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Those Steelers fans who always want Mike Tomlin fired are the worst

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 6:31am

Hey, so-called Steelers fans. Stop filling up Facebook comment sections with your negative, hashtag gibberish.

Do me a favor, go to your Facebook page and read the comments of some article/video/news snippet on one of the various Steelers sites you follow, such as Behind The Steel Curtain or Steelers.com (Behind the Steel Curtain, preferably, because—full disclosure—I write for that site).

What do you see? A plethora of posts like “#FireTomlin,” right? It doesn’t matter what news item is posted, either. It could be an article that discusses the team’s preseason schedule for this summer, and literally within the first two comments, you’ll have a “#FireTomlin” thrown in that gets like 19,000 replies, with 14,000 of them also stating that they, too, want Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the team since 2007, to be fired.

What is it with these so-called fans? What kind of person who claims to love a team walks around with one negative note playing inside of his or her head over and over again? What kind of fan is super-obsessed with something like wanting the head coach fired? What kind of fan thinks this, and only this, is the solution to the team’s problems? Furthermore, what kind of fan thinks the Steelers problems are so bad that only the firing of the head coach will allow them to sleep well at night?

What kind of fan of the Steelers, one who is well-aware of the way the Rooney family does business, actually thinks this will happen at any point in the immediate future? First of all, the Rooneys haven’t conducted business this way since before the 1970s, when they would do such things like select a player with their first-round draft pick simply because they liked a picture they saw of him. Second of all, it’s mid-April; since when do teams fire head coaches just days before the NFL Draft?

Do you really think Art Rooney II, the team’s president and majority owner, is really paying attention to you and your one-note sideshow comments, Mr. Guy Who Posts Foghorn Leghorn Memes All Day Long And Doesn’t Know The Difference Between Loose and Lose?

Anyway, this article isn’t necessarily about the merits of Tomlin—do you think he should be on the hot seat next season? Who cares? (Seriously, who focuses on that kind of stuff in mid-April?) It’s more about those toxic fans, the people who do nothing but post negative stuff on social media—mainly Facebook—day after day.

Why bother if the team makes you so grumpy? I know what you’re going to say, “Hey, I ain’t even a fan. These Steelers-related posts just keep appearing on my news feed.” OK, so you, a grown-up, don’t like something, and your way of dealing with this is to continuously write hashtag gibberish and other incoherent things that make you seem insane?

You may also say this, “Well, for your information, Tony, I’m a huge Steelers fans, and if you met me in person, you’d know that I’m actually pretty reasonable and rational.” First of all, I don’t want to meet you in person; you scare me. Second of all, reasonable and rational people don’t trash the comments section of an article about the Steelers giving to charity. Third of all, you fall for my April Fool’s articles every single time, which brings me back to you scaring me. Fourth of all, reasonable and rational fans aren’t obsessed with being negative about a sports franchise—they’re too busy enjoying the hell out of that franchise.

Speaking of enjoying a franchise (or just the opposite of that), ever investigate the Facebook pages of some of these so-called Steelers fans? If you actually do visit one of these pages, you may see a photo from 2016 of someone getting his picture taken with Mean Joe Greene. Another person may have posted a photo of her baby clad in black and gold the day of Pittsburgh’s big playoff game in 2015.

So, what suddenly went wrong? What made these people—people with very recent evidence of being super fans—snap?

Was it built up angst from not winning a Super Bowl for a decade? Is that the only thing that makes certain fans happy? How can you go from loving a team with all of your heart to trolling every Steeler-related site?

Sorry not sorry if this seems preachy, but if you’re not one of those people described in this article, you shouldn’t be offended. If you are, please, feel free to be offended. What do I care? You add no value to the fan experience. You add no intelligent discussion to any Steeler-related topic. You can’t possibly be a fan if you’re miserable about the team 24/7.

Finally, if you think Mike Tomlin is on the hot seat for 2019, I got news for you. He’s the head coach of a popular NFL team. When he’s not doing that, he’s giving his free time to worthwhile causes and bringing awareness to human trafficking. All you do all day is post “#FireTomlin” on any Steelers-related news-item that pops up on your Facebook page.

You do know your boss can probably see that, right? I’d say you’re more likely to be fired in 2019 than Mike Tomlin is.

Black and Gold Links: The dysfunction within the ‘Killer B’s’ goes far beyond superficial squabbling

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/13/2019 - 5:03am

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 rift between one of the most talented offenses not to win a Super Bowl was far worse than meets the eye.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Everyone was always so proud of the ‘Killer B’s’, which made their demise even more painful. So what exactly went wrong?

What’s behind the Steelers’ breakup of Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell?

By: Howard Bryant, ESPN

But maybe the wounds aren’t so self-inflicted after all, for revolutions often occur in the places where stability is mistaken for peace. The problem is the Steelers themselves. Over the past 20 years, the three teams best known for being financially penurious have been the Eagles, the Patriots and the Steelers. This reality is set against the larger backdrop: Football players are exploited. Their bodies are disposable by the facts of the profession, the overwhelming financial advantages of the front offices and the locker room machismo culture the players perpetrate, even as it destroys their leverage. (Next Man Up, and commence eye roll.)

By not paying players, the Steelers are one of the teams that have been ripest for a player revolt. During Bell’s holdout, which lasted the entire 2018 season, Wallace went on social media and referred to his own desire to earn his financial value within the short window of an NFL career. However, this is not just a financial conflict but a racial/political/class one, for the Steelers over the past few years have been both cheap and condescending. The team’s general manager, Kevin Colbert, essentially said this offseason that QB Ben Roethlisberger was the only adult in the room. “He has 52 kids in the room under him, quite honestly,” Colbert said. It was a comment that revealed the underlying fractures that exist in a football locker room, where black players are expected to perform without complaint, to be grateful for being “rescued” from the ghetto, and are spoken to with an insulting paternalism. Colbert spoke of Roethlisberger, who is now 37, as bigger than his entire team. “If our players were smart,” Colbert said, “they’d listen to him because he’s been there, he’s done it.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Alejandro Villanueva has done a lot in his young life, and now he can scratch “commencement speaker” off the list.

Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva to be Saint Vincent commencement speaker

By: Joe Napsha

It’s not many colleges that have a decorated war hero and a professional athlete as the principal commencement speaker, but Saint Vincent College has found one person who can lay claim to being both — former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who is an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The college on Friday announced that Villanueva, a decorated Army Ranger, a National Football League Pro Bowler and noted humanitarian, will speak at commencement on May 11 at the Robert S. Carey Student Center on campus.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Although not many are talking about him potentially going to the Steelers, Antonio Brown’s cousin, Marquise Brown, got some good news regarding his injured foot recently.

Marquise Brown gets a positive review for his injured foot

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Former Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown was among the players to undergo a medical re-check in Indianapolis on Wednesday. Brown received good news.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Brown “received a very positive review” on a foot that he injured late in the year.

Brown, who injured the foot in the Big 12 championship game, has been out of a boot for weeks, per Rapoport. Brown didn’t participate in the Scouting Combine and engaged in no pre-draft workouts.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • When people talk about their road to the NFL, not many could beat the crazy road Chukwuma Okorafor has taken to get him to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Okorafor is beating the odds

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

What an amazing journey it’s been for the young Steelers offensive lineman.

Okorafor was born in Nigeria, and was raised for part of his life in Botswana, where the main sport was soccer. That’s all he knew. That’s all he watched. That’s all he played.

