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Podcast: The cards are dealt, did the Steelers get a winning hand

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 11:00am

In the latest episode of “Steelers Hangover” show, Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo look at the week that was and the Steelers going forward.

The NFL Draft is complete and the Steelers have nine new cards to play, Will it be a winning hand or will a majority of this draft end up on the discard pile? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed on the latest episode of the BTSC podcast, The Steelers Hangover. On this show, Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo break down all things Steelers! Join the veteran duo as they analyze all things black-and-gold.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers 2021 Draft Class
  • and MUCH MORE!

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:

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

Part 1

Part 2

2021 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers C Kendrick Green

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 10:15am
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What the experts were saying about the Steelers third round pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kendrick Green from the University of Illinois with their third round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Here’s what different draft analysts were saying about Kendrick Green.

Oliver Hodgkinson for Pro Football Network

The Good

Strong, keeps his feet moving, and blocks with a nasty attitude. Fires off the snap, quickly gets to the second level, and takes linebackers from the action. Gets movement run blocking, knocks defenders from their angles of attack with a violent hand punch, and works to finish off opponents. Sets with a wide base, blocks with good knee bend, and always looks for someone to hit.

The Bad

Stiffness hurts his ability to finish blocks. Does not move well enough laterally for a zone-blocking scheme.

NFL Draft Bible

The Good

Green is an explosive athlete out of his stance who is fast in a straight line and can climb to the second level easily. His lateral agility is also great, making him a tremendous puller. He uses his momentum to convert into power when blocking opponents on the move. As a combo blocker, Green is strong enough to knock nose tackles off balance and reach and seal linebackers. In pass sets, he gains depth easily and mirrors rushers with his active feet.

The Bad

Green does not have the strongest anchor as he can be bull-rushed by strong defenders. He has to improve his hands, which can be predictable. His aggressive style gets the better of him at times, causing him to whiff. On the move, he is not always able to locate defenders, and some of his angles are too aggressive.

Kyle Crabbs for The Draft Network

The Good

Green has the lateral mobility and functional athleticism to develop and continue to work with at the pro level—his potential as a recent position swap should not be ignored. Viewing him through the scope of a player who is still new to the position, the flashes of leverage at the point of attack and mobility, particularly at center, make him a worthwhile flier later in the draft.

The Bad

Green is understandably rough around the edges with the finer points of strike placement, feel for scraping defenders, angles when climbing to the second level, and his footwork and base; there are too many reps in which Green finds himself on the ground.

Lance Zierlein for NFL.com

The Good

Off the ball in a hurry, gaining lateral ground with ease.
Impressive ability to reach and wall-off from a gap away.
Accelerates through contact, creating wash-down momentum.
Short-area quickness allows for tighter schedule on combos.
Play-switch energy and fire from snap to whistle.
Resets his hands in order to gather pass rusher in front of him.

The Bad

Too straight-legged up to second level.
Inaccurate radar landing on pull and climb targets.
Defenders are able to separate and play off his blocks.
Shorter arms make block sustain a challenge.
Gets glued to twist action and misses incoming rusher.
Overextends, allowing edge to soften.

Summary

There is some contradictory opinions on Kendrick Green, but what is consistently mentioned is his energy, his quickness getting off the snap, and his ability to reach a gap away.

On the negative side his footwork gets mentioned a good bit as well as his over-aggressiveness getting him into trouble.

He brings the attitude and scheme fit the Steelers want and if they can iron out his flaws, he’ll be a really good center for a long time.

Former Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva signs two-year deal with Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 9:41am
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

By waiting to sign until after the May 3 deadline, the loss of Villanueva will not give the Steelers an additional compensatory draft pick in 2022.

Another starter from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 team has landed within the AFC North division. After Mike Hilton’s departure for the Cincinnati Bengals in March, veteran left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens worth a reported $14 million. This per NFL networks Ian Rappaport.

The #Ravens have signed veteran LT Alejandro Villanueva to a 2-year, $14M deal with $8M fully guaranteed, source said. The former #Steelers LT recently visited Baltimore.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 4, 2021

It appeared the Steelers had limited interest in a return of Villanueva for the 2021 season, particularly at the price he received in Baltimore. Villanueva will turn 33 two weeks into the start of the 2021 season.

Starting every game at left tackle for the Steelers over the last five seasons, Villanueva was selected to the Pro Bowl in both 2017 and 2018. As for the 2020 season, Villanueva was the Steelers highest ranked offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus, although many believe his play deteriorated as the season went on.

The Steelers seemed intent on going into the season with Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner as there are two main options at the tackle position. Banner won the starting right tackle competition last offseason but was injured before completing the Steelers Week 1 game in New York. Okorafor stepped in and started the remaining 15 games at right tackle as well as the Steelers Wildcard game.

The Steelers also addressed the tackle position in both free agency and the 2021 NFL draft. The Steelers signed Joe Haeg who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Additionally, the Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

By waiting until Tuesday, May 4, the Ravens avoided having Villanueva’s contract affect their compensatory formula for the 2022 NFL draft. By waiting until the deadline, the Ravens are currently estimated to gain two fourth-round picks next season. Had Villanueva signed earlier, one of the picks would have been lost. But by helping themselves, the departure Villanueva does not net the Steelers another draft pick had he signed a mere 24 hours earlier. With Villanueva‘s average yearly salary matching that of what Matt Feiler received by the Los Angeles Chargers, he likely would have gained the Steelers an additional fifth-round compensatory pick in 2022.

Rumors placing Villanueva with the Ravens have been going on for weeks, so the NFL could investigate the situation of them simply not submitting a signed contract until after the deadline. But it does not appear Villanueva actually put pen to paper prior to the deadline.

The previous reports of Villanueva in Baltimore also include a possible move to right tackle. If so, it will be very interesting to see Villanueva go up against All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt for two games in 2021.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, draft analysis, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Film Room: Breaking down what Pat Freiermuth bring to the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Looking at the Steelers 2nd round pick’s college film.

In the 2nd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Pat Freiermuth, tight end from Penn State. Tight end was a need for the Steelers, as they had Eric Ebron, but beyond Ebron they had some good depth pieces but nothing significant. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada typically uses multiple tight ends in his offense, so adding a second good tight end to the roster was a priority.

What Pat Freiermuth brings to that offense is the focus of this film room.

Pat Freiermuth (#87) is the receiver to the bottom of the screen at the start of the clip.

One of the problems with television broadcasts is sometimes they miss the start of a play. But you can see why Freiermuth was called “Baby Gronk” by many Penn State fans. With the ball Freiermuth turned into a powerful runner who frequently took multiple defenders to stop.

On the replay they showed the start of the route, and you can see Freiermuth puts a good move on the defender to get open on this slant.

Freiermuth showed plays like this that draw comparisons to some of the top receiving tight ends in the NFL, and he is frequently cited as having an incredibly high ceiling because of plays like this.

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the bottom of the screen.

Freiermuth starts with a nice chip to help his tackle, redirecting a wide rusher inside just enough to make the blocking angle significantly easier. He then runs a wheel route that ends up a touchdown. On the surface this looks like a lob the defense should have gotten to, but the impressive part happens when Freiermuth is right around the 10 yard line. He looks back for the ball, sees the high throw downfield, and accelerates to the ball. That acceleration is no joke, as you can see him run past two defenders to get to the ball. Freiermuth has good second-level speed that makes him a tough cover for linebackers and slower safeties.

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the bottom of the screen.

