favorites, or do you love the team being underdogs? Explain your answer...

6. This is a holiday weekend in the United States, 4th of July weekend. I am a big griller of meat. What is your favorite thing to throw on the grill that isn’t the usual burgers and hot dogs? I’m always looking for recommendations...

BONUS: On top of that, what is your favorite thing to smoke? I have an offset smoker, but am looking for some unique things to throw in the smoker. It is a traditional smoker, not one of those cheating pellet grills which does all the work for you. So, if you have a favorite, let me know what you smoke and what wood you use!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Going For Two: Miles Killebrew & Christian Kuntz

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s Day 20 of Going For Two, featuring Miles Killebrew and Christian Kuntz

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Miles Killebrew Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 29
Year: 7
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 222
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 111, 2016 (Detroit Lions)
College: Southern Utah State
Roster Outlook: Highly Likely
Analysis:

After joining the Steelers in 2021, Miles Killebrew was a valuable assets on the Steelers special teams units. Despite only playing 44 snaps on defense, Killebrew had 335 special team snaps. With only eight teams blocking a punt in the NFL last season, the Steelers were one of three who had multiple punt blocks. In both cases, it was Miles Killebrew who got his hands on the ball, and the first instance lead to a Ulysees Gilbert touchdown in Week 1. Bringing this value to special teams, along with being an adequate reserve in the secondary, it would be a surprise if Miles Killebrew was not on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2022.

Christian Kuntz Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Long Snapper
Age: 28
Year: 2
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 227
Drafted: UDFA, 2017 (New England Patriots)
College: Duquesne
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

While last year it looked like Kuntz was a long shot to make the roster, I believe he had a chance as he was both adequate at snapping and gave another option on the coverage team as his first stint in Steelers training camp in 2019 was primarily as a linebacker. But by winning the job last year, it is unlikely that Kuntz will surrender the role after one season.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

The Steelers’ quarterback “it” factor may be the biggest factor for 2022

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For those down on the Steelers winning games in 2022, it might be the closing moments each week that make the difference.

There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the team has yet to put on pads in preparation for the season, it doesn’t keep the discussion and opinions from flowing freely. And it’s not that discussion and opinions are bad, it’s just very interesting to see how they go at times.

In looking at the Steelers 2022 roster, it’s easy to see where things should be improved for the season. The Steelers added two key components to the offensive line. The Steelers also have the return of Tyson Alualu for the upcoming year, and Larry Ogunjobi was added to the mix recently to help cover for the loss of Stephon Tuitt who didn’t even play last season. They swapped out Myles Jack for Joe Schobert at linebacker. Whether or not exchanging Levi Wallace for Joe Haden in the secondary will be a plus or minus is yet to be seen, but it doesn’t appear at this time to be a move that would change the Steelers record by multiple games.

One area of concern could be at wide receiver as the Steelers lost three players from last year‘s team. But the Steelers also used two of their top four draft picks on the position in 2022, and the three players who were lost all fell behind the Steelers running back and tight end in receiving yards last season, making the highest-ranked player who was lost fifth on the list.

So when others look for the Steelers to have a poor season in 2022, the biggest change and unknown factor centers around the quarterback position.

Just to give an example of some of the feelings about how the Steelers will finish in 2022, the current over/under for Steelers wins on the season is set at 7.5 games. Additionally, in a recent article by ESPN where they mocked the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, they had the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting sixth overall.

If the Steelers have worked on making improvements at so many of their positions and aren’t dealing with aging players in very many spots, the biggest factor has to be at the quarterback position. But what is it about the position which makes these so-called “experts” feel the Steelers are going to see a significant reduction in wins?

Even as the most avid Ben Roethlisberger fan, it would be foolish not to admit that he was not the same player in 2021 that he was earlier in his career. Neither his arm nor his legs were what they were even four seasons prior. With teams not respecting Roethlisberger’s deep ball, the Steelers offense was limited in things they could do. Additionally, with mobility not being a factor with Roethlisberger, it is believed the offensive schemes the Steelers wanted to institute were simply not in the cards.

So if the Steelers now have options at quarterback who can fit their system, push the ball down the field, and can possibly make plays with their legs, why is there projected to be so much of a drop off for 2022?

To me, it’s the Ben Roethlisberger ‘it’ factor.

What is ‘it’? Simple. Ben Roethlisberger, even in his final seasons with the Steelers, when the moment called for it could put the team on his back and lead them to victory. In 2021, Roethlisberger had seven game-winning drives. With the Steelers only having nine wins, that’s pretty impressive. Roethlisberger did what he had to do to win.

As the Steelers move from minicamp towards training camp later this month, a lot is going to be made of the play of the quarterbacks. Seeing how they command the huddle, find receivers, push the ball down the field, and do all the things that Steelers fans want to see, what fans won’t be able to see is the ‘it’ factor I was just describing.

Even in a preseason game, it’s just not the same to see if the quarterback is going to come through and win the game at the end. Chances are, the quarterback who’s going to lead the Steelers to start off in 2022 won’t be in the game at the end in order to win it. So what might be the biggest factor for the Steelers 2022 quarterbacks is not something fans are going to get a chance to see until September. When the game is on the line and the team needs a score, will he be able to come through?

Whether you call it the ‘it’ factor or ‘clutch’ or something else, this is what will ultimately separate the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers from a team pushing to make the postseason or one who is getting a higher draft pick than they have seen in a long time. Ultimately, it would be great if games don’t come down to the wire for the Steelers because they have a little breathing room and don’t have to call on their quarterback to win it for them. But this is the NFL, and every franchise employs 53 professionals, not including the practice squad, to go out and keep this from happening.

The Steelers are going to be in close games in 2022. Are they going to be able to pull them out? This may be the single biggest question heading into and during the season.

Calvin Austin lll needs to be the Steelers highly visible secret weapon

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers rookie WR Calvin Austin lll can't be the type of secret weapon that opponents see coming from miles away.

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers skill position players lacked game changing speed, especially by current NFL standards. The majority were quicker than fast.

However, this glaring shortcoming was by no means responsible for what became a mind-numbingly predictable and extremely limited offensive attack, with offensive being the most accurate description. It actually caused physical pain for many Steelers fans to watch the Steelers offense, particularly the first three quarters of each contest.

Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger was damaged goods going into the season, especially his knees, and it went down hill from there. He needed a strong running game, and a clean pocket, with time to survey the field. Those must haves were common knowledge prior to the season, but they never came to fruition.

The Steelers revamped offensive line was a collection of newcomers; starting two rookies, a veteran cast off on the backside of his career, an athletic but underwhelming youngster that lacks intensity, and Kevin Dotson. First the first time in recent memory, the Steelers offensive line didn't excel at any phase of the game.