His family immigrated to the United States in 2010, settling in the Detroit area. It was a chance for a better life for them, a better job for his father, and a shot at the American Dream.

What he had to adjust to most, was a different sport. People were encouraging him to play football. It was a sport all the kids played, one that brought people together with a common love. And his first introduction to it, was watching the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

We love our city.

Happy #412Day! #BurghProud pic.twitter.com/mKZz8yKa5t

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 12, 2019

Coach Faulkner discusses his journey from NC State to the NFL, his relationships with Coach Tomlin and Coach Fichtner, Jaylen Samuels and growing up a #Steelers fan. #FaceTime pic.twitter.com/KgJpUZqlgW

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 12, 2019

Next on the tee:
Roethlisberger, Ben
⛳️ Furyk, Jim#TheMasters | #tbt pic.twitter.com/tpmGpQGO4P

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 11, 2019

Avoid Lloyd. #tbt pic.twitter.com/8DQV5FKZnl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 11, 2019

Heading into the weekend like.... pic.twitter.com/lMaNcqI0lL

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) April 12, 2019

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 5:43pm

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. If the big-name ILBs are off the board, and all of the following three CBs are available, who are you taking and why? Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy and Deandre Baker

2. I spoke about this on my Steelers Burning Question podcast (you can listen to it below), so I thought I would ask here: Do you think the drama is over in Pittsburgh? Explain your answer.

3. Which player from the 2018 NFL Draft will have the bigger year in 2019? Terrell Edmunds, James Washington, Jaylen Samuels?

4. Which coach, not named Mike Tomlin, is on the hot seat the most if the team doesn’t win in 2019?

5. If you had to pick one, who would you pick? Aaron Smith or Cameron Heyward?

6. Who was your favorite Steelers player from when you were younger?

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Round 3 of Steelers March Madness: Featuring 2004 vs. 1976

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 2:14pm

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 2004 Steelers and the 1976 edition?

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you voted the No. 5 seeded 2010 team that fell against a Green Bay in the franchise’s final Super Bowl over the Immaculate team that put the Steelers over as contenders. It was our closest vote to date. Here’s the final tally.

No. 4: 1972 (11-3) Immaculately sewing the seeds of a dynasty - 45% No. 5: 2010 (12-4) Slipping on the Stairway to Seven - 55%

As we head into the semifinals, the only one-loss Steeler team in regular season history arrives with a rookie signal caller and a suffocating defense. 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. 1 Seed: 2004 (15-1) The Ben-ginning of a new era

Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season saw Bill Cowher’s Steelers post their best regular season record in the team’s history. Ben shattered the NFL record of six wins by a QB to start his NFL career by going 13-0 in the regular season. Besides the mania surrounding the rookie phenom, this was the season that saw the debuts of Duce Staley and Willie Parker in Pittsburgh and the original last days of Plaxico Burress. We also saw James Harrison get to take advantage of a chance when Joey Porter punched William Green in Pregame of a November bout in Cleveland. The highlights of the season included beating undefeated New England (halting their 21-game win-spree) and Philadelphia in back-to-back games in Weeks 8 & 9 respectively. Leading the way that year was Roethlisberger (13-0 and a 66.4 completion percentage), Jerome Bettis (941 yards and 13 TDs), Staley (830 yards), Hines Ward (1,004 receiving yards), Aaron Smith (8 sacks), Joey Porter (7 sacks), Clark Haggans (6 sacks), James Farrior (4 interceptions, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and recoveries), Polamalu (5 interceptions) and Deshea Townsend (4 interceptions). The Steelers narrowly escaped the Jets at home when Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions (including a pick six) and Doug Brien missed game-winning field goals for the Jets. The dream ended at home in the AFC Championship Game as No. 7 threw another pick-six and New England trounced the Steelers 41-27. The Pats went on to win the Super Bowl.

Pro Bowlers: Jerome Bettis, Alan Faneca, James Farrior, Jeff Hartings, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Hines Ward

First-Team All Pros: Alan Faneca, James Farrior, Jeff Hartings, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Hines Ward

Second-Team All Pros: Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Hines Ward

Team MVP: James Farrior

No. 1 Draft Pick: Ben Roethlisberger

Rookie of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger

No. 8 Seed: 1976 - The Steel Curtain Defense at their highest level

After winning their first two titles the previous two seasons, it seemed likely that the Steelers could three-peat as an even stronger unit. However, Chuck Noll’s team shockingly started off as a disappointing 1-4. To make matters worse, QB Terry Bradshaw was injured in a Week 5 loss in Cleveland. Bradshaw sustained the injury after the infamous Joe “Turkey” Jones slamdown. Fortunes would turn with Mike Kruczek behind center, as the rookie set a NFL record (later broken by Ben Roethlisberger in 2004) for wins to start a career. Bradshaw would return intermittently throughout the remainder of the season, but most of the Steelers success was due to a suffocating defense (five shutouts and a mere 28 points surrendered in those final nine games) and the rushing tandem of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. Harris (1,128 yards/14 TDs and Bleier (1,026 yards/5 TDs) were basically the entire offense, as the leading receiver (Lynn Swann) had a mere 516 yards and three scores. On a defense that included five All Pros, Mel Blount and Glen Edwards led with six interceptions a piece and Jack Lambert had two picks and six fumble recoveries. In the playoffs, the Steelers pounded Baltimore 40-14. Bradshaw threw three TD passes, two of them to Swann and Reggie Harrison had two rushing scores. Harrison was in due to injuries in the game to Harris and Bleier. Unfortunately, No. 46 and the Steelers weren’t as productive without the pair of 1K rushers the next week in the AFC Championship against Oakland. The Raiders went on to play Minnesota in SB XI, while Steeler Nation saw one of their best teams in franchise history wonder what might have been.

Pro Bowlers: Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Glen Edwards, Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Lynn Swann and Mike Wagner

First-Team All Pros: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Glen Edwards

Second-Team All Pros: Joe Greene and Mike Wagner

Team MVP: Jack Lambert

No. 1 Draft Pick: Bennie Cunningham

Even though the 2004 team experienced a mere one loss, they were suspect in the playoffs. The 1976 seemed poised to get three rings in three campaigns, but Bradshaw didn’t start consistently due to injury and their duo of 1K-yard rushers were too hurt to go in the playoffs. Hence, the loss in the AFCCG. Please vote and comment below.

Check back Monday for the results and the other semifinal matchup.

Steelers host Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson on pre-draft visit Friday

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

And could also be welcoming to Valdosta State cornerback Stephen Denmark to the Steel City as well in the coming days if a report from earlier in the week turns out to be accurate.

The Pittsburgh Steelers once again only welcomed one pre-draft visitor to team facilities on Friday, with Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson the lone guest to end the week.

The Steelers' predraft visitor Friday is Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson, a wide receiver/return specialist. That makes 26 official visits (out of 30) for Steelers heading into final week

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) April 12, 2019

Commended by scouts for his quick release and ability to create separation, many also question how his relatively undersized frame will translate to the professional level when faced with bigger, stronger, faster competition.

Measuring 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 183-pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, Johnson ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and recorded a 33.5 inch vertical. Reportedly impressing onlookers at a pro day attended by Pittsburgh wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, the former MAC Special Teams Player of the Year led the conference with a punt return average of 18.3 yards a return in 2018.

In three season at Toledo as a receiver, Johnson recorded 135 receptions for 2,235 yards and 23 touchdowns and also finished with 78 kick returns for 1,826 yards and two touchdowns.