Here is that acceleration on play action. By the time the linebackers realize it isn’t a run Freiermuth is ten yards down field, exploiting the linebacker-safety gap and then doing what he does best, power for some crucial extra yards. Freiermuth is an enormous threat on these seam routes, routes that Jesse James and Vance McDonald used in 2018 a lot when they combined for over 1,000 yards.

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the bottom of the screen.

A nice little option play here, the defense stays home on Freiermuth and he turns into a blocker, enabling his quarterback to dive for the first down untouched. Freiermuth is a smart blocker who will seal defenders away from the play.

Pat Freiermuth is the H-back, behind the line to the bottom of the screen.

Here is Freiermuth run blocking he delivers a decent pop here, but he doesn’t drive the defender, so much as try to hug him and hold him in place. the defensive end discards him without too much effort.

Pat Freiermuth is the H-back.

This is a fantastic little play action pass. Freiermuth starts out like the play above, like he’s coming to block the end, makes a smooth catch and accelerates into the end zone.

Michigan State was a solid defensive team in 2019, allowing 22.5 points per game, they gave up 21 to Freiermuth as he was a mismatch they couldn’t handle.

Freiermuth played four games in 2020, he injured his shoulder in his second game, and then opted out for the rest of the season two games later.

While Freiermuth shined against Michigan State in 2019, Ohio State was a tougher game for him in 2020.

Freiermuth is the third receiver from the bottom of the screen.

Freiermuth doesn’t get the ball on this play, but he gets into the soft spot of the zone defense and he’s open. What I like about this play is his acceleration and how well he gears down into that soft spot. Guys his size don’t stop on a dime, but this is pretty good. It’s hard to cover that deep seam without giving up stop routes if a player can do it like this.

Freiermuth (#87) is the tight end to the right side of the screen.

That linebacker is Baron Browning, a linebacker with elite athleticism (9.98 RAS). Freiermuth runs away from him to make the catch then breaks his tackle for some extra yards.

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the right side of the screen.

You can’t ignore a play like this. First, probably not a great idea to put a tight end on Jonathon Cooper, he’s a really good edge rusher. But for Freiermuth? This isn’t just losing to a good rusher, though, this is bad blocking. Freiermuth lets the defender get into his chest and dictate the terms of engagement. It gets him driven into his quarterback, and then thrown aside like a ragdoll.

The main problem here shows up in almost all of Freiermuth’s blocking. Freiermuth is a positional blocker, he looks to get between the defender and the ball and stay there. That worked fine on the QB run against Michigan State, it doesn’t cut it against NFL caliber linebackers and ends. It also brings into question his temperament as a blocker. The Steelers made a point of getting offensive lineman that have a nasty temperament when blocking, Pat Freiermuth is not like that at all.

Conclusion

Pat Freiermuth is a mismatch athlete at the tight end position. He has incredible physical tools, but there isn’t much polish on his skills, either as a receiver or as a blocker. When he is allowed to run, he is deadly. As a blocker he shows potential, but his flaws aren’t just mechanical, he needs some urgency in his blocking. I don’t think he’ll ever show nastiness as a blocker like he shows when he has the ball, but a less passive/positional approach would be nice.

The fact that analysts call him a throw-back tight end should let you know just how much the game has changed since the days of Heath Miller. As a receiver, Freiermuth isn’t going to separate from good coverage safeties or the better cover linebackers. His real threat is in play action, where his burst makes it incredibly hard for linebackers to recover fast enough, and his awareness leads him to the right places to exploit the defense.

His value is going to depend a lot on how much he can improve as a blocker, because if he can block in-line at a solid NFL level with his receiving threat he’s a monster. If he has to play off the line, his route running isn’t good enough to make him a valuable player, he’s not even at Eric Ebron’s level lined up in the slot or out wide.

Cam Heyward may have been thinking the same thing when the Steelers drafted Freiermuth.

@pat_fry5
welcome to the Squad. TE’s vs DT’s in practice get ready lol

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) May 1, 2021

That’s leadership folks. Heyward throwing down the gauntlet, letting the young man know that he’s going to have to block on the Steelers. Freiermuth’s response, not on twitter, but in the gym and on the field, will determine how much of an impact he has in his rookie year and beyond.

Previous Steelers 2021 Draft film breakdowns:

A review of expert grades of the Steelers 2021 draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 7:15am
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at how the experts graded the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 draft class.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a wild weekend where they added nine new players to their roster via the 2021 NFL Draft. Of course, right after the draft experts and pundits like to head to their keyboards and give out grades for teams’ selections.

I understand why people do draft grades the day after the pick, but it truly depends what they are grading. If they want to criticize the team for taking a player at a specific point, that is fair, but grading the player who has yet to step foot on an NFL field as a professional is a little much.

In fact, most would argue you should wait at least 2-3 years before actually grading players on their performances. You know, giving them a chance to establish themselves before calling them a bust.

With that said, I decided to go through some of the major websites and find the draft grades they gave the Steelers’ 2021 draft class. You will see some experts are nicer than others.

Take a look at the experts and their grades below:

Mel Kiper Jr. — ESPN

Pittsburgh Steelers: C+

Top needs: RB, OL (2), QB

This one is tough for me because I’m a big fan of Najee Harris (24) but am almost always against taking a running back in the first round. Round 1 is too valuable, and we’ve seen over the past decade that good running backs can be found in any round — or even as undrafted free agents. And when I look at this Pittsburgh roster, I see bigger holes. Offensive line, corner, edge rusher — could the team have gotten better value at another position?

Yes, Steelers fans, you’re probably going to say that they started 11-0 last season. I get it. But they also lost five of their last six games, and they were so up against the salary cap this offseason that they couldn’t make roster improvements. That’s why I have to question this pick, even if I love the player. Harris needs to be a superstar, every-down back for this to work out.

Tight end Pat Freiermuth (55) won’t give them much as a blocker, but he has good hands and can be a red zone threat. Eric Ebron had six drops last season, tied for second most among all tight ends. Kendrick Green (87) has played both guard and center, but I don’t think he’ll be an upgrade at either spot as a rookie. Outside linebacker Quincy Roche (216) is the only Day 3 pick I really like, as the Steelers reached for a few guys by my board.

I just don’t see much value in Pittsburgh’s class, and the offensive linemen they did take were picked too high. I haven’t even mentioned that the Steelers still don’t have a plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger. This class gets a grade in the C range.

Chad Reuter — NFL.com

Pittsburgh Steelers: A

Day 1 grade: A

Day 2 grade: A

Day 3 grade: B+

Analysis: Harris’ game so resembles that of Le’Veon Bell that no one was surprised the Steelers turned in the virtual card to inject his talents into their offense. His playmaking ability was difficult to pass up, even if it meant ignoring the offensive line. The team eventually addressed their issues up front by selecting Green, an athletic and powerful center, in Round 3. GM Kevin Colbert made the correct decision selecting a top-50 talent like Freiermuth late in Round 2 instead of simply taking a lineman because of need.

Colbert made another smart pick (what’s new?) in Moore, a steady player and underrated athlete who could be the starter they need at tackle. The Steelers doubled up on A&M stars, drafting Johnson with their next pick. He’ll be a starter at inside ‘backer sooner than later, which is huge for a team that endured so many injuries at the spot last season. Pittsburgh went off-script a bit when it traded a 2022 fourth-rounder to Miami to select Loudermilk, who could be a Stephen Tuitt clone. But there were a lot of quality defensive linemen available in that round that they could’ve landed without giving up assets. Roche is a productive edge player who was an excellent value in the sixth round. The team clearly didn’t want Harvin to hit the open market, snagging him with one of the last picks in the draft.