It amounted to the worst line in the league. It handcuffed every aspect of the offense, but negatively impacted both sides of the ball. Combined with the worst run defense in the NFL, the Steelers as a team couldn't stay on the field when they possessed the football, or get off the field when they didn't. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Well, that's about enough living in the past, which accomplishes nothing. But we must never forget as those that forget the past are bound to repeat it. Based on the coaching changes and offseason additions, I strongly believe that the Steelers have now learned that valuable lesson, albeit the hard way.

The Steelers have restocked their talent reserves, across the roster, but we will focus on the offense for this article. Improvements have been made, especially in the speed department.

When you think about speedy additions, rookie receiver Calvin Austin lll immediately comes to mind. Not only is he blazingly fast, but he has elite quickness as well. It's been many years since the Steelers have enjoyed the services of a weapon with Austin's elite-level skill set where a slip, stumble, or missed tackle by a defender means six points for the good guys wearing black and gold. If and when that happens, as "Dandy" Don Meredith used to say, "Turn out the lights, because the party's over!"

Here's the gist of this article. If the Steelers are going to be able to utilize Calvin Austin lll to the full extent of his abilities, the opposition must get accustomed to seeing him on the field. It makes sense that he has to see the field to make an impact, right? It's not that simple.

In the past, the Steelers have employed certain players that they liked to use in the occasional gadget plays. Since those plays are usually run sparingly and out of limited formations, they quickly lose the element of surprise needed for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

A recent example would be current Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. The Steelers tried to use the speedy McFarland in a variety of ways during the 2020 season. They wanted to utilize his speed to work the outside edges in the running game, and create mismatches in the passing game. While the ineffective offensive line was the primary factor in the offenses ineptitude, there was another determining factor.

Everybody in the building could see him coming from a mile away.

You could hear opposing defensive signal callers screaming out his number, paying special attention to his presence on the field. He was quickly noticed and easily defended because he played so infrequently, therefore defenses knew something was up when he did see the field.

Now consider the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers offense for comparison. That offense was both talented and efficient, and also very adept at the perfect timed trick play. Truthfully, it's always easier to successfully utilize trick plays from a well-balanced and productive offensive attack. However, there was another underappreciated factor in the success of the 2005 squads trick plays. The main participants were always on the field.

The Steelers were blessed with not one, but two, extremely versatile former collegiate quarterbacks that just happened to be NFL starting wide receivers in Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El. Although that Steelers offense was loaded with current and future Hall of Fame talent, the ball handling skills and versatility of these two gentlemen allowed the Steelers to be extremely creative and aggressive. The opposition never saw it coming. It culminated with the Randle El to Ward touchdown pass in Super Bowl XL, still the only receiver touchdown pass in Super Bowl history.

At least on paper, the 2021 Steelers offense appears substantially more talented and versatile than last season. Matt Canada's offense now has the components necessary to be successful; mobility at the quarterback position, strengthened interior offensive line, and increased talent and versatile at the skill positions. Although it will obviously take time to figure out the optimal lineup, and then get everybody on the same page, the foundation of a markedly improved offense appears to be forming.

With all the aforementioned notable additions at the skill positions, it could be extremely difficult for talented youngsters like Calvin Austin lll and Connor Heyward to see the field. That would be an huge mistake for Matt Canada and company in my opinion.

Both newcomers need to see the field, early and often, and in multiple formations. That will not only speed up their learning curve, but it will make their usage far less predictable, both in type and frequency.

If so, 2022 may just be the year that the element of surprise for the Steelers offense makes it's triumphant return to the Steel City.

Many will never see if coming. You can't say I didn't try to warn you. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers rush offense will be in the top half of the league

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at Saint Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers rush offense will be in the top half of the league

Why it will happen: The Steelers have spent a lot of assets to improve their running game. Not only a top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft taking Najee Harris, but how they’ve handled this past offseason. The organization brought in Mason Cole and James Daniels to help fortify the interior of the offensive line. The hope is 4th round pick in 2021 Dan Moore Jr. and re-signed Chuks Okorafor will anchor the tackle positions. Throw in the addition of Pat Meyer as the new offensive line coach, and Matt Canada seems to have all he needs to resurrect the Steelers’ dead running game.

Why it won’t happen: Despite the aforementioned moves which were made, you can’t completely change a running game as poorly as the Steelers in one offseason. Could it be better? Absolutely it could be better, but to the point where they are in the top half of the league? That seems like a pipe dream. While the interior of the offensive line certainly is stronger, the tackles give fans plenty of pause heading into the 2022 regular season. To have a dominant running attack, you need to have a dominant line. Even though it will be improved, expecting dramatic results might be too much for the organization.

Prediction: Last year the Steelers averaged 93.1 yards per game on the ground. This ranked 29th in the league. For them to get into the top half of the league, based on 2021 results, they’d have to average 115.0 yards per game. Gaining an extra 22 yards per game seems simple, but in real life it’s a different story. When you look deeper into the stats, you see the team’s 3.9 yards per game as the main culprit. But there is more to it than just the average. The Steelers’ 411 attempts on the ground ranked 27th in the league.

If the Steelers want to improve their ground game, they have to be willing to commit to the run, not abandon the run if things go south. When I think about the Steelers having a running attack in the top half of the league, I absolutely think the fact Matt Canada has a roster which better suits his philosophy has the team on the right track. Throw in a more mobile quarterback, whoever becomes the starter, and the team has the making of an improved running attack.

But will they finish in the top half of the league? Call it a hunch, but my prediction is they will finish in the top half of the league. Will they be dominant, they might have their moments, but it will be tough sledding at times. Nonetheless, I see the Steelers improving their running game to the point where the team does finish in the top half in 2022.

Check out yesterday’s prediction in the link below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Can Pat Freiermuth make the Pro Bowl in 2022?

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

One NFL.com writer thinks Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth could be a Pro-Bowler in year two.

Pat Freiermuth has quickly become a fan favorite in Steelers’ Nation, and for good reason. He displayed a ton of promise in his rookie season, both as a receiver and as a blocker. In the 2021 NFL Draft, he was by far my favorite selection by the Steelers as I could not help but fall in love with his college tape. I love tight ends who can do the dirty work and make explosive plays, and there are very few tight ends in the modern NFL who can do both.

After a rookie year with 60 receptions and nearly 500 receiving yards, the expectations could not be higher for the former Nittany Lion. Ben Roethlisberger, as good as he was at throwing to tight ends, was a shell of his former self in 2021, leading one to believe that Freiermuth can achieve new heights in his second season with a new quarterback.