The Steelers have now officially used 26 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.

WR, Diontae Johnson, Toledo

Scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

“Despite a lack of desired size, Johnson might have the ability to play inside or outside thanks to his speed and ability to elude press from his release. He has basketball athleticism, but his routes will need more focus and less freestyle once he steps up in competition. The athleticism and quickness should allow for a wide range of usage on offense but his hands might always be a concern for him. He’s a little small and wasn’t as fast or quick at the combine as expected, so Day 3 in the draft is his likely landing spot as a WR3/WR4 talent.”

The Steelers may only have a few slots let to entertain out of town visitors, but it would appear that Valdosta State cornerback Stephen Denmark could be in line for one of them, as per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle from earlier in the week.

Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark has a top 30 visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to a league source #NFLDraftNews #PittsburghSteelers

— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 9, 2019

Stephen Denmark posted a Elite #RAS with Elite size, Good speed, Elite explosiveness, Poor agility, at the CB position. pic.twitter.com/j0j7RqsdDR

— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 5, 2019

If you could have a do-over for a Steelers 1st round draft pick, who would it be?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 11:02am

If you could go back and get a do-over, what Steelers first round pick would be changed?

The Masters golf tournament is currently underway, and in light of the sport where players get the most mulligans, or “do-overs”, it seemed only right to bring the conversation of do-overs to the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

ESPN recently went through first round picks of all 32 teams and picked one which they would want a do-over for. Here is what they came up with for the black-and-gold:

First round of 2016 draft (No. 25 overall)

Actual pick: Artie Burns, CB, Miami

Do-over pick: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

The Steelers scoured the earth for cornerbacks in 2016. They really liked William Jackson, who went No. 24 overall. So the Steelers zoned in on Burns, who showed flashes in his first two seasons but got benched in Year 3. Howard, a Pro Bowler in Miami, would have become a staple at outside corner opposite Joe Haden to solidify the Steelers’ pass defense.

After reading the small paragraph on Artie Burns, it made me wonder if there was another pick the fan base would want back. To make this simpler, I went back and focused on just the Kevin Colbert era (2000-current) to look at all of his first round draft picks.

I listed them below, but of all the players who were given the tag of 1st round draft pick, which do you want to have a do-over on? Would it be Jarvis Jones? How about the aforementioned Burns? Maybe you would have picked someone else instead of Ziggy Hood back in 2009. Let us know what pick you would want a mulligan on, and if you want to dig up the results from that draft, feel free to let us know who you would have wanted instead, who was also available.

Kevin Colbert’s 1st Round Picks

2000: Plaxico Burress
2001: Casey Hampton
2002: Kendall Simmons
2003: Troy Polamalu
2004: Ben Roethlisberger
2005: Heath Miller
2006: Santonio Holmes
2007: Lawrence Timmons
2008: Rashard Mendenhall
2009: Evander ‘Ziggy’ Hood
2010: Maurkice Pouncey
2011: Cameron Heyward
2012: David DeCastro
2013: Jarvis Jones
2014: Ryan Shazier
2015: Bud Dupree
2016: Artie Burns
2017: T.J. Watt
2018: Terrell Edmunds

The Steelers are searching for their next diamond in the rough at the tight end position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 9:27am

The Outlaw Jesse James was a classic overachiever during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are searching this draft class ever so closely for his replacement.

Heading into the start of free agency the Pittsburgh Steelers two biggest areas of need were universally considered to be the inside linebacker and cornerback positions. Some individuals were still holding out hope that the suddenly strained relationship between Antonio Brown and the Steelers could somehow be mended, but it turned out Brown was never going to let that happen. It wasn't part of his master plan. Immediately the need for another experienced receiver moved toward the top of the Steelers list of needs.

Kevin Colbert and the Pittsburgh Steelers had an impressively effective and uncommonly busy foray into free agency. The Steelers addressed all three positions with proven commodities, taking some of the pressure off any drafted players to be immediate starters. Asking rookies to be immediate contributors is one thing, instant starters is another.

Seemingly lost amongst all the positive additions was a unavoidable loss. Anytime another NFL franchise is willing to pay your backup tight end, a solid but far from spectacular player, starters money you will find yourself with a roster spot needing to be filled.

That description fits former Steelers TE Jesse James to a tee. Words like solid, reliable, durable, and likable immediately come to mind. All these characteristics have value and merit, but only at the right price. The Detroit Lions were able to make an offer James couldn't refuse and the Steelers would never have been able to match. The Outlaw's on field production shouldn't be that hard to duplicate. However, his underappreciated intangibles may prove harder to replace.

Jesse James was a type of insurance for the Steelers. Insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, until it turns out you need it. Starting TE Vance McDonald remained relatively healthy last season, something that had eluded him previously during his career. McDonald had his finest season and had some spectacular moments that bore witness to just how special a player he could turn out to be. McDonald's bruising playing style has lent itself to a variety of nagging injuries through the years. Gambling on Vance's ability to stay healthy is kinda like juggling with dynamite. Hard to feel comfortable with those odds. Jesse's reliability offered the Steelers a real security blanket. That attribute will be sorely missed.

The Steelers signed their third string TE Xavier Grimble to a new contract prior to free agency, but Grimble's biggest claim to fame thus far in his career was a touchdown turned fumble against Denver last season that helped pull defeat from the jaws of victory for the Steelers. Grimble was far from the only culprit that game, but it was a glaring miscue by a seldom used player. It is in nobody's best interest for the X-man to be the TE2 next season. Grimble would always be a play away from being the Steelers starting TE, which would undoubtedly prove problematic.

After McDonald and Grimble, the Steelers depth chart is presently constructed with journeyman and unproven players. The Steelers have yet to address the position in free agency, but it seems more than likely they will select another TE in the upcoming draft, but questions still remain.

What prospects should the Steelers be targeting and how early a selection would be considered too early? Seeing how the position has yet to be addressed thus far in free agency, and the other pressing areas of need have been, is the idea of too early even relevant at this point? If the BPA just happens to be a tight end with a first round grade when the Steelers selection rolls around, the decision would appear obvious.

Most mock drafts have the Steelers coveted ILB prospects already off the board when the team's first round selection comes up. Some mocks are projecting Iowa TE TJ Hockenson to be the Steelers first round selection. That scenario conjures a very positive reaction from the majority of commenters here at BTSC. Hockenson is one of two tight end prospects to receive a first round grade this season. Incredibly the other prospect just so happens to also be a former Iowa Hawkeye, Noah Fant. I can't recall the last time the top two draft prospects at a position were both from the same college program.

TJ Hockenson is considered the total package, while Noah Fant has rare athleticism for the position. Either player could be the first tight end selected, it will really come down to who is a better fit with the first team willing to pull the trigger.

After the Iowa connection, the remaining TE prospects in this year's draft class is a hodgepodge of individuals destined to be TE2. Not a particularly poor group, but a group with more questions than answers. Most remaining prospects carry a mid round or later grade due to concerns over size, strength, or overall athleticism.

So I submit this question for the BTSC family. Is there a diamond in the rough with this group? A player that is more than the sum of his parts, who would be a perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers. My sleeper pick is WVU TE Trevon Wesco. Wesco would offer excellent value as a later round selection. Wesco has good hands, excellent strength, and underrated movement skills. He also has fullback and special teams experience. Well rounded player and individual.

Please share your overlooked sleeper picks in the comments below. Go Steelers!

