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Podcast: Steelers Rookiepedia

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 8:25am

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

The NFL Draft is complete and the Steelers have a bunch of new names and faces to really get to know. Join BTSC’s Matt Peverell for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

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

Rundown of the show:

  • Overview of Steelers picks + UDFAs
  • Daniel Jeramiah & Bucky Broooks’ thoughts on Steelers Draft picks, pre and post draft
  • Current Compensatory Pick Projection for 2022
  • Deep dive into Quincy Roche’s college production and potential as a Steeler in 2021
  • Review of what’s left at numerous positions in the Free Agent Market: CB, EDGE, OT, QB, RB, OG, S, C and LB

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation following Mason Rudolph’s extension

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The Steelers locked in their backup quarterback for an extra year, but it cost them some salary cap space in 2021.

Just before the start of the 2021 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced a one-year extension for backup quarterback Mason Rudolph which keeps him under contract through the 2022 season. Currently the only quarterback with a contract beyond 2021 with the Steelers, they will also have the option of offereing a Restricted Free Agent tender to Dewayne Haskins for next season. But this may be putting the cart before the horse as Haskins must first make the 2021 roster.

Getting back to Rudolph, his one-year extension dropped his 2021 base salary from $1,014,801 to $920k according to overthcap.com. Rudolph received a signing bonus of $2.08 million, which when added to his previously prorated bonus of $233,066 which was already counting towards 2021, his new salary cap number for this season is $2,193,066. This was an increase from $1,247,867 which Rudolph originally was going to count against the salary cap.

Just to round out the details of the contract, Rudolph is due a base salary of $3 million in 2022. Once adding on the $1.04 million in prorated bonus, his cap number for 2022 is $4.04 million.

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

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

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit, or change from what it previously was, for each player in 2021.

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

Ray-Ray McCloud: Reported $1 million salary; After displacement: -$0.34 million
B.J. Finney: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Cam Sutton: New report of $1.7 million; After displacement: -$1.04 million
Zach Banner: Reported $2.875 million; After displacement: -$2.215 million
Vince Williams: Saved $4 million salary; After displacement: +$3.34 million
Chris Wormley: Reported $1.6 million; After displacement: -$0.94 million
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Reported $2.4 million; After displacement: -$1.74 million
Tyler Simmons: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Joe Haeg: Reported $1.5 million; After displacement: -$0.84 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Steven Nelson: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.59 million
Cassius Marsh: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Eric Ebron: Reportedly saved $3.904; No roster displacement: +$3.904 million
Tyson Alualu: Reported $2.0375 million; After displacement: -$1.2575 million
Jordan Berry: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Kalen Ballage: Reported $920,000; After displacement: -$0.14 million
Rashaard Coward: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Matthew Sexton: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jarvis Miller: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jamir Jones: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
T.J. Carter: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Abdullah Anderson: Reported $780k; not in the top 51: -$0
Vince Williams: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Joshua Dobbs: Reported $900,000; After displacement: -$0.12 million
Mason Rudolph: Reported $2,193,066 cap number; After increase: -$0.945199 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $10.1 million

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

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

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $9,326,387 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above contracts on the books. For some reason, they have the number lower than it should be. Even when adding up the Steelers’ top 51 salaries and dead money owed this year, their own numbers don’t make sense to come in where they are.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $11,052,370 under the cap, but they do not have the Rudolph extension at this time. After taking into account Rudolph’s deal, their number should come in the same as mine.

While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. One the Steelers begin signing their draft picks,and only the top three of the Steelers draft picks will actually be in the top 51 and will only count less than $2 million on the salary cap. Also remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May whenever the negotiated contracts become official.

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

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

The Steelers currently have about the right amount of cap space for the season for the time being. If the Steelers were to spend more at this time, they would have to move some things around before September.

Just how much do the Steelers think a good secondary is worth, anyway?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With the decision to decline the fifth-year option for safety Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers could be one step closer to dismantling a secondary it took them a long time to build.

The Steelers announced on Monday that they will not be picking up the fifth-year option for safety Terrell Edmunds, their 2018 first-round pick.

I was a little shocked by this development, especially since it felt like the next step closer to tearing down a darn-good secondary that took Pittsburgh a long time to build into a force.

The first domino to fall was the free-agent defection of slot corner Mike Hilton in March. That wasn’t much of a surprise, and it helped that Cameron Sutton, who ultimately got a new deal of his own, was waiting in the wings to step in and take Hilton’s place.

The next domino was the release of cornerback Steven Nelson, a man who appeared (at least to a layman like me) to be about as consistent a player as any member of Pittsburgh’s defense after arriving in town as a free agent in 2019. Depending on what you want to believe, Nelson either wanted a raise or the Steelers thought his base salary in 2021—roughly $8 million—was too steep a price to pay and were looking for a team-friendly extension. Given the money Pittsburgh saved by releasing Nelson, and how quickly this happened, I’m inclined to believe the latter.

But that’s just speculation.

What isn’t speculation is the money Edmunds would have made had the Steelers picked up his fifth-year option for 2022: $6.7 million.

That didn’t happen, and now Edmunds could soon wind up as the next domino to fall in the quick dismantling of a unit that just became bona fide in 2019.

As Ron Burgundy said in Anchorman, “That escalated quickly.”

Obviously, nothing is over until it’s over, and Edmunds and the Steelers could work out a long-term deal for a little less per year than the value of the option.

But I wouldn’t count on it, especially if Edmunds continues to improve as a starting strong safety. The key word in that previous sentence is “starting.” A starting strong safety heading into his fifth season generally commands a decent contract in free agency. I realize Edmunds isn’t Ronnie Lott or Troy Polamalu, but he’s played well enough during his brief career to remain in the lineup.

In other words, he’s not Jarvis Jones or Artie Burns, either.

Even with the expected departure of Hilton during free agency, the Steelers secondary seemed promising on paper in 2021 with Joe Haden and Nelson manning the corners, Sutton taking over as the slot and Minkah Fitzpatrick and Edmunds as the safeties.

With the release of Nelson, does this mean Sutton will play on the outside? If so, who moves to the inside to play the slot in those sub-packages that aren’t so sub anymore? If it’s Sutton, Mr. Versatility, fine. But who plays on the outside? The excitement for James Pierre is nice and all, but it’s backed up by the smallest of sample sizes.

The last time we saw Justin Layne playing cornerback, he was boosting the passer ratings of quarterbacks who threw to receivers he was trying to cover.

As for 2022, you have Fitzpatrick and Sutton as the only sure things (and it’s still a little early to refer to Sutton as that) currently under contract.

My question to the Steelers is, just how much do they think a good secondary is worth financially?

Again, I realize Edmunds isn’t a star, but he is improving and still incredibly young. What do they think they’ll be able to replace him with in terms of quality, provided the two sides don’t agree on some sort of long-term deal?

One can ask similar things about the cornerback position. Just how much do they think consistent starters are worth? After all, they weren’t willing to pay both Haden and Nelson veteran-starter salaries beyond two seasons.

I keep hearing about how the Steelers didn’t want to tie up a lot of money in one position—Fitzpatrick’s fifth-year option, which they did pick up, will pay him approximately $10 million in 2022. OK, but that didn’t stop the Steelers from tying up a bunch of money in their successful offensive line in the previous decade.

