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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Which Steelers mock draft simulation is best?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 7:15am
Josh Morgan via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Taking a look at some Pittsburgh Steelers simulations, and which one would be the best for the black and gold.

Many of us love playing with the mock draft simulators. They are fun, but many are very unrealistic. The goal of this exercise is to compare the simulators and determine not only which one is the best haul, but which is the most realistic. Hopefully after reading these results, you will know what you are looking for in a mock draft simulator.

We are breaking down six simulators: Fanspeak, The Draft Network, Pro Football Network, NFL Mock Draft Database, PFF, and Walk The Mock. On each simulator, I chose the default settings but took advantage of the simulators that allowed trades. If you have a favorite simulator to use, feel free to share the results in the comment section.

Let’s get to the mocks!

Fanspeak

This simulator has a few players that are way too low on the board, and trades are not free. See for yourself.

24. Micah Parsons — ILB — Penn State
55. Javonte Williams — RB — North Carolina
87. Quinn Meinerz — C/G — Wisconsin-Whitewater
128. Jordan Smith — EDGE — UAB
140. Anthony Schwartz — WR — Auburn
216. Darren Hall — CB — San Diego State
245. Paris Ford — S — Pittsburgh
254. Josh Ball — OT — Marshall

Parsons is not falling to 24 in the real draft, and Meinerz is likely a second round pick. The day three picks were realistic, but several of these guys have gotten almost no buzz. Smith doesn’t have the best bend, but he is a solid athlete who produced against inferior competition. Round four is likely the area that he will be taken in. Hall tested very well at his pro day, but the tape is somewhat inconsistent. He seems like an athletic corner that the Steelers would take a shot on and likely struggle to develop, but in round six, it is worth the risk. The reason I took Ball in round seven was because the offensive tackles flew off the board early on. Ball has off-field concerns, but he has starter potential. He is one of the many tackles in this class with incredible length but not great technique.

The Draft Network

Trades are not free, and their board seems to favor high floor players. Overall, I left the draft with a realistic haul.

24. Travis Etienne — RB — Clemson
55. Quinn Meinerz — C/G — Wisconsin-Whitewater
87. Hunter Long — TE — Boston College
128. Walker Little — OT — Stanford
140. Shaun Wade — CB — Ohio State
216. Malcolm Koonce — EDGE — Buffalo
245. Darius Stills — DL — West Virginia
254. Josh Palmer — WR — Tennessee

At pick 24, Najee Harris was already off the board. I would have considered a cornerback, but the top three were gone as well. Etienne is not a natural receiver or pass blocker, but he improved in those areas in 2020 and will likely be a first round pick. At 55, both Creed Humphrey and Landon Dickerson were gone, and on the defensive side of the ball, Asante Samuel, Jr. and Aaron Robinson went off the board a few picks before me. Meinerz does not have much experience at center, but that is where he projects best in the NFL. Pick 87 was simply a value pick. I am not the biggest fan of Long, but he is a complete player who will likely go in round two in the real draft.

On day three, Little made too much sense in round four. He hasn’t played since the beginning of the 2019 season, but he would have been a first round pick if he had not opted out. Wade struggled on the perimeter in 2020, but his natural fit is as a slot corner, and that is where I expect him to play in the NFL. We also are in desperate need of depth at outside linebacker. Mel Kiper, Jr. pegged Koonce as a second round pick in his 4.0 mock draft. I wanted Patrick Johnson, but he was already taken. Getting Koonce at that point is great value. Stills was another value pick who, if given a year or two to develop, could become an eventual starter as a 3-4 defensive end. Lastly, I grabbed Palmer not because he was my top rated receiver available, but because he seems like a Steelers wide receiver. He is not the biggest or the fastest, but he makes tough catches when they are needed the most.

NFL Mock Draft Database

Disclaimer: The trades made this one unrealistic, but man, did I ever love the results!

I took advantage of the flaw in the simulator and traded back one spot at a time. Based on trade value, the simulator thinks it is fair value to trade back one spot at a time and gain an additional 4th and 7th round pick each time, even if the team you are trading with has no need to trade up. I did that from pick 24 all the way to pick 29. This could be a realistic simulator, but their trade function makes it too easy to cheat. From moving five spots back, I gave up picks 24 and 254 and gained picks 29, 131, 132, 133, 135, 145, 220, 229, and 249. In round three, I traded pick 87 for picks 90, 143, and 223. Then in round 7, I traded 220 for 227 and 238. I did move up in the fourth round, however, trading 120 and 145 for 108, 182, and 219. Davis Mills will likely go in the first two rounds, which is why I felt it was excellent value to snag him at the top of round four. Later in that round, I traded back, acquiring picks 147 and 158 for pick 135.

29. Samuel Cosmi — OT — Texas
55. Javonte Williams — RB — North Carolina
90. Shaun Wade — CB — Ohio State
108. Davis Mills — QB — Stanford
131. Anthony Schwartz — WR — Auburn
132. Trey Hill — C — Georgia
133. Tyler Shelvin — DT — LSU
140. Tre McKitty — TE — Georgia
143. Robert Rochell — CB — Central Arkansas
158. Divine Deablo — S — Virginia Tech
182. Patrick Johnson — EDGE — Tulane
216. Cade Johnson — WR — South Dakota State
223. T.J. Vasher — WR — Texas Tech
227. Elijah Mitchell — RB — Louisiana
229. Chris Garrett — EDGE — Concordia St. Paul
238. Daelin Hayes — EDGE — Notre Dame
245. Nick Niemann — ILB — Iowa
249. Jaylon Moore — OL — Western Michigan

There is no way that this would happen, nor do we need three receivers and three edge rushers, but if you enjoy dreaming, you should like that one.

Walk The Mock

I will warn you that their draft board has prospects that are not even in this draft, and the haul is somewhat unrealistic. Here are the results.

24. Christian Darrisaw — OT — Virginia Tech
55. Pat Freiermuth — TE — Penn State
87. Aaron Robinson — CB — UCF
128. Kendrick Green — IOL — Illinois
140. Pete Werner — ILB — Ohio State
216. Talanoa Hufanga — S — USC
245. Rhomandre Stevenson — RB — Oklahoma
254. Trevon Grimes — WR — Florida

I feel like I got each of my last six picks at least one round later than what they should have gone. Darrisaw is my dream pick at 24, but there is maybe a 10% chance of him falling. If he is there, run to the podium. Robinson will likely go round two, but I could not resist him when he fell all the way to 87. Stevenson is likely a day three pick, but it will probably be early day three. He shed about 20 pounds and did not run a great 40 at his pro day, but his skill set provides a team with three-down value. He could be the Steelers’ backup plan if they fail to land Najee Harris in the first round.

Pro Football Focus

This one is probably my least favorite simulator simply because the board is ridiculous. They also have a feature where you can force a trade. In other words, I could trade my 7th round pick for Jacksonville’s 1st round picks. I did not use that function, but I did make a few trades. I traded picks 24 for picks 42, 76, and 196, pick 128 for 137 and 176, and 196 for 205 and 215. I felt like I grabbed an impressive haul, but PFF thought it was barely above average. Here are the results with PFF’s grades. Apparently, they only have two different grades for their picks.

42. Travis Etienne — RB — Clemson (A-)
55. Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma (C+)
74. Brady Christiansen — OT — BYU (A-)
87. Jamin Davis — ILB — Kentucky (C+)
137. Milton Williams — DL — Louisiana (C+)
140. Tommy Tremble — TE — Notre Dame (A-)
176. Malcolm Koonce — EDGE — Buffalo (C+)
205. Patrick Jones II — EDGE — Pittsburgh (C+)
215. Nashon Wright — CB — Oregon State (C+)
216. Frank Darby — WR — Arizona State (C+)
245. Sadarius Hutcherson — G — South Carolina (A-)
254. Tariq Thompson — S — San Diego State (C+)

Etienne would be a nice fit for Matt Canada’s offense, and finding him at pick 42 is incredible value. Literally each pick in this mock outside of Etienne and Christiansen are deserving of going at least one round sooner than they did in this exercise. Koonce, Jones, and Wright all have a chance to be taken on day two, and I am hearing that the Cowboys may consider Williams in round two. Whether you like PFF’s analysis or not, I think we can all agree that their simulator has flaws.

Pro Football Network

This is my favorite mock draft simulator. Trades are free, the board is realistic, and it has a function that allows other teams to send you trade offers. If you enjoy doing simulators, I recommend this one for those reasons. In this mock, I did not propose any trades, but I was given many offers and accepted two of them. I traded pick 24 for picks 29 and 92 and pick 55 for picks 59 and 110. Here are the results.

29. Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma
59. Asante Samuel, Jr. — CB — Florida State
87. Walker Little — OT — Stanford
92. D’Wayne Eskridge — WR — Western Michigan
110. Trey Sermon — RB — Oklahoma
128. Jaylen Twyman — DL — Pittsburgh
140. Daelan Hayes — EDGE — Pittsburgh
216. Ernest Jones — ILB — South Carolina
245. Mac McCain III — CB — North Carolina A&T
254. Dwayne Johnson, Jr. — S — San Diego State

I tried mixing up the selections in these mocks to keep them from getting stale, but this mock still came out realistic. Before anyone gets frustrated because I did not take a running back earlier, both of the top running backs were gone at 24. I could have taken Javonte Williams, but I took my chances hoping that he would be there in round two. Even though he went a few picks before I was up, I had the opportunity to move down and acquire a player that the Steelers have shown a lot of interest in. The round three picks may not happen in real life, but both players are exceptionally talented and could become stars at their respective positions. I realize that defensive line is not a need, but Twyman has loads of talent and could develop behind Cameron Heyward as a 5-Technique. That isn’t his ideal fit in the eyes of draft pundits, but I believe that is where he best projects in a 3-4 scheme.

After seeing the results from each simulator, we see that each one is quite different. Personally, I believe that the two most realistic mocks are the ones from Pro Football Network and The Draft Network. I like having the free trades, which is why I give the slight edge to PFN. Overall, it depends on personal preference, but if you like trades, I recommend PFN. If you would rather have no trades, I recommend The Draft Network.

But what are your thoughts on these simulators and selections? Do you see any of these picks as realistic targets for the Steelers? Which one is your favorite? Be sure to share your thoughts by voting on the poll and commenting down below!

Ain’t no party like a Mike Tomlin contract extension party

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday, and the reactions were as entertaining as I’d hoped.

When the news broke on Tuesday morning that the Steelers had signed head coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension through the 2024 season, I was understandably thrilled.

Obviously, I was happy to see that Tomlin and his 145-78-1 career regular-season record would be around for at least the next four years; never a losing season and all that jazz—what’s not to like? As someone who craves stability and familiarity, I couldn’t have been happier. It just made sense, and it was so Steelers in how they released the news in a matter-of-fact way on a Tuesday morning with almost zero fanfare.

In addition to the clear-cut “duh” move of retaining one of the best and most successful coaches in the NFL, I was also excited to see the reactions, which I just knew were going to be off the chain, yo!

They were.

After spending all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday checking out Twitter, the various Steelers Facebook pages, the countless Steelers fan sites—-including Behind the Steel Curtain—podcasts and talk radio, I have come to the conclusion that—and this is a rough estimate—7.2 billion people had something to say about the Tomlin extension.

Seriously, every piece published about the signing was followed by hundreds and even thousands of people passionately sharing their opinions in the comments section. The article BTSC published about the new Tomlin deal garnered 359 comments (as of this writing). Speaking of BTSC and that article, there were obviously many people happy with the move, including someone who posted “#HireTomlin,” which immediately made me regret not thinking of it first.

Make no mistake, though, Tuesday was certainly a sad day for the #FireTomlin folks, but that didn’t mean they were silent.

Far from it.

For example, I saw the word “mediocrity, as in, “Oh, so we’re okay with three more years of mediocrity, huh? Good to know." thrown around like 4000 times. I believe “mediocrity” was used so much by Steelers fans, it was trending on Twitter by Tuesday evening.

Pro-Tomlin vs. anti-Tomlin wars soon began everywhere.

Of course, there were the “Name a better option” vs. “Did anyone know Chuck Noll (or Knoll) or Bill Cowher before he was hired?” fights. (Those battles are always fun and normally wind up in a stalemate.)

Sporadic “NO LOSING SEASONS!” vs. “No LoSiNg SeASoNs!!!!” skirmishes broke out all over the world in the hours after the announcement.

Naturally, the old-school “He only won with Cowher’s players!” soldiers came out, dressed head to toe in mid-’90s Steelers gear, and were looking to put the quiver and quake on anyone who disagreed. Someone on Twitter even put a twist on that old sentiment and said, “Tomlin won his Super Bowl with Cowher’s coordinators!” When you consider the fact that one of those coordinators was Bruce Arians, well, that’s going above and beyond to discredit Coach T.

The clock management folks—folks who haven’t taken a timeout since 2009—worked their two-minute drills beautifully.

The “Tomlin doesn’t have a coaching tree” contingent came out of the woodwork. I’m always taken aback when anyone uses that argument; at first, I’m like, “Gee, I never thought of it that way.” But once I come to my senses, I realize it’s illogical junk—kind of like something a lover throws at you when they know they’re losing an argument—and I move on.

Even the “I’ll wait” people made an appearance. Maybe you know those people. During the course of a debate over Mike Tomlin’s coaching prowess, for example, they may say something like, “When was the last time a Tomlin team blah, blah blah’d? I’ll wait.” When someone uses “I’ll wait” as a tag at the end of what they think is a good point, I always picture them prancing around their living room like a dog that just jumped up to catch a frisbee in mid-air.

The wishy-washy “I don’t think Tomlin should be fired, but I do think he should be held accountable” (whatever the heck that even means) fans also joined the fracas.

On Wednesday morning, the Morning Freak Show, a local Top-40 morning radio show, devoted multiple segments to reading the Facebook comments of fans unhappy about the signing—Cowher’s name was spelled Chowder and Cowman by a couple of these folks.

I’m normally so laser-focused (self-centered) about my own articles that I don’t pay attention to other stuff. However, I had such a glorious time checking out the countless reactions to the Tomlin extension, I’m still glowing and my mouth even hurts from all the grinning.

Thank you, Mike Tomlin, not only for being a great head coach but for always making a story a five-star matchup whenever you’re in it.

Podcast: Hoping the Steelers bust some narratives in the 2021 Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 4:30am

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

There’s always narratives surrounding the Steelers when it comes to the NFL Draft, like the team not drafting corners well. Will this be the year that narrative changes? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

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

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Is Quinn Meinerz an ideal Day 2 Steelers prospect?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 2:00pm
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

For teams who are looking for an interior offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft, Quinn Meinerz might be a prospect to keep an eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at an interior offensive lineman in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current offensive line depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.

Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but what about on Day 2 of the draft? There are a lot of talented players who could be available to the Steelers at in the mid-to-later rounds.

There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a versatile interior lineman to bolster their offensive line depth in 2021, and if Wisconsin-Whitewater guard Quinn Meinerz is available when the Steelers pick, is he an option as a mid round talent?

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

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

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

Draft Profiles The Draft Network

Quinn Meinerz is a well-developed player from the Division III ranks who’s appeared in 33 games for one of the more historic programs across the country. An exact guard body type, he plays just as strong as his frame indicates. Playing strictly left guard (based on 2019 film), he’s found a comfortable home on that side of the line. He’s a below-average athlete, but he makes up for it with his knowledge of concepts and strength levels. Constantly showing Herculean-like strength against his surroundings, he’s been able to create and sustain high levels of production during his time as a starter. Despite his experience, Meinerz is an extremely raw prospect overall. A below-average athlete, there are often times where he will sacrifice his technique in order to use his strength to bully targets. Balance has also been a constant issue for him, as he makes frequent trips to the ground because of his eagerness to overwhelm the opposition at the point of attack. Proving to be much more comfortable in a man/gap/power scheme, he’s a blocker that is best suited in a downhill scheme that allows him to perform quick pulls and kick-out blocks frequently. A system that revolves around quickly getting a body on a body with lots of single blocks in order for him to exhibit his strength to impose on defenders would be ideal. Technical aspects and footwork of the position will need to be instructed to him as he was taught some unconventional techniques during his collegiate career that may not be as effective on the next level. He has a background as a wrestler while at Hartford Union High School (WI).

Ideal Role: Developmental guard that will need time on the practice squad to develop in hopes of eventually becoming a rosterable player by the tail end of his rookie contract.

Scheme Fit: Man/Gap/Power scheme.