Todd McShay Mock Draft: Steelers have even offense-defense split in Rounds 1-3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 8:02am

Could the Steelers finally draft a player who could help fill the gaping hole left by Ryan Shazier?

It might seem crazy, but the 2019 NFL Draft is just a few weeks away, and it is now time when experts continue to release their mock drafts for the upcoming draft process.

While mock drafts are nothing more than lofty projections for teams, the analysis of diagnosing team needs can be a valuable one.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some glaring needs on their football team, and most reside on the defensive side of the football. Below is an early ranking of the Steelers’ top needs which could, and probably should, be addressed in the upcoming draft:

1. Cornerback
2. Inside Linebacker
3. Wide Reciever
4. EDGE Rusher/Running Back

While there certainly are other team needs, including running back, most would agree the team should have a very defensive oriented draft class while looking at their current roster. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay agrees when he selected an inside linebacker to the Steelers in his first mock draft of the year.

Check out what McShay said about the Steelers selections in the first three rounds:

Round 1 (20): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Round 2 (52): Chase Winovich, OLB, Michigan
Round 3 (66): Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
Round 3 (83): Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State

Murphy has the best ball skills of the corners in the class, and despite signing Steven Nelson, the Steelers need playmakers at that position. Winovich is a twitchy, versatile pass-rusher, and with Antonio Brown gone, Boykin provides another option in the passing game. Hill and his 4.40 speed would jive nicely with James Conner’s running style in a reborn Pittsburgh offense.

...

It is at this point where Steelers fans can debate the prediction, but also the team needs moving forward. Let us know what you think of the selection, as well as the areas of need, in the comment section below!

Impending 2020 free agents should impact Steelers draft plans in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 6:45am

With the Steelers likely to lose some key starters to free agency in 2020, it would not be a surprise to see them address those positions in the draft this year.

With the acquisition of notable free agents in key areas of need this offseason, it could be argued that the Pittsburgh Steelers can be somewhat flexible with their draft strategy this year. Steven Nelson should be expected to start opposite Joe Haden, Mark Barron will be paired with Vince Williams and Donte Moncrief will more than likely beat out James Washington to be the opening day starter.

But while the Steelers might not have any glaring holes to fill ahead of the regular season this year, they might yet have some issues in 2020. And for a team that is cognizant about the importance of planning for the future, their perceived needs for next season could have a significant impact on draft plans in 2019.

General manager Kevin Colbert has frequently discussed the team’s philosophy of keeping one eye on the future when making draft decisions, and he will most likely deliver a similar message in the coming weeks, just as he has done in previous years. This coming from his pre-draft press conference last year.

“We’re all guilty of focusing on one year. 2018 is what we’re focused on, but we’re never going to lose sight of 2019 and beyond because when you do that, you will end up in a rut that you may not get out of . . . We want to be able to compete for championships every year. 2018’s most important, but we will never lose focus on 19 and beyond while trying to be champions next year.”

If Pittsburgh is to avoid ending up in that rut that Colbert talks about, the Steelers will almost certainly need to address some potential issues they could be facing after this season. They may only have 11 unrestricted free agent in 2020, but several of them are starters or playing in key roles.

While the Steelers are in no real danger of losing Ben Roethlisberger, the sizable new contract he is expected to sign will take a significant chunk out of the $48 million in salary cap space the team is projected to have in 2020. Keeping Artie Burns may not be high on the list of priorities, but there will be challenging financial decisions to make about Joe Haden, Sean Davis, Javon Hargrave and B.J. Finney, with not enough money to pay for them all without making sacrifices elsewhere.

It is also worth noting that the two-year deals signed by Anthony Chickillo, Mark Barron and Donte Moncrief have all been structured in such a way as to suggest they all could be let go next year, effectively making them all potential free agents as well.

Should the worst come to pass, the Steelers could possibly be faced with replacing three inside linebackers, two cornerbacks, two outside linebackers, a safety, a wide receiver and a defensive lineman next year. A highly unlikely scenario to be sure, but one Pittsburgh will have to plan for in part.

Selecting at least one cornerback, an edge rusher and an inside linebacker in the 2019 draft should be almost guaranteed, with there being a good chance that the Steelers will double dip at one of the positions. As much as the idea of drafting a player like Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson might seem attractive if he was available, future needs suggest any philosophy of taking the best player available could be forced to take a backseat this year.

Podcast: Offensive players the Steelers could target in the 2019 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 5:35am

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

As the Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, and while the team isn’t playing anymore, it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to discuss — so 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 podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Black-and-Gold News
  • 2019 NFL Draft Team Needs — Offensive Players
  • The wildly popular game ‘Either/Or’
  • and MUCH MORE!

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION!!

  • To be a part of the giveaway, be sure to listen to the podcast, follow the directions, and email Dave Schofield with your answers! stlrsuperfandad@gmail.com

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield 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.

Black and Gold Links: Despite track record, Mike Tomlin will have options at CB in the 2019 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 4:34am

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 Mike Tomlin, despite his sub par record at drafting cornerbacks, will have plenty to choose from in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Don’t want the Steelers to draft a cornerback in the first round? Despite their history, Mike Tomlin will have players to choose from at the CB position.

Carter’s Classroom: Tomlin’s cornerback options

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

Every year Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are questioned on their ability to draft solid cornerbacks, and after 12 seasons together the questions can’t get much louder.

The failure to draft good cornerbacks made the position a major liability before the arrival of Joe Haden. Still, Haden will be 30 this month and the addition of Steven Nelson does not negate the Steelers’ need for a young star at the position.

Let’s look at their best options in the 2019 NFL Draft:

To read the full article, click HERE

Rashard Mendenhall clumsily makes a point about criticism of athletes

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

...one former Steelers player created a stir on Friday morning with an accusation that he made on Twitter — nearly three hours before explaining that he didn’t really mean it.

Capping a stream of tweets in which former Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall, a first-round pick in 2008 who more recently has served as a writer on HBO’s Ballers, took issue with attacks on former Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Mendenhall blurted out this: “Alright, I’ll end the mystery. . . [Ben Roethlisberger is] racist and [Antonio Brown is] black. He had to catch balls from a racist quarterback. Every honest player knows it, it’s not a big deal. He was just supposed to take his lickings and move on, like a slave for real.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • One former head coach of the Oakland Raiders sees Antonio Brown for what he really is...a pain in the posterior.

Jack Del Rio: Antonio Brown is “going to be a pain in the ass”

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

As former Jaguars and Raiders coach Jack Del Rio pivots to a season in the media, he’s saying plenty of things. And he’s supplementing his head’s up regarding a potential Russell Wilson trade by invoking an opposite portion of the anatomy.

I love the talent, but [Antonio Brown] has clearly shown that he’s going to be a pain in the ass,” Del Rio tells NFL.com. “He’s a very talented guy and I would love to have him. I would work with him no problem. If [players] have talent, you tend to tolerate it a little bit unless it becomes disruptive to your team. He’s going to have to learn that to really help the team. If he continues doing the things he’s been doing, just like he upset the Steelers, he’s going to upset the next team he’s on. There are certain things — I mean, this is America and he’s free to do what he wants — but those aren’t the things that are indicative of a good teammate. The working hard and being a good player definitely helps the team, which is why he’ll continue to get chances to be special until his skills deteriorate. That’s when people will get tired of him.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Don’t think the Steelers need a pass rusher in the upcoming draft? Think again...

