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A 12-year history of Steelers drafts under Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 7:55am

We take a look back at the Steelers draft history since Mike Tomlin took over the team in 2007.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers announce their opening selection of the 2019 NFL Draft in just over a week, it will be the 13th time the partnership of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert has led the Steelers in this annual selection process. Dating back to 2007, the two men have chosen 98 prospects from 61 different colleges, taking a player every available position with the exception of kicker.

And while there is no consensus name mocked to the Steelers this year, with expert projections generally split between linebacker and cornerback, history teaches us that there are some positions that are more likely to be drafted others this year.

With the exception of 2008 and 2018, Tomlin and Colbert have taken at least one cornerback every year, making it their most drafted position so far with 14 selections overall. Another wide receiver is also a near certainty, with 2011 the only year the duo failed to pick one. James Washington became the 13th receiver chosen last year.

Taking another linebacker should also be a given, even if it did not happen in 2018. The only other time the pair did not select one was in 2009, with double-dipping at the position something of a regularity. A total of 19 linebackers have been drafted since 2007, split between 11 outside linebacker and eight inside linebackers.

Selecting an offensive tackle appears to have become a biennial event as of late, suggesting the Steelers should be in a off year in 2019 having taken Chukwuma Okorafor last year. Guards and centers rarely seem to get a look in these days, with just five in total ever having been chosen by Tomlin and Colbert, the last being David DeCastro in 2012.

Much like the drafting of offensive tackles, selecting a defensive tackle generally appears to occur every other year, with the upcoming draft an off year once again. However, it is perhaps worth noting that the 2018 pick of Joshua Frazier did not stick. Defensive end has barely figured since the Steelers took Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in back-to-back seasons and that is unlikely to change this year.

Until recently, quarterback had rarely been on the Steelers radar, but it is assumed they have more than enough options at the position for now. A special teams players is also highly unlikely given their history, although someone did think it was a good idea to draft a long snapper just a few seasons ago, so maybe nothing should be discounted.

It has been a few years since Tomlin and Colbert took a tight end, but a lack of depth on the roster seems to indicate they might be forced to break that habit in 2019. A running back should be on the cards too if recent trends hold true. Once a position that saw a player picked annually, the arrival of Le’Veon Bell effectively put an end to that practice until it became clear he might not be staying in 2017. Nine running backs selected in 12 years makes it the fourth most drafted position by Tomlin and Colbert.

The full list of names selected by the Steelers since 2007:

Colleges and conferences the Steelers tend to draft from the most

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 6:43am

The Stat Geek looks at college, conference, and coach pertaining to Steelers draft picks.

Do you have a statistics question (either large or small) about the Steelers or NFL football? Send them in to BTSC’s stat geek at STLRSuperFanDad@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can find.

In this installment, the Steelers trends in regards to schools and conferences during the NFL draft is discussed.

Keith Miller from Waynesville, NC (Originally from Clairton)

Do the Steelers have any team, conference or coach that they historically favor in the draft? Is there a smaller conference from which they draft disproportionately?

As for the three parts of the first question, they are pretty much all along the same lines: Ohio State, the Big Ten, and (most likely) Urban Meyer. Now to explain...

College

First of all, our time frame has to be established. The year 2000 is a great starting point since it was the year Kevin Colbert became the general manager. In that time, Steelers have drafted eight players out of Ohio State, three of which were first round selections: Santonio Holmes in 2006, Cameron Heyward in 2011, and Ryan Shazier in 2014.

Since 2000, Ohio State is the only school from which the Steelers have drafted more than one player in the first round. It is also of note that the Steelers have not drafted a player out of Ohio State since Doran Grant in 2015. The longest stretch under Kevin Colbert where the Steelers have not drafted an Ohio State Buckeye was from 2001 to 2006.

As for other schools from which the Steelers have chosen a number of players since 2000, Florida State is next on the list with six. In a three-way tie for third is Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee all out of the SEC. Of all these schools, Tennessee is the only one in which the Steelers did not have a first round selection. Notoriously absent from this list is football powerhouses Alabama and LSU, each of which only have one selection by the Steelers since 2000 coming on day three of the draft.

Conference

When it comes to the conference for the Steelers gravitate towards, things get a little hazy. There are two factors involved – which conference the player drafted was a part of at the time they were drafted, or what conference is that school associated with now? For example, the Steelers have drafted 29 players who came out of the Big Ten at the time they were drafted, but there are 31 players who attended schools who are now currently in the Big Ten. Players from both Nebraska and Rutgers were drafted by the Steelers before those schools joined the Big Ten in 2010 and 2014 respectively.

Here are the number of players chosen by the Steelers from the five “Power Five” conferences AT THE TIME OF THEIR SELECTION:

Big Ten: 29

SEC: 25

ACC: 22

PAC-12: 19

Big 12: 15

If you are more concerned about where the schools are currently aligned, here are the picks the Steelers have made from schools in each of the Power Five conferences NOW:

Big Ten: 31

SEC: 28

ACC: 28

PAC-12: 23

Big 12: 13

With the exception of the Big 12, the Power Five conferences have been expanding to include more teams. The most recent factor came into play when there was a major realignment with the Big East dissolving as a football conference in 2013.

Steelers first round picks have come from these five conferences in all but one season under Kevin Colbert. While the Big Ten leads away with six first rounders, the SEC and ACC each produced four first-round selections for the Steelers while the Pac-12 and Big 12 each had two first-round picks.

While the Power Five conferences produce a lot of NFL players, the Steelers have selected at least one player in every draft since 2008 that did not come from one of these current schools. The most notable is the Steelers only first round pick from a non-Power Five conference since 2000: Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (OH) in 2004.

Coaches

As for any particular head coach where the Steelers have drafted the most of their players, I did a lot of research and compilation to no avail in finding a definitive answer. I am assuming the seven players I found drafted by the Steelers who played for Urban Meyer at some point (2 from Ohio State, 4 from Florida, and 1 from Utah) would lead the way. The reason this is so difficult to figure out for sure is because players sometimes played for multiple coaches while in college. For example, Ryan Shazier played for Urban Meyer while at Ohio State, but he was not his head coach his first year.

Smaller Conferences

Now for the question about smaller conferences: the Steelers have drafted more players out of the MAC (9) than any other small conference since 2000. The American Athletic Conference also has nine Steelers draft selections from schools currently in their conference, but since its predecessor (the Big East) was considered a “power conference” under the BCS system, it is hard to label it as being “small.”

As for the Steeler selections out of the MAC, Ben Roethlisberger is the only selection in either of the first two rounds. Generally late-round selections, the Steelers have drafted two players each from Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Kent State. Other than Rothlisberger, Chuks Okorafor and Keon Adams are current draft picks from the MAC still on the roster, with Antonio Brown and L.T. Walton being a part of the 2018 Steelers.

For 2019

If using this information to predict what the Steelers might do in the 2018 draft, the safest bet for the first-round pick would be an underclassman from a Power Five conference. The reason an underclassman is the safest bet is because 13 of Colbert‘s first round picks have entered the NFL draft early. As for the later rounds, definitely look for the Steelers to find at least one player from a small conference who they think could make an impact at the NFL level.