Vinnie Iyer — The Sporting News

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: B+

Draft picks: Alabama RB Najee Harris, Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth, Illinois G/C Kendrick Green, Texas A&M OT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M ILB Buddy Johnson, Wisconsin DT Isiahh Loudermilk, Miami EDGE Quincy Roche, Oklahoma CB Tre Norwood, Georgia Tech P Pressley Harvin III

GM Kevin Colbert had a solid draft starting with needed offensive skill cogs Harris and Freiermuth to lift up aging Ben Roethlisberger. Moore and Green are potential starters down the line. Roche and Norwood were great values for situational pass defense support late. Harvin can also be a sneaky good weapon for special teams.

Pro Football Focus Staff

Day 1: This pick was not a surprise at all, and it also shouldn’t be shocking to hear that we at PFF wouldn’t pound the table for such a selection; any running back in Round 1 is a reach. Harris isn’t much of a breakaway threat, but he does bring value as a receiver, which is a requisite in today’s NFL. With the help of his massive catch radius, Harris dropped just two passes on 75 catchable targets since 2019.

Day 2: The Steelers snag the 55th-ranked player on the PFF Big Board at Pick 55. Pat Freiermuth is the clear second-best tight end in the class after Kyle Pitts, but this is a weak group of tight ends. He is an all-around player who fits a throwback style of offense that will covet his blocking every bit as much as his receiving skills. The Penn State product was also one of the few tight ends in college football who was the featured receiver in his offense.

Green is one of the most physically gifted guards to come into the NFL in the last few years. He’s fast and physical. One would think he fits more in a zone-based scheme, but he shows some strength that could make it work in a gap and pull system as well. A very good pick for a rebuilding Steelers offensive line.

Day 3: Roche is arguably the best value Pittsburgh has gotten all draft. Roche isn’t an elite athlete on the edge, but he is adept at reading and reacting to the tackles he goes up against, which is one of the reasons why he posted PFF pass-rushing grades above 85.0 in each of the past two seasons. Roche will have an opportunity to carve out a role behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith in Pittsburgh.

Draft Grade: C

Pete Prisco — CBS Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers: C

Best pick: Third-round pick Kendrick Green will keep up a long-standing Steelers tradition: Dominant centers. Green played guard in college, but will be an outstanding center.

Worst pick: I don’t like taking running backs in the first round. Najee Harris is a good player, but backs don’t decide titles.

The skinny: They wanted to improve the run game, so they picked a back early. They did balance it out by taking two offensive linemen in the next three rounds, which was smart. Sixth-round pass rusher Quincy Roche is a perfect Steelers pick.

Eric Edholm — Yahoo Sports

Favorite pick: Green

His Round 3 selection helped, in a strange way, even though the first two picks make more sense. Granted, Harris is our favorite pick of theirs strictly from a talent perspective, but landing a potential starting center near the end of Round 3 at least filled a major vacancy at center (unless you believe in J.C. Hassenauer or B.J. Finney there). Green worked at left guard and center, and was good at both spots in college, a very good run blocker who has developed very quickly for a player who started his college career at defensive tackle. He’s not big or long but has the athletic traits and a wrestler’s mentality inside to be an above-average starter in time.

Least-favorite pick: Freiermuth

With some Day 3 ammo at their disposal, the Steelers could have swung a trade up into the first part of Round 2 to snag one of the higher-graded tackles still on the board. They didn’t, and that means Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner are your starters at left and right tackle, respectively, folks. We don’t love it. Freiermuth has the looks of a very solid tight end — shades of Heath Miller, even. But the missed OT opportunity hurts.

Overall: A pretty blue-collar haul here, led by Harris, a central-casting Steeler. Will the blocking be better up front? We hope so. Only Green figures to be a new starter from last year’s unit, so the Steelers need to hope he’s ready to step in and the other four are prepared to play better. We thought they might grab an edge rusher or a linebacker (higher than Buddy Johnson in Round 5), but for the most part this is a respectable group. Harris could be a Rookie of the Year candidate, but he had great blocking at Bama. We are unsure he’ll be afforded that luxury as a rookie in Pittsburgh. Roche and Norwood, a Swiss Army knife defender, were better than their draft slots. And taking the hulking Pressley — biggest NFL punter ever at 5-foot-11, 263 pounds? — was our favorite punter pick. Massive punters are just a lot of fun.

Grade: C+

Danny Kelly — The Ringer

The Steelers are clearly looking to maximize the last season (or two?) of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, as both Harris and Freiermuth should be able to contribute immediately. But Pittsburgh’s decision to take a running back and tight end with its top two picks seems less than ideal as a long-term strategy for a roster that has several pressing needs. I did like the team’s addition of Roche in the sixth round, though; he could bring value as a rotational player on the defensive line.

Grade: C

What do you think of these grades? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the release of the 2021 regular season schedule and mandatory minicamp.

With the deadline passed, where do the Steelers stand in the 2022 compensatory formula?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All players possibly factoring into the compensatory formula for 2022 have been established.

On Monday at 4 PM, the deadline for newly signed free agents counting toward the compensatory formula expired. For the average fan, this might not mean anything significant. To those diving deep to the ins and outs of the NFL, this means the players who will count towards the compensatory formula in 2022 are locked in. Any player signed or released will no longer factor in to the equation, and any current Compensatory Free Agent would not lose their eligibility if they were to be released. Although the exact value of each player will be determined based on their playing time and accolades during the 2021 season, the starting point of players yearly salaries is known.

While net gains or losses in the number of players are what determines if a team gets compensatory draft picks, it’s only among qualifying players. So the question is if the Steelers have a net loss of Compensatory Free Agents (CFAs) towards the 2022 compensatory formula. As a reminder, Street Free Agents, who are players who were released by their previous team and did not have their contract expire, do not qualify as CFAs. In other words, the signing of B.J. Finney does not negatively affect the Steelers compensatory formula.

While there are other factors that will ultimately determine any compensatory draft picks the Steelers could receive in 2022, it begins with the contract the departing player signed. Looking at the yearly average, players are designated into rounds for compensation.

In order for a player to be deemed a CFA, they must fall in the top 35% of all the NFL. At this time, overthecap.com has most salaries less than $2 million a season not landing in the top 35% and therefore not qualifying as a CFA. Additionally, any contract signed that qualifies for the veteran salary benefit does not qualify as a CFA.

Remember, other factors such as snaps played, All-Pro, and All-Conference selections factor into the equation once the 2021 season is complete. But for now, the estimates for compensatory draft picks are based on the actual contracts signed and projected snap percentage in 2021. The factor of snaps played only applies if a player logs at least 25% of the snaps on the season on offense or defense depending on what position they play. As for kickers, they have a completely different formula which I won’t even bother with at this time. Whatever percentage of snaps a player has, those number of points gets added onto the salary ranking as long as it’s above 25%.

As it stands now, the Steelers would be eligible for two compensatory draft picks. Exactly where they fall is estimated as follows by overthecap.com.