One pundit who believes in Freiermuth’s potential is NFL.com’s Nick Shook, who recently came out with an article discussing potential first-time pro-bowlers for every AFC team. When looking at the Steelers’ roster, Shook came to the conclusion that Pat Freiermuth was the most likely player to make the Pro Bowl for the first time. Here is what he had to say about Pittsburgh’s tight end.

Najee Harris made the Pro Bowl after shouldering a heavy offensive load in his first season, so the next-best option on the Steelers’ roster is Freiermuth, who fit in seamlessly as a rookie and looks to be on a path toward becoming the franchise’s next beloved tight end. A new quarterback will make the going a little rougher, at least initially, but a reliable tight end is often a young passer’s best friend. I expect Freiermuth to see a ton of targets, no matter who plays quarterback for Pittsburgh in 2022, and to be in the conversation for the Pro Bowl, even with some stiff competition (including Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce) awaiting him.

Shook concluded by mentioning the competition he would face to make it in. Typically, there are two tight ends from each conference who make the Pro Bowl. In the AFC, Freiermuth will have to battle the likes of Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller, while players such as Mike Gesicki and Dawson Knox are also on the verge of emerging into elite tight end status.

Kelce’s age is beginning to show, but based on the fact that Tyreek Hill is now out of the picture, it can only be assumed Patrick Mahomes will heavily target the one primary receiving entity he has chemistry with. Mark Andrews is also in line for a large target share, as wide receiver Marquise Brown is no longer with the team. Rashod Bateman is the presumed number one receiver in Baltimore, but after being relatively ineffective due to injuries in 2021, there are too many unknowns to put much stock into his projected status.

Waller may lose a few targets to Davante Adams, who is reuniting with college teammate Derek Carr. However, Waller’s presence across the middle of the field will still get Carr’s attention in crunch-time situations, which is why fans should expect another productive year from the Raider tight end.

As for the Steelers, it is a complete unknown. How often will Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett target tight ends? Will the additions of George Pickens and Calvin Austin III give the Steelers reason to employ four-receiver sets and use a tight end less often? How often will Pat Freiermuth be asked to assist an inexperienced offensive line and block in-line?

All of the above questions are valid concerns, but at the end of the day, Freiermuth was just touching the surface last year. Everyone could see the potential he was oozing with, as he made the most of the opportunities he was given. I, along with the vast majority of this great fan base, cannot wait to see what is in store for him in the future, and it would not shock me at all if he is voted into his first Pro Bowl this season.

What do you think of Pat Freiermuth’s year-two outlook? Do you think he can make the Pro Bowl? What is a reasonable stat line for him? Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 9: Cornerbacks

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 7:15am
Levi Wallace | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part Nine, we’ll break down the Cornerbacks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers head into 2022 with a solid, if unspectacular, group of Cornerbacks (CB) anchoring down the back end of the Defense. At first glance, it appears the team doesn’t boast a true number one CB with the ability to be a consistent lockdown coverage defender. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll see a group with real upside, with a couple of names ready to take that next step as top-notch defenders in the secondary.

The Players

Note: position labels are pulled directly from the team’s official roster on Steelers.com

CB: Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Cam Sutton, Justin Layne, James Pierre, Arthur Maulet

DB: Carlins Platel, Chris Steele, Linden Stephens

Group Breakdown

I’m leading off with a player the Steelers made a priority to re-sign this offseason, and if you look at the 2021 film, it’s easy to see why. Ahkello Witherspoon showed a real nose for the football with 3 interceptions (INT) over the last 5 regular season contests, including 2 picks in the Steelers epic near-comeback versus the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14. Witherspoon does a lot of things well, however, he did show vulnerability at times in man coverage. While the ball skills are clear, Witherspoon will need to make strides as a pure coverage corner to make the jump from good number CB2 to true CB1.

The Steelers made a splash in Free Agency to acquire Levi Wallace from the Buffalo Bills, likely seeing him as having a real shot to be the team’s CB1. Wallace has good size and college pedigree (Alabama), and some really good tape in Buffalo, where he grew as a cover man opposite All-Pro Tre’Davious White. Wallace displays fluidity in coverage and can handle a variety of techniques and schemes. He knows how to get his hands on the football as well, with 25 passes defensed and 6 interceptions since 2019 (3 seasons).

The next group of players were drafted by the team with varying degrees of success. The best of the bunch is Cam Sutton, who has been the Steelers’ best draft selection at CB in some time. You can take that however you want to, but the truth is that Sutton is a valuable CB3 with in-game experience and versatility. Teryl Austin’s promotion from DB Coach to Defensive Coordinator could be a big deal for a guy like Sutton, whose role could grow in the coach’s secondary-minded schemes.

Justin Layne is a former 3rd Round pick by the Steelers, but he has yet to live up to his billing as a raw but athletic prospect with big upside. We haven’t seen the upside kick in yet, and as a result, Layne’s status on the roster is in question. James Pierre was an Undrafted Free Agent acquisition by Pittsburgh in 2020, and produced well enough in practice and on the field to merit in season work. However, the team will look for Pierre to make strides as well in order to secure a roster spot come Training Camp.

Arthur Maulet was the Steelers go-to slot CB in 2021, for better and for worse. While looking for a suitable replacement for former Steeler and current Cincinnati Bengal, Mike Hilton, Maulet was given the role of coverage man from the slot, where he was regularly taken advantage of by dynamic slot receivers and smart Quarterbacks who knew to look his way. Maulet’s coverage issues need serious improvement if he wants to retain a spot on this roster.

The remainder of the group is a list of practice squad hopefuls with designs on taking advantage of their opportunity to compete. Carlins Platel and Chris Steele are 2022 UDFAs looking to prove they belong on the big stage, while Linden Stephens continues his journeyman route with a stop in Pittsburgh. Stephens has 16 games of NFL experience with the Dolphins and the Seahawks as a fill-in player, but took no reps in 2021. It is worth mentioning he would have played for Brian Flores in Miami in 2019.

I did want to note that Tre Norwood, listed as a DB on Steelers.com, has a real chance to be the team’s best slot defender, although his traditional role is that of safety. We will discuss Norwood more in depth on the final Roster Review article covering the safety group.

Depth Chart Prediction

Count me in as a believer in the Steelers current group of guys being a strong point of the roster and not a liability. Specifically at the top, where I have faith in Teryl Austin to put together a competent and competitive group, led by Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon. Both of these guys have what it takes to be the team’s CB1, and a true number 1 cover guy. My money is on Wallace really making the leap coming over from Buffalo, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Witherspoons ability to create splash plays put him over the top.

