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Predicting all of the Steelers’ picks in the 2021 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/25/2021 - 7:30am
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Who will the Steelers take in the 2021 NFL Draft? I give you my predictions for all 7 Rounds.

Steeler Nation, we are almost there! Christmas in Spring is right around the corner. The draft scenarios, the simulator mock drafts and the discussions of who the Pittsburgh Steelers should select in the 2021 NFL Draft will all come to an end in less than a week.

For some, it can’t end soon enough, and for a few, myself included, the search continues into the 2022 prospect watch list. For those interested, take a look at Kayvon Thibodeaux Edge Rusher Oregon Ducks. He’s sure to make it on the “we won’t get him” list but he is fun too watch and at times unblockable. For those that aren’t interested, you should have looked away.

Back to why we are here, I wanted to share my prediction on who I think the Steelers will select in each round. Feel free to add your prediction in the comment section. This isn’t a contest, although it would be a great idea for a prize give away from the BTSC Staff for the 2022 draft. Just a thought!

This is based off of interest shown to prospects, and an overall gut feeling. I think Mike Tomlin would appreciate that, and because of CORAL and the bogged down comment section, I did not have the patience to wish all the best to our newly extended coach. Bring us home Super Bowl No. 7!

I also wanted to give a shout out to the crew that put together this years version of the BTSC Big Board. Nice work guys, much appreciated! Also a THANK YOU to Jeff Hartman who went out of his element too provide this site with some solid work with the Draft Profiles...now on to the prediction.

Round 1 Pick 24: Travis Etienne, RB Clemson

Round 2 Pick 55: Nick Bolton, ILB Missouri

Round 3 Pick 87: Spencer K. Brown, OT Northern Iowa

Round 4 Pick 128: Quincey Roche, EDGE Miami

Round 4 Pick 140: Robert Rochell, CB Central Arkansas

Round 6 Pick 216: Jamie Newman, QB Georgia

Round 7 Pick 245: John Bates, TE Boise State

Round 7 Pick 254: Brandon Kennedy, C Tennessee

Don’t forget to make your predictions in the comment section, and, as always...

Go Steelers!

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation following the signing of Josh Dobbs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/25/2021 - 6:30am
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

With all 75 players having their contracts reported, the Steelers salary cap situation is pretty cut and dry before the NFL draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are up to 75 players on their offseason roster heading into the 2021 NFL draft. With salary information coming in on quarterback Josh Dobbs courtesy of overthecap.com, an accurate projection of the Steelers current salary cap situation does not have to take into account any outstanding contracts.

Before getting to Dobbs deal, it’s quite interesting that the Steelers are starting to get some players falling outside of their top 51 contracts who will likely make the 53-man roster in September. A bigger explanation of this will come after the numbers.

As for Dobbs, his contract is reportedly for a $990k in base salary and $50k in signing bonus. Because the initial salary counts under the veteran salary benefit, it gets knocked down to $850k against the cap, plus the signing bonus, where Dobbs counts $900k towards the salary cap.

Now where do the Steelers currently stand with the 2021 salary cap? Before free agency kicked off, the Steelers were little more than $6 million under the salary cap. Since then, the number has fluctuated due to various moves.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number. With the last update, the Steelers displaced the last $660k salary and have now moved into the $780k group, meaning displacement amounts will be slightly lower.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2021.

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $6 million

Ray-Ray McCloud: Reported $1 million salary; After displacement: -$0.34 million
B.J. Finney: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Cam Sutton: New report of $1.7 million; After displacement: -$1.04 million
Zach Banner: Reported $2.875 million; After displacement: -$2.215 million
Vince Williams: Saved $4 million salary; After displacement: +$3.34 million
Chris Wormley: Reported $1.6 million; After displacement: -$0.94 million
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Reported $2.4 million; After displacement: -$1.74 million
Tyler Simmons: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Joe Haeg: Reported $1.5 million; After displacement: -$0.84 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Steven Nelson: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.59 million
Cassius Marsh: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Eric Ebron: Reportedly saved $3.904; No roster displacement: +$3.904 million
Tyson Alualu: Reported $2.0375 million; After displacement: -$1.2575 million
Jordan Berry: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Kalen Ballage: Reported $920,000; After displacement: -$0.14 million
Rashaard Coward: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Matthew Sexton: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jarvis Miller: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jamir Jones: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
T.J. Carter: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Abdullah Anderson: Reported $780k; not in the top 51: -$0
Vince Williams: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Joshua Dobbs: Reported $900,000; After displacement: -$0.12 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $11.06 million

Note: Miles Killebrew was the final contract displace a $660k salary. From Cassius Marsh on, the displacement is a $780k salary.

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $10,271,586 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above contracts on the books. For some reason, they have the number lower than it should be. Even when adding up the Steelers’ top 51 salaries and dead money owed this year, their own numbers don’t make sense to come in where they are.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $11,063,203 under the cap. Since this is also the number I have calculated, I believe spotrac.com has the more reliable salary cap figure for the Steelers.

While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. Following the NFL draft, the Steelers will begin signing their draft picks and are estimated to need no more than $2.75 million in cap space once figuring roster displacement. Based on the salaries that are just above the top 51 cutoff, only the top three of the Steelers draft picks (assuming they pick when they are supposed to) will actually be in the top 51 and will only count less than $2 million on the salary cap. Also remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May whenever the negotiated contracts become official.

Also, the Steelers will need as much as an additional $10 million (a very high estimate, with $7 million coming in on the low end) come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year. With this in mind, the Steelers have a a couple million dollars to use and could still have enough space come September, and that is without doing any extensions or restructures.

An additional factor to keep down the money needed in September is any player not in the top 51 who makes the team will save the Steelers the difference in salary of the player in the top 51 who is cut. Right now players such as Henry Mondeaux, Antoine Brooks, and Kevin Rader are not in the top 51 according to OTC. After signing their 2021 draft picks, James Pierre, J.C. Hassenauer, and Carlos Davis, along with all of the Steelers’ Day 3 draft picks and undrafted free agents, will be outside the top 51 as well.

So the Steelers now have a lot more breathing room under the salary cap, at least for now. Other moves could still be on the horizon following the draft as the Steelers have more they can do to shape their 2021 roster.

Pittsburgh Steelers Retro Podcast: Hot Rod breaking Saints hearts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/25/2021 - 5:30am

Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo take a look back into Steelers lore in the BTSC family of podcasts. Check out the newest offering of the “Steelers Retro Show“.

Our journey in the BTSC Delorean to Steeler yesterday begins in a time when Demolition Man with Sly Stallone and Wesley Snipes were at the top of the movie box office, The Jim Steinman-produced “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf was the hottest song on the radio and the duo of F.W. de Clerk and Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize that weekend.

Meanwhile at Three Rivers Stadium, the 3-2 Pittsburgh Steelers were hosting the 5-0 New Orleans Saints.

Welcome to October 17, 1993

Flash back to that awesome classic on the Steelers Retro Show and join BTSC’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis as they go back in time and relive this memorable matchup.

*Note: This show was recorded on the very day that Steinman passed away at the age of 73. The show’s hosts were not aware of his passing at the time of recording.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • What was happenin’ in 1993
  • Rod Woodson’s super hero display
  • and MUCH MORE!

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Saturday Night Open Thread: Puking, Punters, and Pounding

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 6:00pm
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

How many more sleeps before we get some new ‘toys’ under the tree? How many more days ‘til the next article about how this kid that we picked up in the 3rd round will completely save our season? Seriously, draft fever will be at it’s highest this week and for most readers of BTSC it can’t come (or be over) soon enough!

I am willing to bet my mortgage that if we pick a RB with our first choice the comment section will blow up. Furthermore, I am also willing to bet that if we don’t pick a RB with our first choice the comment section will blow up!!!

Such is fandom...

NOTE: Seeing how well last week went with questions taken from your suggestions please do not hesitate to make future suggestions.

  1. With the possibility of Alejandro Villanueva signing with the Ratbirds being discussed this week, who would you take off their current roster if you could (salary cap be damned!)?
  2. What are the chances we draft a punter come Saturday? Furthermore, what are your opinions on using draft capital on this position?
  3. This one will build on Dave’s question last night about speeding tickets. What is the funniest story you can share about getting a ticket / fine / incident with the law? Don’t worry we won’t tell your mom and it doesn’t even have to involve you getting the ticket - “it could have been your best friend”... And, please don’t make me regret asking this question, lol.
  4. A few weeks ago we discussed ‘air guitar’. This week I will ask for your best song to break out the imaginary drums. Thinking pretty much everyone of us has swung haphazardly at the air to Phil Collins solo in “In the air tonight”. What is that song or songs for you?
  5. Mount Rushmore... (for those of us that ain’t ’Merican, Mount Rushmore is an American landmark that has the faces of 4 of their former presidents ‘carved’ out of stone). If we had to create a Steelers Mount Rushmore for the period of 2010 - 2019, who are you putting up there?

Steelers Draft Scenario 2.0: With all 3 RBs available, Steelers go a different direction

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 1:00pm
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the latest 2021 NFL Draft scenario, the Steelers have options at pick No. 24, but stick with decide to go with team need.

With the 2021 NFL Draft just days away, it is time to start doing what all NFL teams are doing at this time in their draft prep. Teams are going through an endless amount of scenarios trying to decipher what they will do if the draft falls a certain way.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have any number of directions they could go in the upcoming selection process, so it is time to start running the scenarios leading up to the big event!

Check out previous scenarios below:

For clarification, as well as consistency, I am using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator. On top of that, I am always using the Predictive Board, and the manual option, during these simulations. It also should be noted there are never any fictitious trades in these scenarios.