Qualifying Losses
Bud Dupree ($16.5 million/year): Third round
Matt Feiler ($7 million/year): Fifth round
Mike Hilton ($6 million/year): Sixth round

Qualifying Gains
Joe Haeg ($2.3 million/year): Seventh round

For the sake of clarity, here are the players lost and gained by the Steelers who would have qualified as a CFA but their contracts were not enough:

Non-Qualifying Losses
Ola Adeniyi ($1 million/year)
James Conner ($1.75/year)*
*could move into the 7th round with an extremely large percentage of snaps played (90%+)

Non-Qualifying Gains
Miles Killebrew (Veteran salary benefit)
Kalen Ballage (Veteran salary benefit)
Rashaad Coward (Veteran salary benefit)

As things stand right now, Joe Haeg would cancel Mike Hilton, leaving the Steelers with a third-round and a fifth-round pick.

As the projections stand right now, Dupree is one of two estimated third-round compensatory draft pick in the NFL according to OTC with Kenny Golladay. Although Golladay has the higher contract, Dupree is projected to be the top CFA based on projected number of snaps played which would land the Steelers the 97th pick in the draft if it were to continue to hold up. Matt Feiler comes in as the third of five eligible fifth-round picks at this time. Remember that the projections done by OTC include projecting how many snaps each player across the NFL will play in 2021, so things could easily change a little once the 2021 season has concluded.

So these are the estimates of where the Steelers currently stand when it comes to compensatory draft picks in 2022. Yes, it is just about a year away before these losses could come back to the Steelers. But if the players lost play a good amount during the 2021 season, the Steelers would be in line for two decent draft picks.

My brother, the Steelers insider, came through again during the 2021 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:30am
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

My brother comes through again with some accurate insider draft knowledge.

I was sitting around on Thursday evening, watching the mid-to-late portion of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft play out.

“Who are the Steelers going to take?” I thought with great anticipation as the Giants, the team with the 20th pick via Chicago, were about to have their selection announced by commissioner Roger Goodell: “With the 20th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select Kadarius Toney, wide-receiver, Florida.”

Right at that very moment, 10:48 p.m., I got a text from my brother that read, “I got the call tj HARRIS IS OURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I texted back, “They still have three picks to go {before the Steelers pick at 24}. How can your friend be so sure?” My brother said, “trust me tj HE KNOWS HARRIS IS OURS LOL.” (My brother likes to text in all caps and laugh out loud while doing so like some sort of crazy person.)

This is when I immediately put out an “educated guess” to my fellow BTSC writers and social media that it just had to be Harris. It just had to be. In fact, I basically Tweeted those exact words at 10:56 p.m. (I ignored my brother’s initial text for eight minutes because I’m a jerk): “There is no way it’s not going to be Harris to the #Steelers now.” Anyway, I wanted to gauge the reaction of everyone to what I was certain would be the Steelers pick. (It was lukewarm.) I wasn’t sure, though. You can never be sure when your brother’s friend’s friend is the actual insider (full disclosure).

Sure enough, not long after the Steelers time on the clock commenced, Goodell was up there at the podium announcing Harris’s name.

Amazing. My brother, the inside via two other insiders, came through again. I know what you’re going to say; my brother’s friend’s friend could have made this bold prediction based on deductive reasoning due to the fact that none of the three teams picking before the Steelers were slated to take a running back; Pittsburgh, on the other hand, had been linked to one—specifically, Harris—for quite some time.

However, if you knew the history of my brother’s friend’s friend with regards to insider information about the Steelers, you wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss him as a credible source.

I can’t tell you who my brother’s friends friend is (he’s involved with the organization in some capacity), but for the sake of this article, let’s just call him—and this is a totally original code name I came up with thanks to my creativity and brilliance—Deep Throat.

Anywho, Deep Throat has come through on a number of occasions in recent years, especially a few springs ago when he was a huge star of the 2018 NFL Draft.

He knew about the Martavis Bryant trade to the Raiders hours before it was announced during the draft. The Steelers got a third-round pick out of the deal and ultimately used it to move up a few spots to draft Mason Rudolph. Perhaps you know him by his own code name: Polarizing.

I believe I was the first person in the universe to publicly announce that Terrell Edmunds, safety, Virginia Tech would be the Steelers first-round choice as I co-hosted The Final Score podcast with Bryan Anthony Davis during the draft. In fact, I got completely distracted by this text from my brother, “EDMUNDS VIRGINIA TECH IS OUR PICK!” and didn’t even process an on-air question from Bryan.

I’ll give you Harris, but how can you explain this knowledge of a safety nobody in their right mind would have predicted the Steelers would take with the 28th pick?

I learned that night to never doubt my brother’s friend’s friend (Deep Throat) ever again.

I know what you’re going to ask me. If I was so confident in this info about the Harris pick, why didn’t I just come out and boldly proclaim it instead of hiding behind an “educated guess?”

And believe my own brother, the guy who texts in all caps and laughs out loud while doing so? Are you crazy?

Podcast: Did the Steelers roster improve from 2020?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:30am

In the latest podcast on the BTSC family of podcasts, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers and their roster for 2021.

With the NFL Draft occurring over the weekend, the Steelers attempted to fill holes at many a position early. Is the team’s situation at running back, tight end and center improved after last season or will it take a long while? Join BTSC Deputy Editor Michael Beck on the latest edition of The Live Mike as he helps Steeler Nation navigate through the 2021 offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Did the draft help improve the Steelers from last season?
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael Beck of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Men of Steel.

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.

Steelers announce the release of two players from their offseason roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 2:57pm
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Both releases came from positions the Steelers had addressed in the 2021 NFL draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to adjust their 2021 offseason roster, this time releasing two players in tight end of Charles Jones and punter Corliss Waitman.

We have signed CB DeMarkus Acy to a one-year deal and waived TE Charles Jones and P Corliss Waitman. @BordasLaw https://t.co/jUbCQuT3m7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 3, 2021

Earlier on Monday cornerback DeMarkus Acy had announced his signing with the Steelers.

Corliss Waitman was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2020 NFL draft. Unable to show his punting skills in any preseason games due to their cancellation for the 2020 season, Waitman did find his way onto the Steelers practice squad in 2020 as they had been expanded to 16 players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Waitman was signed to a Reserve/Futures contract with the Steelers following the 2020 season. But with the drafting of punter Pressley Harvin IIII in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft, the unlikelihood of the Steelers carrying three punters into training camp made Waitman expendable. The Steelers also have punter Jordan Berry currently on their roster.

Charles Jones joined the Steelers practice squad in November 2020 and was signed to a Reserve/Future contract this offseason. Undrafted out of Tulane in 2019, Jones signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he first landed on the practice squad and then appeared in four games with one reception for 5 yards. After being released by the Jaguars with an injury settlement in 2020, Jones was briefly on the Buffalo Bills practice squad before he signed with the Steelers.

With the signing of Acy and the release of Waitman and Jones, the Steelers currently have 91 players on their offseason roster. Since drafted players and undrafted free agents are not yet under contract, the Steelers still have time to release another player to get down to the 90-man limit.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, draft analysis, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers sign former Missouri cornerback DeMarkus Acy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 1:17pm
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed 2020 undrafted free agent DeMarkus Acy to their offseason roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to add to their 2021 offseason roster. After the addition of nine draft picks in the 2021 NFL draft as well as eight undrafted free agents, it was reported shortly before the conclusion of the draft the Steelers were signing 2020 undrafted cornerback DeMarkus Acy. This per NFL Draft Diamonds:

Breaking: I am learning that former Missouri cornerback DeMarcus Acy is signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers #Steelers pic.twitter.com/6N8nKie4Sc

— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) May 1, 2021

With the flurry of teams grabbing undrafted free agents from 2021, the signing of Acy had yet to be confirmed. But according to his own Twitter account, Acy is now under contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thank you @steelers! Time to get to work pic.twitter.com/l8HaqWPDDv

— D.Acy™ (@DeMarkusAcy2) May 3, 2021

After going on drafted in the 2020 NFL draft, DeMarkus Acy signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately Acy did not make the squad as he was released in mid August. Acy did spend time on the practice squads of both the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Football Team. Originally signing a Reserve/Future contract in Washington, Acy was released prior to the 2021 NFL draft.