Behind these two, you could do way worse than Cam Sutton who has quality starting experience on the outside and in the nickel. He rounds out a solid top 3 squad. After those guys it gets dicey, however. Arthur Maulet, Justin Layne, and James Pierre are probably going to make the roster, due more to the fact that there just isn’t really anyone pushing these guys than the actual worthiness of each one. If Pierre and Layne can continue their growth and Arthur Maulet can clean up his act a little, there is hope that this group has good depth by the start of the season.

CB1: Levi Wallace, James Pierre

CB2: Ahkello Witherspoon, Justin Layne

Nickel: Cam Sutton, Arthur Maulet

Practice Squad: Carlins Platel, Chris Steele

It’s officially Pittsburgh Steelers month!

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It might be 90 degrees in the air, but the autumn wind is blowing in my soul. Steelers season is almost here!

It’s July! You know what that means, right?

No, it doesn’t mean that summer is half over. I know this is a popular saying around this time of year, but unless fall begins on like July 10th or whatever (the first day of summer was June 21), the math just doesn’t add up.

For the purposes of this article, let’s just say that the beginning of July marks the start of Steelers Month. Why do I say that? Because July is the month that training camp begins, which will be on July 26.

After that, all the news about the Steelers will come organically. You won’t have to go on YouTube and satisfy your cravings with highlights from Steelers games of yesteryear. You won’t have to pretend to worry about soccer or baseball.

You won’t have to make irreverent comments such as, “Gee, must be a slow news day,” in response to articles...like this one. (BTW, why do you say that when you know darn right well that it’s a slow news day?)

Once training camp starts, everything else will flow naturally.

Before you know it, it will be August 13. The Steelers will play their first preseason game that evening, an event that will cause many fans to proclaim that it feels like Christmas morning (they may even put up a fake tree just to commemorate the special day).

Not long after that, on September 11, it will be the Steelers' first regular-season game against the not-so-bungly Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Then, we’ll all be in the throes of the Steelers 2022 season. Who is doing well? Should Mike Tomlin be held accountable? Why doesn’t he ever have his team ready to play? Clock management. Left tackle!

Yes, the BTSC gameday threads will be rockin!

I’m so happy it is July, and the reason is simple: It happened again. It happens just about every summer around this time. What? Something triggered my excitement for the upcoming football season. As always, I was caught off guard, but, as always, in the most pleasant of ways. I was listening to some podcast (don’t even remember which one) just the other day and the intro included a score from the NFL Films' very famous and extensive music library. I could suddenly smell football in the air. I could feel those butterflies begin to fly around in the pit of my stomach. Despite the fact that it was over 90 degrees out and humid as heck, I could feel the chill of the, well, the autumn wind in the air as those mythical brown leaves began to swirl around in my backyard.

Some relationship guru recently said that I should never date a woman who is so self-centered that she considers her birthday month to be her BIRTHDAY MONTH!

Maybe that’s a huge red flag in the relationship world, but not in the Steelers world. I’ll be counting down the days until July 26. I won’t even have to be subtle about it and drop hints like we often have to do when our birthday is upcoming. Why? Because everyone else will be celebrating Steelers Month, too.

It’s almost here. The autumn wind might be a Raider, but it also includes the Steelers and football, so that’s just fine by me.

Happy Steelers Month!

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest four podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: All-Time Roster Redeux

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the hottest and most toxic takes on the internet. This week, we look back at the 40th anniversary of the Steelers 50th anniversary, and see if we would make any changes to the All-Time Roster. Plus, the latest in the search for a QB1, why fans shouldn’t really care how much DJ’s next contract is worth, and what Vince Williams podcast appearance can teach us about Devin Bush.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • A look at the
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Is Mike Tomlin’s coaching tree ready to flourish?

Through the course of history, we’ve learned about various coaching trees like the Bill Walsh Tree, the Tony Dungy Tree and the Bill Belichick Tree. But how fruitful is the Mike Tomlin tree after 15 seasons? 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, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • The Mike Tomlin Coaching Tree, is it more promising than ever?
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride Friday: There is no Steelers hype train, and that’s fine

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a dark horse for the first time in a long time. Should that concern fans? Absolutely not, and BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman outlines why the Steelers not being talked about isn’t a bad thing on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The glory of not being expected to do anything
  • 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

Going For Two: Karl Joseph & Damontae Kazee

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It’s Day 19 of Going For Two, featuring Karl Joseph and Damontae Kazee

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Karl Joseph Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 28
Year: 6
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 200
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 14, 2016 (Oakland Raiders)
College: West Virginia
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

On the Steelers practice squad in 2021, Karl Joseph appeared in two games when he was elevated to the 53-man roster. Only seeing 17 snaps on defense and 14 on special teams, Joseph had two tackles and one pass defensed on the year. Signed to a Veteran Salary Benefit contract, meaning some of the money he is paid does not count against the salary cap, Joseph is fighting to keep a spot in the NFL as a former first-round pick. Although he has the pedigree associated with his draft status, Joseph also has to beat out others at the safety position in order to earn a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster. While this wouldn’t be unheard of, it’s also not a guarantee.

Damontae Kazee Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 29
Year: 6
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 174
Drafted: Round 5, Pick 149
College: San Diego State
Roster Outlook: Highly likely
Analysis:

Signing with Steelers for a Veteran Salary Benefit contract, Demontae Kazee seems to have a leg up on others in the position group. Starting 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys last season, Kazee had 52 tackles, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and two interceptions. Based on his résumé, which includes leading the NFL in interceptions in 2018 with 7, Kazee is almost a lock to make the roster. But not carrying a big contract, and having a very low dead money hit, if Kazee appears to not be a good fit for the Steelers it wouldn’t be completely out of the question if the two sides parted ways. But this seems highly unlikely, therefore making Kazee a ‘highly likely’ candidate for the Steelers 53-man roster in 2022.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Ben Roethlisberger to participate in two-day Ryder Cup style golf event

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Efren Landaos/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As a part of the Icon Series, Roethlisberger will get his competitive juices flowing again, just with a different sport.

If you ask most people who have golfed their whole lives what they plan on doing once they retire, they’d probably say they will be golfing more. Well, you can throw Ben Roethlisberger into that mix as he is now slated to get his competitive juices flowing again, but on the golf course.

Roethlisberger will be participating in the Icon Series event, which will start Thursday and take two days. The Icons Series is bringing a two-day tournament to Liberty National which features 24 professional athletes from all walks of sports in a Ryder Cup-type competition.

If you know anything about the Ryder Cup, you know it is a fun even which isn’t just your standard golf tournament. You have captains, teams and unique styles of play. In this format, two-time major champion Fred Couples leading an American team against four-time major champion Ernie Els and his Team Rest of the World.