Time to see what the Steelers were staring at when the 24th pick came:

23. NY Jets - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE Miami

22. Tennessee - Alex Leatherwood, OT Alabama

21. Indianapolis - Greg Newsome II, CB Northwestern

20. Chicago - Trey Lance, QB North Dakota State

19. Washington - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame

18. Miami - Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

17. Las Vegas - Zaven Collins, LB Tulsa

16. Arizona - Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL USC

15. New England - DeVonta Smith, WR Alabama

14. Minnesota - Teven Jenkins, OT Oklahoma State

13. LA Chargers - Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech

12. Philadelphia - Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

11. NY Giants - Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech

10. Dallas - Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

9. Denver - Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama

8. Carolina - Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern

7. Detroit - Penei Sewell, OT Oregon

6. Miami - Micah Parsons, LB Penn State

5. Cincinnati - Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

4. Atlanta - Kyle Pitts, TE Florida

3. San Francisco - Zach Wilson, QB BYU

2. NY Jets - Justin Fields, QB Ohio State

1. Jacksonville - Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson

Compared to the first scenario, this decision was more of a challenge. It came down to offensive line, or a running back. Choosing what makes a bigger difference, the line or the back, is like debating which came first, the chick or the egg?

With that said, I chose to pass on all three running backs who were available (Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and Javonte Williams). My hope is the team will be able to address those needs in Round 2, even if it means trading to get the player they desire, like Williams. Nonetheless, in this scenario you can see the big name offensive tackles were off the board, and defenders like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Zaven Collins were also already gone.

Despite the fact I would have traded up to get Trey Lance ahead of Chicago, since I won’t utilize trades in these scenarios, I chose to go with center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma. Landon Dickerson of Alabama, who is ranked higher than Dickerson, was my pick. I love Dickerson’s physicality, but his injury history concerns me. In my opinion, Humphrey is a great fit for the Steelers’ offense with Matt Canada calling the plays.

As I said earlier, this is a situation where the Steelers show how much they value the center position. Some might call this a reach, but the center position is that important. Getting a player like Humphrey in Round 1 would open the team up to go after other positions like running back, cornerback and EDGE rusher in the middle rounds of the draft.

This is just the one of many NFL Draft scenarios I’ll be doing, every time finding a new prospect/approach which could dictate who the Steelers might select in the first found of the 2021 NFL Draft.

What do you think of the pick, given who was still available when it was the Steelers’ pick? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

PFF has the Steelers roster in the middle of the pack ahead of the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In ranking all NFL rosters before the draft, the Steelers land in the 18th spot.

Much like grading an NFL team’s draft in any given year in the days following the event, determining the value of every teams roster during the offseason is nothing more than speculation. In many cases there is an indication based on past play, but even how well a player is performing and their trajectory can sometimes be debatable.

Enter the NFL‘s biggest speculator in many eyes known as Pro Football Focus. Determining player grades every game as well as for an entire season is what PFF is known for, and speculating how teams will perform based on this grades is something they love to do in the offseason.

This time, PFF has taken a stab at ranking every NFL teams roster before the 2021 NFL draft. Knowing how PFF has their favorites when it comes to teams and players, exactly where each team lies may not be much a surprise.

Once again, the Cleveland Browns are assumed to have a fantastic roster as has been the case for a number of years despite the fact they just had their first winning season in over a decade. PFF has decided to place the Browns in the second spot only behind the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1. Tampa Bay
2. Cleveland
32. Detroit @PFF_Anthony ranks all 32 NFL rosters ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft ⤵️ https://t.co/Cd3WqCN0ym

— PFF (@PFF) April 23, 2021

Now that we have an indication of where PFF is going with their list, it’s interesting to see how much of their supposed dislike for the Steelers will help determine where they fall in their eyes. Surprisingly, they fall almost in the middle of the NFL they are ranked 18th out of the 32 teams.

Here is the breakdown from Pro Football Focus when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Pittsburgh’s defensive line is easily the NFL’s best. Bud Dupree’s replacement, Alex Highsmith, might even be better than the new Tennessee Titan. Highsmith’s pass-rush grade as a rookie in 2020 was over 10 grading points higher than Dupree’s before he got hurt. The Steelers’ defense as a whole should be soild, but the offense is on shaky ground, especially with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.

Big Ben’s decline in 2020 was apparent; his 68.3 passing grade marked his lowest-graded season since his 2006 campaign, and he relied on short, quick throws seemingly because of his waning arm strength.

As many Steeler fans know, PFF has had no love for Bud Dupree over the years. Despite his improved player over the last several seasons, he continues to have low scores on their player rankings. Therefore, replacing Dupree with the highly ranked Alex Highsmith actually is an improvement to the roster in the eyes of Pro Football Focus. While this may be accurate, it will be due to the quality play of Highsmith, not because of their low evaluation of Dupree.

Of course, Ben Roethlisberger is going to be the biggest knock on the roster they have. What is interesting is it they have made the determination that Ben Roethlisberger‘s quick release is a byproduct of his arm strength rather than an attempt to keep him upright due to questionable offensive line play, or even just the offensive philosophy of the departed coordinator.

As we all know, players with no arm strength can make throws like this:

Remember, that 39-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Diontae Johns came in Week 16, so it’s not like it was a throw before some kind of regression anyone caims happened over the course of the season. And while Roethlisberger does have a lot to prove when it comes to his ability to consistently make these types of throws, I wouldn’t count him out just yet.

While you can feel free to take as much stock in PFF’s prediction of roster strength as you like, it is merely information put out there for your benefit to draw your own conclusion. And while Steelers fans know that there are holes in the roster at this time, this franchise has proved many times over the years that they will continue to build their team in order to be as competitive as possible by the time the regular season comes around. Ranking the rosters before the season is all we have now, but seeing how these rankings progress throughout 2021 will be the real test.

Podcast: Steelers stretching for positions of need

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 11:00am

There is plenty to discuss on the latest episode of the popular podcast Steelers Six Pack w/ Tony.

The Steelers have so many needs in the NFL draft and they will need to stretch to find a position of need with so many options abounding. This and your questions and comments on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack! Join Tony Defeo on those those subjects, engaging in draft talk and much, much more.

Check out the rundown of the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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:

Alejandro Villanueva’s NFL future might not be with the Ravens after all

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 10:03am
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The former Steelers left tackle is looking for a new home, and while many thought it would be in Baltimore, those rumors might have been a bit premature.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a long list of free agents heading into the 2021 league year, and the vast majority of these free agents have signed contracts. Players like Mike Hilton, James Conner and Bud Dupree have all found new NFL homes, while JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyson Alualu and Cam Sutton have stayed in Pittsburgh.

But one big name free agent remains on the open market, and that is left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva has been rumored to potentially retired, rumored to be returning to the Steelers after the 2021 NFL Draft and, most recently, been to Baltimore to meet with the Ravens as a potential fit for him in 2021.

The meeting in Baltimore wasn’t a shock, especially when the Ravens pulled off a huge trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens sent tackle Orlando Brown to the Chiefs in a blockbuster trade which sent draft capital going both ways between the two AFC powerhouse organizations.

Kansas City is trading its first-round pick Thursday night, along with three other picks in the 2021 and 2022 drafts, to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Pro Bowl OT Orlando Brown and one pick in the 2021 draft and another in 2022, per sources.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2021

Immediately after the news broke of the trade, most assumed the loss of Brown would equal Villanueva being signed by the Ravens. Villanueva would be a cheaper option, and at least give Baltimore some experience at the position as they attempt to uplift an offensive line which hasn’t always been great at protecting the quarterback.

Josina Anderson reported there was growing optimism of the Ravens signing Villanueva to be a swing tackle for the Ravens.

My understanding is currently there's optimism that the #Ravens & OL Alejandro Villanueva can strike a deal, pending agreement on terms. Villanueva is viewed as being able to play RT for BAL, with the flexibility to swing inside if need be, or LT depending on R. Stanley's health.

— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 23, 2021

However, later on Friday, ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley threw some water on the Villanueva to the Ravens news, stating the Ravens are going to explore all options before signing someone like Villanueva.

Update: In regards to Alejandro Villanueva, another source says there are no expectations as to a signing with Ravens. It’s possible a deal could happen with Baltimore, but team is considering all options to replace Brown, including the draft.

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) April 24, 2021

What does this mean for Villanueva? It likely means he will have to wait until after the 2021 NFL Draft before he finds out where his NFL future will take place. Could he end up in Baltimore? Absolutely, but he also could find his way back to Pittsburgh if the Steelers are unable to add a tackle to their roster during the three day draft process.

It is worth noting if Villanueva is signed somewhere after the draft, he would not count towards the Steelers’ compensatory draft formula.

This story is still developing, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers: A city, a team, a standard

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 9:00am

A culture of success and tradition.

What’s the first thing that you think of when you imagine the city of Pittsburgh? For many Steelers fans around the world, images of Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin standing on the sideline, looking intently without a smile at the field in front of them, come to mind. Memories of Troy Polamalu jumping over the offensive line just as the ball is snapped, James Harrison running 100 yards before falling into the end zone on the game’s biggest stage, Terry Bradshaw hitting John Stallworth in stride for a deep touchdown, or Mean Joe Greene, Greg Lloyd, and T.J. Watt terrorizing QBs all afternoon flash before their eyes. The Rooney family, Three Rivers Stadium, Heinz Field, the statue of Franco Harris snatching the ball that hangs in the air just inches above his shoelaces - these are some of the enduring symbols of Pittsburgh that any fan would recognize. This is not to say that the Steelers franchise is the only iconic aspect of Pittsburgh, but there are few organizations in all of sports that embody a city the way the Steelers do. The Steelers are a truly special team.