Podcast: Is Steelers Nation too spoiled to really enjoy being fans anymore?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 5:38am

Discuss all things Steelers and beyond as BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo comment on the latest news of the Steeler Nation,

Steeler fans are passionate and follow their team better than most in the NFL. With the Steelers great history of winning the past 48 seasons, the fan base has been so accustomed to winning, anything less than a Lombardi is dissatisfying. With the #fireTomlin debate cropping up on this site over the weekend, one wonders just what short of a Lombardi trophy could satisfy Steeler fans. Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”. They will discuss this burning question and much more. As always, Tony and Bryan have plenty to discuss with help from Steeler Nation. Join us by calling

Check out a rundown of the show:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • Tony discusses his column from the past weekend.
  • Is Steeler Nation too spoiled to really enjoy being fans anymore?Looking ahead
  • and MUCH MORE!

You can get all episodes on the following platforms:

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

Black and Gold Links: For most of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, it is back to work

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 4:28am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the current members have started Phase One of the offseason program.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The boys are back in town...sort of.

Haden: ‘It’s time to get going’

By: Teresa Varely, Steelers.com

“It’s like the first day of school, like when you have your clothes laid out for school ready to go,” said Donte Moncrief. “I was ready to go this morning. My alarm went off. I jumped out of bed. I was ready to be here and happy to get going.”

And he wasn’t the only one. You could just see the excitement with the hugs as teammates greeted each other after being apart for over three months. And the genuine affection as they welcomed new players, like Moncrief who signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Phase One of the offseason program is underway and players were back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the voluntary program, with veterans setting a prime example by being there on day one.

Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward, and Alejandro Villanueva, just to name a few, were among those there to kick things off on Monday morning.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Remember when Antonio Brown threw furniture off the balcony of his Florida home? That supposedly has reached a settlement.

Antonio Brown settles Florida furniture-throwing lawsuit

By: Paul Guggenheimer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has settled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed his child was nearly hit by furniture that Brown allegedly threw off a balcony.

Brown had sought to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“The parties have reached an agreement, and everybody is pleased,” said Alan Kluger, the attorney representing Ophir Sternberg, who sued Brown.

Details of the settlement are confidential.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Sometimes things just work out in the craziness of the NFL Draft

Draft worked out perfectly for Heyward

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Cameron Heyward shares what the NFL Draft was like for him.

“The experience with the Combine, as much as it wasn’t physical because I couldn’t do the drills, it’s mentally draining as you are portraying your message, what you are about, that you are a student of the game, your aspirations and what you want to do in the game and how you are going to do that.

“I met with almost every team. There are about five hours of sleep in the three days. It was a whirlwind. I am just happy my meeting with the Steelers went as well as it did. The thing that stood out about the meeting with the Steelers, it wasn’t about football. It was getting a chance to sit down and talk to me, about my family, my rich tradition with the City of Pittsburgh. It was a chance to get to know each other. It was more relaxed. In other meetings I was all over the place, but with the Steelers I felt at home.

“I would say it is always refreshing to talk to a team you idolized all of your life. That interview was made for me so I wanted to knock it out of the park.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Phase One. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/enjQaLjMVr

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 15, 2019

Guess who's back
back again.
Football's back
Tell a friend. pic.twitter.com/dc6PMDfzQA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 15, 2019

Rise and grind

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) April 15, 2019

Two things for certain...taxes and football! It’s time. #HereWeGo#MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/csCqNj4K0m

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) April 15, 2019

Round 3 of Steelers March Madness: Featuring No. 5 seed 2010 vs. No. 4 seed 1994

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 2:05pm

Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. Who do you consider the “Best of the Rest” between the 1994 Steelers and the 2010 edition?

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you voted the dominating 1976 defensive-led Steelers over the No. 1 seeded 2004 team that went 15-1 as a rookie QB set records. 1976 heads to the finals. Here’s the final tally.

No. 1 Seed: 2004 The Ben-ginning of a new era - 21% No. 8 Seed: 1976 - The Steel Curtain Defense at their highest level - 71%

As we head into the second matchup of the semifinals, the No. 5 seeded 2010 team that fell behind 21-3 to Green Bay before mounting a furious comeback that fell short against the 3-yards shy team of 1994. Be sure to vote for the team that remains the most memorable to you or the one you feel is simply the “best of the rest”. Your choice. Be sure to wax poetically in the comment section below.

No. 6 Seed: 1994 (12-4) Not Quite 60-Minute Men

The third season of Bill Cowher’s tenure seemed to have the ingredients of a team to turn the corner. Barry Foster was back and seemed healthy, Neil O’Donnell was seemingly in command of the offense and the defense with Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake, Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene looked to be the epitome of dominance. They also added a good bit of talent in the draft with names like Charles Johnson, Brentson Buckner, Jason Gildon, Bam Morris and Myron Bell. The season started on a sour note in a home loss to Dallas. In fact a 2-2 record wasn’t the beginning that Steeler Nation desired, but wins in 10 of the next 11 turned sour to sweet. Leading the way for the Steelers that year were O’Donnell, Foster (851 yards/5 TDs), Morris (836 yards/7 TDs), Charles Johnson (577 yards), Eric Green (618 yards/4 TDs), Chad Brown (8.5 sacks), Ray Seals (7 sacks), Kevin Greene (14 sacks), Lloyd (8.5 sacks), Darren Perry (7 INTs) and Woodson (4 INTs). The signature win came in the playoffs against Bill Belichick, Vinny Testeverde and the Cleveland Browns to the tune of 29-9. With spirits high and being favorites to go to their first Super Bowl in 15 years, the Steelers welcomed the San Diego Chargers and may have looked right past them. Seals organized the infamous “60 Minute Men” video and players seemed more concerned about SB tickets for friends and family. Up 13-3 in the third, the Chargers scored twice on passes of 43 yards from Stan Humphries to Alfred Pupunu and Tony Martin. Starring for the Chargers that day was Junior Seau with 15 tackles. But with a 4th and Goal on the three, No. 14’s pass to Foster was batted away in the end zone and Steeler Nation felt despair as a very strong team fell three-yards shy and couldn’t go 60 minutes to win the conference. 1994 would be the final seasons of Barry Foster and Eric Green in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform.

Pro Bowlers: Dermontti Dawson, Eric Green, Kevin Greene, Duval Love, Carnell Lake, Greg Lloyd and Rod Woodson

First-Team All Pros: Dermontti Dawson, Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd and Rod Woodson