While at Missouri, Acy started in 36 of the 47 games in which he appeared where he registered three interceptions, 23 passes defensed, at 99 tackles.

With the addition of Acy, the Steelers are currently with 93 players on the roster. Since their undrafted free agents and draft picks are not officially under contract yet, the Steelers are not in violation of any NFL rules. The Steelers will need to release at least three players before signing all of their players acquired over the weekend of the 2021 NFL draft.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, draft breakdowns, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

2022 Mock Draft: Way too early 2022 Steelers first round mock draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Steelers land Ben Roethlisberger’s successor.

We are not far removed from the 2021 NFL Draft, so that means there is no better time to look ahead at 2022 prospects than right now. When it comes to those prospects and future needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers, one position stands up above the rest, Quarterback. Whether Ben Roethlisberger hangs ‘em up or comes back for another year, the Steelers should look for their future gunslinger in 2022.

To determine the Steelers’ pick I decided to be tough on this team. Factoring in one of the league’s toughest schedules, but an improved roster, we will just say they will repeat this season with a wild card loss, but as a road team. For arguments sake, let’s say they will pick 20th. With that determined, let’s look at some of the quarterbacks they should have on their radar.

1. Sam Howell - North Carolina
2. Kedon Slovis - Southern California
3. Spencer Rattler - Oklahoma
4. Desmond Ridder - Cincinnati
5. Tyler Shough - Texas Tech

A rough outlook on this group is simple. They are nowhere near as good as the 2021 quarterback class, and, for the most part, vastly undersized. That will not stop the top three names on the list from being long gone when it is the Steelers’ turn to pick. The good thing for the Steelers is that, in my opinion, Ridder and Shough are the best fits for this team.

The pick between the two comes down to mobile senior from a small conference, or a pocket passer junior who will have played in both the Pac-12 & Big-12. Despite Cincinnati being closer, I think the Steelers land on the Shough after a year in a Texas Tech offense that will unleash his arm talent.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images With the 20th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers select Tyler Shough, Quarterback, Texas Tech

Shough is 6’5” and will likely weigh in around 225-230 pounds by the time the combine rolls around. He has all the physical attributes of surviving as an AFC North quarterback, and could be sought after by Steelers offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. Convincing Ben Roethlisberger to be his mentor for a year would be ideal, but worry not as Mason Rudolph’s one year extension could make him the perfect transitionary piece between Ben and Tyler Shough.

Here’s what a few draft sites view Tyler Shough:

YardBarker/Seth Trachtman “Following in the footsteps of Justin Herbert at Oregon, Shough had an up-and-down sophomore season with 1,559 yards passing and 13 touchdowns in seven games in 2020. A more pass-friendly offense after transferring to Texas Tech has a chance to push Shough up draft boards with a better year.”

WalterFootball “Tyler Shough (6-5, 215) took over for Justin Herbert in 2020. He has great potential and is a feisty competitor. He has a great mix of arm strength, size and athleticism. He has since moved to Texas Tech as a graduate transfer.”

College Football New “With his size, arm, and mobility, he’s one great season away from possibly being No. 1 on this list. The 6-5, 220-pounder was a huge recruit for Oregon as the next great Duck QB after Justin Herbert moved on. He got his shot last year, but was just okay hitting 64% of his throws with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions with 271 rushing yards and two scores in seven games. He led the team to the Pac-12 title, though. Now he gets to operate the Matt Wells offense at Texas Tech.”

But what do you think? Who will be the Steelers number 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Grading the Steelers 7th round selection of Pressley Harvin III

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Georgia Tech P Pressley Harvin III with the 254th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Good news, Steelers Nation. After being subjected to a mind numbing amount of mock drafts and plenty of unsubstantiated speculation during what seemed like an inordinately long pre-draft process, minus the Scouting Combine to break up the monotony, the 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us. I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected P Pressley Harvin III from Georgia Tech with the 254th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. I was once again shocked when this Steelers selection came up on the screen. A punter from Georgia Tech? I wasn't even aware that the Steelers were in the market for a punter. I had always assumed that Jordan Berry had signed some type of unofficial lifetime contract. Based on the Steelers immediate need at the position I have given this Steelers selection a initial draft grade of A.

Harvin instantly became a fan favorite the moment his selection was announced. People always believe the backup QB to a struggling starter is the most popular guy in town, but that is not entirely true. A young talented punting prospect ready to challenge a longtime incumbent might just prove to be the exception to the rule. I jest, but Harvin is intriguing.

Harvin is a wide body punter with a huge leg. He stands 5'11" and weighs 263 lbs. He was All ACC as a senior after averaging 48 yards per punt, with a 44.8 net average. He was a unanimous first team AP All American and won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter. He excels as a directional punter, with incredible accuracy. He has the athleticism to handle bad snaps, and once threw a 41 yard touchdown pass off a fake punt. He has continued to improve each year, and should be a real threat to make the team in a open training camp competition.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the Pressley Harvin III selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome Pressley Harvin III to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!

Podcast: Why do fools fall in love?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 11:00am

With the Steelers now in their off-season, it’s time to bring back an old favorite as we look back at Steeler tales from yesterday and today surrounding the black-and-gold.

Falling in love with prospects is dangerous. What do you do when your draft crush ends up in purple or orange? Plus the problem with judging drafted players before they step foot on a Pittsburgh practice field will be discussed, Join BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis in wrapping up the Steelers 2021 NFL Draft. Join Bryan Anthony Davis from Behind The Steel Curtain. This leads to the topic of the latest episode of the most unique member of BTSC’s family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Falling in love with draft crushes and judging those players drafted too early.

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

Film Room: The Steelers land a physical lineman in Round 3 of the draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 10:30am
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What did the Steelers get when they took Kendrick Green in the 3rd round? We break it down by looking at the film.

The Steelers selected University of Illinois center/guard Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Friday night, providing them a versatile player who will bolster their offensive line.

Green was a three-year starter for the Illini, logging 29 starts at guard and four at center. He earned All Big Ten and Second Team All America honors in 2020. He has quick feet and, as an accomplished high school wrestler, is difficult for defenders to shed once he engages them. At a news conference to discuss Green’s selection, Pittsburgh offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said Green was attractive for his leadership qualities (“he was the alpha of that line at Illinois”) and because he fit the description of players who could “change the demeanor” of the Steelers up front. In other words, Green is tough and nasty.

One drawback is that Green is just 6’2 and has short arms for a lineman, which can be an issue against bigger defenders. Still, Green will likely be given the opportunity to compete for the starting center position in Pittsburgh as a rookie. He could also be considered as an eventual replacement for David DeCastro at guard.

For this film breakdown, I’ve chosen Illinois’s game against Northwestern last season. This is a nice game to evaluate because Green gets reps at both guard and center and because Northwestern is a quality opponent. Let’s take a look.