It’s cliché to claim one’s favorite football team to be particularly special compared to others, but there’s something to be said about the culture, the significance, and the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. There really is something unique and almost poetic about the past and present of the team, starting with Art Rooney’s purchase of the franchise in 1933. Both the Rooney family and the Steelers exemplify a true rag to riches story. The son of a family of Irish immigrants, with grandparents who were coal miners, Art purchased the Pittsburgh Pirates for $2,500 that he won betting on horse races. From there, the Pirates (who became the Steelers in 1940) were near the bottom of the league for 40 years, tying for only one division title in 1947. It wasn’t until 1972 that the Steelers got their first postseason win, beating the Oakland Raiders on a walk-off touchdown that has come to be known as The Immaculate Reception - a play that many consider to be the greatest in NFL history. A couple years later, the Steelers won their first NFL championship. Then they won their second. And shortly after, their third and fourth. The 1970s Steelers became the first NFL dynasty of the Super Bowl Era, winning four Super Bowls in six years. Rooney’s patience had paid off as his once bottom feeder franchise was now a true blue blood of the NFL.

Beyond just being a good story, the Steelers have achieved frequent success, becoming the symbol of consistency in the entire league. Since 1969, the Steelers have only employed three head coaches, missed the playoffs just 18 times out of 48 seasons, and have had a remarkably low six total losing seasons. They’ve made the AFC championship at least once every decade since the 70s, made the Super Bowl at least once in the 70s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s, and have won multiple rings in two separate decades. The Steelers are at or near the top of the league with six Super Bowl victories, eight Super Bowl appearances, and 36 postseason wins. The Steelers have one of the stronger arguments for being the most successful franchise in the history of the NFL.

The historical greatness is not all that makes this team special. There’s something else that I was reminded of, ironically, by the departure of Bud Dupree from the Steelers. A little bit after Bud signed his new contract with the Tennessee Titans, he put out an article meaningfully titled “Thank You, Steeler Nation” on The Players’ Tribune. In it, Bud recalls what made his tenure with the Steelers so memorable and important to him. He centers the article around the emotion of the moments at Heinz field when the song “Renegade” plays, an iconic tradition the team has had for years. However, he uses it more as a gateway to discuss how incredible and die-hard Steelers fans are, emphasizing their tenacity, their passion, and their love and loyalty to their team and their city. Bud discusses how a small, blue collar city in Western Pennsylvania took him in and adopted him as one of its own. On top of that, he talks about a truly special team culture that embodies “Pittsburgh... But in the form of football players.” Bud praises how the Steelers organization exemplifies principles such as: “Hard Work. Blue collar. Shut up and do your job. Look after your teammates. Be accountable. Uphold the standard. Rinse and repeat.... Step up. Earn respect. Put in work. Carry on the tradition.”

That last part stands out most to me. Bud talks about how he would see legends like Franco Harris or Mel Blount showing up at the facility, day in and day out. It is clear this idea of tradition Dupree writes about doesn’t resonate with just him, but also with countless players who have donned the Black and Gold. Back in the beginning of the 2020 season, I came across a candid and seemingly random Facebook post that was simply titled “A Pittsburgh Steeler”, by Troy Polamalu. While mainly being about his own experiences in the NFL and in Pittsburgh, Troy spends a lot of the post talking about other famous Steelers. He writes heartfelt paragraphs about his teammates and his coach. He writes about Joey Porter, Ike Taylor, Bill Cowher, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward - even Mike Logan, the player he was drafted to replace. On top of that, he praises Mean Joe Green, claiming him to be “without a doubt the greatest player in NFL history... the best player, from the most successful organization in NFL history.”

There’s something to be said about the Steelers franchise when you have players who get so indoctrinated into the history and the culture of the team. It’s easy to list of current and former players who have gone on record similarly to Bud and Troy praising the organization. For example, Cam Heyward wrote an endearing piece on The Players’ Tribune about Pittsburgh and Steelers fans capturing similar sentiments to Bud, titled “A Letter to Pittsburgh.” Former players like Ryan Clark or Arthur Moats pay special attention in their opinions and analysis on the current state of the team, despite having played with multiple teams in their careers. Mike Wallace recently dropped the quote, “Once you go and play for other teams, there is nothing like playing for the Steelers”. He says it better than I can, stating that he “got to play for the pinnacle of NFL teams... That organization, the Rooney Family. Everything... I played for the best organization in sports and that is something I will carry with me forever in life.” Just this off-season, we saw Juju Smith-Schuster, after years of saying how much he loves Pittsburgh and Steelers fans, take a smaller contract than what he had been offered to continue playing in the Black and Gold. We also saw Tyson Alualu agree to a contract with Jacksonville, the team that drafted him, then decide to back out of that and resign with the Steelers. There are too many examples to go into detail with all of them. There’s a loyalty and a love for the team that I have not seen in just about any other team in sports.

Clearly, there is still a culture here that players buy into like none other. We still see football legends continue to support the team, visit the facilities, and preach the Steeler way. The history, the success, and the loyalty all still lend themselves to the story of this special franchise, and so the image of the team and of its city become one and the same. We, as Steelers fans have come to expect hard-nosed football, year in and year out, as the Black and Gold represent our blue-collar city. The passion and tenacity the players play with represent the loyalty and devotion Pittsburgh has to its own. Those aforementioned images and memories, as well as the team that will take the field in the coming 2021 season, are and will be tied to Pittsburgh for as long as it exists. No matter who wears those jerseys, who takes the field, or whether you like the current coach, one thing will always be true about the Pittsburgh Steelers, its fans, its city, and its former, current, and future players: The Standard is, and will always be, the Standard.

The Steelers Top 10 Round 6 Draft Picks since 1969

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 8:00am
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft on the horizon, BTSC takes a look at the best of the Steelers’ Round Six picks since 1969.

The NFL Draft is coming up and the Steelers will, once again, rely building heavily through the draft instead of free agency. There are some rounds that the Steelers excel in. Of course, the first round the Steelers have brought in a plethora of Hall of Famers like Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Rod Woodson, Alan Faneca and Troy Polamalu. Teams are expected to find their best talent at the top of the draft. But the other rounds are where it becomes tougher. BTSC will go back to 1969 (when the Chuck Noll era began) and rank the best Round 6 picks in team lore. Rankings were aided somewhat by the Career Average Value stat from Pro Football Reference.

10) Orpheus Roye - Florida State (1996) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Orpheus Roye had a fine career at Florida State that led to the Steelers drafting of the defensive end in the seventh round of the 1996 season. The athletic big man played sparingly until a Nolan Harrison knee injury in 1998 gave Orpheus an opportunity to see action in all 16 games, while starting in nine. His initial career in black and gold concluded after a 1999 season in which he racked up 4 1/2 sacks. The Browns came calling with a big bag of cash (6 years/$30 million) for the 330-pounder that garnered 9.5 sacks in his four seasons. After seven years of starting in Cleveland, Roye was cut after suffering a knee injury. The Steelers re-signed number 71 and issued him a new number, No. 96, for the 2008 season. The defensive lineman played in a reserve role and had six tackles in six games. Although he was inactive for Super Bowl XLIII, he earned a ring to conclude a productive professional career that bookended as a member of the Steelers.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Roye in 1996: 1) Jamain Stephens - North Carolina A&T, 3a) Steve Conley - Arkansas, 3b) Jon Witman - Penn State, 4a) Earl Holmes - Florida A&M, 4b) Jahine Arnold - Fresno State, 5) Israel Raybon - North Alabama

Player drafted one spot ahead of Roye in 1996: Phillip Riley - Philadelphia Eagles (Forida State)

Player drafted one spot behind Roye in 1996: Hayward Clay - St. Louis Rams (Texas A&M)

9) Vince Williams - Florida State (2013) Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Many consider Vincenzo Jerard Williams to be the soul and toughness of the Steelers defense. Uninvited to the NFL Scouting Combine, Vincenzo was drafted out of Florida State by the Steelers as a sixth rounder in 2013 and ended up starting 11 games as a rookie due to a torn bicep sustained by Larry Foote. In eight seasons as a Steeler, No. 98 has sacked opposing quarterbacks 20.5 times, including a career high of eight in 2017. In the second game against Seattle in 2019, Williams exited with a hamstring as the Steelers struggled mightily against the run during the first quarter of the season. When Williams returned in Week 5, the Steelers emerged as one of the best run defenses in the National Football League. During the first week of free agency, Vince was let go due to salary cap reasons as he was set to earn $7 million in 2021. Less than a month later, Williams agreed to return to the Steelers for the league minimum (for a player of his tenure) of $1.075 million despite higher offers from other teams.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Williams in 2013: 1) Jarvis Jones - Georgia, 2) Le’Veon Bell - Michigan State, 3) Markus Wheaton - Oregon State, 4a) Shamarko Thomas - Syracuse, 4b) Landry Jones, 5) Terry Hawthorne - Illinois, 6a) Justin Brown - Oklahoma

Player drafted one spot ahead of Williams in 2013: Stacy McGee - Oakland Raiders (Oklahoma)

Player drafted one spot behind Williams in 2013: Mike Catapano - Kansas City Chiefs (Princeton)

8) Tim Johnson - Penn State (1987) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Tim Johnson was a punishing defender and an All American on Penn State’s storybook National Championship team in 1986. Drafted in Round 6 in 1987, Johnson started 26 of 41 games in Pittsburgh and racked up 8.5 sacks. After a contract dispute following the 1990 season in which Johnson desired an average defensive tackle’s salary, The Steelers opted to trade him to the Redskins for a fourth-round pick instead of paying him. The pick netted Pittsburgh tight end Adrian Cooper, their ‘91 Rookie of the Year, but Johnson forged a solid career in Washington where he put up 20.5 sacks in six seasons and earned a Super Bowl ring his first season there. After a final single season in Cincinnati in 1997, Johnson retired after a solid ten years as a professional.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Johnson in 1987: 1) Rod Woodson - Purdue, 2) Delton Hall - Clemson, 3) Charles Lockett - Long Beach State, 4) Thomas Everett - Baylor University, 5) Hardy Nickerson (California)

Player drafted one spot ahead of Johnson in 1987: Paul O’Connor - New York Giants (Miami, Fla.)