Second-Team All Pros: Carnell Lake

Team MVP: Greg Lloyd

No. 1 Draft Pick: Charles Johnson

Rookie of the Year: Byron “Bam” Morris

No. 5 Seed: 2010 (12-4) Slipping on the Stairway to Seven

Pittsburgh’s dynastic chances took a hit in 2009 after the Super Bowl victory in the 2008 campaign, but 2010 was supposed to be the chance to rectify that. It started off very unlikely in the offseason when Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the season because of substance abuse, freaked out on a plane and was subsequently traded to the New York Jets for a fifth rounder. Ben Roethlisberger received a six-game ban (later reduced to four) for an alleged sexual assault in Milledgeville, GA in which he was not charged. 2010 also saw the departures of RB Willie Parker, CB Deshea Townsend and S Tyrone Carter and the return of LB Larry Foote, CB Bryant McFadden and WR Antwaan Randle-El. The team’s biggest performances came courtesy of Ben, Mike Wallace (1,257 receiving yards/10 TDs), Rashard Mendenhall (1,273 rushing yards/13 TDs), James Harrison (10.5 sacks), LaMarr Woodley (10 sacks) and Troy Polamalu (7 INTs and NFL Defensive Player of the Year). The season began with Dennis Dixon behind center in a victory vs. Atlanta. It was won when Mendenhall galloped 50 yards in OT for a score. The next week saw Charlie Batch take over for Dixon in a win that saw Antonio Brown take the opening kick 89 yards for a score. After a 3-1 start, Ben returned in Week 5 and went 9-3 in the final three quarter of the campaign. The signature win came in Week 13 against the team that they battled neck-and-neck for the division all year, the Baltimore Ravens. No. 7, booted-up with a broken foot, suffered a gruesome nose break in the game. Trailing 10-6 late in the fourth, LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu teamed up with a sack and recovery of Flacco. Roethlisberger found Isaac Redman for a nine-yard score and the win. In the playoffs, they came from behind 14 points vs. Baltimore to win 31-24. In the AFCCG, the Steelers bested Santonio Holmes and the Jets to reach the Super Bowl. In their eighth SB, Ben threw an ugly pick-six and Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were one step ahead of the secondary and shot the Pack out to an 18-point lead in Q2. But the Steelers mounted a furious comeback and were driving for the lead late in the fourth. However, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled and (after a GB FG) a last minute comeback was suffocated by the Green Bay defense and the Steelers fell in their most-recent SB.

Pro Bowlers: James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey

First-Team All Pros: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu

Second-Team All Pros: Maurkice Pouncey

Team MVP: Troy Polamalu

No. 1 Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey

Rookie of the Year: Maurkice Pouncey

Both teams had fantastic and forceful defensive units. One team made it to the big game, while the other fell flat in the Super Bowl. Who will join 1976 in the finale? Please vote and comment below.

Check back Wednesday for the results and the championship matchup.

Steelers host Maryland RB Ty Johnson and Murray State LB Quincy Williams on pre-draft visit Monday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 12:15pm

With time running out to bring players to Pittsburgh ahead of the presumed league deadline of Wednesday, the Steelers welcome two more names to team facilities on Monday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are close to having met with their limit pre-draft visitors in 2019 after they hosted two more names in the Steel City on Monday, with Maryland running back Ty Johnson and Murray State linebacker Quincy Williams the latest to be welcomed to team facilities.

The #Steelers pre-draft visitors for April 15: RB Ty Johnson from Marylnd and LB Quincy Williams from Murray State

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) April 15, 2019

Johnson amassed 2,635 yards from 348 carries and scored 17 rushing touchdowns in four season at Maryland and also recorded 29 receptions for 318 yards and two scores. As a kick returner, he recorded 1,194 yards on 48 kickoffs for average of 24.9 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

At just under 5-foot-11 and only 228-pounds, many teams will overlook Williams in the upcoming draft and it should come as no surprise to learn that there is very little information about the prospect available online either. In 43 games with Murray State, Williams recorded 231 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

The Steelers have now officially used 28 of their 30 allocated visits, with Dravon Askew-Henry, David Long and Miles Sanders all considered local visitors who do not count against their allowance. A scouting report for Johnson can be found below, along with a highlight video for both players.

RB, Ty Johnson, Maryland

Scouting report from Ben Solak of The Draft Network.

“Ty Johnson lost his hold on the starting job this season, as new players and a new coaching staff were introduced to Maryland, but his film remains intriguing for a late-round flyer. With strong returning experience, a decent foundation of receiving traits, and home-run speed, Johnson can stick on an NFL roster because he has the ability to house designed space touches.”

“That said, as a traditional runner, Johnson is lacking in a lot of crucial areas. He needs a downhill path of approach yet can’t be asked to do much between the tackles, because his ability to read blockers and work with tempo and patience is severely lacking. Very college-y offenses will get the most out of Johnson, by putting defenders in conflict and creating wide-open lanes for him to read. He’s a niche player, but could prove a valuable one.”

LB, Quincey Williams, Murray State

Interview with Draft Diamonds.

2019 NFL Draft: The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock, but who should they take?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 10:50am

It’s time to make a pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in our 2019 Community Mock Draft

...the pick is in.

With the 19th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select T.J. Hockenson TE from Iowa

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now on the clock...

Team Needs: ILB/CB/ TE/EDGE/WR

2018 NFL Draft Selections

1 (28) Terrell Edmunds, s, Virginia Tech.

2 (60) James Washington, wr, Oklahoma State.

3 (76) Mason Rudolph, qb, Oklahoma State.

3 (92) Chukwuma Okorafor, ot, Western Michigan.

5 (148) Marcus Allen, s, Penn State.

5 (165) Jaylen Samuels, te, NC State.

7 (246) Joshua Frazier, dt, Alabama

2019 NFL Draft Selections and Order

Pick 1 - Arizona Cardinal Nick Bosa Edge Ohio State

Pick 2 - San Francisco 49ers Josh Allen Edge Kentucky

Pick 3 - New York Jets Jonah Williams OT Alabama

Pick 4 - Oakland Raiders Quinnen Williams IDL Alabama

Pick 5 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Greedy Williams CB LSU

Pick 6 - New York Giants Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State

Pick 7 - Jacksonville Jaguars Drew Lock QB Missouri

Pick 8 - Detroit Lions Clelin Ferrell Edge Clemson

Pick 9 - Buffalo Bills Ed Oliver IDL Houston

Pick 10 - Denver Broncos Devin White ILB LSU

Pick 11 - Cincinnati Bengals Cody Ford OT Oklahoma

Pick 12 - Green Bay Packers Jachai Polite Edge Florida

Pick 13 - Miami Dolphins Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma

Pick 14 - Atlanta Falcons Montez Sweat Edge Mississippi St.

Pick 15 - Washington Redskins D.K. Metcalf WR Mississippi

Pick 16 - Carolina Panthers Rashan Gary Edge/IDL Michigan

Pick 17 - New York Giants Brian Burns Edge Florida State

Pick 18 - Minnesota Vikings Jawaan Taylor OT Florida

Pick 19 - Tennessee Titans T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa

Note: For those that may vote “other”, let us know who you would have picked. If its a trade scenario fill us in on what you are thinking.

2019 might be the draft where the Steelers finally get their cornerback

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 9:20am

Unlike previous years, it looks like the Steelers will have their pick of cornerbacks when their time in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft comes around on April 25.

The 2019 NFL Draft is fast-approaching, and, unlike in years past, the Steelers might actually have their pick of cornerbacks when the 20th pick of the first round (their pick) finally comes around on the evening of Thursday, April 25.

Isn’t life rather ironic? After years of needing a really good cornerback in the draft, only to be just out of arm’s reach of even the best of the rest, Pittsburgh may actually have to take all of its allotted time to decide which first-round caliber corner it should choose.

I say it’s ironic, only because the Steelers just signed free agent Steven Nelson, who will join the very capable Joe Haden in hopefully bringing stability to the position in 2019.

If it were up to me, I’d take Michigan’s Devin Bush, an inside linebacker, and a selection that would address arguably the team’s top need. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me. It likely won’t be up to the Steelers either, since Bush isn’t expected to last past the first half of the first round.