Tim Benz: Steelers must meaningfully address pass-rushing depth in draft

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

...Regardless, the team left the cupboard bare behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree at outside linebacker. Much like last year, it’s Anthony Chickillo and no one else behind those two starters.

That’s not enough. What if either of those two suffers a major injury? And let’s remember, Dupree is operating on his fifth-year, rookie-deal option. He’ll probably be gone next year, and he didn’t give the Steelers a lot last year — just 5.5 sacks (one during the final five weeks).

I understand the role of the outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense has changed in recent years. They drop in coverage more often, they contain more on the edges than charge upfield and the sacks seem to be coming from the interior defensive linemen as much as they are the OLBs these days.

Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt combined for 20 sacks. Watt, Dupree and Chickillo also had 20...

To read the full article, click HERE

  • AFC North Links

Marshal Yanda is sticking with the Ravens for another season
The Browns wheeling and dealing history continues
Punters can come from anywhere
Despite now being a member of the Ravens, Earl Thomas wants to be known as a Seahawk

  • Social Media Madness

Avoid Lloyd. #tbt pic.twitter.com/8DQV5FKZnl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 11, 2019

The man who literally changed the game. #HappyBirthday pic.twitter.com/3b4ju8D0yA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 11, 2019

Drip too hard, don't stand too close. #WallpaperWednesday pic.twitter.com/9xUjlfLo3k

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 10, 2019

I had a chance to sit down with the #Steelers new RB Coach Eddie Faulkner.
You can catch the full interview Thursday morning. pic.twitter.com/LJTLp0ENtu

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) April 10, 2019

Stephon Tuitt praises Karl Dunbar for the work he did with him, and the Steelers’ defensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 2:10pm

Having a new position coach can be tough, but Stephon Tuitt was pleased with what he saw in Karl Dunbar in Year 1.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, coming into a coaching position which was once held by a man held in very high acclaim, like John Mitchell, can be difficult. But that was the exact situation Karl Dunbar saw himself in last season after Mike Tomlin decided to promote Mitchell to assistant coach, and hired Dunbar to take over as heir to the defensive line throne.

Players like Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave, Mitchell was all they’ve known since entering the NFL. But that doesn’t mean Dunbar didn’t do the job and create a new standard for the players who fall under his tutelage.

In fact, veteran defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt was more than pleased with how Dunbar handled him, and the entire Steelers’ defensive line.

“He [Dunbar] demanded me to be a great player,” Tuitt told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “To be confident to know you are a great player. He has a whole different style than Coach Mitchell. Coach Mitchell brought a lot of great stuff out in me. Coach Dunbar brought out some different stuff. At the end of the day he taught me skills that pertain to what I have naturally, and helped me heighten those skills. Skills like hand usage. The ability to understand protection. The ability to understand formations. My hips. Things like that. To be able to play faster from those.”

Tuitt realizes he still has a ton of thing she can improve upon to become an even more dominant player.

“It can always be better, but I had a tremendous amount of growth last year and I am excited about that,” said Tuitt. “I grew in new ways that they wanted me to, new ways of me discovering things about myself to become the player I can be.”

Where can Tuitt continue to improve? How about not just getting to plays, but making plays. Sounds crazy, but Tuitt believes he is just a step away from really wrecking the opposition.

“All of the defensive linemen, we joke about me,” said Tuitt. “I get there right before the quarterback is ready to throw the ball. It’s just understanding what I need to do to get there faster. Taking the next step to get there. I am there. I am always there. I just need to get there faster.

“You can make the impact play. You stop the drive, stop the offense at the line of scrimmage. The ability to stop them. The ability to be confident in what you are doing. The ability to be faster. That is the key.”

Throughout the interview, possibly the best aspect was when Tuitt described getting a sack at the NFL level, and dominating those opposite him.

“It’s a lot of hard work trying to get a sack,” said Tuitt. “It’s the offensive line’s job not to allow you to get a sack. When you get one it’s like you are taking away from what they are getting paid to do. When you get in the quarterback’s head, and the person who is getting paid to stop you from getting there, that is an exhilarating feeling. That is like I am dominating you and I am going to keep dominating.”

Steelers host Florida Atlantic running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. on pre-draft visit Thursday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:00pm

A report has also emerged of a private workout with West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers get closer to using up their full allocation of 30 pre-draft visits, the number of guests arriving at team facilities each day is starting to dwindle. Thursday saw just one draft prospect welcomed to Pittsburgh to meet with the coaching staff, with all the attention focused on Florida Atlantic running back Kerrith Whyte Jr.

Today's visitor: RB Kerrith Whyte Jr from Florida Atlantic

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) April 11, 2019

Projected to be a late round draft pick or possibly a priority free agent signing, the FAU product also has experience as a kick returner, returning 81 kicks for 2,115 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons, for an average of 26.1 yards a return. He carried the ball 134 times for 1,358 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns and also recorded 22 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

After running a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day and impressing with a 42 inch vertical, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that he has teams like Pittsburgh wanting to know a bit more about him.

Kerrith Whyte posted an elite #RAS at his pro day with great speed and awesome explosion, but poor agility. pic.twitter.com/uALc3vSA71

— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 29, 2019

The Steelers have now officially used 25 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 Whyte can be found below, along with a highlight video.

RB, Kerrith Whyte, Florida Atlantic

Scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

“Whyte put together impressive production in 2018 despite getting half the carries of celebrated starter, Devin Singletary. He is more of a slasher than a pure runner and is much more comfortable with clear points of entry or with plays flowing wide. He can stick and go with excellent burst and is physical by nature. He has complementary back size and lacks consistent third down skill, but his speed could make him a developmental backup and starting kick returner.”

As per a report from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, it would appear that the Steelers have also met with West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings recently, holding a private workout with him away from team facilities.

Jennings recorded 2,294 yards from 168 receptions in four seasons with the Mountaineers and scored 17 touchdowns. Most draft experts seems to have him projected as a mid-round Day 3 selection.

West Virginia WR Gary Jennings (4.42 at combine) worked out for Dolphins, Saints, Titans, Steelers, Chargers, Patriots and Bills; visited Dolphins, TItans

— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 11, 2019 WR, Gary Jennings, West Virginia

Scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

“Possession receiver with impressive combination of size, speed and contested catch toughness. Jennings was one of the fastest players at the Senior Bowl, according to Zebra Technology tracking, and his 4.42 combine time and huge numbers in explosive testing are sure to push him up draft boards. He needs to play faster and sharpen his routes to become more than a traits-based backup.”

Ramon Foster releases public service announcement for former players who have issues with Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 10:45am

Former Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall became the latest name to inject himself into the drama surrounding Antonio Brown after he accused Ben Roethlisberger of being a racist, a claim that prompted a response from offensive lineman Ramon Foster

Thursday morning began in all too familiar fashion for everyone associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers after another former player became the latest name to inject himself into the Antonio Brown drama.

After a series of tweets defending the motives of the beleaguered wide receiver late on Wednesday night, Rashard Mendenhall returned to the social media platform in the early hours of the morning to accuse Ben Roethlisberger or racism.

Alright, I’ll end the mystery... B’s racist and @AB84’s black. He had to catch balls from a racist quarterback. Every honest player knows it, it’s not a big deal. He was just supposed to take his lickings and move on, like a slave for real. https://t.co/ubI39UDauY

— Rashard Mendenhall (@R_Mendenhall) April 11, 2019

This claim was retracted a few hours later, with Mendenhall suggesting he was merely trying to highlight how a false accusations can damage someone’s reputation.