Player drafted one spot behind Johnson in 1987: Freddie Robinson - Indianapolis Colts (Alabama)

7) Willie Williams - Western Carolina (1993)

Willie Williams was drafted out of Western Carolina in the sixth round of the 1993 draft the same season that the Steelers selected a corner in the first round, Colorado’s Deon Figures. However, No. 27 became the more prominent of the two defensive backs for the Steelers when his subbing for Rod Woodson, after an ACL tear in Week 1 of the Super Bowl year of 1995 resulted in a career-high seven interceptions that season. After the 1996 campaign, Williams departed for seven years in Seattle, but returned to the Steelers for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Willie Williams was the only Pittsburgh player to be a part of the Super Bowl XXX and Super Bowl XL teams.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Williams in 1993: 1) Deon Figures - Colorado, 2) Chad Brown, 3) Andre Hastings - Georgia, 4) Kevin Henry - Mississippi State, 5a) Lonnie Palelei - UNLV, 5b) Marc Woodard - Mississippi State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Williams in 1993: Eric Castle - San Diego Chargers (Oregon)

Player drafted one spot behind Williams in 1993: Derrick Oden - Philadelphia Eagles (Alabama)

6) Gary Dunn - Miami, Fla. (1976)

Possibly the best defensive player of the 1980s Steelers, Gary Dunn was a two-time Super Bowl champion in XIII and XIV and a mainstay on the Steelers’ defense for 12 seasons. The Miami Hurricane defensive lineman was a sixth round-pick in 1976 who never expected to stick on the loaded Steel Curtain. Dunn was just hoping to make $700 and play well enough to get on another team. But Gary played well enough that Chuck Noll kept an extra defensive lineman spot to retain Dunn. Named an All-Pro in 1984, No. 67 had 18 sacks and nine fumble recoveries during his Steelers days.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Dunn in 1976: 1) Bennie Cunningham - Clemson, 2a) Ray Pinney - Washington, 2b) Mike Kruczek - Boston College, 2c) James Files - McNeese State, 3a) Ron Coder - Penn State, 3b) Ernest Pough - Texas Southern, 4a) Wonder Monds - Nebraska, 4b) Theo Bell - Arizona, 5), Rodney Norton - Rice

Player drafted one spot ahead of Dunn in 1976: Curtis Jordan - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Texas Tech)

Player drafted one spot behind Dunn in 1976: Terry Stieve - New Orleans Saints (Wisconsin)

5) Dwayne Woodruff - Louisville (1979)

As good as Woodruff was for 12 seasons for the Steelers, the work that the 1982 team-MVP ended up doing after his football career had an impact on more people. An important member of the SB XIV winning squad with two interceptions in the postseason, Woodruff was elected to serve as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in 2005. He also ran for openings on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but fell short. His 37 interceptions in 12 seasons ranks him fourth all-time in Pittsburgh. A standout defensive as No. 49 led or co-led the Steelers in interceptions for in 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1989.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Woodruff in 1979: 1) Greg Hawthorne - Baylor, 2) Zack Valentine - East Carolina, 3) Forfeited, 4a) Russell Davis - Michigan, 4b) Calvin Sweeney - USC, 5) Dwaine Board - North Carolina A&T, 6a) Bill Murrell - Winston-Salem

Player drafted one spot ahead of Woodruff in 1979: Mike Salzano - Dallas Cowboys (North Carolina)

Player drafted one spot behind Woodruff in 1979: Steve Lindquist - Miami Dolphins (Nebraska)

4) Bryan Hinkle - Oregon (1981) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The 80s were a down decade in the eyes of many, but the Steelers still won a couple of division titles and made an AFC Championship. On these teams, Brian Hinkle was a consistent presence on defense for most of the decade and into the 90s. Ranked 22nd all time on the team with 22.5 sacks, 23rd with 15 interceptions and 15th with 11 fumble recoveries, Hinkle was a defensive mainstay. A sixth rounder out of Oregon in 1981, Hinkle was never an All Pro or elected to a Pro Bowl. but he was a leader on a defense in the mold of his mentors, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Hinkle in 1981: 1) Keith Gary - Oklahoma, 2) Anthony Washington - Fresno State, 3) Rick Donnalley - North Carolina, 4) Robbie Martin - Cal Poly, 5) Ricky Martin - New Mexico

Player drafted one spot ahead of Hinkle in 1981: Sam Johnson - Detroit Lions (Maryland)

Player drafted one spot behind Hinkle in 1981: Ron Wooten - New England Patriots (North Carolina)

3) Tunch Ilkin - Indiana State (1980) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Turkish-American tackle played 13 years as a member of the Men of Steel, before a final stint with the Green Bay Packers in 1993. A member of the Steelers All-Time Team, the sixth-rounder from Indiana State went to two Pro Bowls as a Steeler and was considered a great locker room leader. No. 62 served as Vice-President of the NFL Player Association from 1989 to 1994 as well. Tunch is still a very valuable member of the football family, serving as the team’s color commentator on radio broadcasts since 1998 and co-hosts The Locker Room with good friend and teammate, Craig Wolfley. Ironically, Wolf and Tunch were drafted in by the Steelers a round apart in 1980 as the last picks in the fifth and sixth rounds respectively. Sadly, Tunch Ilkin announced his having been diagnosed with ALS in October of 2020.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Ilkin in 1980: 1) Mark Malone - Arizona State, 2) Bob Kohrs - Arizona State, 2) John Goodman - Oklahoma, 3) Ray Sydnor - Wisconsin, 4) Bill Hurley - Syracuse, 5) Craig Wolfley - Syracuse

Player drafted one spot ahead of Ilkin in 1980: Larry Heater - Kansas City Chiefs (Arizona)

Player drafted one spot behind Ilkin in 1980: Eddie Murray - Detroit Lions (Tulane)

2) Greg Lloyd - Fort Valley State (1987)

The man who once wore a t-shirt that read “I wasn’t hired for my disposition” was a difference-maker on defense. The dominance of Greg Lloyd was first apparent when he three-counted out a Jets player in 1989. Lloyd, the leader of the famed “Blitzburgh” defense of the 1990s, ranks among all-time team leaders with 53.5 sacks and second with 15 fumble recoveries. The five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and two-time Steelers MVP is a member of Pittsburgh’s All-Time Team.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Lloyd in 1987: 1) Rod Woodson - Purdue, 2) Delton Hall - Clemson, 3) Charles Lockett - Long Beach State, 4) Thomas Everett - Baylor University, 5) Hardy Nickerson (California), 6a), Tim Johnson - Penn State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Lloyd in 1987: Ron Moten - Philadelphia Eagles (Florida)

Player drafted one spot behind Lloyd in 1987: Joe Onosai - Dallas Cowboys (Hawaii)

1) Antonio Brown - Central Michigan (2010) Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

His story is now complete in Pittsburgh and while his actions have him firmly as persona not grata in Pittsburgh, there’s no denying what AB did to the Steelers all-time record book. Brown led the NFL in 2015 with the second-most receptions in a single season in league history and boasts the single-season mark for yards and receptions in club history with 1,834 and 136 respectively. In his nine seasons as a Steeler, Brown ranks second on the team’s all-time receptions and second all-time in receiving yardage. His 17 receptions for 284 yards in 2015 against Oakland are both team records for a single game. The six-time Pro-Bowler and five-time All-Pro is the only player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards in receiving and returns in a single season. Teaming with Tom Brady in Tampa, Brown caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl victory over Kansas City.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Brown in 2010: 1) Maurkice Pouncey - Florida, 2) Jason Worilds - Virginia Tech, 3) Emmanuel Sanders - SMU, 4) Thaaddeus Gibson - Ohio State, 5a) Chris Scott - Tennessee, 5b) Crezdon Butler - Clemson, 5c) Stevenson Sylvester - Utah, 6a) Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech

Player drafted one spot ahead of Brown in 2010: Ramon Harewood - Baltimore Ravens (Morehouse)

Player drafted one spot behind Brown in 2010: Jamar Wall - Dallas Cowboys (Texas Tech)

Notable No. Sixes: Jack Deloplaine (1976), Randy Reutershan (1978), Matt Bahr (1979), Craig Bingham (1982), Eric Williams (1983), Greg Carr (1985), Warren Williams (1988), Leroy Thompson (1991), Jim Miller (1994), Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala (1998), Rodney Bailey (2001), Chris Kemoeatu (2005), Ryan Mundy (2008), Jonathan Dwyer (2010), Daniel McCullers (2014), Anthony Chickhillo (2015), Colin Holba (2017), Isaiah Buggs (2019), Ulysses Gilbert III (2019), Antoine Brooks Jr. (2020)

Art Rooney II gives his thoughts on the NFL’s rule changes, and more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 7:00am
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers Team President gives his thoughts on the rule changes which were passed for the 2021 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with all other NFL teams, are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft in just under a week, but there was other NFL news which took place recently, and it had nothing to do with the upcoming draft.