According to Spotrac, defensive linemen Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt will eat up close to $30 million in cap space next year.

The Steelers certainly have to be fiscally responsible in the coming years. Yes, they have a lot of cap room opening up as early as 2022, but a good bit of that space will be closed by the presumed huge deals that T.J. Watt and Fitzpatrick will get. But even with mega-deals given to two All-Pro defenders, you’d think there’d still be enough room to keep the starting strong safety around.

I’m aware that a lot can happen between now and next spring. For example, the Steelers could acquire a really good safety in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. But even if they do, and even if he’s good, will they want to pay him when the time is right? Or maybe they’ll decide to move on from Fitzpatrick at that point.

The bottom line is it costs money to keep a good secondary together. I never expected the Steelers to keep this unit intact for a decade, but only two years?

After the days of Mike Mitchell and Artie Burns, let’s just say I was hoping to get more bang for my buck.

Alejandro Villanueva throws shade on the Steelers in his first press conference in Baltimore

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 5:30am
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Alejandro Villanueva, now officially a member of the Ravens, had some unique quotes about his former team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an extremely long list of free agents entering the 2021 offseason, and shockingly they were able to retain a good majority of those players. However, for players like Bud Dupree and James Conner, they found homes elsewhere.

As the 2021 NFL Draft approached, there were still some players who were without homes, and one of the biggest names on the free agent market was former Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. When May 3rd came and went, and thus ending the free agent compensatory formula being impacted, and the Ravens announced they signed Villanueva to a two-year, $14 million deal with Baltimore on Tuesday that includes $8 million guaranteed

On Wednesday, Villanueva was in front of the Ravens’ media members for the first time, and considering he is now on the other side of the Ravens/Steelers rivalry, there were plenty of questions about his former team.

If you think the former Army Ranger turned tackle would have held his tongue, saying all the right things, think again. Villanueva was rather candid when asked about his time in Pittsburgh. In fact, he said the fact he would play the Steelers, who told him at the beginning of the offseason they weren’t going to re-sign him, twice was a major reason why he went to the division rival.

“The fact that I knew the Ravens is a team that plays hard, a team that plays AFC North-type football and I get a chance to play the Steelers as well was something that motivated me coming here for sure,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva spoke openly about his time in the service, why he left the military, but the Steelers fan base certainly saw red flags go up when Villanueva was asked about run blocking more than pass blocking, something he did plenty of while in Pittsburgh.

“I’m assuming it’s not as much fun [running the ball] for the receivers,” Villanueva said. “Because they’re not getting all of the catches, they’re making the TikToks, and they’re having fun on their social media.”

Consider shots fired.

It was last season when JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool made national headlines with their TikTok videos, and their rapidly growing social media platforms. Some, like former teammate Zach Banner said this comment was nothing to be overblown.

Al is living in your heads rent free right now lol...

I love and miss the OG already...

I wish him luck. Congrats on a great career in the ... pic.twitter.com/vFW310YjNQ

— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) May 5, 2021

Others certainly don’t feel that way, and consider Villanueva’s comments as just another reason for the global Steelers fan base to despise the entire Ravens organization.

As the 2021 regular season approaches, I’m sure these comments will be magnified, but in the meantime Villanueva will now be tasked to learning a new system, in a new city and a new quarterback. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 regular season.

Podcast: Did the Steelers ‘go big’ in the 2021 NFL draft?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 4:30am

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

With many of their nine draft picks last weekend during the 2021 NFL draft, the Steelers seemed to pick larger individuals than what they usually do. Did the Steelers set out to ‘go big’? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Did the Steelers ‘go big’ in the 2021 NFL draft?
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Justin Layne pleads guilty to lesser chargers from his April arrest

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 3:59pm
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Layne’s felony charge has been dropped as a part of his guilty plea.

Steelers cornerback Justin Layne has avoided the jail time and a felony charge by pleading guilty to three misdemeanors stemming from his arrest in the early hours of Friday, April 23, 2021. According to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, Lane pleaded guilty to a lesser charges and the case has been resolved:

Layne was facing a fourth-degree felony gun charge after his arrest following a traffic stop, but the Willoughby News-Herald reports that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor possession of criminal tools charge on Wednesday. He also pleaded guilty to charges of speeding and driving without an operator’s license.

Layne received a six-month suspended jail sentence. He will not serve time as long as he pays a $500 fine, forfeits a Glock 9mm handgun, and performs 32 hours of community service.

Layne is entering his third season with the Steelers after being drafted out of Michigan State. The Cleveland native has been primarily a special teams player, and someone the Steelers would be looking to fill the cornerback role left vacant when they released Steven Nelson and lost Mike Hilton via Free Agency. Layne played 117 defensive snaps in 2020 for the Steelers after playing zero in his rookie season. Appearing in all 16 games in 2020, Layne logged 261 special team snaps which was fourth most on the team behind Jordan Dangerfield, Ola Adeniyi , and Alex Highsmith.

During the incident, Layne informed authorities that he believed he had taken care of the previous issue which caused him to have a suspended drivers license and did not believe he was driving illegally. While in the police cruiser, Lane was videotaped making several remarks, one of which acknowledged the most severe violation of traveling with the handgun which ultimately led to the fourth-degree felony gun charge.

The Steelers have yet to comment on the issue with Layne, and he remains a member of the teams 90-man offseason roster.

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

Best of What’s Left: Available free agents for the Steelers after the draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 2:30pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could still be looking to add some talent to their roster, and here are some names they might be targeting.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who checked a lot of boxes throughout the 2021 NFL Draft. They added either a starter quality player at positions of need, and much needed depth at others. But this isn’t to suggest their roster is complete.

After the draft, and signing Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs), there are still positions the team could be looking to add a free agent to their roster. Before diving into the names of players still looking for a home, it is worth noting the window for free agent signings which would impact the compensatory formula is officially over. So, the players who are signed at this point do not hurt the Steelers in terms of future compensatory draft picks.

That isn’t to suggest the Steelers have a lot of cap space to sign some of these players, but as it is said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Let’s take a look at the top free agents still available, by position:

Quarterback

Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers
Brian Hoyer, New England Patriots
Robert Griffin III, Baltimore Ravens
Blaine Gabbert, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matt Barkley, Buffalo Bills
Blake Bortles, Los Angeles Rams
Sean Mannion, Minnesota Vikings
A.J. McCarron, Houston Texans

Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Golden Tate, New York Giants
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Isaiah Ford, Miami Dolphins
Dez Bryant, Baltimore Ravens
Laquon Treadwell, Atlanta Falcons
De’Anthony Thomas, Baltimore Ravens
Marqise Lee, New England Patriots

Running Back

Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
Duke Johnson, Houston Texans
Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons
Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions
Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Dion Lewis, New York Giants
Devonta Freeman, New York Giants
LeSean McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alfred Morris, New York Giants

Tight Ends

Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts
Tyler Eifert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jesse James, Detroit Lions
Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles
MyCole Pruitt, Tennessee Titans
Josh Perkins, Philadelphia Eagles
Demetrius Harris, Chicago Bears
Deon Yelder, Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Line

Charles Leno Jr., Chicago Bears
Russell Okung, Carolina Panthers
Kelechi Osemele, Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs
Austin Reiter, Kansas City Chiefs
Dennis Kelly, Tennessee Titans
Trai Turner, Los Angeles Chargers

Cornerback/Safety

Richard Sherman, CB, San Francisco 49ers
Brian Poole, CB, New York Jets
Bashaud Breeland, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Malik Hooker, S, Indianapolis Colts
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Arizona Cardinals
Steven Nelson, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Defensive Line

Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
Damon Harrison, DT, Green Bay Packers
Sheldon Richardson, IDL, Cleveland Browns
Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers

Pass Rusher

Olivier Vernon, EDGE, Cleveland Browns
Melvin Ingram, EDGE, Los Angeles Chargers
Anthony Chickillo, OLB, Denver Broncos
Justin Houston, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington

These aren’t all of the free agents who are still on the open market, but the bigger names players still looking for a team for the 2021 regular season. Will the Steelers bring a player on the above list in for at least a visit? Only time will tell, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

Why the Steelers did not pick up Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Some chalk up the decision based solely on performance, but the business of the NFL was a huge factor.