Receiver is certainly an option, with many mock drafts projecting more than a few going right before, during or after the Steelers first pick. Even tight end is on the table, with T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant—both Iowa alums—floating around the middle of the first round of the majority of mock drafts.

But cornerback just “feels” like the pick this year. Who should it be? I guess it all depends on who you ask (just like any other position, of course). LSU’s Greedy Williams seems to have the best physical tools and highest grade—“Should become instant starter,” says NFL.com’s profile on him. As for Washington’s Bryon Murphy, while his NFL.com draft grade is slightly lower—“Chance to become a starter”—he appears to be gaining momentum as a favorite to land in Pittsburgh. How about Georgia’s Deandre Baker, a player with physical attributes—and an NFL.com profile grade—similar to Murphy?

It’s hard to get a read on Baker, which may or may not make him the favorite to be the Steelers next draft pick. But if I had to put odds on it, I’d go Baker number one, Murphy number two and Williams number three in terms of the cornerback the Steelers are likely to take at 20.

I base this on nothing, other than this is usually how it works for the Steelers come draft time. Williams figures to be the favorite to not be on the board, thanks to his aforementioned physical tools that include 4.3 speed and a 6-2, 185 pound frame. As for Murphy, he seems to be this year’s William Jackson III, a corner whose stock is quickly rising.

That makes Baker the favorite as far as I’m concerned. Only, unlike the Artie Burns selection in 2016, a pick that now looks like an epic reach three years later, Baker may actually make sense at number 20.

Will he be any good? How about the other two? Do any of them make sense when talking about the Steelers defensive schemes?

One more question, is corner really the best option when all the needs are examined? Don't forget, Haden will be a free agent after this season.

At any rate, these are questions we may be asking in about 10 days. The Steelers, it would appear, will have some questions of their own to ask on April 25--both involving the same position: Should they draft a corner? And which one should should they take?

2019 NFL Draft: A case for the Steelers to not draft an inside linebacker in the first round

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 7:59am

Everyone wants the Steelers to trade the farm to pick an ILB in the upcoming draft. But what if them avoiding this would be beneficial?

No doubt many of the BTSC faithful will be shocked at reading this headline and seeing the article comes from me. I have thundered the boards for years for the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft an inside linebacker high in the draft. General manager Kevin Colbert keeps dashing my hopes year after year and the Steelers defense pays the price. Tight ends, running backs and slot wideouts keep getting easy yardage against the Steelers poor covering inside linebackers.

So what has changed? The situation with the Steelers current inside linebacker crew, and it is not because I love them.

Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, after struggling early in his career in coverage, was finally rounding the corner when he was hurt in 2017. His paired mate at linebacker, Vince Williams, has always been a liability in coverage and was torn to shreds last season. Pittsburgh asked Williams to play over 80% of the snaps in seven of the 14 games he played in.

Jon Bostic and L.J. Fort played their fair share of coverage snaps and neither was consistent enough to be counted upon. Bostic remains in a backup role, while Fort has moved on.

Rolling into 2019, the Los Angeles Rams cap casualty, Mark Barron looks to solidify the inside linebacker role. While his recent Pro Football Focus grades and tape are ugly, his salary should prohibit Pittsburgh from sitting him in 2019 or cutting him or having him as a backup in 2020. Just like Williams, The duo may end up being the starters, through thick and thin the next two seasons.

Even if one of the Devins are available at pick No. 20, which most “draft experts” do not think will happen, how does Colbert justify restructuring Williams and signing Barron to deals that make them too expensive to be backups in 2019 and too expensive to cut?

Both will count over $3.8 million in 2019, hefty money for backups on a cap-strapped Steelers team. How does Colbert try to get fans on board with using a first rounder on a guy with no clear path to being the starter?

Williams carries a 2020 cap hit of $7 million with over $6 million in dead cap if Pittsburgh were to move on. Barron’s cap hit is over $8 million while carrying a $2.8 dead money cap hit if cut. There is no way if they are both still with the Steelers in 2020 that either would make sense to be backups.

Whose cap hit does the team eat in 2020 to get the rookie on the field? Or does he actually sit for two whole seasons?

The Steelers are under the 2020 cap by over $58 million. So who cares about $2.8 million in dead money? There are seven current starters who are free agents in one form or another who are not counting toward that total. One of those mouths to feed will be a very expensive Ben Roethlisberger.

The other aspect that comes into play, is would a rookie inside linebacker play even if he acclimates to the NFL? First and second down are probably not happening because of two expensive veterans atop the depth chart, right? Third down would be the most likely scenario. If the rookie would become the Steelers dime backer, who would have the green dot and call the plays? Is defensive coordinator Keith Butler going to leave that task up to a rookie? For much of the 2019 season, Williams remained on the field as he communicated the plays and set the adjustments. Butler used T.J. Watt in coverage over 100 times last season so Williams would not be a liability in coverage. Would the team change the scheme so drastically to get a rookie on the field?

I am absolutely baffled why the Steelers felt the need to restructure Williams in the first place. Terrible in coverage and only average stopping the run. I have bashed VW mercilessly for three years now, and after the restructure it is hard to see him not in the starting lineup the next two seasons.

Many were excited by the acquisition of Barron. Not me. Not with his struggles the past two seasons. Barron is not the same player who was stuffing the stat sheet four years ago with quality plays. But what if he rekindles his career? How does he sit in 2020? (Not holding my breath.)

If Colbert did not restructure VW or bring in Barron, I would be solidly on the inside linebacker train. There is little room for such a player to play now in 2019. The Steelers do not need a special teamer with huge draft capital eating up 200 snaps this season. That would give the team only two seasons to evaluate to see if the player was worth spending a lot of money on a fifth year or extension. The team needs a first-round selection who will be a difference maker this season. For a team that has not finished the postseason with a win since 2008.

Podcast: The Steelers focus in the NFL Draft might surprise you

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 5:33am

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Should the Steelers focus on offense or defense in the NFL Draft?
  • Build your prototypical Steelers CB
  • Ramon Foster’s comments
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams 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.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Have the right answer to the trivia question? Send Dave Schofield an email with your answer! stlrsuperfandad@gmail.com

Black and Gold Links: The Steelers can’t afford to overlook tight end in this year’s NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 4:31am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers need to remember tight end during this year’s 2019 NFL Draft to add to their depth at the position.

Let’s get to the news:

  • While everyone is talking about cornerbacks, inside linebackers and wide receivers, you can’t forget about tight ends. After all, the Steelers really only have Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble currently on their depth chart.

NFL Draft: Free agency makes tight end a need

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

He hasn’t gotten to the point where fans chant his name yet after every catch -- maybe because his first name doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “Heath -- but Steelers tight end Vance McDonald has established himself as a fan favorite with his physical style of play.

He’s easily the team’s best tight end since the beloved Heath Miller roamed opposing secondaries.

But it’s that same physical style of play that also causes McDonald to get nicked up at times. And that became an interesting proposition for the Steelers when No. 2 tight end Jesse James was signed by the Lions to a four-year, $22.6-million contract in free agency earlier this year.