No, this news was based on the new rules changes which will go into effect during the 2021 regular season.

For a complete breakdown of those rule changes, check out the link below:

When the league announced these rules would be passed, Bob Labriola of Steelers.com sat down with Steelers Team President Art Rooney II to talk about those rules changes, and his thoughts on everything.

Rooney spoke about not just the rules which were changed, but also those which were proposed and tabled for another season. Check out some of his comments below:

Rooney on Cut Blocks

“Probably the most significant one was the one that didn’t pass, which was the chop-block rule that we had some concerns about,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “Our biggest concern with that was while you understand the reason for the rule because chop blocks can lead to lower body injuries, the concern we had was you’re maybe trading one set of problems for another. This (rule) could have cornerbacks, smaller guys out on the field trying to defend themselves against 300-pound guards and tackles pulling around the end and trying to take on those blocks. If you’re able to cut (the big guys) that gives (the little guys) a bit of a fighting chance against the bigger guy. It’s really a question of big people against little people, and how do the little people defend themselves in situations in the open field. We just thought that rule needed to be studied a little more, and so that was tabled.”

Rooney on OT in Preseason/Onside Kicks

“We were in favor of eliminating overtime in preseason, so that is a good development. The most significant one (that passed) was Playing Rule Proposal No. 2, which is an effort to give at least a little more opportunity to recover an onside kick. This rule limits the number of guys the receiving team can put up in the box to nine. It’s only passed for one year, and so we’ll see if it makes any difference. But with some of the recent rules changes that had been made, the percentage of onside kicks recovered by the kicking team has really dropped. This is an effort to provide a little better opportunity for the kicking team to recover.”

Rooney on the proposal for an “Eye in the sky” official

“Some of the comments we had were along the lines of ‘just too much replay,’ and I personally think we should do one or the other,” said Rooney. “If we’re going to bring the extra official in and make him the replay official in the stadium, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but then let’s eliminate the replay in New York. I don’t think we need both. It’s really more of an administration question, in terms of where you’re going to do the replays. Before we moved replay to Central Command (in New York), it was done in stadiums and the replay official was part of the officiating crew. I at least think there’s some merit to that. With technology and all the camera angles available to us, it’s really a question of what’s the best way to do it, what’s the best location for people to do the replays from. I don’t think we need to have that many sets of eyes and that many decision-makers in the mix.”

“I’m not going to tell you I didn’t have some concerns about it,” said Rooney. “It’s really a question of: where do you do the replays from, and who really has the ability to overturn a call. This rule is designed to provide more information to the on-field referee who still has the final authority to make a call unless it goes to an official replay. These things are happening without it going to an official challenge. It can get a little confusing, and we’ll see how it works. I think we need to look harder at the whole replay situation and make sure we don’t have too many voices in the referee’s ear.”

What do you think about the upcoming rules changes for the 2021 season? 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 black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Steelers will have a hard time reaching for a player in the first round of the draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/24/2021 - 6:00am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The possibilities are endless for the Steelers at 24.

Doesn’t the lead-up to the 2021 NFL Draft feel about the same for the Steelers and who they could possibly pick at 24 as it did a year ago when nobody had any real idea about who they would select at 49? (Pittsburgh’s first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft wasn’t until the second round.)

Much like last year, Pittsburgh heads into the 2021 NFL Draft with many perceived needs, making it almost as impossible to predict the 24th selection today as it was in February.

That’s the beauty of this draft; that’s what makes it so intriguing. Furthermore, it appears that the Steelers will have a few first-round prospects at perceived positions of need—I think most can agree that Pittsburgh has at least five units that could be addressed in the first round—available to them when it’s their time on the clock at 24.

Some positions may be totally depleted of first-round talent by that point—running back could be one such example—but that may mean even more tackles and cornerbacks to choose from.

In other words, it’s likely that the Steelers will have to extend their arms really, really far if they want to reach this year.

I don’t envision 2021 being like, say, 2016, when they were dead-set on taking a cornerback and just knew that there was no way Cincinnati, a team that had just selected Michigan State’s Darquez Dennard two years earlier, would have any interest in drafting Houston’s William Jackson III at 24—one spot ahead of the Steelers.

Jackson emerged as a first-round talent in the weeks leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft; when you considered the perceived needs of many of the teams picking before 25—and the Steelers’ seemingly endless journey to find a corner—Pittsburgh felt like a realistic destination for Jackson.

When the Bengals pulled a Bengals and shocked the world, I believe the Steelers panicked. Artie Burns was the next cornerback on their draft board, and they simply went with him. I think it’s fair to point out now that Burns was a fringe first-round prospect in 2016, so it wasn’t a tremendous reach. However, I don’t believe the Steelers really wanted to take him with the 25th pick.

Fast-forward to the 2018 NFL Draft and the selection of safety Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick of the first round. Ryan Shazier had just suffered a horrible spinal injury at the end of the 2017 season, and inside linebacker was definitely a big area of need heading into the draft. Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds—Terrell’s younger brother—Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans were the big three at the position. There was hope that at least one would fall to the Steelers at 28—Evans seemed to be the most realistic possibility.

When Evans was snatched up by the Titans at 22, I think this left Pittsburgh in a bind. Trade out of the first round? Draft Lamar Jackson? The Steelers may have presented sound reasons for taking Edmunds when they did—he was a great athlete who could be an all-everything in the middle of the defense. But he wasn’t considered a first-round prospect, and it may have been the Steelers' biggest draft surprise since Jamain Stephens back in 1996.

To be clear, I don’t think Edmunds has been a bust (far from it), but he was certainly a reach. (What is that saying I never seem to understand about two things not being mutually exclusive?) Burns on the other hand? Yeah, that one still kind of burns.

But I don’t see a Burns or Edmunds scenario presenting itself this year, not with Pittsburgh having so many needs.

In conclusion, there will be fans who love what the Steelers do at 24 and those who want to throw things because of it. But unless some weird stuff happens between the time Jacksonville drafts Trevor Lawrence and the Steelers are on the clock, it’s going to be hard for them to take a player who isn’t perceived as a first-round talent.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 15

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 5:45pm
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the black-and-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, Dave, 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:

NOTE: There will be no Friday Six Pack next week as there will be an open thread for Day 2 of the NFL draft. Six pack will return the following Friday.

1. It’s our last Six Pack before the draft! What are you going to miss the most about the pre-draft NFL and Steelers coverage?

2. On the other hand, especially for those who answered “nothing” for #1, what are you most thankful will be over with once the 2021 NFL draft has concluded?

3. It is rumored Alejandro Villanueva is expected to sign with the Ravens and they are looking to have him start at right tackle. Knowing that would have him facing off against T.J. Watt, is this something that should be a concern for the Steelers or a win for the Black & Gold?

4. The Steelers MUST exit the 2021 NFL draft with a _____________ (insert ONE position here)!

5. The Steelers BETTER NOT exit the 2021 NFL draft with a _____________ (insert ONE position here)!

6. Justin Layne was arrested Thursday night/Friday morning after being pulled over for speeding. Rather than focus on Layne’s situation, I want to know how many times you have been stopped for speeding? (Traffic cams don’t count, and if it’s too many to count just give an estimate.)

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 Jeff’s new morning show Let’s Ride, Bryan and Tony’s Steelers Retro Show or Dave’s Steelers Stat Geek, or even the new evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Alan Faneca shows support for Justin Fields in his path to play in the NFL with epilepsy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 2:00pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Hall of Fame guard played 13 years without allowing epilepsy to slow him down.

As the 2021 NFL draft rapidly approaches, there are a number of issues with prospective draft picks teams take into consideration. Whether it be personal conduct, leadership, medical issues, or anything else which could affect a players NFL career path, teams must do their due diligence in determining any factors which could affect a player’s future.

One possible red flag for one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL draft class came out recently when Justin Fields from Ohio State confirmed that he continues to play football while being treated for epilepsy. Although epilepsy is a very serious neurological disorder, it can be managed through proper medication. As stated by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, one of the reporters who announced the news concerning Fields, the condition has not affected his ability to play football in the past, and his doctors believe he will eventually outgrow the condition as has been his family history.

OSU QB Justin Fields has confirmed to NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he is managing epilepsy – a neurological disorder that can cause seizures, per me and @TomPelissero. It has not affected football & doctors believe he’ll outgrow it as his other family members have.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2021

Coming to the defense of Justin Fields and his ability to play the NFL was former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro guard and member of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class Alan Faneca. Playing 13 years in the NFL while managing his epilepsy, Faneca is living proof for both Fields and any other NFL prospect with epilepsy that having the condition does not keep one from success in the league.

If I did it, so can @justnfields, and so can anyone else. It is part of us, but does not define us! #epilepsy #neverstopdreaming https://t.co/4DeAx5g3Dk

— Alan Faneca (@afan66) April 21, 2021

Faneca first discovered he had epilepsy while in high school. Being able to manage the condition through proper medication, Faneca went on to a successful college career at Louisiana State University as well as a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.

In his post NFL years, Faneca has used his influence to help raise awareness for those living with epilepsy, those close to someone with epilepsy, and those caretakers of someone living with epilepsy. In an interview with epsyhealth.com Faneca was asked about what raising awareness for epilepsy means to him.

It’s important to me because it helps to take the stigma away - having something or someone else to point to other than the seizures or experiences people see in movies. Epilepsy is a part of us, but it’s not who we are! It’s something we have but not who we are.