Prior to the 2021 NFL draft, it was reported the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up the fifth-year option on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. By doing so, Fitzpatrick‘s $2,722,878 base salary in 2021 along with his $10.612 million fifth-year option for 2020 to become fully guaranteed. Although he was not a draft selection by the Steelers in 2018, by trading for Fitzpatrick the Steelers held the rights to the option.

Interestingly enough, the fifth-year option for Terrell Edmunds was not reported prior to the draft. On Monday, mere hours before the deadline, it was reported the Steelers would not be exercising the option on Edmunds.

Ever since the Steelers drafted Edmunds as the 28th pick in the 2018 NFL draft, many within the Steelers’ fan base felt it was a huge reach and the Steelers would eventually regret the decision. Since that time, Edmunds has started 43 of the 47 regular-season games for the Steelers. While not tearing up the league with All-Pro selections like his safety counterpart, Edmunds has become a solid player on the Steelers defense. Unfortunately, the first round label has followed him and therefore set some lofty expectations.

So if Edmunds has been doing the job for the Steelers, why not exercise his fifth-year option? Since he had not earned a Pro Bowl selection, let alone two, Edmunds fifth-year option was merely 64% of that of Fitzpatrick at $6.753 million. Is Edmunds not giving 64% of what the Steelers have in Fitzpatrick? Was it based solely on performance?

Being the numbers person that I am, I believe it does come down to the business of football and the contracts when it comes to the choice of not exercising the option on Edmunds. Simply because his option was not picked up does not mean he will go the route of Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns and not spend any time with the Steelers beyond his first four seasons. I’m sure the Steelers are planning to work out a deal with Edmunds to keep him in Pittsburgh long term, whether doing it this offseason or next. The biggest question will be if not picking up the option has made Edmunds sour on the situation.

When it comes to the numbers, a big factor could simply had to do with the huge jump in salary at one specific position. It’s unusual for the Steelers to have two players with a fifth-year option in the same year, especially since it’s never happened to them before. While the Steelers appear to have the salary cap space for 2022 in order to make the move, the last thing they want to do is start overpaying players simply because they have some space at the moment.

Not only are the Steelers dealing with two players where they had to decide on their fifth-year option, they are both in the same position group. While this may or may not be a factor, if someone is looking over the finances of the team, it would be a huge jump in salary at one position in just one year’s time.

For 2021, the Steelers are currently ranked 25th in the NFL in positional spending at the safety position according to overthecap.com. With both starting safeties on rookie contracts, the safety position has been where the Steelers have spent the least amount of money on the defense since 2018.

Had the Steelers picked up Edmunds’ fifth-year option, it would have more than doubled their positional spending just between the contracts of their two starters and not taking into account any additional players. Based on current contracts for 2022, the Steelers would have shot up to 8th in the NFL with just those two salaries.

Additionally, if looking at both performance and salary, based on safeties under contract for the 2022 season as reported by OTC, Edmunds would be the 18th highest-paid player at the position. Is there anyone who thinks Edmunds is the 18th best safety in the NFL, putting him ahead of the top safety on roughly half on the teams in the NFL?

This situation may have been much like the Steelers’ restricted free agents in 2021. The Steelers did not offer tenders to either Ray-Ray McCloud or Ola Adeniyi because they weren’t worth the $2.133 million it would take. Because of this, Ola Adeniyi left in free agency, but McCloud signed a one-year deal with the Steelers at a much more reasonable $1 million. Even though the Steelers wanted to keep a player, they knew better than to overpay.

Ultimately, the decision to not offer the fifth-year option to Terrell Edmunds was likely due to multiple factors. If it wasn’t for exercising the option on Fitzpatrick at the same position in the same year, it may not have been a problem. Add in the fact the team would be spending nearly $7 million on their second-best safety, the Steelers would be back in the position they just got out of at cornerback. With multiple, big contracts along the defensive line and a potentially huge deal coming for T.J. Watt, the yearly cost may have simply been too much after taking everything else into consideration.

If the Steelers made the decision they were only going to use the fifth-year option on one player, it made sense to go with Fitzpatrick even though it was for so much more money. If the ultimate goal was to have one player on the fifth-year option and work out a deal with the other, there’s always a risk of not having that deal come through. If this was going to be the case, losing Terrell Edmunds would be the preferred worst-case scenario than losing Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Money, performance, positional spending, and timing we’re likely all factors in the Steelers decision. Just like everything else Steelers’ fans find out about with their beloved team, there is obviously a plan in place by the front office. Whether or not everything works out the way the Steelers hope it will is the ultimate question which will be answered farther down the road.

2021 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Looking what experts were saying about the Steelers second round pick.

In the 2nd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State. Here’s what some different draft sites were saying about Freiermuth.

Tony Pauline for Pro Football Network

The Good

Nice-sized tight end who shows a complete game at the position. Natural receiver who plays heads-up football and shows great awareness. Sells routes, extends his hands, and snatches the ball away from his frame with strong hands. Locates the pass in the air and makes the difficult catch in a crowd with multiple defenders draped on him. Bends his knees, plays with leverage, and gives effort blocking even if the play is away from him.

The Bad

Possesses average blocking strength and really doesn’t get much movement. Average run-after-the-catch skill. Doesn’t show the great burst or play speed for a top-rated tight end.

Doug Farrar for USA Today

The Good

Freiermuth has already received the nickname “Baby Gronk” for his blocking and aggressive catch style. It’s a high bar, but it’s possible.

The Bad

When run blocking, at times, he tends to over-stride, where he is a little too aggressive to make his block. Any above average linebacker with leverage can easily move around him.
As for receiving, there isn’t much downside. But from the film, when he has to get low making a catch, he often has trouble keeping his feet underneath him, so it will make for an ugly fall to the ground and sometimes, on those events specifically, ball security was an issue.

Lance Zierlein for NFL.com

The Good

Coveted combination of size and athletic ability.
Highly competitive with ball in his hands.
Smooth in space and stacks downhill yards after the catch.
Pummels tacklers with phone pole stiff-arm.
Has size and blocking potential to become a true Y tight end.
Makes impressive athletic recoveries and finishes blocks.