Fan Nation

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 320 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Wisconsin-Whitewater

Very good size at 6’2, 320 pounds, and has big ten plus inch hands to go along with 33” arms. It’s somewhat hard to glean his traits from his Division III film at Wisconsin-Whitewater since he was so much more physically advanced than kids who have no shot of playing in the NFL, but Meinerz showed so much promise at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Showed a lot of strength at the point of attack in the one on one drills, was thick to contact in team drills, and did well in combo situations, hit the backside of ACE blocks better than I expected, climbed to the second level when he needed to, and did the same on the front side of ACE blocks.

He played with excellent leverage and grip strength, gets that inside hand in tight, and limits defenders space while driving his legs through targets and showing impressive functional and core strength. I think it’s important to note that Meinerz hadn’t played football since 2019 due to COVID-19, yet he was able to show up big against SEC, BIG-10, and other Power-5 players.

Meinerz played guard in college and lined up at center during the Senior Bowl, where he showed interior positional versatility. He also does well to latch that post hand and steer defenders in the run game and the passing game, if necessary.

He has the posterior strength to anchor down against the bull-rush, re-sink his hips, adjust his hands as needed to defenders counters—I don’t have many worries about his ability to pass protect. However, early in the Senior Bowl, he did seem to struggle with immediate power, but he quickly adjusted to the counters.

Overall, Meinerz looks to be following the steps of Ali Marpet as a small school Senior Bowl player who skyrockets up the boards because of that week in Mobile. Meinerz’s effectiveness that week speaks to his football character and preparation ability.

He was a wrestler in college who had to cut weight, but since there was no wrestling in 2020, he was able to keep his playing weight and adjust to that lifestyle.

NFL.com

Overview

The darling of this year’s Senior Bowl, Meinerz has broken through and onto NFL draft boards despite moving up from Division III and having no 2020 tape. He flashed at times in 2019, but his tape was nothing like what we saw against upgraded competition across from him at the Senior Bowl. His hands have improved greatly and his movement appears to be much more efficient and powerful. The step up to NFL competition will require an adjustment period as a full-time move to center likely awaits him. He has the ability to move and finish drive blocks and his pass protection is clearly improving. He has the strength and demeanor to become an impactful starter in the near future.

Strengths

  • Above-average length and hand size as a center.
  • Strong week of Senior Bowl practices.
  • Former wrestler with premium core strength.
  • Operates with good knee bend and wide, sturdy base.
  • Leverage and leg drive to push flesh around.
  • Outstanding improvement as block finisher from 2019 tape.
  • Effective hand flashes to keep rushers guessing.
  • Able to throw punches in flurries.
  • Athleticism to work down the field in the screen game.
  • Strong hands to latch in and cinch up the block.
  • Adequate lateral movement to mirror the rush.

Weaknesses

  • Needs to improve footwork into block fits.
  • A little too much forward lean off the snap and into first contact.
  • Can improve bringing feet with him in settle steps.
  • Level of speed and competition could create adjustment period.
  • Average getting to proper landmarks on the second level.
  • Plays power game but will need to add a level of finesse and patience.
Breakdowns Game Film Other Breakdowns

QB

RB

ILB

TE

OT

CB

What happened to the Steelers’ 2017 draft class?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 12:30pm
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft now only one week away, let’s look at how some of the Steelers’ drafts played out.

The 2021 NFL draft is now only one week away. Each week leading up to the draft, we are going to dive into an NFL draft class starting with the Steelers 2004 NFL draft. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers will be highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. Next week, the remaining three drafts will be combined as many of those draft choices are still with the Steelers on their rookie deals.

Part 14 of 15 will highlight the Steelers 2017 NFL draft, which will be the last single draft class covered.

So let’s take a look at the eight players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 NFL draft:

T.J. Watt Outside Linebacker, Wisconsin

Round 1
Pick 30

Steelers fans should not have to be informed what is going on with Trent Jordan Watt these days. Already a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro, Watt has also been a finalist for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year the last two seasons. Of course, many feel Watt should already be a two-time winner. Entering 2021 and currently playing on his fifth-year option paying him just over $10 million, there is still a possibility Watt could get his contract extension this offseason. If it doesn’t come until next year, the Steelers would likely use the franchise tag if they need more time to back up the Brinks truck. In other words, the Steelers defensive captain is not going anywhere for a long time.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Wide receiver, USC

Round 2
Pick 62

Although many Steelers fans were unhappy with this draft pick with the Steelers dire need at cornerback, JuJu Smith-Schuster stole the hearts of many fans his first couple years in the league. Putting up great numbers and earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, Smith-Schuster has not had the same production over the last two seasons. Of course, he played 2019 while battling an injury and without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As fans assumed they would be bidding farewell to Smith-Schuster at the end of his rookie deal, JuJu reportedly took less money for at least one additional season in Pittsburgh.

Cameron Sutton Cornerback, Tennessee

Round 3
Pick 94

Yet to be a full-time starter for the Steelers, Sutton is arguably the best cornerback the Steelers have drafted in recent years. Signing a two-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh through the 2022 season, Sutton will have his greatest chance of proving on the field why he is so highly regarded in the Steelers secondary to where he was retained while others were let go.

James Conner Running back, Pittsburgh

Round 3
Pick 105

James Conner was selected with the Steelers third-round compensatory draft pick courtesy of the departure of Kelvin Beachum and became an instant fan favorite. Between overcoming cancer and being a hometown kid playing at the University of Pittsburgh, Conner saw limited action as a rookie. But when called upon in 2018 as Le’Veon Bell sat out the season in a contract dispute, Conner was selected to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, injuries and availability have been the biggest concern with Conner, although it is a common problem among running backs across the entire NFL. With the Steelers looking to revamp their running game for 2021, James Conner was allowed to test free agency and signed a one-year deal for $1.75 million with the Arizona Cardinals.

Joshua Dobbs Quarterback, Tennessee

Round 4
Pick 135

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in aerospace engineering and a 4.0 GPA, Dobbs was the Steelers third quarterback on the roster in 2017 and did not see any playing time. Earning the back-up role over Landry Jones in 2018, Dobbs threw his first regular-season NFL pass in the fourth quarter of the Steelers 23-16 win over the Ravens in Week 9. With Ben Roethlisberger having a come off the field for one play due to injury, Dobbs converted a 22-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 2nd & 20 from their own 5 yard line. After losing the back-up role to Mason Rudolph in 2019, Dobbs was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to Week 2 of the season. The Steelers received a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft which was subsequently used in the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Used only as a back up and never appearing in a game, Dobbs was released by the Jaguars following training camp in 2020. The Steelers claimed Dobbs off waivers, but he was only active for one game in Week 17. Just recently, Dobbs signed back with the Steelers for 2021 in order to compete for a spot on the roster.

Brian Allen Defensive back, Utah

Round 5
Pick 173

Making the 53-man roster in 2017, Allen appeared in 10 games his rookie year but only saw snaps on special teams. In his second season, Allen was initially released by the Steelers and signed to the practice squad. Activated in early October, Allen played in six games in 2018, once again only seeing snaps on special teams. To start the 2019 season, Allen was placed on injured reserve at the end of August and was waved several days later with an injury settlement. Signing with the Seahawks on their practice squad, Allen spent the remainder of 2019 in Seattle and signed a futures contract for 2020 only to be waived in early August. Allen and then joined the Buffalo Bills late in training camp but did not ultimately make the team. Allen was later signed to the 49ers practice squad and was elevated for one game where he played his only defensive snaps of his NFL career to date. On 24 snaps, Allen was targeted six times with five completions for 124 yards and a touchdown surrendered. Released in late October, Allen join the Bengals practice squad in early November and signed to the Cleveland Browns active roster ahead of their playoff matchup with the Steelers. Allen re-signed with the Browns for the 2021 season.

Colin Holba Long snapper, Louisville

Round 6
Pick 213

To say Steelers fans were scratching their heads when they selected a long snapper in the sixth round would be an understatement. What was even worse is Holba did not win the starting job after the retirement of Greg Warren and instead Steelers went with Kameron Canaday. Holba has since bounced around the NFL and has appeared in 19 games between the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Giants. Holba signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Los Angeles Rams this offseason. But one thing no one will will ever be able to take away from Holba is his home run derby championship during the Steelers 2017 training camp.

Keion Adams Outside linebacker, Western Michigan

Round 7
Pick 248

Missing his entire rookie season after landing on the Reserve/Injured List with a shoulder injury, Adams did not make the Steelers roster in his second season but was signed to the practice squad for the entire year. After signing a Reserve/Future contract in the offseason, Adams was released following the 2019 NFL draft. Catching on with the New York Giants, Adams landed on injured reserve again before the start of the season and was waived in October. Currently, Adams has signed a contract to play with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League for the 2021 season.