With James gone and McDonald’s injury history -- he missed at least one game in each of his six NFL seasons -- the Steelers have a hole at their backup tight end position.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Getting the player you want in the first round of the NFL Draft is tough. In fact, it takes luck...

Labriola on getting lucky in Round 1

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

All of that work, and then sometimes a team’s fate on draft day comes down to pure unadulterated luck. Or to put it more accurately, pure unadulterated stupidity by another team or teams when it finally comes down to the actual picking.

Take 1987 for example. If Steelers fans think this current group is in need of an injection of talent at cornerback, go back and peruse that 1986 roister. John Swain and Harvey Clayton were the primary starters at cornerback, and the “depth” was provided by the likes of Donnie Elder, Chris Sheffield, and Lupe Sanchez.

During a season in which only six NFL quarterbacks completed 60 percent of their passes, the Steelers defense allowed opponents to complete 58 percent, and their 22 touchdown passes allowed ranked in the bottom third of the league. Ah, but there seemed to be light at the end of this dark tunnel, because their 6-10 record in 1986 earned the Steelers the 10th overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, and that exercise surely would provide them the opportunity to add reinforcements.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers are looking hard at the CB position in the upcoming draft, but are people forgetting about Brian Allen?

Allen focused on a tough task

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Allen laughed, knowing saying getting quicker and faster is easy to say, but not necessarily the easiest thing to do.

“I went back to California and worked with my trainer,” said Allen. “Work on getting in and out of breaks faster. A lot of band work, resistance work, jump rope work. Things to get my lower body stronger and keep my pad level down.

“I need to work on my strengths, my physical side. Just getting quicker and faster. Doing the things that set me apart. Show my skill set that is different than the other guys we have.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

#HappyBirthday | @joehaden23 pic.twitter.com/kmMLI7Y8NK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 14, 2019

Everybody needs some #GoodJuJu in their life pic.twitter.com/q1BsGLFH6q

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) April 14, 2019

Steelers NFL Draft Flashback: Scouting Ben Roethlisberger

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 1:51pm

We take a look back at the scouting reports written about Ben Roethlisberger ahead of the 2004 NFL Draft.

In a flashback to the 2004 NFL Draft, we take a look at how Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was rated by the experts that year, and how accurate their projections about him really were.

Reviewing many of the scouting reports written about him at the time, it is rather easy to see why the Steelers were attracted to him, even if some in the local Pittsburgh media had their doubts about the team’s real interest ahead of the draft. This coming from an an archive on BigBen7.com of a report from Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette entitled “Is QB Philip Rivers on top of Steelers list?

“When the Steelers revealed the names of a couple of quarterbacks who have accepted invitations to visit their facility next week, one name stuck out for not being on the list.”

“Ben Roethlisberger of Miami (Ohio) and Tulane’s J.P. Losman are among 20 college prospects who will come to Pittsburgh to be evaluated for the draft. Philip Rivers of North Carolina State will not.”

“It’s a smokescreen,” one NFL general manager said yesterday at the league meetings. “Rivers is the guy they want.”

The Steelers have the 11th overall pick in the draft and Rivers is said by many to be the quarterback they are targeting.

“We want to bring people in we realistically think we have a chance to get,” Colbert said. “We’re not going to bring people in we don’t think we have a chance to get.”

“Why Roethlisberger and not Rivers?”

“We may have a realistic chance to get him,” Colbert said.”

Most experts had Eli Manning ranked as the best quarterback available that year, with Roethlisberger generally viewed as the consensus No.2 over Rivers. However, this reprinted article from the Sporting News in 2004 was not 100-percent sure that Manning was the better player.

This mock draft from The Sporting News on April 7, 2004, has Manning going No.1 to the San Diego Chargers, Roethlisberger No. 3 to the Arizona Cardinals, Rivers dropping all the way to No.20 and the Miami Dolphins and the Steelers ending up with Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones at No.11. Ew!

And unlike many of the young quarterbacks of today, Roethlisberger actually threw the ball at the NFL Scouting Combine when he went.

Thankfully, things ended up a little bit differently and the rest is history, with several of these scouting reports painting a fairly accurate picture of the quarterback Roethlisberger would become.

Scouting report from NFL.com

Positives: Tall, mobile passer with long arms, thick legs and good quickness, balance and change-of-direction agility … Shows good fluidity and quickness in his pass set … Very good at reading defenses, showing patience and the ability to pick apart zones … Has an above-average, snappy release and excellent arm strength … Generates good velocity behind his deep tosses and is equally accurate throwing from the pocket or on the move … Shows great poise in the pocket and is never rattled by pressure … While he does not have blazing speed to escape, he does show good mobility to roll away from the rush and step up to avoid the sack … Has the powerful leg drive needed to break tackles and move the chains when running with the ball … Has a compact throwing motion and excellent touch (knows when to take something off the ball, when needed) … Has a fluid over-the-top throwing motion and shows consistency throwing from the opposite hash … Will sit in and take a hit vs. the blitz, yet still make the proper throw … Would look to run at the first sign of pressure earlier in his career, but over the years, has settled down, showing patience in the pocket while trying to locate his secondary targets … Effective emergency punter who does a nice job of angling his kicks toward the sidelines.

Negatives: Puts nice zip behind his passes, but his long ball will wobble at times (throws better from the right hash than left) … Needs to put some air under the ball when his receivers break open … Shows patience in the pocket but will try hard to make the play, resulting in throwing into coverage at times … Loses sight of his deep receivers when rolling out and on bootlegs … Despite his speed, he is not a great runner, relying more on overpowering the defender rather than eluding him … His deep tosses will sometimes take off at a low trajectory and high velocity … While he is quick to pick up the blitz, he needs to improve a little on reading zone coverage (needs to do more play action and misdirection, but shows confidence when his receivers work in man coverage, as opposed to the zone).

This scouting report from the Sports Forecaster projected Roethlisberger’s long-term future as a “star veteran big-game quarterback”, providing this analysis:

“Calm under pressure. Has a great arm and can make all the throws, including an accurate deep ball with superb timing. Highly instinctive and creative: can make things happen when the play breaks down, improvises very well, and makes it hard for tacklers to bring him down. Not mobile and takes too long waiting in the pocket for ideal target situations to unfold; gets sacked too much as a result (contributing to his durability issues). Still throws too many pickoffs. Has been in a worrisome amount of off-field trouble.”

From James Alder, NFL Draft expert at AboutFootball.com.

“Positives –

Ben Roethlisberger has everything you look for in a franchise quarterback. He’s got the big arm, but he also has excellent accuracy (69.1%) and nice touch. He is a pure pocket passer with excellent size and he moves around in the pocket well. He also has great escapability, often making the first defender miss. He also throws with incredible accuracy on the run… especially for a player his size.”

“Negatives –

There’s not much to dislike about Roethlisberger’s game. The only knock on him is that he played in the MAC, but with guys like Pennington and Leftwich coming out of the conference in recent years, I doubt his draft status will be adversely affected.”

From Sports Illustrated‘s NFL Draft Experts.