The Bad

Can improve his angles as a blocker.
Needs better first-engagement pop.
Inconsistent footwork to sustain second-level blocks.
Average quickness to separate on lateral route breaks.
Inconsistent catch focus to finish in traffic.
Can do a better job of putting defenders on his hip and out of the catch.

Kyle Crabbs for The Draft Network

The Good

Today’s NFL is ultimately rooted in the passing game and tight ends are the new-age mismatch weapons that put defensive play-callers in a bind. Freiermuth can be that caliber of a receiver thanks to his blend of size, hands, route-running, and physicality in the secondary.

The Bad

As Freiermuth has developed his body and added muscle during his time at Penn State, the assumption was that he would continue to progress as an in-line blocker; but we never really saw that leap in that chapter of his game, even once he returned for the 2020 season.

Jim Mora for Sports Illustrated

He has the size, he has the stature and he has the length. He’s what the NFL is looking for right now in a tight end, and that’s a mismatch down the field on defensive players. Pat is a guy who causes defensive coordinators headaches, because you have to figure out a way to cover him. If you play man coverage on him, the defensive backs aren’t big enough, and linebackers and defensive ends aren’t fast enough or athletic enough. These guys are rare and so valued. He’s a guy who’s going to create problems.

Summary

Pat Freiermuth is as unlikely to live up to the “Baby Gronk” nickname as any of the players that were touted as “The next Michael Jordan” were. But it is clear from reading scouting reports on Freiermuth that he has an incredibly high ceiling and a floor that isn’t that low either.

The word Potential is tied to Freiermuth at every turn, he has the size and athleticism to be a really good blocker, just needs to get his technique down. He has the size and ball catching ability to be a matchup nightmare, but he needs to improve his route running and reduce drops.

Freiermuth reminds me of a second round version of Jesse James. James had the potential to be much better than he was if you just looked at physical traits and his catching ability. He was a solid player, a really good fifth round pick, but he never reached that ceiling. Freiermuth should be a solid starting tight end for the Steelers, but he has the potential to be a generational talent at his position.

Podcast: Arthritic-Knee Jerk reactions to the Steelers 2021 NFL draft

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

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

The draft is over and the Steelers have plenty of new talent to add to the roster. There’s been so many knee jerk reactions, so why not get some from those with arthritic patellas. That’s the topic for discussion on the latest edition of The Scho Bro Show. But wait there’s more. It’s May the Fourth, Star Wars Day. The second part of the show will combine Star Wars and the Steelers. Don’t miss it!

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Draft Reactions
  • A black-and-gold May the Fourth
  • Steelers Q&A

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

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

Why 2021 truly is the ‘Year of Ben’ for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As in the past, the fate of the Pittsburgh Steelers this season rests squarely on Ben Roethlisberger's shoulders.

If he never took another snap, Ben Roethlisberger would be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. After the hugely deflating conclusion of the 2020 season, plenty of fans were saying Ben is finished as an NFL quarterback. In fact, many were calling on the team to release him and go back to the drawing board on offense.

But No. 7 had different plans and his decision to return for what's widely expected to be his final NFL season had nothing to do with money. For Ben, the 2021 season is all about the unfinished business of living up to his own standard of excellence after falling short in 2020.

Not even the most rabid, lifelong Steelers fan was any more disappointed than Ben Roethlisberger by the team's late-season implosion. Quite clearly, Ben doesn't choose to be remembered as yet another aging QB whose skills suddenly lapsed. As anyone who's witnessed his career should know, that's simply not who Ben is.

Ending his career on a high note is the only logical reason for Ben to return to the field (without his Pro Bowl center) to face the rigors of another long NFL season. And given Roethlisberger's immense talent and competitive spirit, this portends a season that every Steelers fan should welcome.

Of course, there's no pacifying the fan who's ready to fire the entire Steelers organization anytime the team falls short of a Super Bowl win. But for loyal, diehard fans, the spectacle of a great, veteran quarterback returning for his final NFL season ought to be satisfaction enough regardless of the outcome.

Ben has never made excuses for himself when the team loses. On the contrary, he invariably shoulders personal responsibility for a poor showing. And if Ben didn't care deeply about the Steelers organization, his teammates and his hyper-critical fans, there would be no reason to risk playing a final season. That's because, due to some new faces on the OL, there's no guarantee 2021 will be more successful than last season.

But that's exactly the kind of courage, toughness and leadership we've come to expect from No. 7 throughout his stellar career. Win or lose, 2021 is shaping up as Ben's Year. He's planning to own this coming season, just as he's owned his performance in every season since his rookie year. No more thoughts now about next season, only a singular focus on making 2021 the very best it can be.

It's precisely this type of go-for-broke challenge which Ben has always relished as a player -- and the main reason why he's become a hero to Steelers Nation.

So, with a successful NFL Draft in the books, it's time to get ready for what promises to be quite a memorable season, regardless of how the chips may fall.

Is Najee Harris the next Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 8:30am
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Will Najee Harris be the feature back the Steelers haven’t had since Le’Veon Bell left in free agency?

The next Le’Veon Bell.

Before you go any further, I want to make something extremely clear to the Pittsburgh Steelers fan reading this article. Throughout this piece I will compare Najee Harris to Le’Veon Bell, on the field. Not off the field. Not at the end of his rookie contract. As a player. Nothing less, nothing more.

Okay, with that out of the way, I was reading through the Najee Harris introductory press conference transcripts recently, and he was asked about the Steelers’ offense and what he knew about it.

Harris said he didn’t know much about Matt Canada, but knew how the Steelers have used Le’Veon Bell in the past, this under Todd Haley. Here is what Harris told the media:

“...especially during the time Le’Veon [Bell] was here. Just how they use them [running backs] in the passing game, and in the running game. Just how they use them as three-down backs, and I liked how he [Bell] was lined up wide. I feel like I can do all of that stuff, if not better. I’m excited to learn more.”

“If not better.”

That portion of the sentence caught my attention, for obvious reasons, but also got me thinking about Harris. Everything from his stature to his playing style. It made me question whether he is the Steelers’ next Le’Veon Bell?

I decided to do a little tale of tape, and go back to Bell when he was entering the league in 2013 after spending three seasons with the Michigan State Spartans. Just look at their height and weight:

Najee Harris
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 232lbs.

Le’Veon Bell
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 230lbs.

But the almost freaky comparisons between the two players goes well beyond height and weight. Just look at some of their testing numbers. It should be noted Harris’ numbers came from his Pro Day with the NFL Scouting Combine canceled, while Bell’s came from the combine.

40-yard dash time:
Harris: 4.59
Bell: 4.6

20-yard shuttle:
Harris: 3.7
Bell: 4.24

Vertical Jump:
Harris: 38.5
Bell: 31.5

Bench Press:
Harris: 18
Bell: 24

3-Cone Drill:
Harris: 7.35
Bell: 6.75

I have to admit, by the time I had found all the measurables, I was interested to see what kind of statistics both brought with them when they decided to go pro. Take a look at their college statistics, both rushing and receiving.