Steelers Draft Scenario 1.0: Steelers stick to BPA, take a game-changing defender

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 11:30am
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

In the latest 2021 NFL Draft scenario, the Steelers have options at pick No. 24, but stick with the Best Player Available approach.

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!

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 - Najee Harris, RB Alabama

22. Tennessee - Kadarius Toney, WR Florida

21. Indianapolis - Elijah Moore, WR Ole Miss

20. Chicago - Mac Jones, QB Alabama

19. Washington - Greg Newsome II, CB Northwestern

18. Miami - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE Miami

17. Las Vegas - Micah Parsons, LB Penn State

16. Arizona - Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech

15. New England - Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

14. Minnesota - Teven Jenkins, OT Oklahoma State

13. LA Chargers - Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech

12. Philadelphia - DeVonta Smith, WR Alabama

11. NY Giants - Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

10. Dallas - Kyle Pitts, TE Florida

9. Denver - Trey Lance, QB North Dakota State

8. Carolina - Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern

7. Detroit - Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama

6. Miami - Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

5. Cincinnati - Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

4. Atlanta - Penei Sewell, OT Oregon

3. San Francisco - Justin Fields, QB Ohio State

2. NY Jets - Zach Wilson, QB BYU

1. Jacksonville - Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson

As you can see, several key players many black and gold fans are off the board. The run on offensive tackles has players like Teven Jenkins and Christian Darrisaw off the board, several cornerbacks have also been selected, but there was plenty of talent to choose from at No. 24.

Trying to put myself in Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin’s position, I wanted to truly adopt the Best Player Available (BPA) approach. The New York Jets did me a favor by taking Najee Harris at pick No. 23, but that left other running backs like Travis Etienne still on the board.

I want a first round pick who can come in and put their hand in the pile. Someone who can help make this Steelers team better from Day 1. While players like Creed Humphrey, Etienne and Jayson Oweh were still available, I went with Tulsa LB Zaven Collins.

Maybe it is just me, but I believe Collins can be a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for the Steelers in his rookie year. Not only playing the inside linebacker role, but also rushing the passer from time to time. Collins’ college tape shows a playmaker in the truest sense of the word, and him being injected into the lineup will only make an already good defense even better.

With Collins as the first round pick, the Steelers would likely approach the offensive side of the ball on Day 2 of the draft, mainly looking at center, offensive tackle and running back.

This is just the first 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.

Podcast: How many Buckeyes will land with THE Pittsburgh Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 11:00am

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

With NFL Draft talk rising towards the forefront, the Steelers have a lot of needs. It’s possible that Kevin Colbert and company try to trade up or look for value in the later rounds of the draft. The team that gave you “Know Your Enemy” welcomes in experts from the college ranks to discuss their school’s draft prospects and how they would fit with the black-and-gold. This and much more will be pondered on the latest episode from the BTSC family of podcasts, “The Curtain Call” when Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict welcome Joey Kaufman from The Columbus Dispatch, to talk the possibillty and fit of Ohio State Buckeye QB, RB, C, G, LB and DB prospects and more to the Steelers.

  • News and Notes
  • Special Guest: Joey Kaufman, beat writer from The Columbus Dispatch
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Steelers need to once again prove worthy of their reputation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 10:00am
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't resembled their hard earned smashmouth reputation on offense for going on a decade now. That needs to change immediately.

I am actually shocked that somebody hasn't turned the hopelessly inaccurate statement uttered at the early stages of any Steelers broadcast into a drinking game of some sort. Inevitably some broadcaster will rehash the tired narrative about how the Steelers are a smash mouth football team built around a powerful running game and a punishing defense.

That reputation started to evolve over fifty years ago with the hiring of legendary HOF HC Chuck Noll and the first round selection of the face of the franchise Mean Joe Greene. They laid the foundation for what would become the Steel Curtain, a dynasty like no other. They drafted Franco Harris a couple of years later, developed a winning culture by playing a hardnosed brand of football that matched the work ethic of their community, and they never looked back.

For four decades the Steelers never ventured far from their tried and true philosophy. That all started to change about a decade ago as the Steelers became more dependent on Ben Roethlisberger's passing prowess, especially as the defense started to decline due to advancing age and early round draft misses on that side of the ball. The Steelers wanted to score more points because they needed to score more points to match what the defense was surrendering with regularity.

The Steelers enjoyed their share of good fortune on draft days, but mainly on the offensive side of the ball. Second round selection Le’Veon Bell turned into a star as the Steelers built their running game around his talent and preferences. At first glance, all appeared well with the Steelers rushing attack, but there were problems lying just under the surface that were overlooked as the Steelers tried desperately to build a championship caliber defense to match their high powered offense.

Think back over the past decade for a second. When was the last time that you actually felt confident that the Steelers could convert a 3rd and 1 or a 1st and goal by running the ball? I can wait, because if we are being honest that could take awhile. Even with Bell at the height of his powers, the Steelers often struggled to convert in any situation where the defense knew that the Steelers wanted to run the ball. Considering the avenues utilized by the Steelers to build a offensive line capable of maximizing Bell's effectiveness, these struggles should have been expected.

The Steelers; while also being mindful on protecting their biggest investment and most valuable player in Ben Roethlisberger, built an athletic offensive line that focused on mobility and length over power and push. They built the line through a couple of first round selections and the good fortune of some wise free agent reclamation projects. The Steelers offensive line has consistently excelled in pass protection over the second half of Roethlisberger's career, and they complimented Bell's running style to a tee. Even during this tenure, the Steelers struggled in short yardage situations to effectively run the ball.

Needless to say, things haven't improved as unique talents have gone elsewhere, and injuries and advancing age have decimated the offensive line. Suddenly the Steelers find themselves with a championship caliber defense, but lack a functional running game able to support their talented passing attack. They finally hit rock bottom by finishing dead last in the NFL last season running the football. But every week you could count on some reference from the television broadcast crew about the Steelers reputation of being a smash mouth running offense. They should have been required to turn in their union card.

Based on some not so subtle observations from last year's NFL Draft acquisitions, I believe that the Steelers are in the process of reverting back to their old school means of operation. Starting with the fourth round selection of Kevin Dotson, I believe that the Steelers mean to address their lack of power and push across the offensive line. Dotson is a road grader of a offensive lineman, who's mobility is basically limited to running over any defender who has the misfortune of getting in his way.

With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Steelers find themselves needing to replace at least three starters on the line. The manner in which the Steelers go about filling these openings will finally reveal their plans for the unit moving forward. I fully expect the Steelers to focus on adding more power oriented run blocking prospects in this draft class to continue their transition back to a more complete and balanced offense.

The Steelers total inability to run the football last season had to be embarrassing for such a proud franchise. By all accounts, the results were unacceptable. Hopefully next year the Steelers will finally be able to once again live up to their reputation.

Steelers NFL Draft Fits: Which centers might the Steelers target?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Looking at some of the options and what they offer the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In parts one and two of this series, we looked at some of the tight ends and quarterbacks available in the upcoming draft and how they might fit in Pittsburgh. In this article, we examine the draft’s top centers.

Kevin: Ok, so Maurkice Pouncey is gone and the current candidates to replace him are B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer (I’m guessing M.C. Hammer wasn’t available). The Steelers badly need a long-term replacement at the position. The question is, will they invest a first-round pick on a center or will they wait to grab one later in the draft? Geoffrey, to begin, is there a center worthy of being selected in the first round, and if so, who is it?

Geoffrey: There’s two centers that fall in the Round 1 or Round 2 range in this draft. First off is Landon Dickerson, whose talent is undeniable. He’s got the mobility, strength, technique and most of all, attitude to be one of the best centers in the NFL. He also has a rough injury history to go with it. He had 2 season ending injuries at Florida State, and after transferring to Alabama, played the entire 2019 season and in 2020 was injured in the SEC title game. I know that you are a big fan of his tape, Kevin, is there enough there to offset the injury concerns?

Kevin: We haven’t been running GIFs with this series for the sake of brevity but I felt compelled to include this one. This is Landon Dickerson. This is how he plays:

And like this:

I love Dickerson because he is the most physical center in this draft. He is a relentless blocker who punishes defenders. He’s also a great leader. This Steelers’ line needs an identity and Dickerson is a player around which it can be forged. Dickerson, Kevin Dotson and Zach Banner would give the Steelers three butt-kickers up front. I would be thrilled if they drafted him.