“Positives – Big-armed pocket passer with the ability to grow into a franchise quarterback. Sets up to deliver the ball with solid footwork, stands strong in the pocket and smart. Sells the ball fakes, scans the field and consistently finds the open pass-catcher. Senses the rush yet buys as much time as possible, waiting for the last second before releasing the ball. Rarely panics, in complete control of the offense and a true leader behind center. Natural looking off the safety, throws with a fluid over delivery and possesses a big arm. Drives deep passes downfield, puts zip on the intermediate routes as well as velocity on all his throws. Throws tight spirals and beautifully arches deep throws. Leads receivers over the middle and very accurate. Gets outside tackle and accurate passing on the move. Does not make poor decisions and always working to make positive plays.”

“Negatives – A pocket passer with marginal mobility and cannot escape the rush. Must improve his downfield accuracy as well as the placement of the outs. Majority of snaps are taken out of the shotgun.”

And From the late Joe Stein, NFL Draft expert for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“It’s remarkable how far he has come in such a short time. Until his senior year in high school, he was a receiver. Yet, he was talented enough to take the Mid-American Conference by storm. That might not seem like a ringing endorsement on the surface, but remember that the last two MAC quarterbacks to do that were Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, both of whom appear to have bright NFL futures. Roethlisberger, who declared himself eligible for the NFL draft after his junior year, has a good pro arm, is more athletic than Eli Manning and Philip Rivers and sees the field well. Scouts generally believe he has the highest upside of this year’s QB crop, but also represents the greatest risk because of his limited experience.”

In hindsight, it is hard to imagine that the Giants and Chargers would not like to have a do-over on their selections for that year.

A Letter From The Editor: Should the Steelers focus be on offense, or defense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 11:38am

With the NFL Draft on the horizon, it makes me wonder if in today’s NFL the focus should be on offense, or defense?

Since I started writing this weekly article, many fans have been very against my views. This is fine, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, as am I. With that said, I’m sure today’s article will certainly cause some discussion regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers’ approach to the 2019 NFL Draft.

Today I find myself wondering what carries more importance to the Steelers as they approach the draft. Offense? Or Defense?

For the football purists out there, this answer is almost always defense. After all, defense wins championships, right? The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles would disagree, but the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams last year showed how important having a competent defense can be to helping you succeed.

In the same breath, there are those who understand how the game of football is evolving, and it is evolving into an offensive game. The ability to post more than 20 points a game is something which almost feels like a necessity in this modern age of football. The rules are so slanted towards the offense, it makes a really good case for offense to take priority.

This truly is the chicken and the egg debate, only in football terms.

When I look at the current 2019 depth chart, I see needs on both side of the football, but one thing I can’t ignore is the dismissal of 15 touchdown receptions. Say what you want about Antonio Brown and his departure from Pittsburgh, but replacing that production won’t necessarily be easy.

As I look at the 2019 defensive depth chart, there are holes, but are they really as significant as many want you to believe? If the Steelers went into the season with Steven Nelson at cornerback, and Mark Barron at inside linebacker, I would already consider that an upgrade over the 2018 version with Coty Sensabaugh and Jon Bostic.

So, in terms of production, I feel the offense has much more ground to make up compared to the defense. Let’s also not forget the defense tied for the NFL lead in sacks last season, so if Barron can be the sideline-to-sideline tackler the team needs in run stopping and Nelson be the aggressive defensive back with an upgrade in ball skills — consider that an improvement.

Offensively the Steelers need to focus on getting their production at least equal to what it was in 2018. Not as easy task, and much of that issue will fall on Randy Fichtner and Ben Roethlisberger to make sure a plan is in place to spread the ball around and utilize one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

Coming full circle, should the focus be on offense or defense in the upcoming draft? Well, when I started the thought process for this article I was certain the answer was defense, but the more I thought, and the more I wrote, I seem to have convinced myself offense isn’t a bad call at all.

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers surprise fans throughout full 7-round projection

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 9:27am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have options in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they surprise their fan base every step of the way in the latest mock draft

With the 2019 NFL Draft just days away, fans of all 32 NFL fan bases are itching to know what players their favorite team will be bringing in throughout the 7-round event. For the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base, they are curious whether the team they follow will keep all of their 10 draft picks, or if trades will be made.

The fine folks at CBS Sports put together a 7-round mock draft, including trades, to give their predictions as to what will take place in Nashville when the picks start flying off the board.

See what they have in store for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who select 20th in the first round:

1, 20 — TE Noah Fant, Iowa

2, 52 — S/CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida

3, 66 — WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State (from OAK)

3, 83 — OLB Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

4, 122 — ILB Tre Lamar, Clemson

5, 141 — G Ben Powers, Oklahoma (from OAK)

5, 169 — RB Travis Homer, Miami (from LAR*)

6, 175 — CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State (from OAK)

6, 192 — to L.A. Rams

6, 207 — to L.A. Rams (from ARI)

7, 219 — TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame (from TB)

I think the Steelers could be looking at inside or outside linebacker at No. 20, but with all the clear Round 1 talent at both positions gone, they pivot to taking a receiving weapon at tight end in Fant. He’s not going to be a blocking option like Jesse James, but he’s a heck of a receiver who makes the offense more dynamic.

The Steelers start Day 2 with one of the excellent second-round options at free safety in Gardner-Johnson, who can also be an option as a slot corner if the defense sees that as a bigger need. There’s enough receiver talent in the top 75 overall that the Steelers should feel comfortable waiting until the third round to take one, and here it’s Butler who slips due to concerns about drops. It’s also possible guys like Kelvin Harmon or J.J. Arecga-Whiteside are available at No. 66. The other third-rounder brings in some edge rush talent in Ximines, a small-schooler who will help the pass rush immediately and could develop into T.J. Watt’s running mate.

Lamar brings great size at inside linebacker and provides the team some depth at a position of need. Powers is probably a reserve option at guard rather than someone who can fill the hole left by Ramon Foster’s eventual departure, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the team pick a starter at the position earlier in the draft instead. The Steelers trade two of their sixth-rounders to get another pick in the fifth for Homer, who can serve as good depth behind Conner and has the ability to function as a starter if needed. Sheffield has the traits to shine but needs to be coached up before being relied upon, while Mack is more depth at tight end.

Having seen what could go down, it is probably a safe assumption if this went down a lot of fans would be shaking their heads. Then again, this wouldn’t be new for the black-and-gold faithful. The fan base was left wondering what was going on when the team selected players like Jarvis Jones, Artie Burns and most recently Terrell Edmunds.

Needless to say, these are just guesses. But if this were to come to fruition, how would you feel about it? Let us know of the 7-round mock draft in the comment section below!

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Needs heading into the 2019 NFL Draft 1.0

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:54am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some major needs, and we put them in order of importance as the team heads into the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have needs, just like every other team, and putting them in order of importance can be tricky. First, you have to identify the most pressing needs on the football team, and the order can certainly be debated based on what you feel is the most important to the team as a whole.

This list is certainly not set in stone, as moves made, and not made, can alter the list. For instance, after the signing of both Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief there is a good chance cornerback and wide receiver could get bumped down the list, regardless of what fans may think of the team’s decision.

With that said, let’s take a look at the 2018 Steelers Team Needs 1.0:

1. Inside Linebacker

I have always felt a defense was like a wheel, and the inside linebacker duo is the hub of the wheel. Everything else, the outside linebackers, defensive line and secondary stem from those two inside linebackers. This is why the loss of Ryan Shazier is still so debilitating to the defense, from top-to-bottom. And this is why I have inside linebacker at the top of the list. Finding someone who isn’t just a run stopper, but a sideline-to-sideline player is paramount this offseason.