College Statistics

Najee Harris, Alabama (4 seasons)

Attempts: 638
Yards: 3,843
Yards per Carry: 6.0
Rushing TDs: 46

Receptions: 80
Receiving Yards: 781
Yards per Reception: 9.8
Receiving TDs: 11

Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (3 seasons)

Attempts: 671
Yards: 3,346
Yards per Carry: 5.0
Rushing TDs: 33

Receptions: 78
Receiving Yards: 531
Yards per Reception: 6.8
Receiving TDs: 1

One of the biggest criticisms of Harris coming into the 2021 NFL Draft was the amount of miles on his proverbial tires. Compared to Travis Etienne, who was drafted No. 25 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Javonte Williams, who went to the Denver Broncos in the second round, Harris had the most carries to his name. But look at the carries between Harris, who spent 4 years at Alabama, and Bell, who spent just 3 at Michigan State.

Were people saying this was a negative as Bell entered the NFL? Were people mentioning this as he tore up the league in 2014 and 2015? The answer is a resounding no.

But maybe you are more of a visual learner. Just check out some highlights of both Harris and Bell while in college. Of course, you see some sloppy defense, but also a ridiculous amount of similarities between the two ball carriers.

Najee Harris Highlights

Le’Veon Bell Highlights

My goodness, the similarities between the two are uncanny. They both run the ball well inside and outside, both lack true break away speed, both have tremendous receiving abilities and both used the hurdle to make a name for themselves as runners in the open field.

So, after all of this, what is the conclusion? The conclusion is Harris has every tool Bell had when he came to the Steelers, and to suggest he couldn’t turn into the next Bell, on the field, isn’t out of the question. A lot of this falls on Matt Canada to see what he has in Harris, and utilize his skill set to better the Steelers’ offense. Haley was able to do that with Bell, and it will be up to Canada to turn Harris into a mismatch nightmare in every facet.

Some are talking about a potential return of Bell if he doesn’t find a team by the start of the 2021 regular season, I ask why when they have the next Bell on their roster for at least the next four years.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming NFL schedule release, and the 2021 regular season.

The historical context of the Steelers opening their 2021 NFL draft with 4 offensive picks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Steelers had not picked an offensive player in the first round of the NFL draft since 2012.

The Pittsburgh Steelers broke one of their recent trends in the NFL draft by having a first-round selection go towards the offensive side of the ball. It had been almost a decade since the Steelers drafted an offensive player in the first round. In fact, the last election was in 2012 when offensive guard David DeCastro out of Stanford fell to the Steelers at the 24th overall pick.

But the Steelers weren’t done addressing the offensive side of the ball after Round 1 of the 2021 NFL draft. Both selections in Day 2 of the draft as well as their first selection of Day 3 also came on offense.

With it being such a long time since the Steelers invested so much draft capital at the top of the draft towards the offense, questions arose as to how long has it been since the Steelers drafted so many offensive players to begin the draft.

After selecting running back Najee Harris in Round 1 and starting off Friday night by selecting tight end Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State, the Steelers had drafted back-to-back offensive players to start the draft for the first time in a long time. Exactly how long has it been?

2 straight offensive picks: 2012 Players: G David DeCastro & OT Mike Adams

The last time the Steelers selected an offensive player in the first round of the NFL draft was also the last time they selected two players to start the draft. Unlike 2021 where the Steelers went with a running back and a tight end, the 2012 season saw the Steelers investing their two top picks on the offensive line.

But day two of the 2021 NFL draft also finished up with the Steelers selecting center/guard Kendrick Green. So when was the last time the Steelers selected three players to start the NFL draft?

3 straight offensive picks: 1995 Players: TE Mark Bruner, QB Kordell Stewart, & G Brendan Stai

In order to see the Steelers selecting three straight offensive players, one would have to go back over a quarter of a century. In 1995, the Steelers went tight end, quarterback, and guard in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. The interesting trend so far is that a guard has been included in all of these years.

Then the Steelers did the unthinkable to start off Saturday of the draft. Going with offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr out of Texas A&M, the Steelers made it four straight offensive players. So when was the last time they managed to do this?

4 straight offensive picks: 1984 Players: WR Louis Lipps, TE Chris Kolodziejski, WR Weegie Thompson, & G Terry Long

During the 2020 NFL season, the name Louis Lipps had come up quite often when talking about rookie receiving records for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Chase Claypool tying the Steelers rookie receiving touchdown records, it caused many to look back at the 1984 draft class. If anyone was paying attention, they would have noticed the Steelers invested heavily in the offense to start off their draft in 1984 in taking two wide receivers, a tight end, and (of course) a guard.

So this had to be a record, right? There’s no way the Steelers drafted more offensive players than four to start off the draft in any one year, especially if we’re talking only since the NFL merger

Believe it or not, the streak wasn’t even close…

6 straight offensive picks: 1976 Players: TE Bennie Cunningham, T Ray Pinney, QB Mike Kruczek, C James Files, G Ron Coder, & WR Ernest Pough

Yes, you read that correctly. The Pittsburgh Steelers and their fantastic Steel Curtain defense of the 70s was not aided at all in the top of the 1976 NFL draft. Perhaps it was because the team was already established on defense, or maybe they just decided to go in a different direction. But the Steelers drafted six different offensive positions in 1976 going with tight end, tackle, quarterback, center, guard, and wide receiver. And for the record, the first defender off the board was a defensive back out of Nebraska by the name of Wonderful Terrific Monds Jr. Unfortunately, Wonder Monds didn’t even make it through training camp with the Steelers.

So there you have it. Even though the Steelers went with fourth straight picks of the offensive side of the ball, it still doesn’t come close to the record of six players in 1976. For the record, when looking at the number of draft picks before a defender was taken, the Steelers only made it to pick 112 in 1976 before taking a defender where it was pick 140 in 2021. Interesting enough, this still wouldn’t be a record as the Steelers did not take a defensive player in the 1962 draft until pick 145 which happened to fall in Round 11. Even with this selection, the Steelers had taken five offensive players before going defense as the Steelers did not have a pick in Rounds 2 through 6 as the franchise philosophy used to be giving away their draft picks like candy on Halloween.

Regardless of the history, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw some of the biggest needs on their team going into 2021 and did their best to address them at the appropriate time. Even with all the hype of adding four offensive players to start their draft, what ultimately will determine if this was successful is when the players take the field this fall.

The Steelers’ selection of Kendrick Green was just what I expected

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 6:00am
Nikos Frazier | Journal & Courier, Lafayette Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

As is usually the case with a Steelers Day 2 draft choice, I had no idea who Illinois center/guard Kendrick Green was when the Steelers picked him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, after getting to know him a bit, I’ve learned there are plenty of things to like.

When the Steelers passed on Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey and, instead, selected Penn State tight end, Pat Freiermuth, in the second round of the 2021 NFL on Friday night, I was a little surprised.

But I was only a little surprised. As I wrote in a recent article, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from the Steelers on Day 2 of the NFL Draft; just when I think they’re going to take a known player who fits a specific need with their second and/or third-round pick, they go ahead and pick a guy I’ve never heard of. The good news with the Freiermuth selection was that I actually knew who he was. Also, he addressed a need that was perhaps as big or bigger than center.

As has been the tradition during my many years following the annual NFL Draft, I was fairly confident that the Freiermuth selection would bring to a close the “knowing players” portion of the draft for yours truly. Sure enough, when I woke up on Saturday morning to discover that Pittsburgh had selected Illinois guard/center Kendrick Green in the third round (87th, overall), I wasn’t surprised that I had no idea who he was.