One thing that jumps out immediately about Green is how quick he is off of the football. Below we see him at left guard (#53) blocking an outside zone play to his right. Green has to reach the one-tech tackle lined up to the right of the center. That’s a full two gaps over, yet he does it with ease. Watch how quickly he gets out of his stance and, on contact, flips his hips to pin the defender, creating a seam for the running back:

Outside zone is a staple of Matt Canada’s offense and a play at which the Steelers’ new starting running back, first round draft pick Najee Harris, excels. It’s easy, given Green’s quickness and fluidity, to see him as a nice scheme fit for that play.

Here’s another example of Green’s quick get-off. He’s at left guard and will block out on the three-tech defender on this inside zone run. Green’s speed off of the football allows him to strike first, gain good hand position and run the defender out of the play:

Here, on an inside zone RPO, Green’s get-off, leverage and strong base (he squatted 700 pounds at Illinois) allow him to put the three-tech on the ground:

On the next play, Green is blocking inside zone to his right. He’s responsible for anything that shows in the A-gap between him and the center. Initially, he blocks the 2i tackle aligned on his inside shoulder. But as the tackle pinches towards the center, Green passes him off and picks up the linebacker, who is running a twist into the A-gap:

While I’d like to see Green play a bit lower and deliver a better blow on the backer, he manages to wash the backer out of the hole and open a lane for his back. More importantly, he demonstrates an understanding of his responsibility in the zone scheme and the discipline not to chase or be fooled by a stunt from the defense.

Here’s one more inside zone run, again to his right. Green (left guard) is again fast off of the football, this time pinning the backside one-tech as he slants across the center’s face into the near A-gap. Green loses his feet on the play (something that happens fairly often with him, which he will have to correct by not lunging) but he stops the stunt cold and provides his back a nice lane through which to run:

Green also moves his feet well in pass protection. On this throw, he sets with a good wide base, keeps his hands inside and mirrors the feet of his adjacent defender. This keeps Green on balance and stymies the defender’s rush:

I like Green’s effort in pass protection on this next play. He’s at center here and executes a slide protection to his right. He initially engages the defensive tackle but, realizing he has help from the guard, keeps his head moving and locates a loop stunt coming from the opposite side of the line. Green works back to help on the stunt before hustling to get out in front of his quarterback as he leaves the pocket. Green shows great situational awareness on this play, which speaks highly of his football IQ.

There is also a nastiness to Green’s game that will make old-school fans happy. Green seeks contact and commonly plays to the echo of the whistle. Watch him here as he pulls around to block the linebacker on this power-read play. The backer flows with the outside run action and Green cannot get to him. Rather than give up, he chases the play, finds a dark-colored jersey and hammers it:

On this play, Green picks up a safety inserting himself into the box to defend an inside zone run. The safety, not showing great enthusiasm for engaging Green, spins away. Green pivots, finds the football and then launches himself at a pursuing linebacker. It’s a play that demonstrates great hustle, but could also prompt a trigger-happy referee to reach for his flag. It’s also the type of play that endears a lineman to his teammates for the all-out effort it displays:

Here’s one more. On this pass play, Northwestern rushes just three defenders and Green finds himself with no one to block. So, he does what all linemen are taught by “finding work,” which is coach-speak for putting his body on someone. Green obliges, flattening the unsuspecting nose tackle:

Green will have to learn to navigate the fine line in the NFL between great hustle and unsportsmanlike conduct. In all of the scouting reports I read on him, he was never described as a dirty player. Physical and nasty? Yes. Dirty? No. There’s no doubt plays like these will make him popular in Pittsburgh, so long as he confines them to the whistle.

Green’s game is not without flaws, of course. Sometimes, his aggressiveness can put him at a disadvantage. Here, again at left guard, he climbs to block the middle linebacker but gets out too quickly, opening a backdoor through which the backer flows to the football. Green needs to be more patient here, not turn his shoulders and force the backer to go over top of him to get to the ball-carrier:

On this play, Green, at center, runs a pin-and-pull sweep that should look familiar to Steelers fans. This is a play Maurkice Pouncey executed successfully many times over his career. Green looks good getting out and pulling. He moves well for a big man with a thick lower body (much better than players like Josh Meyers and Trey Hill, two center prospects who were commonly mocked to the Steelers throughout the draft process). However, as we noted above, Green has a tendency to lunge and get off balance, which we see here as he attempts to kick out the corner near the sideline. Granted, the corner avoids contact by backing away from Green. But you can see how Green drops his chest and lunges while initiating the block. If he’s going to be utilized in space on linebackers and safeties, Green will have to work on keeping his feet under his shoulders and staying square on his targets:

Oddly, there are times where Green falls into lazy habits as well. Occasionally, he will morph from the most aggressive player on the field into one who makes initial contact then passively watches the play.

Here, at center, he has A-gap protection responsibility. He slides to his left to engage the one-tech tackle and receives help from the guard, who has no one threatening him in the B-gap. The one-tech makes a half-hearted attempt to split the double team and then plays paddy-cake at the line of scrimmage. Correspondingly, Green gets caught with his feet anchored to the ground, which is both lazy and dangerous (it’s a good way to have someone roll up on your knee):

This looks more like a Friday afternoon practice rep than a play in a live game. While Green technically does his job, you’d like to see him make more of an effort to either bury the one-tech or at least chop his feet to protect himself. I have no doubt Coach Klemm will preach consistency on every rep to maximize Green’s potential.

Outlook

The Steelers had a chance to draft Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in Round 2 but passed on him to take tight end Pat Freiermuth from Penn State. The decision seemed odd to those who believed Humphrey was the best center in the draft. But Humphrey, as good as he may be, is more of an athlete and technician than he is a mauler. Green, while displaying good mobility, plays more in the mold of Alabama’s Landon Dickerson, who was drafted at No. 37 by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers, while nervous about his multiple knee surgeries, gushed about Dickerson in the pre-draft process. This suggests they were looking for a more physical player in an effort to, as Klemm said, change the line’s demeanor. With Green, Kevin Dotson and Zach Banner in the fold, that transformation appears underway.

Joining Dotson and Banner in the starting lineup seems a matter of “when,” not “if” for Green. He may be good enough to win the job at center in training camp. If not, Green could backup both the center and guard positions as he develops. He’s a solid acquisition whose versatility, mobility and nasty streak could make him a fixture for years to come in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are choosing to decline Terrell Edmunds’ 5th year option

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 9:56am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are planning on declining Terrell Edmunds’ fifth year option.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had to make a very difficult decision with safety Terrell Edmunds. Monday was the deadline for the team to make a decision on the former first round pick’s 5th year option.

After already picking up the 5th year option for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the question then became would they do the same for Edmunds? With the deadline approaching the Steelers decided to decline the option on Edmunds.

The #Steelers are declining the fifth-year option on safety Terrell Edmunds, per source.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 3, 2021

The amount of the option for Edmunds would have been $6.753 million as he earned enough playing time to put him into the second category under the new system established in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. Had Edmunds made a Pro Bowl, his option would have been for more than $9 million. By picking up Fitzpatrick’s option, the Steelers shelled out $10.621 million for 2022 which fully guarantees his fourth-year and fifth-year salaries. As for Edmunds, he is now set to be a free agent following the 2021 season.

The decision for the Steelers to not pick up Edmunds’ option marks the third time the Steelers have not picked up the option on a first round pick since the option became a part of the NFL contract for first round picks. The other two instances were with Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns.

Not picking up the option doesn’t mean Edmunds is automatically done in Pittsburgh. The Steelers could still sign Edmunds to a second contract, one which they feel would be more fitting for how they view Edmunds’ worth. However, to do so Edmunds will likely first have to try his hand at free agency. If he finds there isn’t a better deal out there, he certainly could return to the Steelers. It is possible, but unlikely.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for offseason workouts, the regular season schedule release and mandatory minicamp.