2. Cornerback

Yes, the Steelers signed Nelson in free agency, but Joe Haden is not only aging, but set to be a free agent in 2020. This means the Steelers would be wise to take a cornerback early in the draft to help solidify the position not only for 2019, but beyond. The question will now be are there any cornerbacks who could fill that role without the Steelers passing on other players who could fill vacancies on their roster.

3. Wide Receiver

This might be higher on many fans’ lists, but at the same time you have to take a look at the depth chart and wonder where a rookie wide receiver would fit in.

1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
2. James Washington
3. Donte Moncrief
4. Eli Rogers
5. Ryan Switzer

I’m not sold on the Steelers keeping six wide receivers on their 53-man roster, and if they do draft a receiver it likely means another receiver would be cut loose. However, it doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t, couldn’t or won’t draft a wide receiver, but it might not be as high on the list as some other positions out of free agency.

4. Outside Linebacker

It makes me sick to constantly have EDGE rusher and/or Outside Linebacker on these types of lists year after year. For as great as the Steelers have been at drafting wide receivers, they certainly struggle picking edge rushers. The Steelers decided to keep Bud Dupree around, and I don’t see them looking for a pass rusher early in the draft, but if they can grab a pass rush specialist, like Carl Lawson, it would help them on obvious pass rushing downs. The Steelers carried just three outside linebackers the majority of the 2018 season, and a pass rushing specialist could not just add depth, but a new dynamic to the defense.

5. Running Back

James Conner is clearly the starter, and Jaylen Samuels proved enough last season to at least start the season as the backup to Conner. But after that the team doesn’t have much of anything at the running back position. The NFL has proven you can find above average talent at the running back positions in the middle rounds, and this is where the Steelers should be looking to add to their running back depth chart.

...

What positions do you put on the Steelers’ Team Needs list, and how do you rank them? Let us know in the comment section below!

Steelers Stats: Looking at some of the best Steelers draft picks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 6:30am

A compilation of Steelers statistics from myself and from various Tweets over the past week.

Compiling statistics can take hours upon hours in order to find the proper numbers. To save you the trouble, here are some of the best statistics about the Steelers from the past week

I will begin with a few statistics of my own before going on to other various Steeler sources. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @STLRSuperFanDad in order to get some of BTSC’s geekiest stats.

From The Steelers Preview podcast:

The only player drafted by the Steelers in the Kevin Colbert era (2000- present) out of Central Michigan other than Antonio Brown is L.T. Walton in round 6 of the 2015 draft.

Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft by the Steelers, Ricardo Colclough is the only player to ever play in the NFL from Tusculum University.

Since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Steelers in the 1st round of the 2004 NFL draft, the Steelers have drafted 24 receivers (WR or TE) and 21 offensive linemen.

Since drafting Terry Bradshaw first overall in the 1970 NFL draft, the Steelers have had five top 10 draft picks. They were WR Frankie Lewis (8th) in 1971, G John Rienstra (9th) in 1986, DB Rod Woodson (10th) in 1987, RB Tim Worley (7th) in 1989, and WR Plaxico Burress (8th) in 2000.

The Steelers have seven first-round draft picks currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They are Rod Woodson (1987), Lynn Swann (1974), Franco Harris (1972), Terry Bradshaw (1970), Joe Greene (1969), Len Dawson (1957), and Bill Dudley (1942).

The only player drafted by the Steelers in the 6th round or later to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (as a player) is Johnny Unitas, drafted in 1955.

The most games started as a Steeler who was drafted by the team in the 7th round or later is 135 games by L.C. Greenwood, drafted in 1969 in the 10th round.

Now onto some other crazy Steelers stats:

In 2019 Ben Roethlisberger can move from 3rd to 1st in all-time games played as a Steeler. He currently has played in 216 games only behind Hines Ward (217) and Mike Webster (220).

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) April 12, 2019

The lowest #Steelers draft pick to ever play in an NFL game was pick 417 in the 16th round of the 1968 NFL draft. 140 games and 25 TD’s later, Rocky Bleier is one of the most beloved Steeler players of all time.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) April 10, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster is only 2 receptions behind Mike Wallace for the most all-time in Steelers history for a player in their first 3 seasons. That’s correct- first THREE seasons. @TeamJuJu still has another one to play in 2019.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) April 9, 2019

Since the 2004 draft when the #Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger, they have drafted at least one WR every season with the exception of 2011.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) April 6, 2019

The top individual career grade from the last four draft classes in Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/RJm52shAN8

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 13, 2019

T.J. Watt trailed only Von Miller in pass rush grade among edge defenders from Week 10 to the end of the season! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/o3d4tUPzv8

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) April 10, 2019

Cameron Heyward brought it last season for the Steelers pic.twitter.com/cln2mYH9qC

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 10, 2019

Javon Hargrave was impressive in his third year as a pro pic.twitter.com/VMyfs2QnLj

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 5, 2019

Black and Gold Links: Ola Adeniyi out to prove the Steelers don’t need an OLB in the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 5:17am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Ola Adeniyi is hearing the talk of the Steelers needing an OLB in the draft, and is out to prove he is the answer to their edge rusher leads.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The NFL Draftniks are out in full force, and they are saying the Steelers need an OLB in this draft, even if just for depth. Ola Adeniyi is out to prove this is not a position of need...

Adeniyi: ‘It was pretty tough’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

“I am not going to lie to you. It was pretty tough,” said Adeniyi. “When I got the news that I was going on injured reserve I had it in mind this is happening, but I will be back after six weeks or whatever. I put in all of that work and then six weeks comes and you are still on injured reserve. It was frustrating. I just never let it get to me, kept working every day to get better.

“I kept a line of communication with the coaches. I needed that. I talked to a lot of players. The outside linebackers kept me up. I never felt I was lost. I had people to talk to. I had support.”

There were times while his teammates were practicing all Adeniyi could do is work on his rehab. No football activities, just getting in shape and ready to return. And while he did his best to keep that positive mindset, it had its moments.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Are the Cleveland Browns really going to be a different team in 2019? Some suggest we all need to pump the brakes on this train of thought.

Labriola on drastic changes forecast for the North

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

After almost 20 years of complete ineptitude since returning to the NFL for the 1999 NFL season following Art Modell’s move to Baltimore over a dispute with the city concerning the dump that was Cleveland Stadium, the Browns are back. Well, not exactly, not entirely, and not officially, but the attitude among certain factions of the media in this social media age seems to be, why wait? Better to be first than right.

Are the Browns going to be that good in 2019? Or for these predictions to come true is it going to be more about the Steelers and Ravens dropping off significantly in both performance and results?

All of that is a guess right now, and guesses are best reserved for the Powerball when the jackpot works its way into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Remember the man they called ‘Fu’?? He recently told the Steelers’ official website what his NFL Draft day experience was like.

A stressful wait

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

When the phone call comes, when the moment happens that you are drafted, sometimes you don’t even hear what is being said on the other end of the phone. That was the way it played out for Christ Fuamatu-Ma’afala, who had to wait a while just to get the call.