That’s right, I never heard of the guy; after quickly taking a look at social media, I soon found out that Green’s overall draft ranking was 168 on someone’s board and that, oh yeah, there were any number of players the Steelers could have taken, instead.

Again, this was a common feeling for me—not knowing a player. I didn’t know the Steelers most recent third-round picks: Alex Highsmith (2020) and Diontae Johnson (2019).

If I may reference the recent article I wrote one more time, this is what happens with casual draft followers like me. The closer a prospect gets to triple digits in big board rankings, the less oxygen I have left in my brain to learn anything about him.

Thankfully, I usually have plenty of air in my head to learn about a player once the Steelers have drafted him, and after doing a bit of research, I really like this guy.

In fact, you might say Green is my new Kevin Dotson, a player who appears to have an engaging personality off the field and clearly has a mean and nasty streak on it.

I believe Green displayed both of those character traits when he celebrated his draft selection with his family on Friday.

That’s all feel-good stuff, however. Let’s talk shop. Green is a great athlete who converted over from the defensive side of the ball early in his college career. He turned in a speedy 4.85 40 time at his Pro Day in March. He is versatile and played both guard and center at Illinois.

Make no mistake, though, Green was drafted to be the team’s next starting center.

The Steelers went into the draft looking for starters at various positions.

The Steelers got their running back—Najee Harris—in the first round. They nabbed Freiermuth in the second. The selection of Green capped off the team’s mission to address at least three of those positions of need with the kind of draft pedigree normally reserved for players you’d like to see at the top of the depth chart sooner rather than later.

Speaking of social media, while glancing at Twitter on Saturday morning, I learned that Pittsburgh could have addressed those three positions with a different combination of players over the first two days of the draft. Did the organization take the wrong combo, instead? Who can really say? I’ve been following the draft long enough to know that I really don’t know.

It would be foolish for most to think otherwise about such an inexact science.

I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to these draft choices. You give me some players who address needs and aren’t reaches, I will find a way to get excited about them.

It’s not hard to be excited about Kendrick Green, a stranger I can’t wait to get to know a little better.

Podcast: How Najee Harris’ versatility will be a weapon for the Steelers in 2021

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

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

Najee Harris is being counted on to revive the running game of his new team of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just what will the versatility of No. 22 mean to the success of football in the Steel City? That is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this, the LIVE mailbag and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Comparing Najee Harris to Le’Veon Bell
  • The LIVE mailbag!
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

10 Reasons to love the Steelers 2021 draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:30pm
Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

There’s a lot of reasons to love this draft class.

The 2021 NFL draft has come to a close and the Steelers have nine new pieces to its roster. Like every year following the draft, there is optimism for every team’s success, and the Steelers are no different. Below are ten of the best reasons to love the Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 draft class.

10. Committed to fixing the run

President, Art Rooney II said it at the end of last season, the Steelers would improve their running attack this offseason. To his credit, the Steelers used their first four picks on positions that will directly improve the Steelers’ ground game. Two extremely physical lineman, an all-around tight end, and the best running back of the 2021 class and the Steelers are in shape to get back to running the rock like the Steelers teams of old.

9. Special teams matter

Buddy Johnson and Quincy Roche will both round out the Steelers linebacker core in 2021. With being depth pieces they will be required to chase kicks and block for returners. They will join a group already bolstered by Robert Spillane, Miles Killebrew, Derek Watt, Kevin Rader, and Cassius Marsh who are head hunters in the kicking game.

Add in the best punter prospect the Steelers have had in years and opposing teams will have longer fields ahead of them when they get the ball.

8. Competition breeds excellence

This draft class added depth to a number of positions. Offensive tackle, center, tight end, linebacker, defensive tackle, you name it the Steelers added a hungry dog to the position looking to take a job. The returning players will have to improve and the young guys will have to get up to speed quick. Iron sharpens iron, and the Steelers will be a better team because of it.

7. Leadership at all levels

When you look at the entirety of this draft class you’ll notice they’re all extraordinary people. They are also intense on field leaders that were called upon to lead their college programs. With voices like Maurkice Pouncey no longer in the locker room the Steelers will need someone to fill the void. Everyone they drafted has potential to one day be a team captain.

6. Depth in versatility

Almost everyone the Steelers drafted can play multiple positions. Najee Harris can play running back and out-wide, Pat Freiermuth can play in-line or as a slot, Kendrick Green is a center and a guard, Dan Moore plays both tackles, Isaiahh Loudermilk can play defensive end and off the edge and Tre Norwood can play every defensive back position in football. By nature of the game, these guys can step into a number of different positions if anyone were to get injured.

5. Ben has more weapons

Unlike a certain situation in Green Bay, the Steelers have always made sure to keep the offensive skill positions stocked up for Ben Roethlisberger. Now Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth will be catching passes from the future hall of fame. Even before these players were drafted they were often compared to Le’Veon Bell and Heath Miller respectfully. Both of whom represent the best running back and tight end Ben has ever played with. If they live up to that billing the Steelers will have inserted amazing talent into an already loaded offense.

4. And so will the next guy

It might not be this year, or even next year but Ben Roethlisberger is creeping towards retirement. Whoever the Steelers choose to replace him with will be handed the keys of an offense that would resemble a Maserati. We often talk about rookie quarterbacks finding more success because they landed in great situations, and the Steelers could offer one of the cushiest landing spots a rookie could ever hope for.

3. They shored up areas of need

Running back, center, tackle, edge rusher, and tight end two were some of the biggest holes on this roster. The Steelers have added solid body’s to those spots and will give a large number of those players opportunities to start as rookies —which is something the Steelers famously avoid— This draft allows the Steelers to be confident in their roster and not have any major glaring holes. And, if they want to spend any more money on free agents they can do so without worrying if any given position is good enough for the NFL.

2. A return to Steelers football

The Steelers added two of the nastiest offensive lineman in the draft, coupled with a monster of a man running the ball and ground and pound Steelers football is back. Being able to run the ball and give the defense some rest will only further boost the ability of the unit and collectively the Steelers will once again become a hard-nosed grind out games kind of team.

1. The Steelers got better

Quite simply the Pittsburgh Steelers are better than they were a month ago. You could even argue they are better than they were a year ago. This draft class keeps this team a contender in the AFC North, and keeps the championship window cracked open that much longer. Are they a perfect team? No. But, they are a better team than they were when we saw them last.

But what do you think? What are you most excited about from the 2021 draft class? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Predicting the Steelers ‘digit identity’ for the 2021 Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:41pm
Photo by David Dermer-Pool/Getty Images

BTSC guesses which numbers will be assigned to each new drafted Steeler.

A number is an athlete’s identity. Some free agent arrivals try to pay big bucks to get the same number they’ve worn elsewhere. But for rookies, a lot of times they are at the mercy of the equipment managers. Join us as BTSC continues our fun tradition of predicting what digits the new Pittsburgh Steelers draft class will proudly represent.

RB Najee Harris - Alabama Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Number: No, 22

Current Wearer: None

Beck’s Number Projection: No, 22

Level of Certainty: The Highest

Analysis:

In a somewhat surprising twist the Steelers announced his number on draft weekend. The fact that it’s number 22 might just be the final stab into Steven Nelson’s ball.