Not shying away from his openness about the issue, Faneca recently posted a picture of his medication on his social media page.

First 2 pills of the day. #Epilepsy #EpilepsyAwarness #losethestigma pic.twitter.com/zIS5fu67g9

— Alan Faneca (@afan66) April 22, 2021

When viewing Faneca’s Twitter bio, it is not being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or his time with the Steelers, LSU Tigers, or any of his other successes which headline his profile. Instead, Faneca opens with, “I have epilepsy, but it does not define me.”

In the same epsyhealth.com interview, Faneca offered advice for those who have been recently diagnosed.

For caregivers, I would say just be there for them and help them through the good and the bad times. They’re gonna have moments they just want to talk.

For someone experiencing epilepsy themselves, I would say stay the course, stick with the doctor’s that work for you, it’s not the end or the beginning, it’s the path, the path you’re on!

With Faneca as a prime example of how living with epilepsy does not keep one from having a top-notch NFL career, this issue is unlikely to affect Justin Fields’ stock in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft. If any team were to pass on Fields for this reason, it will only be those drafting behind them next Thursday who will greatly benefit from the potential of drafting one of the top quarterbacks in this year‘s class.

If you are interested in more information about ending the stigma around epilepsy, please visit TalkAboutIt.org.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is unlike any defensive prospect you have seen

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

What Taysom Hill does for the Saints offense is what Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah can do for a teams defense

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah of Notre Dame is one of the most fun prospects to research during this 2021 NFL Draft process. And while the Steelers don't totally need an inside linebacker, it’s the other things that Owusu-Koramoah, or JOK, can do that keeps him in play if he even makes it to pick No. 24. How often do you see an inside linebacker with the ability to bump down and blitz off the edge on first down, engage a blocker and stuff the run on second down, and line up in the nickel on third down? That’s exactly what Owusu-Koramoah can bring to the table. He is a player you could list as a linebacker, safety, corner, or edge rusher, and if he wasn't 215 pounds I bet he could line up on the defensive line too.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: Second-highest slot coverage grade in the FBS in 2020.

He's a linebacker. pic.twitter.com/pBEPw3aib3

— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 22, 2021

Prospects like Owusu-Koramoah are rare, he is truly transcendent at his position. Regardless of the Steelers needs, this is a name you have to keep tabs on throughout the draft, because someone with such a diverse skill set can help any team. In no world should Owusu-Koramoah come anywhere near the Steelers 24th pick, however in a pandemic affected world almost nothing will surprise me, especially when it comes to the NFL Draft.

You will not find a more impressive play in coverage from a linebacker prospect than this one from Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

The processing speed here is unrealpic.twitter.com/SKq7WvO6sk

— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) April 15, 2021

As a junior, Owusu-Koramoah recorded 80 tackles, a team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks with four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In his senior season at Notre Dame he won the Butkus award as the nation’s top linebacker and stacked up 62 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, 3 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and a touchdown.

Simply put, the man does it all.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB ⁦@NDFootball⁩ 6 1/2, 221 Exc athlete who can run and cover, blitz and is very instinctive. This play shows his ability to play the run. 1st rd talent. ⁦@NFLDraft⁩ ⁦@nflnetworkpic.twitter.com/aVcg8uEJPu

— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) April 17, 2021

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, we know the basic framing of the defensive depth chart. Owusu-Koramoah could insert himself as a nickel corner almost immediately, while also being a rotational piece at safety, inside and outside linebacker while also eating up special teams snaps. His versatility could see him become someone who plays 90% of snaps, while not actually being a starter at any one spot. The possibilities are endless when you have someone who can do anything.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with the sack pic.twitter.com/KaLfZBIg7c

— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) October 12, 2019

But what do you think? is Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah a ‘can't miss’ prospect? Is there any chance he falls into the Steelers’ lap? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

How long does it take Steelers draft picks to be fully integrated into the team?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It’s not the same for every player, but there is usually an acclimation period for Steelers’ rookies.

In a recent episode of BTSC’s Steelers Stat Geek podcast, I was challenged to determine how long it takes Steelers’ draft picks to get fully acclimated to the team. Since it was not a “one size fits all” determination, I was given the liberty to try to determine the answer in whatever way I saw fit.

Since I was given the liberty to do what I thought was best, I decided to look at two different metrics. First, I looked at what point the player cracked the starting lineup. Additionally, I looked at the player’s snap counts per game and how they increased to a certain level. Between these two, I felt it gave a pretty good indication as to when the player was fully contributing their first season.

Because I’m looking at snap counts, I only went back as far as 2012. The reason for this is Pro Football Reference has 2012 as the first season they recorded player snap counts.

Additionally, any player who started off their rookie season injured I did not count toward the statistics. It was difficult to say how a player would have played their first few weeks of the season if it actually occurred much later on. For example, David DeCastro missed the Steelers’ first 11 games due to injury his rookie season and did not play in their 12th game. It wasn’t until the Steelers 14th game of the season where he became a starter. Would DeCastro have started Week 1 or would it have been in Week 3? There is no way to know for certain, so he was excluded from the data.

I thought it was logical to break up the Steelers draft picks since 2012 by round. Obviously, first-round draft picks would be expected to start before a lot of third-round draft picks. It just made sense in collecting the data.

To start off, I only looked at the first round draft picks and when they made their first start and how many snaps they were playing in each game the rookie season. In doing so, I established which week of the season they became a starter and at which week their snaps indicated they were fully integrated. The level of the number of snaps were determined by player rather than a particular threshhold as not all positions fully integrate to the same percentage of snaps. For the first round, the results are as follows:

2012: David DeCastro- Injured
2013: Jarvis Jones- Started Week 2, 72% of snaps in Week 2
2014: Ryan Shazier- Started Week 1, 88% of snaps in Week 1
2015: Bud Dupree- Started Week 12, 67% of snaps in Week 6
2016: Artie Burns- Started Week 9, 85% of snaps in Week 4
2017: T.J. Watt- Started Week 1, 94% of snaps in Week 1
2018: Terrell Edmunds- Started Weeks 1 & 3*, 100% of snaps in Week 3
2019: Devin Bush- Started Week 1, 100% of snaps in Week 3
*Indicates a gap in starts with diminished snaps over that time

It should be noted that every one of the Steelers first round draft picks since 2012 ended up in the starting lineup at some point in their rookie season and were acclimated into getting snaps on their respective side of the ball. When averaging the information, the Steelers first-round draft picks became starters approximately 4 weeks into their rookie season. When it came to being acclimated and looking at their number of snaps, players were integrated sooner as the average was 2.57 weeks into the season.

After figuring out this data, I continued to the Steelers second-round draft picks since 2012. For those, the data is as follows:

2012: Mike Adams- Started Week 7, 100% of snaps in Week 7
2013: Le’Veon Bell- Injured
2014: Stephon Tuitt- Started Week 14, 87% of snaps in Week 14
2015: Senquez Golsen- Injured
2016: Sean Davis- Started Weeks 1, 5, & 11*, 100% of snaps in Week 11
2017: JuJu Smith-Schuster- Started Weeks 1 & 8, 80% of snaps in Week 3
2018: James Washington- Started Week 2**, 80% of snaps in Week 2
2020: Chase Claypool- Started Weeks 5, 7, & 13*, 76% of snaps in Week 3
*Indicates a gap in starts, possibly due to formation
**Started in Week 2 for several weeks, but regressed to even be inactive later in the season

Once again, excluding the injury to Senquez Golsen, every one of the Steelers second-round picks became a starter as well as fully acclimated at some point during their rookie season. When averaging these numbers, second-round draft picks became starters on average 6.5 weeks into the season and were fully acclimated 6.17 weeks into the season.

Taking it to the next level with the Steelers third round picks, the data took a very interesting turn. Here are the numbers for the Steelers third round picks since 2012:

2012: Sean Spence- Injured
2013: Markus Wheaton- Started N/A, 62% of snaps in Week 11
2014: Dri Archer- Started N/A, No significant percentage of snaps
2015: Sammie Coats- Started N/A, No significant percentage of snaps
2016: Javon Hargrave- Started Week 2, 55% of snaps in Week 5
2017: Cameron Sutton- Injured
2017: James Conner- Started N/A, No significant percentage of snaps
2018: Mason Rudolph- Started N/A, No significant percentage of snaps
2018: Chuks Okorafor- Started Week 12*, 100% of snaps in Week 12
2019: Diontae Johnson- Started Week 3, 79% of snaps in Week 3
2019: Justin Layne- Started N/A, No significant percentage of snaps
2020: Alex Highsmith- Started Week 13, 83% of snaps in Week 3
*Indicates a gap in starts as it was his only one at tackle and not jumbo tight end

As you can see, there was only a fraction of the players who became starters or were fully acclimated into the offense or defense. In fact, it was only 4 out of 12 in each category that had a metric to be measured. This means only 33% of the Steelers third-round draft picks became starters or contributors in their first season.

Since this is the case, this is where I drew the line and cut off looking at the acclamation process. For this reason, it can be concluded that the Steelers first-round draft picks, although not always ready for Week 1, get acclimated fairly quickly in the first quarter of the NFL season.

As for the Steelers second-round draft picks, it’s generally during the second quarter of the NFL season by the time they are ready to start or be fully acclimated into the game plan. Once reaching the third-round selections by the Steelers, the majority of those picks do not end up at starters or fully integrated into what the Steelers are doing during their rookie season.

Based on this data, expecting a key contributor, let alone a starter, from any player on the third day of the NFL draft during their rookie season would be quite the accomplishment if the Steelers could pull it off in 2021. In fact, if the Steelers third-round pick could even contribute in 2021 it would be going against the majority of their previous third-round selections.