Grading the Steelers seventh round selection of Tre Norwood

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Oklahoma DB Tre Norwood with the 245th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Good news, Steelers Nation. After being subjected to a mind numbing amount of mock drafts and plenty of unsubstantiated speculation during what seemed like an inordinately long pre-draft process, minus the Scouting Combine to break up the monotony, the 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us. I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected DB Tre Norwood from the Oklahoma Sooners with the 245th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. Steelers HC Mike Tomlin announced the pick on live television. While doing so, he called Norwood a swiss army knife type of safety. The moniker given to the young man speaks to his versatility and position flexibility. Kind of like a jack of all trades but a master of none. He has experience at corner, safety, and nickel back. Based on the aforementioned parameters listed above, I am giving the Tre Norwood selection an initial draft grade of a C.

Norwood stands 6' and weighs 192 lbs. After missing the 2019 season due to a torn ACL, Norwood really came on strong as a big play producer for the Sooners defense, particularly over the final six games as his knee continued to gain strength. He had five interceptions over the final six games, including returning one for a touchdown against Florida in the Sooners Cotton Bowl victory. He ran a 4.58 forty and had a 33.5" vertical, not particularly noteworthy numbers for a defensive back, but keep in mind he may still not be fully recovered from the knee injury. He has shown that he continues to gain strength and confidence in the knee as time goes by.

Norwood has some athletic deficiencies that limit his usage. He lacks the recovery speed to excel on the outside, and the physicality and tenacity preferred in the slot. He is not a proficient tackler, where his lack of physicality makes him utilize the grab and drag technique. This limits his usage to the free safety position when deep.

Norwood has solid instincts and football IQ. He has shown soft hands and ball hawking tendencies. He reminds me of former Steelers CB William Gay Sr. due to his physique and limitations, but also for his instincts and feel for the game. If he can make an early impact on special teams and show flashes of his versatility during training camp, he could compete for a roster spot. A spot on the practice squad is probably a more realistic destination.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the Tre Norwood selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome Tre Norwood to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!

Welcome to the Steelers, Tre Norwood and Pressley Harvin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 8:25am

The Steelers selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. Join BTSC for a special roundtable podcast to welcome CB/S Tre Norwood and P Pressley Harvin to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers continued crafting their 2021 roster by finally selecting a defensive back, Tre Norwood from Oklahoma, in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. They then added punter Pressley Harvin from Georgia Tech. BTSC’s Michael Beck, Geoffrey Benedict, Dave Schofield and Matt Peverell break down the picks of Norwood and Harvin on the latest episode of the BTSC post-NFL Draft podcast.

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.

BTSC gives overall grades for the Steelers draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Senior Bowl/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

The staff of BTSC give their thoughts on how the Steelers emerged following the 2021 NFL draft.

Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we?

Although truly grading a draft class comes several years into their NFL careers, grading the overall production immediately following the NFL draft is a generally accepted practice by NFL fans. With the acknowledgment that none of these players have yet to step onto an NFL field, the staff at Behind The Steel Curtain is giving their overall thoughts along with the grade of the Steelers 2021 NFL draft. Remember, we are all Steelers fans, so this is definitely going to be viewed wearing black-and-gold goggles.

Dave Schofield

Grade: B+
Favorite pick: Kendrick Green
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: I was quite concerned with the Steelers draft through the first two rounds, not because who they selected but because of what they had yet to address. The draft of center Kendrick Green, who appears to be a better fit with what the Steelers want from the center than others they could have had sooner, made the decision to take their players in the first two rounds even better. There were a couple curious picks in the middle of Day 3, but getting Quincy Roche in Round 6 was a steal. They took a corner back late, but adding a number as UDFAs has them where they just need one to stick. The Steelers checked all the boxes of things they needed.

Bryan Anthony Davis

Grade: A-
Favorite pick: Najee Harris
Head-scratcher: Devodrick “Buddy” Johnson

Analysis: This draft started out right for me when the Steelers tabbed Najee Harris, the best running back in the draft, and added to the offensive line with my other favorite pick, Kendick “Son of 2 AM” Green, and Dan Moore. Even though it took me a bit of time, I’m embracing the Pat Freiermuth pick, “Muth”!!!!! A 263 lb. punter by the name of Pressley Harvin (I’m calling him Elvis from now on). Sign me the heck up. Tre Norwood could be an answer for the loss of Mike Hilton, “The Steal” Quincy Roche was so much more at Temple than his last season at Miami, give Loudermilk a chance and I just didn’t view Buddy as a fourth rounder. But what do I know? The important people did. A definite Steelers draft and a pretty nice one overall. All that truth in 145 words, pals!

K.T. Smith

Grade: B
Favorite pick: Quincy Roche
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: The Najee Harris pick immediately addressed the Steelers biggest need, and did so with the consensus best running back in the draft. Kendrick Green will be a fan favorite for his Willie Colon-style physicality. Pat Freiermuth could become a stud if Matt Canada maximizes his versatility. But Quincey Roche is my favorite pick. He could be the team’s next great late-round gem as a pass rushing specialist and special teams demon. I love his motor and his cerebral approach to the game. He has me excited.

Trading a fourth in next year’s draft for Laudermilk is baffling, though. Perhaps another team was poised to take him. But it seems a heavy price to pay for a guy who likely could have been had for nothing.

Geoffrey Benedict

Grade: B+
Favorite pick: Buddy Johnson
Head-scratcher: Dan Moore Jr.

Analysis: The Steelers solved my early concerns that they would find a starting center when they found Pouncey-lite Kendrick Green in the third, and that was close to winning my favorite pick. That pick salvaged the first two rounds ignoring the position for me. When they went back to the offensive line for a big project tackle with a big hole at cornerback I was a bit confused. They wouldn’t address corner until the 7th round.

One of my big wish list items was a more athletic Vince Williams to pair with Devin Bush. The Steelers took a good swing at that role with Buddy Johnson, who also happens to be a top notch locker room guy. He’ll play special teams too, and that helped him stay my favorite pick even when the Steelers took the best punter in the nation with their last pick.

Shannon White

Grade: B
Favorite pick: Najee Harris
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: After spending a rather large amount of time these past three days researching and grading each selection, I will try to keep this answer short and sweet. I love the Kendrick Green pick, but I have to go Harris because his selection set the tone for the entire draft class. The top three selections are foundation building blocks. Buddy Johnson looks like a Steelers linebacker, and Roche could be a steal.

My overall draft grade would have been higher if not for the Loudermilk selection. I already explained my thoughts and feelings about the pick in my article, so just let me say I hope and pray he proves me wrong.

Michael Beck

Grade: A-
Favorite pick: Pat Freiermuth
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: I will probably be higher on Freiermuth than most but in the Steelers existence they have really never focused primary assets to the tight end position. In a modern offense heading into a transitionary period Freiermuth will be heavily targeted, and leaned upon if the Steelers draft a new quarterback in the coming years. This guy will be the Steelers security blanket on offense.

Loudermilk will always be question mark until he proves his worth. A relative unknown —unless you've studied 400 prospects— the Steelers invested a lot of draft capital to get him. The defensive line is already brimming with talent I don’t foresee much playing time for Loudermilk at all. It may also be hard for him just to make the team.