So, who is joining Roethlisberger in this event? Here is a list of the athletes playing in the tournament:

Among the players are Hall of Fame football players Marshall Faulk and Michael Strahan, recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz, boxer Canelo Alvarez of Mexico, Tottenham striker Harry Cane, recently retired women’s tennis No. 1 Ash Barty and retired Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh.

Quite the field of athletes for those who might be going to the event. For those who are curious, this isn’t the first event in the Icon Series. In fact, it’s the third.

This will be the third event in the Icons Series. The first was in Dubai in 2015 and the second in England in 2017. An event planned in Japan in 2019 was canceled because of a tsunami and earthquake days apart. The covid-19 pandemic kept the event off course in 2021, and Brookes said returning this year was a late decision.

There have been plenty of events like this in the past, but some, like Pro-Ams, will have celebrities as well as athletes participating. According to Tom Brookes, director of the Icon Series, he wanted to get away from celebrities and focus on athletes.

“I think we’ve stayed away from celebrities and just focused on athletes who by DNA are super competitive, and we can try and humanize them and a different sport,” Brookes said.

As for Roethlisberger, he has been an avid golfer his entire professional career. He has participated in many Pro-Ams, and even played in unique events like this before. With his athleticism, he can certainly hold his own on the golf course.

When it comes to Roethlisberger’s retirement, I think it’s going just fine so far.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason, and get ready to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

Steelers roster ranks in the bottom half of the NFL, per ESPN

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers roster is rather unproven, and their ranking among the NFL would explain just that.

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are an unknown commodity at this point in the offseason. There is plenty of potential up and down their roster, but it is a far cry from being the known commodity fans have grown accustomed to the past decade.

A lot of the uncertainty hinges on the fact no one knows what to expect with the offense without Ben Roethlisberger on the roster. Not only is the production an unknown, but so is the next quarterback.

Will the next quarterback be Mitch Trubisky? Mason Rudolph? Kenny Pickett?

No one knows, and this makes the 2022 roster more of a complexity. On top of the offensive questions, the defense, which ranked 32nd in the NFL last season, has their share of unknowns as well.

Will the loss of Stephon Tuitt to retirement end up being a death knell for the defense for a second consecutive year? Will Devin Bush return to form, finally? How about the free agent signings of Myles Jack, Damontae Kazee and Levi Wallace impact the production of the defense?

These concerns are not isolated to the Steelers. Plenty of teams have these concerns, but in Pittsburgh the expectation is different. It makes you wonder just how the Steelers’ roster ranks when compared to the rest of the league. ESPN recently ranked all 32 NFL rosters, but before we get into the rankings, there is some background information on this exercise which is needed:

With the 2022 draft and free agency behind us, we’re breaking down each team’s roster using the PFF database, with an eye toward the projected starters. We looked at both the PFF grades from the 2021 season — a number included for every projected starter — and a more comprehensive assessment of each player’s career using both PFF grades and statistics.

- Pro Football Focus grades of 90-plus categorize as elite, 80-89.9 are good/high quality, 70-79.9 check in as average and 69.9 or lower are considered below average.

- For rookies and players not active (or barely active) in 2021, we used college grades or NFL grades from earlier seasons. NFL grades from 2020 or earlier are marked with (*), college grades from 2021 are marked with (**), and college grades from 2020 or earlier are marked with (***).

With that being said, let’s take a look at the rankings, and where the Steelers rank among the league’s best.

ESPN Roster Rankings

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Los Angeles Chargers
4. Los Angeles Rams
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Cleveland Browns
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. Cincinnati Bengals
9. Kansas City Chiefs
10. Miami Dolphins
...
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest strength: It’s hard to find many better duos along the defensive front than T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward. Over the past three seasons, both Watt and Heyward rank among the top three players at their respective positions in both quarterback pressures and run stops. Their ability to make impact plays regardless of the situation is at the center of Pittsburgh’s defensive success over that three-year stretch.

Biggest weakness: The Steelers’ offensive line has deteriorated from a unit that five-plus years ago was one of the best in the league under offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Now it profiles closer to the bottom of the league. This group was aided in pass protection by Ben Roethlisberger’s 2.2-second average time to throw over the past two seasons (fastest in the NFL), making how it fares in what should be a different-looking 2022 offense something worth monitoring.

X factor for 2022: The two-year, $8 million contract Ahkello Witherspoon signed to remain in Pittsburgh this offseason doesn’t scream No. 1 outside cornerback, but that’s what the Steelers are counting on him to be when looking at the rest of their roster. From Week 13 through the end of the season, Witherspoon allowed a passer rating of just 20.2 on throws into his coverage. His play has been hot and cold throughout his five-year career, but the Steelers will be hoping he carries over that momentum into 2022.

It’s hard to argue with much said about the Steelers ranking, and even the description of the unit. You can argue the Steelers’ roster is better than a team, or two, above them, but ultimately the Steelers will find themselves near the same ranking until they prove they can go out and win games in 2022.

As for the division, here are how all four teams who call the AFC North home ranked:

AFC North Rankings

6. Cleveland Browns
8. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Baltimore Ravens
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

With all that being said, what do you think about all of this? Do you think the Steelers should be given more credit for the roster they assembled? Or do you think the experts have this pretty spot on?

Let us know your thoughts 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 rest of the offseason and prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will continue their streak of 50+ sacks in a season

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers will continue their streak of 50+ sacks in a season

Why it will happen: When looking at the numbers, a team needs to average three sacks a game in order to get to 50 on the season now that there are 17 contests each year. With the added game, it gives the Steelers a better chance. Plus, the streak began in 2017 and is currently at five years. What else began in 2017? That would be the career of 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. With the Steelers having a knack of getting to the quarterback from all kinds of places, the question isn’t if they will reach 50 sacks for a sixth-straight season, it’s will they reach 60 sacks for the first time in franchise history.

Why it won’t happen: While 2017 did see the arrival of T.J. Watt to the Steelers defense, it also came with the addition of cornerback and Joe Haden. With better defense in the secondary, the Steelers have been able to have more confidence in their pass rush as they have been better equipped to defend the pass. With Joe Haden not currently on the Steelers roster, and the fact that father time was catching up with him anyway, there are some question marks with the Steelers cornerbacks going into 2022. Will the Steelers secondary hold up enough to give the players on the defensive front the time to get to the quarterback this season?

Additionally, the Steelers also have a new defensive coordinator in 2022. The retirement of Keith Butler should not be taken for granted as he could dial up blitz packages and pressure schemes as good as anyone. Will the Steelers still be able to get the same pressure without their former coordinator?