That said, you can’t deny the injury concerns. To take Dickerson in round one, I’d have to be completely confident in his medical reports and even then I’d worry about his long-term health. If they could find a way to get him in round two I’d feel better about the risk.

Geoff: The second center that could go in the first round is Creed Humphrey. Humphrey stands out for his athleticism, both his ridiculous testing numbers and on film. Humphrey is a fantastic pulling center, something the Steelers value a lot, and he’s also really good on outside zone runs. Humphrey isn’t the people mover Landon Dickerson is, and I don’t like how he lets attackers come to him, but he has fantastic footwork, a great anchor and can do things the Steelers typically want to see from their centers. Lastly, if Matt Canada is looking to run more outside zone this season, Creed Humphrey would be a great fit because of how good he is in that scheme. Do you think he’s worth a first round pick Kevin? If both these centers and the top tier running backs are available in the first round, (and you couldn’t get any of them in the second) who would you take?

Kevin: Humphrey is an excellent player and a good fit for the offense. He’s a better athlete than Dickerson and I’d be happy landing him as well. That said, I’m taking one of the running backs in round one because I think the drop-off after the Big Three (Harris, Etienne, Williams) is bigger than the drop-off at center. Plus, the Steelers depth chart at running back right now is really bad and they can’t miss out on an impact back in this draft. I think you can get some pretty good centers in round two and three whereas the running back talent takes a hit after that top tier.

Kevin: Speaking of that next group of centers, an interesting prospect is the young man from Wisconsin-Whitewater, Quinn Meinerz. He’s got a late-second to mid-third round grade from most scouts. The Steelers should have a shot at him when they pick at 2:55 but it seems unlikely he’ll last until their pick at 3:87. So, he’s probably a second-round guy if they want him.

Meinerz was a wrestler in high school and took fifth in the state in Wisconsin. So, we know he’s strong, physical and, if he was a good wrestler, plays with great leverage. He was also barely recruited. He received exactly one offer, from Division II St. Cloud State, and landed at Whitewater, a perennial Division III power. Whitewater didn’t play in 2020 due to Covid but Meinerz got an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he stood out and was named the top offensive lineman for the National Team.

The fact Meinerz has been slighted gives him that chip on the shoulder I love to see. He’s a hungry kid out to prove people wrong. On the other hand, he started for two years at a D-III school and had his 2020 season canceled. Does that resume, coupled with one strong week at the Senior Bowl, give you enough confidence to say he’s worth a second-round pick and could be Pittsburgh’s starting center for the next decade?

Geoffrey: I was not impressed with most of Meinerz work at the Senior Bowl. I think he has some bad habits from playing lesser athletes in division III and I don’t think he’s a year one starter at all.

You can see the wrestler in him when he gets an advantage and uses it to bury someone, but you also see it when he tries to wrap up and grapple someone when they are attacking his shoulder and he ends up trying to stop their body with one arm. That will really cost him against NFL veterans. As a more developmental prospect I would really like him, but I’d have a hard time taking him in the second round and having him sit while B.J. Finney starts all year.

Kevin: I’m with you. He’s a nice story but the resume is too thin for me.

Two centers who are comparable to Meinerz and can probably be taken later are Ohio State’s Josh Myers and Georgia’s Trey Hill. Myers is projected as a third round pick while Hill would likely go in the fourth.

Myers has good size (6’5-310), is a powerful blocker at the point of attack and was a team captain. His scouting report per The Athletic describes him as a “mean, consistent block finisher.” That’s music to my ears. The fact he was a team captain is a big plus as well. The negatives on Myers are that his lateral agility is described as “average,” which could make it tough on him if Canada runs a lot of outside zone. He can also play high at times, which can be fatal for a center if an NFL one-tech gets his hands under their pads. These are technique issues, though, which can be remedied with good coaching.

Geoff: Myers is a nice blocker, but his lateral agility is a real issue. The Steelers are going to have to work around Dotson’s limited lateral ability and Myers might be even more limited. For a team that runs inside zone and gap Myers could be a starter as a rookie, but the Steelers ask a lot more from their centers and I don’t know if Myers can do the job.

Kevin: Good points. What about Hill, then? He’s 6’3-320 and built like a fire-plug. He is extremely thick in the legs and uses his lower body strength effectively in the run game. The Athletic described him as “not a slug,” which I suppose is a compliment. Hill did start a few games at guard at Georgia, which suggests he has decent movement. He doesn’t have great balance though, which means he will have to be an excellent technician with his hands or he’ll wind up on the ground a lot.

Geoff: Trey Hill is my favorite developmental center. Like you say there are some technique problems there to work on, but I like his fight in traffic, and he’s strong in short yardage situations. If he can get his hips lower and in balance I think he’ll be a really good center, but he’d need some time to get there.

Kevin: So, let’s get to the million-dollar question. Everything depends on how the chips fall on draft night, but what do you think the Steelers will do? Personally, I think they’re going running back in the first round and will hope to land either Humphrey or Dickerson in round two. Maybe they’d even trade up to get one or the other. If not, I think they’ll take one of the developmental centers in round three or four.

Geoffrey, what do you think?

Geoff: For me, I think Creed Humphrey is the pick, either at 24 or with a rare trade down. Center in round 1 and a running back later. The offensive line is just more important.

Podcast: Wild, Wild Midwest additions to the Steelers big board

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 8:25am

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

The Steelers draft plan is almost set, but no one really knows what they are going to do. But learning more about some guys besides the big names is paramount to your draft enjowment. Once again, BTSC will dive into the cap and draft plan, Plus, four more players get added to the big board. Join BTSC’s Matt Peverell for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Tony Pauline: “The number one player they’re after is Najee Harris”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 7:15am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No one knows what the Steelers will do in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but one NFL Draft insider says the team will take Najee Harris if he is available.

We are within one week of the 2021 NFL Draft, and we are beginning to get an idea of what the Pittsburgh Steelers would like to do, at least with the 24th overall pick.

On Pro Football Network’s “Draft Insiders” show with Trey Wingo, NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline said Alabama running back Najee Harris is the top player that the Steelers are targeting with the 24th pick in the draft.

It seems that the number one player they’re after is Najee Harris.... He’s a perfect fit, he fits the Steelers’ identity, he’s a three-down back. They have a gaping need at the running back position. I’ve been told that’s the guy they’re keying on.

This follows a report from Pauline that said he was hearing the pick would either be Najee Harris, Teven Jenkins or Landon Dickerson. Pauline had also mentioned that if the Steelers do not take Jenkins in Round 1, Spencer Brown from Northern Iowa is a guy that the Steelers like in Round 2.

Pauline addressed both Jenkins and Dickerson as well, but he points out that teams may be hesitant to take Dickerson, especially in Round 1.

As far as the offensive linemen, they like Teven Jenkins, the tackle from Oklahoma State, and you mentioned Landon Dickerson. The issue with Landon Dickerson is.... are they comfortable with the medicals? A lot of people are mocking Landon Dickerson as a first-round pick. I’ve heard otherwise. When you scout Landon Dickerson, it’s kind of a two-part story. The on-the-field story, Landon Dickerson has been a terrific lineman for Alabama the past two years. He’s shown great development in his game.... and as a player he basically grades out as a second round choice, but his medicals basically make him a free agent. As I said in the article earlier this week, he got a three minus [C-] during his combine medicals, or I should say, at least some teams gave him a three minus. A three minus is equal to a C-. Combine medical grades go from five, which means you’re clean, to one, which means you’re a reject, you’ve got no chance of even getting into camp. Landon Dickerson was very close to failing his combine medicals.

Pauline also says that the concern with Dickerson is not just about getting through a season fully healthy, but also when a past injury is going to potentially worsen in the future.

Is it the early onset of arthritis? Immobility? Is he going to make it to the second contract? So, it’s going to be interesting to see if teams will be willing to overlook the medicals of Landon Dickerson and just say, ‘hey, listen, we’re going to take the player, and hope his body stays together.’

If you would like to watch the entire show, you can click here.

Now, we will not know for sure what the Steelers plan to do until the night of the draft, and rumors are not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is worth noting that Pauline usually shares legitimate information. This may never come to fruition, but he is not someone who spews out information simply to create headlines.

If you are on the Najee Harris hype train, you are keeping a close eye on Miami at pick No. 18, who Pauline said is also interested in the Alabama running back. The Jets could also take a running back, but many feel as if Travis Etienne would be a better fit for what Mike LeFleur wants to run.