Of course, these are just statistics and averages. The Steelers could knock this draft out of the park and have four starters ready for the beginning of the season. On the other hand, the Steelers may end up with no players starting by mid season of 2021 from this year‘s draft. All we can do now is sit back, see how it plays out, and cheer on the black and gold.

Podcast: Taking a position on the Steelers most important draft positions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 11:00am

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.

There’s been a debate on the most urgent needs and position groups for the first round of the 2021 Draft for the Steelers. Join BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis as they attempt to narrow it down. 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
  • Eliminating the least crucial draft positions from 12 to 1
  • 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:

Sadarius Hutcherson is a late round draft gamble the Steelers would be wise to take

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 10:00am
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sadarius Hutcherson is an interior offensive lineman with the strength and athleticism to be a Day 3 steal in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As all the BTSC faithful already know, I believe that the offensive line is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest area of need heading into next week's 2021 NFL Draft. Not only do the Steelers need to improve their talent along the line, they need an attitude adjustment across the frontline also. A powerful, punishing rushing attack is usually the byproduct of an aggressive, attacking offensive line. That's something Steelers Nation hasn't been privy to since the Bus was rumbling, bumbling and stumbling down the field.

I have made no secret about my desire for the Steelers to utilize multiple selections on offensive line prospects in a draft fortunately deep in talent at both interior and exterior positions. Another surprising development with this offensive line class is their impressive versatility, with multiple prospects having position flexibility.

Prospects like Quinn Meinerz from Wisconsin Whitewater, Trey Hill from Georgia, Kendrick Green from Illinois. All can potentially man any interior position, making their additions optimal for a Steelers franchise desperately needing to improve their strength and power across the interior of their line. All of these young men are powerful run blockers, who could be available in the third or fourth round.

One huge question mark for the Steelers heading into the 2021 NFL season happens to be standout right guard David DeCastro. DeCastro dealt with an undisclosed injury to start the 2020 campaign, and he never looked quite up to par at any point during the season. He has never been known as a powerful run blocker, but excelled at his craft through superior athleticism and technique. He wasn't as explosive off the snap last year, and therefore failed to generate any push in the running game. Many have speculated he was still dealing with the aforementioned injury, but we won't know for sure till he gets back on the field.

With the Steelers best lineman also being arguably their biggest question mark, the Steelers would be wise to select at least a couple insurance policies. Considering the Steelers have eight overall selections heading into the draft, the Steelers maybe tempted to gamble on a raw but talented lineman in the later rounds. Low risk, high reward type of developmental project. That brings us to the subject of this article, South Carolina guard Sadarius Hutcherson.

Hutcherson first caught my attention because he has a burgeoning fan base already forming amongst the BTSC community, particularly with the amateur scouting community eternally on the lookout for the Steelers next diamond in the rough. These people are my BTSC family, as I consider myself one of them. A kinship if you will, although many invest far more time and effort than me. We are connected by our love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hutcherson is as polarizing a prospect as you will find in this draft class, grading anywhere from a fourth round selection to going undrafted. He measured in at a shade under 6'3" and weighed 321 lbs. He is lauded for his strength, aggressiveness, and attitude; both on and off the field. He has received recognition for his commitment to strength training and conditioning, after playing at 230 lbs in high school.

This commitment allowed him to hit 35 reps on the bench press at his pro day. He was timed anywhere from a 4.95 to 5.01 in the forty, with a 31" vertical. His explosive athleticism allowed him to achieve a 9.86 RAS score, which stands for relative athletic score. This metric measures a prospects athleticism on a 0 to 10 scale. Needless to say, 9.86 is pretty good.

Most scouts are equally enthusiastic about his strengths as a prospect, but they are also in agreement concerning his weaknesses. His weaknesses are numerous, but most can be improved through good coaching and a little patience. The biggest issue listed on every evaluation is his lack of balance, with limited lateral movement coming in a close second. He also has shorter arms and smaller hands than preferred, but those shortcomings aren't as debilitating on the interior. Reading over multiple evaluations words like top heavy, stiff, and difficulty reaching the second level started to sound all too familiar. I read the same comments about Kevin Dotson last draft cycle, and when I was researching Quinn Meinerz recently.

I will leave you with this little information nugget. One evaluator noted that Hutcherson looked like he was tossing aside candy wrappers in his effort to describe Hutcherson dominating Kentucky defenders in a 2019 game. That description does remind me of how Dotson goes about handling his business on the football field, and having another road grader of an offensive lineman sounds awfully good to me. Maybe even a couple more.

Hutcherson may be long gone before the Steelers sixth round selection comes around, but I would definitely pull the trigger if he is available. He will need time and coaching to clean up his technique and fundamentals, but he potentially could develop into a devastating run blocker and a long term starter at guard for the Steelers.

2021 BTSC Live Mock Draft: Complete first round results

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 8:30am

As seen on the Steelers Hangover, here are the results of the BTSC contributor mock draft.

Everybody’s doing mock drafts these days, so BTSC decided to do a few too. On the last episode of Steelers Hangover, Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo were joined by BTSC’s Michael Beck, Geoffrey Benedict and Mark Davison.

Take a look at the quintent’s picks below with selected written transcript of their commentary mixed in

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (Mark Davison) Trevor Lawrence - Clemson Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mark: It’s Lawrence all day at No. 1.

BAD: Urban Meyer took the job in Jacksonville knowing that Lawrence would be available. There’s no way this kid doesn’t end up in Duvall.

2. New York Jets (Tony Defeo) QB Zach Wilson - BYU Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Tony: Zach Wilson to the Jets is about as certain as Trevor Lawrence to the Jags at this point. It’s tempting to pick a Kyle Pitts or Penei Sewell and hope that a Justin Fields or Mac Jones slips to 23, but that’s not realistic.

3. San Francisco 49ers (Michael Beck) QB Trey Lance - North Dakota St. Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Michael: The 49ers didn't trade up for Mac Jones, let’s be real that is a smokescreen to lock in the guy they actually want, NDSU QB Trey Lance. Lance is the real deal and will benefit from a year behind Jimmy Garoppolo before taking over Kyle Shannahan’s offense.

Geoffrey: You’re leaving Justin Fields out there? Wow!

4. Atlanta Falcons (Geoffrey Benedict) TE Kyle Pitts - Florida Photo by Evan Lapek/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Geoffrey: Atlanta still has Matt Ryan, they still have Julio Jones. With Kyle Pitts they add youth, and a top tier weapon to give Jones and Ryan an easier job. As for the future, just look what Travis Kelce did for Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes.

BAD: This could extend Matt Ryan’s career

Michael: Best athlete in the draft.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (Mark Davison) OT Penei Sewell - Oregon Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mark: They haven’t won a playoff game in 11,059 days. The Bengals were 1-5 vs. the AFC North In 2020. If they are to compete for the AFC North division, they first need to keep Joe Burrow standing upright.

Tony: That last playoff win was the day that Bo Jackson’s football career ended.

6. Miami Dolphins (Tony Defeo) WR Ja’Marr Chase - LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Tony: The Dolphins do the smart thing and give Tua a major weapon to play with.

7. Detroit Lions (Michael Beck) WR Jaylen Waddle - Alabama Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Michael: Detroit could go a number of options here. But after losing Kenny Golladay to the Giants, they need a boost in the receiving core. Waddle may be the top receiver of the class and is a day one weapon for Jared Goff.

BAD: I was thinking defense here, but you’re right. They need the speedy receiver.

8. Carolina Panthers (Geoffrey Benedict) OT Rashawn Slater - Northwestern Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Geoffrey: Carolina needs blocking. Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey will be better with the best pass blocking tackle in this draft in front of them.

BAD: Love this pick. Love this player. Too bad this guy can’t fall to the Steelers. He’ssecond best Slater since A.C. form Saved By The Bell.

9. Denver Broncos (Mark Davison) LB Micah Parsons - Penn State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Mark: Two years on and Drew Lock Is sitting on the hot seat. Many football and Denver Broncos fans are eager to draft a QB with the 9th overall pick. I disagree with this approach. The Broncos need to build a strong defense, as this will help keep football games close. Micah Parsons will be a great addition, as he Is speedy and tackles with force. Bring In a guy like Parsons to help control Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbet and Derek Carr.

Tony: I agree with Mark.

Michael: I’m going quarterback here. But I understand the need to get more high-powered on defense.

10. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Defeo) CB Patrick Surtain II - Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Tony: Cowboys are loaded on offense. Defense is another story.

11. New York Giants (Michael Beck) WR DeVonta Smith - Alabama Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Michael: Sure the Giants have already signed Kenny Golladay to be paired with Sterling Shepard in the receiving core. But the Giants try to take their offense to another level by adding the 2020 Heisman trophy winner, Devonta Smith. Smith would join a stacked skill position group and give Danny Jones another home run hitter.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (Geoffrey Benedict) LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - Notre Dame Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Geoffrey: Eagles need a cornerback and a linebacker. . . so they draft a guy who can do both. “Joker” brings a major upgrade to the Eagles pass defense and is an easy choice for this spot.

13. Los Angeles Chargers (Mark Davison) OT Christian Darrisaw - Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Mark: The reason why Christian Darrisaw falls to the Los Angeles Chargers here Is to protect their 2020 NFL rookie of the year and future franchise QB Justin Herbet. Very similar to the Cincinnati Bengals pick at #5. The NFL teams who succeed and have long playoff runs are the teams who keep their QB healthy. Darrisaw’s addition will be helpful in the Chargers run game and most importantly Justin Herbet’s Charger Jersey needs to remain powder blue.