Clearly it’s no fun, when EVERYONE’s the accused...

Please allow the dialogue in sports to be equal. Why’s it so easy to shoot at one player, but not the other?

B’s not racist. Just like AB’s not a dirtbag.#letsbefair

— Rashard Mendenhall (@R_Mendenhall) April 11, 2019

But the responses to the former running backs tweets were far from complementary, with many reasonably questioning what Mendenhall had to gain from his remark.

For offensive lineman Ramon Foster, it appears it was something of a breaking point, compelling him to release a public service announcement calling for an end to all the drama and accusations from former players.

PSA. Contact me or @MaurkicePouncey or anyone else that you feel comfortable with about anything else next time. I passed this through a few guys still in the locker room and they are ok with this. pic.twitter.com/4xBpm9JWZH

— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) April 11, 2019

“Moving forward ... Any former player of affiliate of the Steelers who has an issue with anyone still in the locker room, please contact me of Maurkice Pouncey or anyone else you feel you can talk to. Whoever you have an issue with, we will get your their number so you can address them. I PROMISE.”

“These media takes might give y’all good traffic on your social media outlets but the guys still in that locker room, who y’all still know personally have to answer for those comments. Call them what you want, but call them personally and tell THEM. Defend who you want to defend but you don’t have to mention the team at all.”

“Whether you have a ring or played for one year ... ENOUGH ... CHILL. Most players at one point in their life want to take their kids back to the place where they once played, don’t burn too many bridges. It’s a long history or brotherhood more than anything, BUSINESS is one thing but let’s keep it at a minimum for the guys who have to answer for those comments going forward.”

Whether names like Josh Harris, Emmanuel Sanders, James Harrison, Le’Veon Bell, Brown and Mendenhall will listen to the veteran lineman remains to be seen, but fans are sure to sympathize with Fosters desire to hear less from his former teammates in public.

The drama that should have ended once Brown and Bell found new homes went past the point of being tedious and unnecessary a long time ago. Now it feels as if we are stuck in a cycle of former players using the controversy simply to promote their own personal agenda. And if that really is the case, it seems likely that Foster’s words could well fall on deaf ears.

Quality Running Back options exist for the Steelers in the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 9:35am

The Steelers actually need a RB3. What does the 2019 NFL Draft have to offer?

At this time of year it’s easy to get so excited over the potential for high-impact draft picks that we sometimes forget how solid the Steelers really are. If the 11th Passover Plague fell tomorrow on the entirety of the NFL draft class, Pittsburgh would be one of the few teams able to field a playoff quality roster right away. The positions we’ve focused on - Mack ILB, Corner, Edge, WR, Safety - are not empty holes waiting to be filled. To the contrary, they are all all capably manned with solid, NFL-quality starters. We obsess about them because it’s easy to see how big a difference “superior” would make when compared to “solid”.

There are two exceptions that have gotten less attention. The team does not have a Tight End to replace Jesse James, nor a backup Running Back to play behind the oft-injured James Conner and the still-developing Jaylen Samuels. I wrote a January article on the class as a whole that still seems to work but the time seems to be right for a supplement that will examine the options a little closer to draft day.

Players Who Will Go Too Early

The front office has to be worried about James Conner’s ability to play an entire season and still have juice for the playoffs. He has a history of missing games and, to be blunt, that worry exists for all backs who take such a major and significant pounding each weak. That said, we would have heard about any serious issue and for that reason I am going to arbitrarily remove every RB prospect who appears in my personal list of the top 75 prospects of 2019:

  • Josh Jacobs, Alabama
  • Miles Sanders, Penn State {Visit}

Yup. That’s it. This is why people say the 2019 RB class is relatively weak. The top end talent is missing. But there is some very good depth. I have twelve players listed in the 76-150 range; i.e., mid-3rd to the mid-5th value. I will list them all below along with a few others, but I am only going to spend time on a few personal favorites.