BAD’s Number Projection: No, 22

Level of Certainty: The Highest

Analysis:

This is a perfect situation for the Steeler’s top choice of 2021. He wore it in college and it’s open in Pittsburgh. Spoiler Alert: The Steelers have already issued these digits to Najee.

TE Pat Freiermuth - Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

College Number: No. 87

Current Wearer: Kevin Rader

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 8

Level of Certainty: 50/50

Analysis:

The first Steeler to take advantage of the new uniform number rule. Freiermuth may opt to return to his high school number 8. I’m not a fan of the universal numbers but someone is going to take the bait in his case it’s Freiermuth.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 88

Level of Certainty: Fairly High

Analysis:

Since 2004, Freiermuth is the third Nittany Lion tight end to be drafted by the Steelers after Matt Kranchick (No. 88) and Jesse James (No. 81). Pat could get his No. 87 should Kevin Rader not make the final roster, but I feel that he will. The jerseys in the 80s are few and I don’t see the Steelers doleing out single digits so easy, so Kranchick’s eight-eight it is. I predict a better legacy in black and gold for Pat opposed to that of Matt.

C Kendrick Green - Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Number: No. 53

Current Wearer: None

Beck’s Number Projection: No, 51

Level of Certainty: Low

Analysis:

The only way this cat wears 53 is if Pouncey publicly gives him the number, while also telling Ben to stand down —We all know how the Gentry trying to wear 83 went— Instead he grabs one of the few numbers in the 50’s remaining

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 63

Level of Certainty: Fairly Low

Analysis:

He reminds everybody of Maurkice Pouncey from his face, body and position. He even wore the same digits as Pouncey. I just can’t see the Steelers issuing out LaShawn’s (Pouncey’s given name) number as early as this season and I doubt that Ben Roethlisberger would allow it. So let’s give Kendrick the digits made famous by another center, Dermonnti Dawson.

OT Dan Moore Jr. - Texas A&M Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

College Number: No, 65

Current Wearer: None

Beck’s Number Projection: 65

Level of Certainty: High

Analysis:

Offensive lineman are a simple breed, give him his old number and let’s get to work.

BAD’s Number Projection: 65

Level of Certainty: High

Analysis:

Gerald Hawkins is not back in black and gold. Moore reminds me a bit of John Jackson, who wore the same number for the Steelers. Kind of an obvious choice.

LB Buddy Johnson - Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

College Number: No, 1

Current Wearer: None

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 4

Level of Certainty: Low

Analysis:

Buddy has worn single digits since he was in high school, starting off with 5 in high school, number 7 as a freshman, before settling on number 1. Unfortunately for Johnson none of those numbers are available. He settles on 4.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 51

Level of Certainty: 50/50

Analysis:

I have nothing to back this claim up, but apparently he Steelers no longer hand out el numero uno by choice. I know that it’s kind of lazy to just add a five onto it, but that’s my plan for the Steelers’ second pick of the fourth round.

DL Isaiahh Loudermilk - Wisconsin Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

College Number: No. 97

Current Wearer: Cam Heyward

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 78

Level of Certainty: High

Analysis:

Loudermilk returns to his familiar high school number. Despite looking like Cam Heyward's son, he will not be able to wear his number.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 79

Level of Certainty: Moderately Certain

Analysis:

The Steelers “Got Milk” in Round 5 of the 2021 Draft, but they also got a No. 97 in the form of Cam Heyward. I have no earthly idea what jersey they give the Wisconsin alum. A dude that big seems to need digits in the 90s, but there aren’t many available. Let’s flip the big guy’s numerals and go No. 79.

EDGE Quincy Roche - Miami (Fla.) Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

College Number: No. 2 (Miami), No. 90 (Temple)

Current Wearer: Mason Rudolph

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 92

Level of Certainty: Fairly high

Analysis:

2, 12, 22, 32, 42 and 52 are not available so Roche settles in on the only other 2 number available for linebackers. Once worn by James Harrison and Jason Gildon maybe the Steelers find a little more magic in the old number 92.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 92

Level of Certainty:

Analysis: Roche can’t get either of his college jersey number because of the fact that the Steelers’ backup quarterback and a guy named T.J. currently don them, But if you put a nine in front of the deuce, you get the jersey number of some dynamic Steelers pass rushers like Jason Gildon and James Harrison. The hope is that Roche will be in the same conversation as those two pass rushers.

DB Tre Norwood - Oklahoma Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

College Number: No. 13

Current Wearer: James Washington

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 16

Level of Certainty: Low

Analysis:

This is a tough call. Norwood has worn 13 and 11 in the past but those are both taken. Simply switching the 1 and the 3 is also not an option. So he has to jump on one of the few 10’s number available.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 10

Level of Certainty: Low

Analysis: I’m really thinking No. 28 here, but that seems way too obvious, Somebody is getting a number that falls under the new rules. I’m probably way off here, but let’s give Norwood No. 10.

P Pressley Harvin III Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Number: No. 27

Current Wearer: Marcus Allen

Beck’s Number Projection: No. 17

Level of Certainty: 50/50

Analysis:

I would love to see this kid rock a ridiculous number, however Punters can only pick between 1-19. The only number that feels right is number 17, It’s too bad the Steelers don’t issue number 1 because that would be legendary.

BAD’s Number Projection: No. 17

Level of Certainty: 50/50

Analysis: It doesn’t matter who wears No. 27 right now, Harvin can’t claim his college number since kickers, punters and quarterbacks are restricted to stay in the window of 0-19. Not sure where to go here, so I’m thinking 17 works the best.

Last year, we only predicted two jerseys correctly. Can we top it? We should, But more important, who wins the BTSC Jersey Challenge...BAD or Beck?

The Steelers 2021 NFL Draft class grading extravaganza

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 11:30am
Mickey Welsh-USA TODAY Sports

You want grades on the Steelers 2021 draft class? I got’em.

I’m usually not one to jump in on the Internet traffic bonanza known as grading things, but if I don’t do it now, right after the Steelers just selected their entire 2021 NFL Draft class, I’m doing a disservice to the click-bait gods in the sky.

I had so much fun doing this last year, I figured, why not go for those clicks again?

I only have two grades for this process: Jump for Joy and Smashed Remote.

Obviously, a Jump for joy, as in “When they called his name, I was jumping for joy!” is a positive grade (or plus). I can’t really picture grown adults jumping for joy over the thought of a football player getting drafted by their favorite team, but many often describe this as their reaction to it. Therefore, it must happen a lot.

And if a Jump for Joy is a positive grade, that can only mean a Smashed Remote, as in “If they take that guy, I’m going to smash my remote!” is a negative (or minus). It seems counterproductive to smash something like a remote over a draft choice, but I’ve seen enough people break their flat-screen TVs over a missed tackle to know that it probably happens quite a bit.

OK, let’s dive right into the grades, shall we?

First Round (24th, overall), Najee Harris, running back, Alabama

It wasn’t much of a surprise when the Steelers quickly and decisively turned in the card for Harris on Thursday night in Cleveland, Ohio. Obviously, the Steelers, a team that finished last in rushing in 2020, needed to fix their ground game. Would they start with the line, or would they start with the back? It was a decision Steelers fans and media members struggled with for months. It didn’t seem like Pittsburgh’s brass struggled to make the decision, however.