If you are a Teven Jenkins fan, you will want to keep a close eye on the teams selecting between 19 and 22. Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Tennessee all have a need at tackle, and Tennessee has shown as much interest in him as any team that could realistically land him. It will be interesting to see if the Titans try to move ahead of their division rival in an effort to secure the Oklahoma State lineman.

As it pertains to Dickerson, I would be surprised if he was taken in the first round. Creed Humphrey’s pro day numbers combined with Dickerson’s injury concerns make me think that Humphrey, and potentially even Quinn Meinerz, could be taken ahead of him. The tape is fantastic, but linemen with as lengthy an injury history as his are too risky for Round 1. He may be worth the risk at 55, but taking him at 24 would seem to be a move of panic on the part of the Steelers. Center is definitely a need, but there are solid options in the middle rounds as well. At this point, I would be very surprised if the Steelers took Dickerson at 24.

But what do you think? Do you agree with Pauline in that Najee Harris is the most likely pick, if available? Who do you think is the most likely pick if he is already taken? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC for an overload of draft coverage as we prepare for next week’s big event.

What will the Steelers do at RB if they can't draft a top prospect?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Steelers need a better running back on the roster

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a few days away from drafting the newest players to their roster. Of course many Steelers fans have been clamoring for one of those picks to be one of the top running backs of this 2021 NFL Draft class. While there is a real possibility these fans will get their wish, there is also a chance those running backs won't even be available when it’s the Steelers’ turn to pick.

If you don’t already know, the cream of the running back crop this year boils down to three names:

Najee Harris (Alabama)
Travis Etienne (Clemson)
Javonte Williams (North Carolina)

Depending on the outlet, they could be ranked in any order. The real problem lies with the teams which need running backs also being the teams with multiple first round picks. Both the Dolphins and Jets could scoop a back before pick 24, and other running back needy teams like the Bills or Buccaneers could try to jump the Steelers to steal a runner from under their noses.

So what happens if the Steelers miss out on one of the triumphant trio of running back prospects? Well they have a couple options:

Option 1: Draft a Second Tier Player

There are a number of running backs that should be drafted in the mid-rounds including: Michael Carter, Kenneth Gainwell, Rhamondre Stevenson, Chuba Hubbard or Trey Sermon, to name a few. Perhaps the Steelers could spend a Day 2 or Day 3 pick on one of the above names and try to make a running back committee work in Pittsburgh.

Option 2: Sign a Free Agent

Free agency has nearly been sucked dry at running back. The remaining characters are basically guys removed from their primes but might still have a little something left in the tank. Players who fit this description include Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and even Le’Veon Bell. All are still waiting on the open market, with their values decreasing by the day. Perhaps a veteran can offer just enough to right the Steelers’ running woes.

Option 3: Go With What You Have

This one is playing with fire, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage, Jaylen Samuels, and Trey Edmunds round out what many think is the worst running back depth chart in the game. The Steelers would be reliant on someone making a large, unexpected step forward, or the offensive line returning to such a state of dominance it doesn't really matter who the back is. The problem is, both are incredibly unlikely.

Option 4: Make a Trade

I’ll leave you with by far the least likely option, but the Steelers pulled this off to acquire Jerome Bettis back in 1993, so maybe lightning can strike twice. Looking across the league you will find disgruntled back ups wanting more playing time. Like Packers backup A.J. Dillon. The second round pick is going to continue to be handcuffed to the bench thanks to Aaron Jones’ big money contract extension. Maybe the Steelers can leverage that into prying the 2020 second round pick out of Wisconsin.

But what do you think? What happens next if the Steelers miss out on one of the top running backs of the 2021 draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

NFL announces several accepted rule changes for the 2021 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 5:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Changes to replay, preseason games, and uniform numbers headline what will be different in 2021.

The NFL released a memo on Tuesday explaining the approved rule changes for the 2021 NFL season. In all, there were seven rule changes dealing with game play and one approved bylaw concerning player visits and tryouts.

Approved 2021 Playing Rules and Bylaws: pic.twitter.com/p8X5sTNoGN

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 21, 2021

To highlight the most notable rule changes, the first one was eliminating overtime from preseason games. While many coaches did their best to avoid overtime late in games by either going for two or other various scenarios, now there will be no need to change up strategy as games will simply end in a tie.

Another rule change which was accepted was giving more authority to the replay official in order to communicate with the on-filed officials in certain situations. While it is a far cry from the previously proposed “Eye in the Sky” official who can make calls in front of a TV screen by using the sky cam, it will allow more specific plays, such as completions, ball placement, and a player being down by contact, to have information passed on to the officials on the field. Exactly how this will be implemented will still need some clarification.

One of the more notarized rule changes is expanding the number of positions who can wear single-digit uniforms. The new approved list of numbers based on position can be seen here courtesy of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

Under the new rule, players will be able to wear ...

Defensive backs: 1–49

Running backs, full backs, tight ends, H-backs, and wide receivers: 1–49 and 80-89

Offensive linemen: 50–79;

Defensive linemen: 50–79 and 90–99;

Linebackers: 1–59 and 90–99. https://t.co/EhTnOVX7RJ

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 21, 2021

Exactly what the rules will be for players changing numbers has yet to be determined. There was no announcement if there will be a change in the policy, which requires players who change number to buy back unsold jerseys. Whether or not any Steelers players choose to change their uniform number remains to be seen.

Some other rule changes include having a penalty for two forward passes on the same play also is now a loss of down. Another rule change will limit the number of players on the receiving team being within 25 yards of the kickoff, making onside kicks slightly easier after a record low in successful attempts in 2020. The final rule change accepted will make sure all penalties on successive point after tries are all enforced. When this rule was proposed, I had given a breakdown as to exactly what it meant.

The only new bylaw that was presented in the NFL‘s memo was requiring clubs to submit to the league office the names of players who try out and visit at any time during the year.

So what do you think of the new rules for the NFL? While some still need some clarity, is there any major changes that the NFL should have left alone? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: Realistic expectations for a first-round draft pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 4:30am

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

When the Steelers evaluate talent to draft, they hope to get Week One-ready talent out of the rookie, but they are prepared for the developmental timetable surrounding the pick. Just what are the realistic expectations for first round picks? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Realistic expectations for first round picks?
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

NFL announces the release of the 2021 regular season schedule

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 3:21pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and all other NFL teams, will receive their schedules for the 2021 regular season in just a few weeks.

The National Football League is a money making machine, and they know how to create an event. They have even taken very mundane events, and turned them into something worth watching.

That is exactly what has happened with the regular season schedule release. What once was just a blip on the offseason radar has turned into an hour-long special on the NFL Network.

With the 2021 NFL Draft slated to start on April 30th, the league has announced the schedule will be released Wednesday May 12th. This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

NFL is now slated to release its full 2021 regular-season schedule on Wednesday, May 12, per sources. It’s the date to get more dates.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 21, 2021

The NFL schedule is complex, but if you know the reasoning behind it, it really is rather simple. The equation to a 17-game schedule is as follows:

Every year each division is paired up with both an AFC and NFC division, which represents 8 games on the schedule. Each team plays everyone in their division twice, add another 6 games. So, where do the other two games come from to round out the schedule? Depending on which place the team finishes, they play the other teams who finished with the same ranking in the other two divisions.

So, who will the Pittsburgh Steelers be playing in 2021? Well, in 2020 the AFC North was paired with the AFC South and NFC East, but in 2021 they are paired up with the AFC West and the NFC North.

Those 8 opponents will be:

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers
Las Vegas Raiders

The Steelers always play the rest of their division (Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns) twice, but what about the other two opponents? They will play the first place team in the AFC East and AFC South divisions. The Buffalo Bills won the AFC East, which means they will be playing the black and gold next season. The Tennessee Titans won the AFC South, so it will be Tennessee coming to Heinz Field in 2021. The new 17th game on the regular season schedule has the AFC North paired with the like ranking team in the NFC West, so a trip to Heinz Field will be on the docket for the Seattle Seahawks.

Below is the location of the known Steelers game next season:

Home
Baltimore
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Detroit
Chicago
Denver
Las Vegas
Tennessee
Seattle

Away
Baltimore
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Green Bay
Minnesota
Los Angeles
Kansas City
Buffalo

The Steelers’ schedule looks as tough as they come, but what do you think of the 2021 opponents? Let us know your thoughts in the comments 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 NFL Draft and the upcoming regular season.