Realistic 3:19 Targets
  • David Montgomery, Iowa State - The first realistic prospect to consider... Well, sort of realistic. Many pundits would say Montgomery is “guaranteed” to get picked before the mid-3rd, but I found that word just a little too strong to swallow and decided to include him anyway. Montgomery’s skill set earns regular comparisons to no less than the original James Conner, with DM being a little shiftier and JC a little more powerful. The only argument against him comes from that very similarity - would the team benefit more from adding a different type of back versus another guy who can shoulder the full load if Conner goes down? Perhaps we should instead go to the Walmart Draft Shelf and look for...
  • Darrell Henderson, Memphis - A/k/a the change of pace back who averaged no less than nine (9!) yards per carry in college. That’s not an exaggeration! He really did. Henderson has a classic short but big build (5’8⅜”, 208 lbs.) and would have been on the Ain’t Gonna Happen List until the Combine fouled up his narrative with a 4.49 dash rather than the 4.3-something people expected, and then made that seem viable with similarly average numbers in the other tests. That raises some question marks but in the end I will go with the tape. Henderson is my #1 jitterbug RB of the class if the Steelers want to spend a high pick.
  • Justice Hill, Oklahoma {Meeting at Combine} - The #2 change of pace back comes with narrative that’s 180 degrees opposite from Henderson’s. On tape Justice Hill looks like a guy who is always on the verge of being special but never... quite... gets there. Enter the Combine, athletic testing that revealed a truly elite athlete, and now everyone has to scurry back to see why someone that talented failed to put up an obscene number like nine yards per carry. My take (compiled from reading several scouting reports) is that he lacks some of that weird 360 degree vision that lets a back like Conner make little jukes in the hole to escape a potential tackler no normal human would notice. That would limit his ability to be a true RB1 (if I am right), but of course Pittsburgh wouldn’t be drafting him to fill that role. Here he would be an out-in-space alternative, where he could see what’s around him, and in that capacity he could be as good as anyone. Pittsburgh has Jaylen Samuels to be the backup workhorse, so this is a fit that works.
Realistic 4:20 and 5:03 Targets - The Snake-Bit Stars and “The Other Guy”
  • Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma - Rodney Anderson would have good cause to argue that he is the #1 workhorse RB prospect in the class if he had not suffered season-ending injuries in 2015, 2016 and 2018. But he did, and that gives his detractors easy ammunition: “He’s a Fragile Freddie who will miss part of his rookie season anyway.” I see the point but the counterarguments are just as strong. The 2015 injury was a broken leg. They happen, and they heal. The 2016 injury was a fluky cracked vertebra - not serious in the big sense but you don’t mess with things that close to the spine. 2018 ended with a typical-for-nowadays ACL tear. None of those have any relation to each other, which lets his supporters argue: “He’s Bad Luck Louie, not Fragile Freddie, and there’s no reason to think it will continue.” At the start of Day 3 I will go with the latter argument. Heal him up 100%, get him into an NFL conditioning program that will make him stronger than ever, and then you may have someone even better than Conner to share the carries. But didn’t we say above that a change of pace guy might fit even better than someone who’d compete to be the RB1? Well in that case let’s consider...
  • Bryce Love, Stanford - A/k/a the other snake-bit super-talent of the RB class. Others might object to Rodney Anderson’s claim that he’s the best 3-down back of the class, but no one would dispute that a healthy Bryce Love (5’8⅞”, 200 lbs.) would be it’s premier jitterbug. Love ended 2017 as the Heisman Trophy runner-up based on a single season that included 2,118 rushing yards and 19 scores on the ground. Egad! It’s no wonder he began 2018 as the preseason Heisman favorite. So how in the world did a young man with that much talent drop to the point where he is going to be available on Day 3 of the 2019 draft? Two answers: first, a nasty and nagging ankle injury that crippled him all season, and then an ACL tear on December 1st. Period. Okay, I get it. The ankle shows how much he relies on physical gifts and how vulnerable he might be to the violence of an NFL season. But shouldn’t he get equal credit for fighting through the pain week after week? As for the ACL, it was such a minor tear that he was (in the end fruitlessly) hoping to show his stuff at the Combine. Modern medical science has gotten to the point where I fully expect him to be as good as new sometime during his rookie season. So my bottom line is this: change of pace backs exist to threaten knockout blows totally different from the body work imposed by your RB1. Bryce Love might be a poor bet if you were asking him to be The Man year in and year out, but there is no one better for the 10-12 carries per game job! I’m all in if he’s going to be the lightning to Conner’s thunder. How would you like to be a defensive coordinator who had to plan for a Pittsburgh running attack that could seamlessly shift from one of those guys to the other?
  • Damien Harris, Alabama {Visit} - Harris carried the water for Alabama all year until the biggest games arrived and they turned to Josh Jacobs. Jacobs played better when he was in - obviously so - but that should not negate how much Harris accomplished. He does not stand out in any particular way but he is solid all the way around. Anyone who profiles as an on-the-line RB1/2 equals just about the best RB3 anyone could hope to get. Doesn’t he? I do not think that Damien Harris offers the same upside as Rodney Anderson or Bryce Love, but he’s stayed healthy (even at Alabama!), his floor is extremely high, and I’d be happy to see him in Black & Gold.
The Next Tier
  • Myles Gaskin, Washington - A productive runner and a great receiver, but he just doesn’t spark any special joy when I think of him as our RB3. I can fall in love with the next James Conner clone - a prospect with the ceiling to be an all-star 3-down back - but I’d prefer a change of pace talent to someone who projects more like the next Jaylen Samuels. One is great, but one is also enough.
  • James Williams, Washington State - Think of New England’s James White: A tough minded, hard driving receiver out of the backfield who can also do some true RB stuff when you need him too. Probably my favorite of this little trio. The description may sound like Jaylen Samuels but Williams is a shiftier and quicker version.
  • Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic - Everyone’s favorite scat rat except mine. Call it taste rather than an actual grade. I just think he’s a bit too small (5’7½”, 203 lbs.) and I discount his stats a bit too much because of the level of competition and the wide open system he played in.
Depth That Would Make The Team
  • Travis Homer, Miami {Visit} - I’d have him in the tier above if there weren’t some significant ball security concerns. Not so much a jitterbug as a slasher of the kind who excels in outside zone systems. Float... wait... and then zap!
  • Alex Barnes, Kansas State (6’⅜”, 226 lbs.); L.J. Scott, Michigan State (6’⅜”, 227 lbs.); RyQuell Armstead, Temple (5’11¼”, 220 lbs.); and Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska (5’11⅞”, 233 lbs.) - Size XL workhorse backs need to find that extra something special, and who just might do it if the Steelers’ patented ‘drop to just Size L’ method works as well for them as it did for Bell and Conner. All four are special athletes (Armstead a little less so) with average tape that supporters explain away by pointing to poor offensive lines and/or system fits.
  • Karan Higdon, Michigan; and Dexter Williams, Notre Dame; and Mike Weber, Ohio State {Visit}; and Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M - At the risk of damning with faint praise, all four of these prospects make me think of those well rounded RB’s who enjoy 5-10 year careers in the NFL and are adored by the fan base - until they get on the field and prove why they’ve always been a backup. Good, sound players but unlikely to grow into more.
  • Darwin Thompson, Utah; and Jordan Scarlett, Florida {Visit}; and Tony Pollard, Memphis - Day 3 fliers as jitterbug, multipurpose offensive weapons with big play ability but enough question marks to lower their chance of success. Thompson has the best tape; Scarlett met with the team; and Pollard is better described as an “Offensive Weapon” than a “Running Back.” His stock falls on most Boards because no one is sure about how to describe him.
  • Wes Hills, Slippery Rock - BTSC’s local, small school darling. To quote the BTSC Big Board:

Fantastic contact balance, great vision, good speed, and a sophisticated ability to use his blockers are the high points. The questions go to his overall agility and athleticism, unknown skills as a receiver, and blocking that is… Let’s be nice and call it “D-II”.

Well, there you it. I would be floored if Pittsburgh ended the 2019 draft without snagging one of those prospects. Which ones would you prefer, and which do you think are most likely? Share your thoughts in the Comments.

Mel Kiper Mock Draft Monday: Steelers go after an NFL ready CB in Round 1 of 2019 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 8:11am

It is mock draft season, and the ESPN expert has interesting selections for the black-and-gold.

The NCAA College Football season is over, and with the NFL offseason going full throttle, attention now turns away from the play on the field, to the characteristics and intangibles off the field.

Yes folks, it is mock draft season!

While mock drafts are nothing more than lofty projections for teams, the analysis of diagnosing team needs can be a valuable one.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some glaring needs on their football team, and most reside on the defensive side of the football. Below is an early ranking of the Steelers’ top three needs which could, and probably should, be addressed in the upcoming draft:

1. Cornerback
2. Inside Linebacker
3. Wide Receiver

While there certainly are other team needs, including running back and EDGE pass rusher, most would agree the team should have a very defensive oriented draft class while looking at their current roster. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. took a stab at the Steelers picks in Rounds 1-3.

Check out what Kiper said about the selections:

Round 1 (20): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Round 2 (52): Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
Round 3 (66): Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
Round 3 (83): Will Harris, S, Boston College

Draft Academy

Draft Academy documents the journey of six prospects: Nick Bosa, Marquise Brown, Drew Lock, Tyree Jackson, Jarrett Stidham and Josh Jacobs. Watch on ESPN+

The Steelers have lost some star power this offseason, but they still have the talent to compete for the AFC North title. Where are Pittsburgh’s biggest needs? I look at cornerback, where former first-round pick Artie Burns had a disappointing 2018, and inside linebacker, where it still hasn’t replaced Ryan Shazier. So as the GM here, that was my plan. Baker is my top-ranked corner, a steady and reliable lockdown cover defender. Wilson is a sure tackler can slide into Shazier’s former role.

The Steelers have the No. 66 pick from the Raiders (in the Antonio Brown trade), and they could find a starter at the top of Round 3. Hall was Drew Lock’s deep threat at Mizzou. He averaged 23.5 yards per catch over the past two seasons, which led all FBS players with at least 35 receptions. Harris could compete to start at one of the safety spots.

...

It is at this point where Steelers fans can debate the prediction, but also the team needs moving forward. Let us know what you think of the selections, as well as the areas of need, in the comment section below!

NFL confirms 23 players will attend 2019 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:55am

While many of the names who are projected to the Steelers in the first-round of the draft will attend the event in person, Washington cornerback Byron Murphy is not one of them.

With the NFL confirming a list of 23 players who will attend the 2019 NFL Draft in person on Tuesday, there is a fairly good chance that the prospect the Pittsburgh Steelers select with their opening pick will be on hand to celebrate the moment on stage in Nashville.

Alabama and Oklahoma saw the most of their former players invited with three each, with LSU and Iowa the only other teams to have more than one representative. But while one of the most popular names to mock to the Steelers in Michigan linebacker Devin Bush will be there to put on a Pittsburgh hat if he is their selection, the other popular player to project to the Steelers will not, with Washington cornerback Byron Murphy presumably declining his invitation.