Anthony Defeo

Grade: B+
Favorite pick: Kendrick Green
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: The Steelers entered the 2021 NFL Draft in need of starters at multiple positions. Three—running back, tight end and center—were practically begging for good prospects to come in and take over from Day 1. The Steelers found three prime candidates to do just that in Harris, Freiermuth and Green. The rest of the class includes mostly intriguing prospects who could develop. Overall, I like what the Steelers did. But I’m normally easy to please when it comes to the draft.

Jeff Hartman

Grade: B
Favorite pick: Najee Harris
Head-scratcher: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: The best pick could have been Pressley Harvin III, the punter from Georgia Tech, but I decided to go with my real favorite pick — Najee Harris. Why? Because I feel Harris is going to be a game-changing running back. Not only is he an outstanding player, but also a tremendous young man. A great pick both from football and character, and I have a feeling everyone who wanted someone else at pick No. 24 will be looking for a No. 22 jersey by Week 8.

The updated 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers offseason 90-man roster following the draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Steelers saw a net gain of 6 players on offense while adding 10 spots on defense and one on special teams over the weekend

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 roster is taking shape following the NFL draft. With nine draft picks and eight undrafted rookie free agents helping to fill out the rest of the open spots and beyond, the Steelers are actually two players over the roster limit at the moment. How is that possible? The players the Steelers have drafted and agreed to terms with as undrafted free agents don’t “officially” take up a roster spot until the contract is signed. The Steelers will likely release players sooner than later as they prefer to do right by players and allow them to catch on with another team.

There have also been a number of players from 2020 draft who have been reported to sign with the Steelers. They will not be included until they are officially announced by the team.

Here is a breakdown of the Steelers roster by position with the number of players kept (in parentheses) on their initial 53-man roster in 2020. The ranking is not necessarily a depth chart, but higher profile players are listed toward the top with current undrafted free agents being at the bottom.

Offense

Quarterback (3)

  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Mason Rudolph
  3. Joshua Dobbs
  4. Dewayne Haskins

Analysis: The Steelers didn’t add any new quarterbacks throughout the draft process as any would likely only be a camp arm.

Running Back (4)

  1. Najee Harris
  2. Benny Snell Jr.
  3. Jaylen Samuels
  4. Anthony McFarland Jr.
  5. Kalen Ballage
  6. Trey Edmunds

Analysis: The Steelers didn’t do what they had done recently to add to the running game and invested their highest of draft capital in Najee Harris.

Fullback (1):

  1. Derek Watt

Analysis: Watt has no other competition unless the Steelers transition Trey Edmunds to fullback.

Wide Receiver (5)

  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  2. Diontae Johnson
  3. Chase Claypool
  4. James Washington
  5. Ray-Ray McCloud
  6. Anthony Johnson
  7. Cody White
  8. Tyler Simmons
  9. Matthew Sexton
  10. Isaiah McCoy
  11. Ricco Bussey

Analysis: For the first time since 2011 the Steelers did not draft a wide receiver. They did add two UDFAs and they were the only ones added on offence.

Tight End (3)

  1. Eric Ebron
  2. Pat Freiermuth
  3. Zach Gentry
  4. Kevin Rader
  5. Dax Raymond
  6. Charles Jones

Analysis: Adding a tight end in the draft as the highest pick since Heath Miller, the tight end room looks very similar to last year by swapping Freiermuth for the retired Vance McDonald.

Offensive Line (9)

  1. David DeCastro
  2. Chukwuma Okorafor
  3. Zach Banner
  4. Kevin Dotson
  5. B.J. Finney
  6. Joe Haeg
  7. Kendrick Green
  8. J.C. Hassenauer
  9. Dan Moore
  10. Rashaad Coward
  11. Aviante Collins
  12. Anthony Coyle
  13. Jarron Jones
  14. John Leglue
  15. Brandon Walton

Analysis: The Steelers added two players on the offensive line in the draft. Although it wasn’t a lot of bodies at the position, it did infuse more youth and nastiness.

Defense

Defensive Line (6)

  1. Cameron Heyward
  2. Stephon Tuitt
  3. Tyson Alualu
  4. Chris Wormley
  5. Carlos Davis
  6. Isaiah Buggs
  7. Henry Mondeaux
  8. Isaiahh Loudermilk
  9. Abdullah Anderson
  10. Calvin Taylor
  11. Demarcus Christmas
  12. T.J. Carter

Analysis: The Steelers surprisingly added a defensive tackle in the 2021 draft although the room is already very crowded. Either a draft pick or players who logged snaps in 2020 will likely not make the team.

Outside Linebacker (4)

  1. T.J. Watt
  2. Alex Highsmith
  3. Quincy Roche
  4. Cassius Marsh
  5. Jamir Jones
  6. Jamar Watson

Analysis: There still aren’t a lot of bodies at the position, so the Steelers may not be done adding players at outside linebacker.

Inside Linebacker (4)

  1. Devin Bush
  2. Vince Williams
  3. Robert Spillane
  4. Buddy Johnson
  5. Ulysees Gilbert III
  6. Marcus Allen
  7. Miles Killebrew
  8. Tegray Scales
  9. Jarvis Miller
  10. Calvin Bundage

Analysis: Miles Killebrew doesn’t really fit, but is listed as a linebacker on the Steelers website. There are no lack of bodies going into camp at this position.

Cornerback (6)

  1. Joe Haden
  2. Cam Sutton
  3. Justin Layne
  4. James Pierre
  5. Tre Norwood
  6. Stephen Denmark
  7. Trevor Williams
  8. Skakur Brown
  9. Mark Gilbert

Analysis: The Steelers lost two players that were, in essence, starters and did not address the position until the very end of the draft. But by also bringing in a couple UDFAs, it will be interesting to see which players catch on.

Safety (5)

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick
  2. Terrell Edmunds
  3. Antione Brooks Jr.
  4. John Battle
  5. Lamont Wade
  6. Donovan Steiner

Analysis: Not much movement here other than a couple UDFAs. I still would consider Miles Killebrew at this position, but it’s ultimately up to the Steelers.

Specialists

Placekicker (1)

  1. Chris Boswell

Punter (1)

  1. Jordan Berry
  2. Pressley Harvin III
  3. Corliss Waitman

Long Snapper (1)

  1. Kameron Canaday
  2. Christian Kuntz

Analysis: The Steelers drafted a specialist for the first time since 2017. Although Boswell has no competition, the punting job should be Pressley Harvin’s to lose after the Steelers invested the draft capital.

Totals

Offense: 43

Defense: 43

Specialists: 6

Total: 92

Get to know the man, Najee Harris, not just the football player

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 5:30am
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top draft pick is far more than just the team’s top draft pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time making their first round pick when it was the 24th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. In fact, it took just seconds for the team to submit their pick. They knew who they wanted, and they made the pick. In the matter of minutes, Najee Harris was the newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As black and gold blooded fans poor over Najee Harris highlights and film breakdowns, it might be worth your time to take a look at Harris, the man, not just the Steelers’ draft pick.

Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, Harris participated in a YouTube docu-series called ‘Road to the Pros’. There are three episodes in the series, and they talk about Harris’ rough upbringing in the bay area in California, bouncing from homeless shelter to homeless shelter, to finding his love for football and eventually the prep leading up to the draft.

The series doesn’t cover the actual draft when he becomes the Steelers’ top pick, but it is well worth your time. What you will find is Harris isn’t just a phenomenal player, but also a tremendous human being who loves to help those in need. You can see all three episodes below.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the regular season schedule release, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and training camp.

Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3

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