Would the Steelers draft be a failure if they don’t fill every hole?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 2:00pm
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Steelers need to upgrade a number of positions and they might not be able to fill them all in the draft

We are just a handful of days away from the 2021 NFL Draft. With every passing week the Pittsburgh Steelers have made moves which will help dictate the direction of their upcoming class, but unless they acquire more picks it looks like the team won't be able to fill every position of need.

Today we are going to look at the positions the Steelers still need to add talent, and whether they can get away with snubbing those positions. Let’s begin...

Positions that need starters:

Center

The free agent market is virtually dried up, and with B.J. Finney saying the Steelers coaching staff telling him it’s his job to lose I wouldn't be expecting any veteran additions. Finney struggled mightily in 2020, so the Steelers would be making a massive mistake not adding someone else to the fold. This is a must-draft position.

Running Back

The Steelers currently have probably the worst running back depth chart in the NFL. Unless Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland can figure out their vision issues, or Jaylen Samuels and Kalen Ballage get it together, I don’t expect any of these players to carry the load for the Steelers. This is another position that must be addressed in the draft.

Nickel Corner

Both James Pierre and Cameron Sutton are better suited to play the outside corner spots. I don’t think the future nickel of this team is on the roster. Thankfully, this is a position where they don’t have to panic in adding someone. But I wouldn't be surprised if they do so earlier, rather than later.

Tight End

This is an interesting spot, on one hand the free agent market is still littered with a number of second tight end options. On the other hand, the 2021 tight end class is one of the worst tight end classes in quite some time. I would imagine they sign someone unless they find incredible value in one of the few decent tight ends dropping.

Tackle

Let’s begin by saying Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner are a fine staring duo in this league, even Joe Haeg is a decent swing tackle with some potential. But it would be nice if the Steelers could land an upgrade in a rather strong tackle class. After all, the Steelers aren't just drafting to protect Ben Roethlisberger, but also to protect the next starting quarterback of this franchise. Don’t follow the Bengals’ plan, lock down the line, then get the quarterback.

Positions that Need Primary Backups:

Outside Linebacker

T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith need a back up, period. There really isn't anyone available on the open market, so I would imagine they draft one. It would just be plain stupidity if they go into the season with just Cassius Marsh backing those guys up. Teams would just wait until he’s on the field and attack him, much like the Browns did in the Wild Card round. Regardless of when, this is a must draft position.

Safety

The Steelers are obviously looking for more depth, they reportedly brought in Karl Joseph for a free agent visit before he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Right now the Steelers are relying on Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds to remain healthy enough to play every snap of a 17 game season. Which is a recipe for disaster. The Steelers need to add someone.

Positions of Future Need

Quarterback

Obviously, the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for life after Ben Roethlisberger. They know it’s coming, we know it’s coming, heck Ben might even know his career is nearing the end. While they do have a couple of guys on roster that have potential to be starting quarterbacks in this league, I still wonder if the organization wants Ben to mentor someone who projects more as a Top 10 QB rather than a middle of the pack guy. With the team in win-now mode, I would say they definitely avoid drafting a quarterback, unless they manage to add more picks.

Corner

Joe Haden is also nearing the end of his NFL journey, and the Steelers may want to add another body to the mix to learn from one of the highest ‘Football IQ’ corners in the game. Again this might be addressed if they have more draft capital.

To me the Steelers need to add at least a center, running back, outside linebacker, and safety in the draft. Some of those players will be called upon right away while others will be waiting in the wings. But this draft won't be a failure if they neglect some other positions. The Steelers can still sign some quality tight ends, and corners and while it would be nice to lock down a tackle the Steeler don’t have too.

But what do you think? Which positions do the Steelers have to take in the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Grading the Steelers’ 2020 NFL Draft class, a year later

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 draft class was special in a lot of ways, but how do you grade the class a year later?

The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and every year after the selection process is over, experts are quick to slap grades on every teams’ picks. The knee jerk reaction is understandable, but grading a player who has yet to play a snap of professional football seems just a bit hasty.

With that said, if these experts are grading the pick itself, looking at who was available when the pick was made and grading the decision making process, those grades are a bit more valid compared to grading a player who has yet to even make his debut in the NFL.

So, how long does it take for a grade to be validated? At what point can you look back and place a grade with a draft pick, or an entire draft class?

One year?

Two years?

Wait until their rookie contracts expire?

The duration of time is up for debate, but after a year in the books the people at SB Nation asked Pittsburgh Steelers fans what their grade would be for the class of 2020? After a year in the system, fans said they thought the grade was above average, but merely a ‘B’.

The Steelers’ draft class, which was comprised of the following picks:

Round 2: WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Round 3: OLB Alex Highsmith, Charlotte
Round 4: OG Kevin Dotson, Louisiana
Round 4: RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland
Round 6: S Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland
Round 7: DL Carlos Davis, Nebraska

The unique aspect of the Steelers’ draft class last year was how it was the first draft class to have all members make the team, and all appear in the regular season. The first time that ever happened in franchise history.

With all of the players contributing in some way, does that impact your grade? Do you agree with the NFL Reacts grade of a ‘B’, or do you think this draft class should be an ‘A’? Keep in mind, as many outlets have done re-drafts of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Steelers had three players who were labeled as first round picks. Those players were: Claypool, Dotson and Highsmith.

Just some food for thought.

Let us know what grade you give in the poll below, and be sure to explain yourself in the comment section below. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

What can Steelers fans expect from T.J. Watt in 2021?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 11:30am
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft continues to improve, but is a plateau approaching?

When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected T.J. Watt with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin, no one really knew what to expect. Mike Tomlin talked about how every team “needs a Watt”, Watt himself was a Scouting Combine freak of nature, but would his performance translate to life in the NFL?

If the fact Watt put veteran James Harrison on the bench almost from Day 1 wasn’t an indication of what to expect, his rookie season proved he certainly belongs in the professional ranks. What came next, and every year after, was a steady progression, always improving.

Just take a look at his stats from his rookie season through 2020 at several key statistics for a pass rusher:

2017 (R)
Games: 15
Total Tackles: 54
TFL: 10
Sacks: 7
INT: 1
Forced Fumbles: 1
QB Hits: 13

2018
Games: 16
Total Tackles: 68
TFL: 12
Sacks: 13
INT: 0
Forced Fumbles: 6
QB Hits: 21

2019
Games: 16
Total Tackles: 55
TFL: 14
Sacks: 14.5
INT: 2
Forced Fumbles: 8
QB Hits: 36

2020
Games: 15
Total Tackles: 53
TFL: 23
Sacks: 15
INT: 1
Forced Fumbles: 2
QB Hits: 41

When you see these numbers, and how they constantly improve, it makes you wonder if Watt can continue on this upward trajectory, or if a statistical plateau is approaching in 2021.

There are a lot of key factors into whether Watt can continue on his current war path, one which had him a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons, or if he will see a small decrease in his production.

The most obvious factor is the unknown without Bud Dupree. Dupree was the Robin to Watt’s Batman, and the two worked well together on their respective edges. When Dupree was lost for the season due to a torn ACL vs. the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in Week 13, here is what Watt’s statistics looked like without Dupree:

Games: 5 (including the playoffs)
Sacks: 4
Total Tackles: 18
TFL: 7
INT: 0
Forced Fumbles: 2
QB Hits: 9

While those aren’t disappointing statistics, you have to wonder if Watt can continue to increase his statistics with Alex Highsmith, not Dupree, opposite him in 2021 and likely beyond.

Outside of sack production, is it even fair for fans to believe Watt will be able to continue to ascend the way he has throughout his first four seasons in the NFL? At what point will his statistics start to level out? No one would complain if Watt continued to raise the proverbial bar, but if he only gets 14 sacks in 2021 will it be viewed as a disappointment?

To get a feel for sack numbers, I took a look at James Harrison’s career sack totals. What was astonishing to me was Harrison only had double-digit sacks three times in his career. He recorded 16 sacks in 2008, and followed that up with 10 in 2009 and 10.5 in 2010. Those three seasons were the only years he was able to record 10 or more sacks, something Watt has done the past three seasons.

Maybe Watt is just a different beast altogether, and maybe looking back at other players, even Harrison who leads the Steelers franchise in most sacks recorded, doesn’t do Watt justice. There is no doubt the Steelers’ defense will not look the same this year. Not only did they lose Dupree, but the losses of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, for different reasons, will lead to a reshaped secondary. Throw in some likely draft picks and the Steelers defense might not just look different, but they might play differently too.

What is your prediction for Watt in 2021? Does he continue to keep raising the bar? Personally, I think you might see a dip in sack totals, but he will continue to be a dominant player for the Steelers. Let us know your thoughts on Watt’s 2021 season in the comments 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 2021 NFL Draft.