Prediction: Being the eternal optimist, I will once again agree with this scenario. I am in the camp that one would think the Steelers are closer to the 60-sack threshold than they are falling under 50. The additional game helps, and looking at the Steelers defensive front it seems to be improved from 2021.

While some people may dismiss the Keith Butler factor, it is a concern. It’s not that things will be worse, especially with Brian Flores stepping up to coach the linebackers, but things will be different. Will the emphasis still be on pressuring the quarterback? I believe it will. Why would the Steelers not look to utilize their strength of not only having their best defensive player, but the best defensive player in the league last season who is an expert pass rusher.

As much as I would like to see the Steelers hit 60 this year, I’m going to set my number at 57. This would be a franchise record for the Steelers as they reached 56 sacks in both 2020 and 2017.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Steelers Vertex: Can Chase Claypool take his game to the next level in 2022?

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

After a lackluster second season, how can Claypool be put in a position to take a leap in year three?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are chugging on through the 2022 offseason. Looking at a number of players and positions as the roster has fluctuated, sometimes it’s players the Steelers have on their roster taking a step that can really add to the coming season. Hoping that 2021 was a year Chase Claypool saw a jump from his rookie season, Claypool didn’t build on his outstanding 2020 season. So can 2022 be the year Claypool takes his game to the next level? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

A lot has been said about Chase Claypool‘s down season in 2021. While Claypool did not come through with improved play that one would hope for in a second season, the numbers show there was not very much of a drop off except in the category of touchdowns. Although he played in one less game in 2021, Chase Claypool did see 131 more snaps than in his rookie season. When looking at the difference in the numbers, Claypool had four less targets, three less receptions, and only 13 less yards than what he had in 2020. Additionally, Claypool saw an increase in rushing statistics as he had four more rushing attempts for 80 more yards.

Where the numbers really went down for Claypool in his second season was having seven less receiving touchdowns and two less rushing touchdowns. Going from 11 total touchdowns as a rookie down to only two in his second season makes everything else seem small in comparison when it comes to the numbers.

In all for 2021, Chase Claypool had 59 receptions 105 targets for 860 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He added 14 rushes for 96 yards as well. Claypool’s most productive game came in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos where he had 130 receiving yards on five receptions and a touchdown, his only game of 2021 where he crossed the century mark in yardage. Additionally, according to Pro Football Reference Claypool only had five drops on the season which were spread out throughout the year with no more than one in a given game.

So while the numbers were comparable with Chase Claypool as he moved from year one into year to, except for the obvious decrease in touchdowns, how did his play evolve on the field? This will come down to looking at the film.

The Film Line:

Chase Claypool had a similar season in 2021 to his 2020 rookie campaign, outside of touchdowns. But despite growth in several areas of his game, his season is likely most remembered for plays like this.

Steelers vs. Bengals, fourth quarter, 11:53.

This wasn’t a new addition to Claypool’s game though, it showed up plenty in 2020.

2020 Steelers vs. Ravens, first quarter, 12:02

Chase Claypool is the receiver in motion to the bottom of the screen.

Claypool doesn’t do well securing the catch or protecting the catch window on either of these passes. These passes both are to Claypool’s outside shoulder. You can see he is trying to square up his frame to make the catch and isn’t able to defend his space when he does.

Compare those to a similar throw when he has no one around him.

Steelers vs. Chargers, second quarter, 13:02.

He makes the catch with laser focus, but he gets narrow and doesn’t protect the catch at all. A better move here is slowing down early to stack the defender and catching the ball over his shoulder. Chase Claypool doesn’t do that. A lot of Claypool’s drops are on these deep balls to his outside shoulder.

Some of the problem can be solved with quarterback play. Go back and look at the Bengals’ clip. That ball could easily have been led in front of Claypool without any threat from the safety. In fact, the biggest difference in Claypool’s game in 2021 is the lack of throws leading Claypool up field or inside. Ben Roethlisberger’s arm wasn’t the same, and I don’t know if the ball just carried outside or if Roethlisberger didn’t trust his arm to split the defense anymore, but those throws were there in 2020.

2020 Steelers vs. Jaguars, second quarter, 7:00.

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

That’s not an easy catch at all, but the ball is in front of Claypool and in-stride and he makes the play for a touchdown.

Even when passes aren’t on target, Claypool does a good job fighting back to the ball when it is thrown inside.

Steelers @ Bengals, first quarter, 6:01.

Claypool suddenly looks like a bully when he is working toward his eyes instead of backwards. In 2021, Chase Claypool’s two touchdown receptions were 18 yards and 6 yards. Five of Claypool’s nine touchdown receptions in 2020 were longer than that, most of them on passes that led him either directly up field or to the middle of the field.

2020 Steelers vs. Eagles, second quarter, 11:57.

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

Chase Claypool is explosive on slants and post routes, and teams started sitting defenders in hook zones to take those throws away not long after this game. But when Ben Roethlisberger was still leading him effectively, Claypool was still producing. It wasn’t just Roethlisberger either, this one was from Mason Rudolph in the only game he has played with Chase Claypool, one of Claypool’s three 100+ yard games.

2020 Steelers @ Browns, 4th quarter, 10:13.

Again we see Claypool work back to the ball, stack the defender, and make the catch.

This is Chase Claypool at his best. When Claypool has to adjust to balls that are underthrown or to his back shoulder, he isn’t the same player at all. He doesn’t protect the ball well, and he struggles to stay on his feet. It’s on Chase Claypool to work on his game and get better at making catches he currently struggles to make. But it is also the Steelers responsibility to put him in places where he can succeed more reliably.

I’ve been saying for a while that Chase Claypool isn’t a great Z receiver, and this shows why. He isn’t that streak down the sideline and make contested catches type of receiver that thrives in that role. I think the Steelers saw the same thing and addressed it this offseason.

The Point:

The Steelers added a player in George Pickens that better fits what they want from the Z receiver, and as a rookie, he will likely be used in that role the way Mike Wallace and Martavis Bryant were. Lots of deep routes to stretch the field, open up space for other receivers and have plenty of chances to make plays on throws to the sideline.

We’ve been hearing that Chase Claypool is working more in the slot, a spot he played well in 2021. That’s a role that works well with his skillset. It allows him to work the middle of the field more, run more in-breaking routes, and he won’t be regularly asked to run deep sideline routes that require catches that he isn’t good at.

If the Steelers quarterbacks can develop chemistry with Chase Claypool, we could see a breakout season from the Steelers third-year receiver.