The opening round begins at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 25, with everyone who attends hoping to avoid the anguish of being the last one left sitting in the green room. Players like Alabama quarterback Kyle Murray and Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa are unlikely to be waiting too long to hear their names called, but others such as Iowa tight end Noah Fant or Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker might not be so lucky.

Podcast: Is the Steelers drama finally over?!

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 5:34am

As the 2019 season quickly approaches, has the off-field drama finally ended for the Steelers?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one of the most drama-filled offseasons in recent memory. Heck, you could go as far as saying it was the most drama-filled past few seasons in the Mike Tomlin era.

With Antonio Brown bashing everyone, and it seemingly coming to a head after his Twitter beef with JuJu Smith-Schuster, you have to wonder if the drama is finally going to come to an end. Will it finally stop?

In the latest ‘Steelers Burning Question’ podcast I delve into whether the drama in the 412 area code is finally ending, or if it is going to continue.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Why drafting another safety early in the draft isn’t out of the question

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 4:37am

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

Let’s get to the news:

  • When Steelers fans talk about positions of need, they often think about the ‘Big 3’ — ILB, CB, WR. But could safety be moving up the list too?

NFL Draft: Another safety? Sure could use one

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

In 2002, the Steelers’ starting safeties were the hard-hitting but unathletic -- by NFL standards -- duo of Lee Flowers and Brent Alexander.

So the team went into the 2003 draft looking to upgrade their speed at the position. That led to the team’s historic move up in the draft to acquire Troy Polamalu.

It took a year for Polamalu to become a full-time starter -- and star -- and the Steelers are hoping 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds can make a similar jump in his second season.

To read the full article, click HERE

Tim Benz: Get off Twitter, Antonio Brown. I dare you.

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

...Antonio, we never looked for “the ammo.” You basically hand deliver military launch codes to our laptops daily with your tweeting.

No one in the media baited you into doing #AskAB a few weeks ago. Or begged you to post the Mr. Big Chest video. Or take shots at Ben Roethlisberger, Art Rooney II, JuJu Smith-Schuster and others.

You did all that on your own.

Tuesday’s tweet is essentially part of a 10-month-long misunderstanding that you seem to have about how sports media and social media work.

Brown doesn’t grasp that his activity on these platforms creates the headlines. The headline makers were never trying to create negative stories about him, when — as of this spring anyway — he was still widely liked by the local and national fanbases.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Ahhh, Troy Polamalu. What a trascendant player. April 10th was the day he hung it up for good...

Troy’s plays were legendary

By: Steelers.com

April 10, 2015

Troy Polamalu Retires

On this date in Steelers history, legendary safety Troy Polamalu retired. Here is a look back at some of the best plays in his career.

Steelers at Browns

November 24, 2013

FirstEnergy Stadium

Steelers 27, Browns 11

To read the article, and view the highlights, click HERE

  • The man-formerly-known-as Antonio Brown is taking a stand on his social media use...and he is blaming the drama on those ‘media fakes’!! Whatever that means...

Antonio Brown vows to stop giving “media fakes” ammunition

By: Michael David Smith

Antonio Brown seems to realize he’s losing the battle of social media. So now he’s in retreat.

After he was widely criticized for an Instagram post about former teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brown deleted the post. Now he’s taken to Twitter to castigate the media for giving him the attention he seeks.

“Not giving you media fakes no more ammo,” Brown wrote. “enjoy my name AB !!! I am in Cali living ready to ball no nonsense !! You trollers troll! To good to worry #CallGod”

But the media didn’t fake anything about Brown. All the media did was repeat what Brown himself had posted on social media. That Brown got a negative reaction to those posts is a reflection on the way Brown is portraying himself, not the way the media is portraying him.

  • AFC North Links

AJ Green is looking forward to playing for an offensive-minded coach
Things that make you go hmmm: Browns open to moving back in the draft
Zac Taylor, the new coach of the Bengals, passes his first “day of school”
The AFC North reset: Whatever that is...

  • Social Media Madness

Up, up and away! #WildPlayWednesday pic.twitter.com/Hjm9imOOGq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 10, 2019

Jumpman. #UltimateHighlight | @joehaden23 pic.twitter.com/LJKHFUY3V0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 10, 2019

Patiently Waiting

— Darrius Heyward-Bey (@theDHB85) April 10, 2019

Talk about #VFL .@josh_dobbs1 is escorting veterans today in the 28th #HonorAir flight to DC pic.twitter.com/6H64AHULjt

— Laura Halm (@WATELauraHalm) April 10, 2019

Today’s mission | @honorair #Flight28 | TYS➡️DCA➡️TYS
This will be a special day!#NeverForget pic.twitter.com/KvB48Wdm9f

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) April 10, 2019

Honored and excited to be a part of the 28th annual @honorair Veteran flight today! Thank you to @josh_dobbs1 for being a VOLunteer escort and also for inviting us to be a part of this amazing event! pic.twitter.com/seveyFx555

— Prayers4AJCucksey (@PrayersforAJ) April 10, 2019

Round 2 of Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring 1972 vs. 2010

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 2:00pm

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 1972 Steelers and the 2010 version?

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you voted a team that fell three yards and seconds shy of being 60 minute men over a team that egos and injuries destroyed. Here are the final tallies.

No. 3 - 2017: Team Turmoil - 31% No. 6 - 1995: Not Quite 69-Minute Men - 69%

This time around we pit the team that got the ball rolling in an Immaculate fashion and a team that was a fumble away from possibly nabbing No. 7. 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. 4 Seed: 1972 (11-3) Immaculately sewing the seeds of a dynasty

The fourth season of Chuck Noll’s rebuilding of the once-moribund franchise was the edition that showed that his blueprint was starting to take shape. The Steelers improved from a 6-8 record (second in the AFC Central) in 1971 to division title and a mark of 11-3. The Steelers got a boost from their first-round pick out of Penn State, Franco Harris. No. 32 rushed for 1,055 yards and totaled 11 TDs (ten rushing/one receiving). Franco was also a phenomenon for the fans in Three Rivers. Frenchy Fuqua chipped in with four TDs. Terry Bradshaw went 11-3 as a starter and started to make strides, but still struggled at times with only 12 TDs vs. 12 INTs. The Blonde Bomber’s top receivers were Ron Shanklin and Roy Jefferson. On defense, Joe Greene was an absolute force. Johnstown’s Jack Ham was as well with seven picks and four fumble recoveries. Mike Wagner tallied six interceptions, while Andy Russell added four fumble recoveries as well. After starting the season 2-2, Noll’s team won nine of ten to close out the regular season. In the playoffs, their first appearance in 35 years, the team achieved the greatest play of all-time. All I have to write is “Immaculate Reception” and nothing more. In their first AFC Championship, the team succumbed to undefeated Miami. But the seeds had been sewn for greatness that fateful year.

Pro Bowlers: Henry Davis, Roy Gerela, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Andy Russell, Dwight White

First-Team All Pros: Joe Greene

Second-Team All Pros: Roy Gerela, Franco Harris, Andy Russell

Team MVP: Franco Harris

First Round Selection: Franco Harris

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

The 1972 team was still a work in progress, but they were laying the foundation of a dynasty. The 2010 team overcame suspension to their QB in their quest for a 7th Lombardi. Vote and comment below.

Check back Friday for the results and the first matchup of Round Three.

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