Geoffrey: Good pick.

Michael: He’s a beast.

14. Minnesota Vikings (Tony Defeo) EDGE Jaelan Phillips - Miami (Fla.) Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Tony: The Vikings could go for a tackle here, but considering their meager pass-rush, Phillips could be too intriguing to pass up.

Michael: If he gets those injuries taken care of, Phillips is a dangerous pass rusher.

15. New England Patriots (Michael Beck) QB Justin Fields - Ohio State Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Geoffey: Don’t do it, Michael

Michael: Fields finally comes off the board when the Patriots come calling. The thought of Fields learning behind Newton before taking over the offense is a scary thought. Hopefully someone leapfrogs New England.

BAD: I’ve changed my tune on this guy. He’s a leader. He’s accurate and he has a strong arm.

Geoffrey: Justin Fields is my favorite player in the draft. I want to go back and change my picks. I don’t want to see him fall to New England.

16. Arizona Cardinals (Geoffrey Benedict) CB Jaycee Horn - South Carolina Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Geoffrey: Steelers West takes a corner I would love to see fall to #24 (he won’t). Horn is an athletic freak, but he also has shown growth as a player, learning from the beatings he received in the SEC and becoming more of an NFL corner while in college.

17. Las Vegas Raiders (Mark Davison) EDGE Kwity Paye - Michigan Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mark: The Las Vegas Raiders are renowned for their gritty and hard hitting style of play. Kwity Paye as an edge defender will hopefully embody the Raider spirit. The Michigan Wolverine Is looking to bring back that nasty fire that Raiders fans expect.

Geoffrey: Good pick. The Raiders don’t like one dimensional pass rushers. Good fit here. He’s a mauler and a fighter.

18. Miami Dolphins (Tony Defeo) RB Najee Harris - Alabama Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Tony: The Dolphins continue to supply Tua with offense weapons and take the first back off the board.

Michael: This boosts up the offense. I can see them going in that direction.

19. Washington Football Team (Michael Beck) QB Mac Jones - Alabama Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Michael: The Alabama pivot finally comes off the board when it’s the quarterback needy Football Team’s turn to pick. Jones stock has skyrocketed after the season but for no real reason this feels like an appropriate time for him to come off the board.

Geoffrey: Best possible WFT QB since Gus Frerotte.

20. Chicago Bears (Geoffrey Benedict) OL Alijah Vera-Tucker - USC Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Geoffrey: QB’s are gone, and the Bears have enough need on the O-line they can take a talented lineman that may or may not be a tackle and let him find his spot.

BAD: They wanted Mac Jones here.

21. Indianapolis Colts (Mark Davison) CB Greg Newsome II - Northwestern Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Mark: Newsome II Is an outstanding cover corner and plays receivers tight and physical. I look forward to seeing this guy improve his game and future matchups against the number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence from Clemson.

Michael: He’s a hot commodity these days. He could sneak into the teens or the top ten.

22. Tennessee Titans (Tony Defeo) EDGE Azeez Ojulari - Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham /Getty Images

Tony: The Titans had a woeful 19 sacks in 2020. Olujari could help with that.

23. New York Jets (Michael Beck) RB Travis Etienne - Clemson Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Michael: This one stings for Steelers fans, but the New York Jets are probably the only team with a worse running back room than the Steelers. They need to give Zach Wilson some weapons and they do that in the form of running back, Travis Etienne.

Tony: Ughhhhhh! Son of a...!

BAD: I know the fans wanted Etienne in Pittsburgh, but the Jets need a rusher. Good pick.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (Staff Pick) OT Teven Jenkins - Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Arguments:

OT Teven Jenkins - Oklahoma State (Tony)

Jenkins may be the safest pick at this point, and given his penchant for being a brawler on running plays, he could be the best fit for what the Steelers want their offense to be under Matt Canada.

OT Samuel Cosmi - Texas (Michael)

Long arms, strong, and athletic what else could you want in a tackle? But I’ll Jump on board with Jenkins.

C Creed Humphrey - Oklahoma (Geoffrey)

Not the run game mauler that Jenkins is, but he is a Steeler-level athlete at Center.

LB Zaven Collins - Tulsa (Mark) Bush and Collins together could be lethal. Zaven is fast and a good tackler.

RB Javonte Williams - North Carolina (BAD)

Ultimately I want the Steelers to trade down slightly at this point, but we areb’t allowing trades in our mock. Williams is not going to be there at No. 55 for the Steelers. I think that they can get center and offensive tackle in the second and third. Teams haven’t been taking running backs much in the first round lately, but I think Williams fits here a little earlier than they wanted.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (Geoffrey Benedict) DT Christian Barmore - Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Geoffrey: Jacksonville (with no tackle worth taking here) avenges the Steelers taking Tyson Alualu back from them by drafting Barmore, who reminds me a lot of both Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward.

26. Cleveland Browns (Mark Davison) LB Zaven Collins - Tulsa Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Mark: I have Zaven Collins falling to the Steelers at #24. However, if the Steelers do not pick him up for defense depth as a possible future starter, the Browns will. The AFC North division remains one of the hardest with Collins becoming a Brownie.

Tony: That’s a revenge pick.

Geoffrey: That’s a good pick.

BAD: If you are Cleveland, you’re chomping at the but to get this guy. He could be the piece of the puzzle on defense to take Cleveland to the next level.

27. Baltimore Ravens (Tony Defeo) WR Rashod Bateman - Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Tony: The Ravens will try yet again to upgrade at the receiver position.

BAD: Definitely a wide receiver here, It could be a different one though. But the 6’1” kid from Minnesota is a fine pick.

28. New Orleans Saints (Michael Beck) CB Caleb Farley - Virginia Tech Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Michael: Talents like Farley only fall in the draft because of outside issues. I think he’s in play for the Steelers at No. 24. In this case it’s multiple back surgeries keeping Farley from being the top-10 pick that he should be. The Saints roll the dice and try to stack a pretty strong secondary.

Bryan: I love Farley, but the back injuries scare me.

29. Green Bay Packers (Geoffrey Benedict) C Creed Humphrey- Oklahoma Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Geoffrey: Green Bay gets an elite athlete at center to replace Corey Linsey. Humphrey will thrive in their outside zone run schemes and will fit their offensive line philosophy perfectly.

BAD: Absolutely a perfect fit.

Tony: Definitely.

Michael: I agree

30. Buffalo Bills (Mark Davison) TE Pat Freiermuth - Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Mark: Pat Freiermuth at #30 for the Buffalo Bills Is a great pick up. The reason I believe Freiermuth will succeed in Buffalo is based on the elements. A playmaking tight end with good hands and very athletic. Josh Allen will have another weapon to throw to on the offense. Who In their right mind wants to tackle Freiermuth all day long In the freezing city of Buffalo?

31. Kansas City Chiefs (Tony Defeo) OT Samuel Cosmi - Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Tony: Given their issues along the offensive line, the Chiefs will likely sprint to the podium to select a player of such value at 31.

BAD: They’ll love this in KC.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bryan Anthony Davis) RB Javonte Williams - North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Michael: I don’t want to make this pick.

BAD: Even though they need to add to the defensive line, the Super Bowl Champs need a runner more. He’s a three-down, workhorse of a back.

Tony: Oh!!!!!!!

Geoffrey: Exactly what happened last year with Clyde Edwards-Hellaire when the champs took a running back to end the first round.

There you have it. We will circle back and see how many of these we get right. Of course, there will be trades, reaches and shockers. Stick with BTSC for un the spot draft coverage galore.

Justin Layne arrested Thursday night in Ohio

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 8:23am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers CB was charged with driving with a suspended license and possession of a firearm.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft next Thursday, but there is another concern which has now entered the organization, and that was the arrest of cornerback Justin Layne.

According to multiple media reports, Layne was arrested early Friday morning, at roughly 3 a.m. ET in Cleveland, Ohio. The charges which were surrounding his arrest were driving with a suspended license and a firearm violation.

This per Melinda Roeder of KDKA:

BREAKING: I just confirmed that Pgh Steelers cornerback Justin Layne was arrested this morning near Cleveland, OH. He's charged with speeding, driving with a suspended license, & a firearm violation. It happened just before 3:00 a.m. in Willoughby Hills. pic.twitter.com/OKgbV5G94T

— Melinda Roeder (@MelindaKDKA) April 23, 2021

The following was published by the WTAE news desk regarding Layne’s arrest:

According to the jail roster, Layne, 23, is charged with driving under suspension, a speed limit violation and having a firearm in his vehicle.

He was booked into the Lake County Jail around 3 a.m.

Layne is entering his third seasons with the Steelers after being drafted out of Michigan State. The Cleveland native has been primarily a special teams player, and someone the Steelers would be looking to fill the cornerback role left vacant when they released Steven Nelson and lost Mike Hilton via Free Agency.

This could be just a minor bump in the road for Layne, but it also could be the end of the road with the Steelers. The Pittsburgh Steelers organization has shown great patience with some players within the organization, and very little with others. It will be interesting to see how the Steelers handle this situation.

UPDATE: According to Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Layne was traveling with two other passengers in the car and there was marijuana in the vehicle although no drug charges were filed. Layne was reportedly traveling 89 mph in a 60 mph zone and had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court for another traffic violation.

No drug charges, but Layne was also cited for speeding. A Steelers spokesman said the team is aware of the incident and is gathering information. They will have no further comment at this time.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) April 23, 2021

Layne was pulled over for doing 89 mph in a 60 mph zone. During the stop it was discovered Layne was driving with a suspended license and there was a warrant for another traffic violation for which he did not appear.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) April 23, 2021

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news with this breaking story, as well as notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

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