2023 Mock Draft: Steelers use 6th overall pick to select a CB

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft, the Steelers, who possess the 6th overall pick, use it on a Georgia cornerback.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team in the midst of transition, in many ways. The Ben Roethlisberger era is officially over, and so are the eras of both Kevin Colbert and Keith Butler. There is a massive amount of change going on within the Steelers organization, and it is something which is concerning to many.

Some might believe it is too soon to talk 2023 NFL Draft, but not the fine folks at ESPN. In fact, in their most recent mock draft simulation, Matt Miller outlines who he has tabbed to go to each team in the first round.

But before going any further, there is some important information to know about this exercise:

A few important notes before we get started: This Round 1 order is based on the 2023 projections from ESPN’s Football Power Index, which are different from what Todd McShay used on his early mock draft in May. Underclassmen in this projection are noted with an asterisk, and it includes the five first-round trades that have already been executed.

With all that being said, here is the full first round of Miller’s mock draft. The Steelers have the 6th overall pick. Take a look at who gets taken ahead of the Steelers, who they pass on and who they ultimately end up taking in the first round.

1. New York Jets - Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama*
2. Chicago Bears - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State*
3. Houston Texans - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia*
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama*
5. Atlanta Falcons - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State*

6. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia*

With rookie first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett on the roster, the Steelers could look to improve in other places. Ringo had eight pass breakups and two interceptions on a loaded defense last season, and you might remember his clinching pick-six in the title game. If the 6-foot-2 corner can make plays without 10 future NFL starters around him, his coverage ability and physical traits will put him in the running for CB1 in this class.

7. Carolina Panthers - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama*
8. Detroit Lions - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
9. Seattle Seahawks - Jaren Hall, QB, BYU*
10. New York Giants - Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami*
11. Miami Dolphins - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas*
12. Washington Commanders - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern*
13. Miami Dolphins (via SF) - Andre Carter II, DE, Army
14. Tennessee Titans - Jordan Addison, WR, USC*
15. Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame*
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) - Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson*
17. Las Vegas Raiders - Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson*
18. New England Patriots - Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU*
19. Philadelphia Eagles - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina*
20. Baltimore Ravens - Henry To’oTo’o, ILB, Alabama
21. Minnesota Vikings - Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina*
22. Arizona Cardinals - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State*
23. Houston Texans (via CLE) - Isaiah Foskey, OLB, Notre Dame
24. Kansas City Chiefs - Habakkuk Baldonado, DE, Pitt
25. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - Trenton Simpson, ILB, Clemson*
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M*
27. Indianapolis Colts - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida*
28. Detroit Lions (via LAR) - Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama*
29. Los Angeles Chargers - Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor*
30. Dallas Cowboys - Noah Sewell, ILB, Oregon*
31. Green Bay Packers - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State*
32. Buffalo Bills - Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M*

What do you think about the pick? Would you be on board with that selection, or does it leave you shaking your head? Let us know your thoughts 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 to report to Saint Vincent College on July 26th for training camp.

Kenny Pickett currently has the 4th highest selling jersey in the NFL

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kenny Pickett’s No. 8 Pittsburgh Steelers jersey is a hot commodity right now with fans.

There might be some who wonder who Pittsburgh Steelers fans are pulling for to be the next quarterback of the team in 2022. Some might suggest Mitchell Trubisky, considering he was a free agent acquisition. Others might lean towards Mason Rudolph, with his experience in the system. There are also those who want the next era to go ahead and start with the man who was drafted 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers’ top pick — Kenny Pickett.

There are times when you are social media platforms and you wonder if Pickett genuinely is a popular player with the global Steelers fan base. There are many who didn’t like the pick, but then I ran across this tweet from the NFL’s official Twitter account showing the Top 10 jersey sales so far this offseason.

Guess who is No. 4?

Kenny Pickett.

Take a look at the list:

The hottest unis on the market

Whose jersey are you getting next? pic.twitter.com/TA9ppNAgPZ

— NFL (@NFL) June 29, 2022

Taking a look at the Top 10, it is easy to see why some of these names are so high, and then there are some which make you scratch your head and wonder. Otherwise, here are some players who Pickett’s jerseys are out-gaining at the moment:

  • Tom Brady
  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Justin Herbert
  • Joe Burrow

Let’s look at the Top 10:

1. Russell Wilson — New tenure with the Denver Broncos begins, making his jersey a must have for fans of both Wilson and the Broncos.

2. Josh Allen — After last year’s Divisional Round loss, Allen’s stock has never been higher. Combine that with the expectations from the Buffalo Bills and you have a red-hot jersey market.

3. Davante Adams — Much like Wilson, with Adams leaving Green Bay for the Las Vegas Raiders, the black hole is clamoring for their new Adams jersey.

4. Kenny Pickett — Some might find this to be a head-scratcher, but don’t think for a second the global Steelers fan base isn’t behind this kid. He has brought an excitement for the future of the position/organization.

5. Tom Brady — Despite being 5,000 years old, Brady’s jerseys will continue to be a must-have for fans.

6. Mac Jones — This was a surprise, but Mac Jones has the Patriots’ faithful believing in the second year quarterback out of Alabama.

7. Cooper Kupp — The Super Bowl MVP is getting plenty of love from not just Rams fans, but also for the casual NFL fan. Kupp and Adams are the only two non-quarterback jerseys to make the Top 10.

8. Justin Herbert — Herbert plays in a large market, and is as exciting as they come. I wasn’t surprised at all to see his name grace this list.

9. Patrick Mahomes — People aren’t sick of Mahomes yet, or getting the “Patrick Price”. Mahomes is one of the faces of the NFL, and his jersey sales always reflect that.

10. Joe Burrow — A trip to the Super Bowl and having monstrous expectations heaped on you is tough for some. We’ll see how Burrow responds. Otherwise, Burrow is a very popular player in the league right now.

As you can see, fans love quarterbacks, especially when giving out their hard earned cash to get a new jersey. What about you? Would you fork over the money for a Kenny Pickett No. 8 jersey? Let us know what you think 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 rest of the offseason.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

The War Room: Steelers over-drafted foes in the division

Check out BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers in an attempt to put you in the mind of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, Brandon Hunt and Kevin Colbert when it comes to personnel. This week, Matty recaps and ranks the various AFC North Draft Classes to help preview what’s to come during the season, contextualizes the Steelers draft class, and demonstrate some of the surprise ‘wins’ each team had, while sharing who might have over-drafted some players.

Rundown of the show:

  • Recapping & Ranking The AFC North’s Draft Classes
  • Much More

Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matty in The Steelers War Room.