Podcast: Mock draft red flags and the people that trust them

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 11:00am

In the spirit of brotherly love, siblings Dave and Rich Schofield break down all things surrounding the black-and-gold.

After a champion is crowned at the Super Bowl, the already existing mock drafts multiply by thousands. The people that create them make mistakes though, so think of this as a guide of what to look out for. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment on the BTSC family of podcasts, The Scho Bro Show.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Common mistakes found in mock drafts
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers Vertex: Examining the Steelers depth on the defensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/21/2021 - 10:00am
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s the only defensive position group who had the same players for the entire 2020 season and returned them all for 2021.

There are some positions the Steelers are likely to completely pass over in the 2021 NFL draft. One such position is the interior defensive line. While some so-called “experts” might still mock players to the Steelers high in the draft, Steelers’ Nation knows better. It also doesn’t help that defensive tackle is not a position of strength in the draft this year.

Random quote from a top decision maker on the 2021 NFL Draft: “This is the worst defensive tackle draft I’ve ever seen.” There could still be one or even two in the first round. But the overall depth clearly isn’t there.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 19, 2021

With the Steelers returning all seven players on the interior of the defensive line from 2020, what do the Steelers have when it comes to depth? This is the topic for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

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

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

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

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

For this exercise, we are excluding the three projected starters for the 2021 season in Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Tyson Alualu. The Steelers and their fan base have a pretty good idea what they have in these three players who were arguably the best interior defensive line in 2020. Other their combined $24,459,500 in salary cap in 2021 and their ages of 32, 28, and 34 respectively by the end of May (ironically their birthdays are all within 17 days of each other), our focus is going to be on the remaining four players.

The Steelers had the same seven players on the 53-man roster for the entire 2020 season. While players missed time due to injury or the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Steelers did not need to add anyone else as they were carrying seven players instead of the typical six. Keeping the extra defensive lineman comes at a cost somewhere else on the roster, so there is no guarantee the Steelers will do it again this season.

When it comes to the statistics for the four reserve players on the defensive line, Chris Wormley had the most playing time with 148 defensive snaps during the regular season, exactly 300 less than Tyson Alualu. Next came Isaiah Buggs with 131 snaps followed by Henry Mondeaux and Carlos Davis with 88 and 54 respectively. In the playoff game, Wormley had 15 snaps and Davis had 5 while Mondeaux only played on special teams and Isaiah Buggs was inactive.

Chris Wormley was the only reserve defensive tackle to register a sack or start a game in 2020. He also led the way with three quarterback hits and added eight tackles. Isaiah Buggs actually had the most tackles with 11 and also had a quarterback hit. Henry Mondeaux also had two quarterback hits and added a tackle for loss on five total tackles. Rookie Carlos Davis finished with six tackles with one being for a loss.

While the stats paint part of the picture, the film will ultimately help determine the quality of the depth on the defensive line for 2021.

The Film Line:

The backup defensive linemen didn’t play a ton, and they rarely played together, but they did play a good bit in Week 9. With Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley both out for the game, and the Dallas Cowboys starting Garrett Gilbert at quarterback, the Cowboys rightly identified the defensive line depth as the best place to attack the Steelers. The Cowboys used heavy sets to force the Steelers into their 7-man fronts where they would be forced to play a backup, and multiple ones when Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt needed a breather. That makes it a great game to find film for these men.

Week 9, 2nd quarter, 10:00. Henry Mondeaux is the nose tackle, Isaiah Buggs is the end to the left side of the screen.

The second quarter the Cowboys focused heavily on running the ball and wearing down the Steelers two great lineman, setting up opportunities to attack their depth. On this play Isaiah Buggs fights through a block that looks like he’s lost at first, and he makes a tackle for no gain. Henry Mondeaux is not a run stuffer, and the left guard doesn’t even need to double team him. Mondeaux is not a nose tackle.

Week 9, 2nd quarter, 8:38. Defensive lineman left to right: Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis, Henry Mondeaux.

All three reserves are in, and they actually do pretty well on this play. Isaiah Buggs gets combo blocked, can’t keep the double team on him, but he does slow down his blocker and that forces the runner to cut upfield on an inside lane. But look at the nose tackle. Carlos Davis takes the shove from the right guard, and still controls the center, not allowing him to seal the lane and he makes the tackle. Good hustle from Henry Mondeaux on this play, getting off a cut block to get in on the play.

Week 9, 2nd quarter, 7:52. Carlos Davis is the nose tackle.

Here’s a pass rush play from Carlos Davis, he’s not going to beat that double team, but he gets off of it and chases the quarterback, and you see the quickness he brings to the interior, even if his pass rush is limited by a lack of good moves.

Week 9, 3rd quarter, 11:12. Carlos Davis (#73) is the nose tackle.

Love this play. Davis picks up on the screen (not as quick as Heyward does) and is fast enough to get to the ball for a 4-yard loss. That’s good awareness, hustle and athleticism.

Isaiah Buggs showed his value as a scrappy, tough and fighter on the line throughout the season, he’s not polished or athletic but he’s gonna give you a dog fight every snap he’s on the field, and sometimes on the sideline as well.

Henry Mondeaux was better this season than he has been, but he’s still really only a pass rusher, he either wins with a rush move or gets pushed around.

Carlos Davis flashed some real talent though, he’s fast and big and he hustles. and after a call up for Week 9 ended up playing in 6 games while Isaiah Buggs battled injuries and illness. He was still showing up late in the season.

Week 17, 4th quarter, 5:51. Carlos Davis (#73) is the defensive tackle to the right side of the screen, he starts the play behind the goal post.

My favorite part of this play is the point when he has read the play, and he puts his head down and drives into his blocker to create space to get off the block and make the tackle. He’s got fight in him.

Week 17, 2nd quarter, 3:34. Chris Wormley is the defensive lineman furthest to the left on screen

This is Chris Wormley’s lone sack and only tackle for a loss in 2020. He wasn’t good for the Steelers, and only played 17 snaps more than Isaiah Buggs. The Steelers re-signed Wormley for two seasons at essentially the same rate he was paid in 2020, so they clearly believe that 2020 didn’t show his actual value, as he was fighting through injuries all season.

On film, even if Chris Wormley can’t be what the Steelers think he is, Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis and even Henry Mondeaux can be solid depth for the main three lineman. If Wormley becomes the clear #4 lineman, this group will be really good and deep.

Carlos Davis is the one I’m most excited about. When he was drafted I did his film room, and it wasn’t complimentary.

His first action in the NFL, in Week 9, Carlos Davis looked like a much better player. That kind of growth arc makes me wonder if the Steelers might have found another Javon Hargrave, just in the 7th round this time.

The one area of his game that shows up on film as a big negative is his lack of pass rush moves.

If only he could improve that. . .

Always great work with @chucksmithnfl @CoachDez @khalildaish94 pic.twitter.com/qJPJmD0OOg

— Carlos Davis (@_KING_LOS__) April 7, 2021

Yeah. That’s Chuck Smith, the guy who worked with Bud Dupree to develop his pass rush beyond the “run fast and push hard” we saw early in his career, into a guy that can beat one-on-one blocks regularly. If Davis can add pass rush ability to his rapidly improving skill set, he could be a real asset for the Steelers as they push to get to the Super Bowl, a game Carlos Davis’s twin brother played in last season for the Buccaneers.

The Point:

It’s not that all of the Steelers defensive lineman are locked in to the roster going into the 2021 season, but we can see why the Steelers kept all seven of them on the active roster in 2020. Were any of these players not able to make the roster for 2021, chances are they would be picked up by another NFL team and would not make it to the practice squad. If the Steelers choose to only keep six players, it will be a battle to see who can stay in Pittsburgh. This list doesn’t even include Abdullah Anderson who signed with the Steelers after playing in one game last season with the Minnesota Vikings, as well as 2020 practice squad players Calvin Taylor and Demarcus Christmas.

As for looking at this position in the draft, with it being a very weak class along with any new player fighting for playing time as the starters seem to be pretty locked in, it wouldn’t be in the Steelers best interest to add a defensive tackle this year. If they were use high draft capital, the player is likely going to end up only with a rotational spot and the Steelers should use their top picks to help fill other needs. If they decided to pick up another defensive tackle late, they run the risk of being lost in the crowd. When looking at the Steelers roster at this point, the interior defensive line may be the most productive at the top as well as having quality depth way down the chart more than any other position group.

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