“Waiting for the call and getting it from the Steelers, it was very stressful,” said Fuamatu-Ma’afala. “I was projected to go in the third round, but I fell to the sixth round. After the third round went by I stopped watching the draft. I had my whole family there. I was anticipating the moment. The fourth round came, finally the sixth round and it was the Pittsburgh Steelers. I thought I don’t care what these guys want me to do, I am going to do it. I was going to give them all I had. It saved my family. We were anticipating the moment. I always felt indebted to the organization and I tried to play that way.

“When I got the call, I couldn’t hear Mr. (Dan) Rooney. My family was jumping up and down going crazy. I was trying to listen. I kept watching the television. I couldn’t hear anything. My family was yelling, I was yelling. When I saw my name going across the bottom I kept yelling thank you, thank you. I didn’t hear a word he was saying. I was definitely excited.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

James Conner will have _____ touchdowns in 2019. pic.twitter.com/oQ9Lj59sPq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 14, 2019

First Day In Pittsburgh... loving the city.. it’s an honor to be a Steeler.. so ready to get to work with the Brothers.. gone give this team and town all I got... #FeedMoncrief

— Donte Moncrief (@drm_12) April 13, 2019

pic.twitter.com/83N8wU8oYI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 13, 2019

A simple conversation on Twitter, turned into a new signature sandwich.@Nelson_Island is officially a Pittsburgher now.#412Day | @primantibros pic.twitter.com/s7KSuTK1Qm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 13, 2019

Welcome home, Mike & Maurkice. #GatorMade #GatorsAlways pic.twitter.com/rYoAyvu8fC

— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) April 13, 2019

Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu named in a lawsuit filed against AAF

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 12:46pm

The Alliance of American Football was hit with two lawsuit brought by former players and a league executive last week, with more expected in the coming months,

The Alliance of American Football may have prematurely ceased operations, but it looks like the league is far from over as far as two former players and a former AAF executive are concerned after two lawsuits were filed against the defunct league last week, as per a report from ESPN.

But while it should come as no surprise to learn that controversial investor Tom Dundon and AAF founder Charlie Ebersol are named as the defendants in one of the suits, it is interesting to note that former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and AAF Head of Player Relations Troy Polamalu has been named as one of the defendants in the other.

Former Birmingham Iron punter Colton Schmidt and Orlando Apollos linebacker Reggie Northrup have filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract, fraud and false promise against Dundon and Ebersol among other claims, the full details of which are available to view here.

The second suit has been brought by former Iron director of community relations James Roberson, seeking damages for a range of payments he believes employees were entitled to and naming a number of additional investors and AAF managers in his lawsuit that include Bill Polian, Jared Allen and Polamalu.

These two lawsuit are very likely to be first of many that the AAF will be forced to face in the coming months, with the lawyer for Schmidt and Northrup expecting several more players to add their name to the players claim in the near future. As reported by Michael Rothstein and Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.

“This is a wholesale destruction of an entire football league,” said Boris Treyzon, one of the attorneys suing on behalf of the players. “Once we started looking at the facts, we saw that this is basically a wholesale betrayal of a group of people.”

“Treyzon said Schmidt and Northrup are the only players named for now, but others have expressed interest in joining.”

The AAF will also face a bankruptcy hearing, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, an issue that is already impacting the ability of former players to sign with the CFL.

AAF now viewing the players’ contracts as assets in potential bankruptcy proceedings.... https://t.co/1UQQrE8Hgz

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 12, 2019

For the 40 or more former players who have found a new home in the NFL, they may yet look back on their experience in the AAF as a positive one. But for the hundreds of other players, coaches and staff members left out in the cold, it looks like the whole experience will have left them will an understandable sense of bitterness.

Greedy Williams doesn’t attend any pre-draft visits, no private workouts before the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 9:45am

The talented LSU CB won’t be going on any pre-draft visits prior to the 2019 NFL Draft.

There is a large contingent in the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base who puts an incredible amount of stock into who the team hosts for one of their 30 pre-draft visits. If someone suggests the team should take a specific player, and he wasn’t invited on a pre-draft visit, they feel the consideration should end there.

But what if they met with them at their Pro Day?

What if they had a sit down with them at the Scouting Combine?

Doesn’t matter...no pre-draft visit.

Well, for some players, like LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, he isn’t going on any pre-draft visits or holding private workouts for any NFL teams.

This per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network:

A rarity: #LSU CB Greedy Williams has had no visits and it appears no private workouts, either. Some dinners and meetings, but that’s all. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It’s just rare. Only other player I can remember like this was Tyler Eifert, who had no questions coming out.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2019

With this said, it would explain why the Steelers hosted CB Deandre Baker from Georgia, and Washington CB Byron Murphy, but not Williams.

While this practice is rare, it is just one case of why pre-draft visits are not the be-all-end-all when it comes to a team’s plans and preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft. There are times when players are selected who didn’t have a visit, and hadn’t really spent too much time with the organization.

The perfect example of this was in 2017 when the Steelers selected JuJu Smith-Schuster in the 2nd round, but had very little contact with the USC wideout prior to the draft. A combine meeting was the only contact the team had with Smith-Schuster prior to making him their second pick in that year’s draft.

In other words, with a player like Williams choosing to not attend any pre-draft visits, or if a team doesn’t meet with a specific player in a pre-draft visit, it is not a direct indicator of interest and/or desire for the team to add that player to the team’s roster throughout the seven round selection process.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as the Steelers prepare for the draft in just two short weeks.

2019 NFL Draft: Focusing on who the Steelers could, and should, take in Round 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 8:10am

NFL Network experts lay out who the Steelers could, and should, draft in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The 2019 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and it is well known how the Pittsburgh Steelers have several holes to fill on their roster during the seven round process. Recently, on the NFL Network two experts, Bucky Brooks and Brian Baldinger, took a stab at selecting the Steelers’ first two draft picks — assuming they pick at No. 20 and No. 52.

For Baldinger, he had the team taking the following players:

Round 1: Georgia CB, Deandre Baker
Round 2: Iowa State WR, Hakeem Butler

For Brooks, he stayed all defense with his two picks:

Round 1: Washington CB, Byron Murphy
Round 2: NC State LB, Germaine Pratt

Check out the video below where they explain their predictions:

Who could the @Steelers draft in the top rounds of the @NFLDraft?@BuckyBrooks and @BaldyNFL project their selections

: Path to the Draft pic.twitter.com/4bPKFYRvSq

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 12, 2019

One this is for certain, with the Steelers abnormal activity in free agency has left them with options in the draft. If they don’t want to trade away too many picks to move up in the first round, they can sit back and take any number of player, at a number of positions, which could still benefit the team in 2019 and beyond.

No ILB? See what CBs are available.

No CBs available who are worthy of a first round selection? WRs could be plentiful when the Steelers select 20th in the first round.

Options aren’t a bad thing, and the Steelers should, operative word there in this situation, have plenty of them when the 2019 NFL Draft rolls around. At this point, it is important for the team to have a general idea as to what they are going to do if/when both of the Devins are gone before it is their turn to make a selection.

Again, they will have options.

What would you want the team to do if they stay put at No. 20, and both of the Devins are off the board? What position/prospects intrigue you in both Round 1 and 2?

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