The Steelers Curtain Call: Steelers over-drafted foes in the division

It’s the show where Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White break down a black and gold off-season full of change in the manner in which they examine the enemy. This time around, Geoff and Shannon welcome Nick Farabaugh to talk the Steelers’ 2022 defense.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the state of the Steelers on defense
  • Special Guest: Nick Farabaugh

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

The Steelers Stat Geek: Breaking down the Steelers best defensive years

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had tremendous defenses over the years. When did the Steelers’ best “D’ play in the Steel City? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed by Dave Schofield on the Thursday episode of the AM podcast lineup, “The Steelers Stat Geek”. Join BTSC’s Editor as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The best versions of the Steelers’ Defense
  • A breakdown of the number in regards to BTSC podcasts
  • and more geeky numbers!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Diontae Johnson & Tyree Johnson

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s Day 19 of Going For Two, featuring Diontae Johnson and Tyree Johnson

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Diontae Johnson Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 25
Year: 4
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 183
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 66, 2019
College: Toledo
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

There are a lot of different ways to look at Diontae Johnson when it comes to his status as a wide receiver around the NFL. He is one of only six players who finished in the top 16 of receivers in all three categories of yards, receptions, and touchdowns in 2021. Based on this alone, it appears the Johnson is a top-six receiver. But when looking at the numbers for individual games, Johnson only went over the century mark in yardage three times in 2021 with his most yards in one game being 105 on two occasions. Another concern of Steelers’ fans is the number of drops. Based on the numbers provided by Pro Football Reference (PFR), Johnson saw his drops decrease from 13 to 5 from 2020 to 2021 during the regular season. But the other concern is when the five drops occurred, as they were all late in the season as they came in Week 13 or later. Additionally, PFR has Johnson with two additional drops on his 10 targets in the Steelers Wild Card loss.

There is no question about Johnson’s roster status for 2022. The biggest question comes down to if he gets a new deal this year after the insane explosion in the wide receiver market, or if he must wait until next year and possibly test free agency.

Tyree Johnson Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Age: 23
Year: 1
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 240
Drafted: UDFA, 2022
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

Not all undrafted rookie free agents come into identical situations. While players trying to catch on with the Steelers in crowded rooms such as a defensive line have a long road ahead of them, Tyree Johnson does not have a large number of players ahead of him on the Steelers depth chart at outside linebacker. With the reserve roles at the position not obviously locked down in the eyes of Steelers’ Nation, Johnson will have an opportunity to impress in training camp and put his name in the mix at the position. But not only will Johnson have to move high enough on the death chart, his play would also have to impress the Steelers to make them want to keep more players at outside linebacker rather than use the roster spots at other positions. At worst, Tyree Johnson has an honest shot of landing on the Steelers practice squad if he shows promise as an NFL-caliber player.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Steelers Burning Question: How many sacks will T.J. Watt have in 2022?

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Will the reigning Defensive Player of the Year be able to raise the bar even higher?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a fortunate franchise in many ways. There is obviously the six Lombardi trophies which reside at the team’s facility on the south side of Pittsburgh, but also just the wealth of talent they’ve had come through the organization.

When you even just consider the Mike Tomlin era, starting in 2007, the top notch players who have come through are aw inspiring. The player who might shine the brightest is reigning Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) winner T.J. Watt.

It was in 2021 when Watt tied Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks. A tremendous feat for any pass rusher, but then you have to wonder how he will follow up that amazing season?

This past Sunday I looked back at players who had over 20 sacks in a season since 2000, and how they did the following season.

It wasn’t pretty.

Check out that article below:

In the article above I talked about how I feel Watt’s sack numbers could decrease in 2022, but he could still be as dominant as ever. Then again, who am I to suggest Watt’s production will decrease at all?

This made me wonder what you, the fan/reader, thinks about Watt’s sack total in this upcoming regular season? Let us know what you think in the SB Nation Reacts poll below, and feel free to explain your vote in the comment section below.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country.

Please take our survey

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

PFN: OT the biggest Steelers need, Eric Fisher the solution

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Steelers are weak at offensive tackle, but Eric Fisher could solve that problem.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been quite thrifty at the offensive tackle position, finding quality depth in the mid to late portions of the draft while purchasing formidable patchwork in free agency. However, at a position as important as left tackle, finding the best possible option is paramount.

In a league that continues to become more pass-happy, the value of an elite left tackle has gone through the roof. At this stage of free agency, there are not going to be any elite players available for the taking, but it does not take away from the fact that there are several starting-caliber players available.

One of those players is Eric Fisher. Fisher never lived up to the billing of his draft status, but he developed into a rock-solid left tackle, protecting the blindside of Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes for eight seasons. After suffering a torn ACL in January of 2021, the Chiefs released Fisher, although the primary reason was because of salary cap issues.

Fisher then signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts, hoping to regain his footage and perception around the league following the injury. Unfortunately for Fisher, he was not his normal self and was noticeably hampered for the majority of the season. On the bright side, he began to display improved mobility as the season progressed, indicating that his health is trending in the right direction. He is still a free agent, but when considering the league-wide demand for quality tackles, one cannot expect that to be the case for much longer.

Dallas Robinson of Pro Football Network recently named the biggest need for each AFC team, and he pegged offensive tackle the biggest area of need for the Steelers. Here is what he had to say about the matter.

You don’t often see a fourth-round pick come in and start at left tackle for the entirety of his rookie season, but that’s exactly what Dan Moore Jr. did in 2021. The Texas A&M product improved as the year progressed, but his results were uneven overall.

In the same article, Robinson outlined the solution for each team’s problem, and for the Steelers, the solution was Eric Fisher. Robinson explains.

Fisher could take over as Pittsburgh’s starting LT if the team decides they want more experience on the blindside. Yet, he could be an option for the Steelers even if they decide to roll with Moore again. Right tackle Chuks Okorafor is below replacement level, so it wouldn’t hurt Pittsburgh to roster a veteran who could take over at either tackle spot if needed.

Dan Moore, Jr. displayed tremendous growth in the later stages of 2021, but outside of the Week 17 matchup against Myles Garrett and the Browns, the overall body of work was less than stellar. On the other side of the line, Chukwuma Okorafor was his normal self, displaying relative consistency in pass protection while struggling mightily as a run defender. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Steelers’ offseason was when they decided to give him a three-year contract worth nearly $30 million.

Things do not get much better behind the starters either, as Joe Haeg and Chaz Green are the only noteworthy depth pieces currently rostered. No matter which part of the depth chart you choose to look at, it is clear the Steelers need to upgrade this position. Will they pull the trigger on a free agent tackle such as Fisher? We will have to wait and see.

What would you think of a potential Eric Fisher signing? Do you think he would solidify the Steelers’ corps of offensive tackles? Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC as we get you ready for the 2022 NFL season!

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