There was the very legit belief that drafting a running back in the first round was a horrible idea. But there was also the sentiment that, if you needed a back, you might as well get the best one when you could, right? The Steelers went with the second option. As a friend said to me the other day, didn’t it make sense to take the best back in a shallow pool of talent, considering tackle was a deeper position?

Not only was Harris productive at Alabama—he was the school’s all-time rushing leader with 3,843 yards—he was a team leader who had a penchant for rallying his teammates for worthy causes both on and off the field.

On the field, Harris was a two-time National Champion (2017 and 2020). He won the Doak Walker Award (2020). He was voted a unanimous All-American (2020).

The tread on Harris’s tires may be worn a bit due to 638 total carries for the Tide. Then again, Anthony McFarland only had 145 rushing attempts at Maryland, so who’s to say if that truly matters until we know that it matters?

As for the off-the-field intangibles, Harris hosted a draft-night pizza party at the homeless shelter where he and his family were forced to stay years earlier while living in Antioch, California. He has already stated he wants to make a difference in the Pittsburgh community—including working with the local food bank. When his flight was canceled right before Alabama’s Pro Day, Harris drove nine hours just to be there...and he didn’t even work out; he just wanted to be around to support his teammates. Damn!

There is the matter of Harris’s connection to soccer star {redacted} which could one day lead to a Smashed Remote or two. But that would just be you. For me, that would lead to a few Jumps for Joy (I like controversy).

Speaking of which, I was a little disappointed in the overall positive reaction to the Harris pick. Sure, the ones that didn’t like it, really didn’t like it. But there wasn’t the uproar I expected there would be no matter who the Steelers ultimately drafted. I was hoping the seemingly never-ending anti-running back tirade by F.S. “Flip” Fisher on BTSC in the hours after the Harris selection would lead to a more heated group discussion thanks to so many anonymous folks turning his posts green (you know who you are). But that never quite got going.

One thing I have already found annoying about Harris is his name, as in “I seem to recall the Steelers getting quite lucky the last time they chose a running back named Harris in the first round.” That’s the kind of smug take that older people usually have. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The people that call radio talk shows and say things like, “Maybe you’ve heard of a little play called the Immaculate Reception” or “I guess you must have watched a different game than me” and are immediately mocked by the millennial host—or Mark Madden. Oh well, I guess you can say that I’m getting old, so I'm allowed to say stuff like that, too. The last time the Steelers drafted a running back named Harris in the first round (Franco) was 1972, the year I was born. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I seem to recall that year working out quite well for Franco and the Steelers.

To summarize, the Steelers needed to improve the ground game and decided to draft the best running back, a player who was productive at a big-time program and is a great dude.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-seven (as in Seventh Heaven).

Second Round (55th, overall), Pat Freiermuth, tight end, Penn State

Admit it, when the Steelers selected Freiermuth instead of Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the second round on Friday, you smashed your remote, right? I know I almost did. Freiermuth can play the Y position, as in why a tight end? Why, God, why? The Steelers needed a center, and Humphrey, who was considered too risky to take in the first round, was sitting right there in the second. Three Smashed Remotes. But, let’s be honest, wasn’t the depth at tight end the elephant in the corner of the room nobody wanted to talk about? (No offense to Zach Gentry.) In Freiermuth, the Steelers now have a player who was considered by many to be the second-best tight end in the draft. Two Jumps for Joy. Freiermuth is a more traditional in-line tight end in the mold of a Heath Miller. Another Jump for Joy. Make no mistake, though, Freiermuth is a damn-good weapon who won’t be content with just blocking all day long. In fact, judging by his athleticism, the Steelers would be doing everyone involved a disservice by trying to turn him into the next Mark Bruener. I doubt the Steelers will go back in time and make that same mistake. Two Jumps for Joy.

Unfortunately, we could have a potential diva in the making. According to his NFL.com Draft Profile, Freiermuth is a “Two-year team captain who does not lack in self-confidence.” Reading between the lines, that could mean that he’s cocky and/or arrogant. Will Freiermuth be one of those jerk-wad tight ends who conditions his facial hair and has elaborate touchdown celebrations similar to someone whose name shall not be spoken but rhymes with Kelce? Two Smashed Remotes for all the arguments I’m going to have to get into with people who will just want him to “hand the ball to the ref like Heath.” Having said that, the Steelers need that kind of cocky and arrogant tight end to be on their side for a change. Did you know his nickname is “Baby Gronk”? Five Jumps for Joy. Besides that, if he is more cocky than confident, perhaps Freiermuth can get inside Myles Garrett’s head with a series of “Your mama” jokes as he’s busy in-line blocking him. Six Jumps for Joy.

But did you also know Freiermuth is from the New England area and is a huge Patriots fan, hence the name, “Baby Gronk”? I wouldn’t put it past Bill Belichick to trick the Steelers into drafting Freiermuth. Belichick has cheated before. Maybe you’ve heard of a little thing called Spygate? What better way to learn the Steelers playbook than by planting a loyal, young Pats fan right in the middle of their team meetings? Two Smashed Remotes.

There’s also the matter of the youngster’s last name. I mean, there’s no chance in heck that Freiermuth will be spelled right consistently. Freermouth. Freewood. The possibilities are endless. It’s like Rocky’s last name developed an infection. And don’t even get me started on how many times people will mispronounce it—“Friarmouth, or whatever his name is”—because, you know, it’s so damn hard to pronounce a name correctly after you’ve only heard it a zillion times. I still have trouble with the word chair. Two Smashed Remotes.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-seven

Third Round (87th, overall), Kendrick Green, center/guard, Illinois

Green was that selection that had many Steelers fans thinking, “Just how deep is this center class, anyway?" And "What’s that I just stepped in at the bottom of this pool?” I know I was thinking similar things when I first heard this unfamiliar name on Saturday morning. One Smashed Remote.

But it was only a temporary feeling. After I studied Green’s college career and found out how well-thought-of he was at Illinois, I was impressed. Two Jumps for Joy.

For starters, Green is an exceptional athlete who was timed at 4.85 in the 40 at his Pro Day in March. That’s pretty darn fast for someone who is 6’2” and weighs 315 pounds. Two Jumps for Joy. Green is versatile and can play both guard and center. He’s slated to be the Steelers’ center, though; you can take that to the bank.

Below is a quote from new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, courtesy of Steelers.com:

“We love the way that he plays ... in terms of changing our demeanor and the attitude that we want to carry onto the field. He embodies all of that. He has great leadership qualities. He was the alpha in that program. He is just a tremendous player. He can do it all. The pulls, physical in the run game, pass protect. All of those things.”

Again, damn! Two Jumps for Joy.

Physical. Intense. Nasty.

I love it.

Speaking of physical, intense and nasty, did you see how Green celebrated when he got the call from the Steelers on Friday night? I think he was ready to scrimmage right then and there. Two Jumps for Joy. Also, did you see how intensely his family celebrated right along with him? I’ll bet he could get everyone in that living room to scrimmage the Browns’ front seven if he asked them to. Five Jumps for Joy.

I have a pretty good feeling Green will do just fine as the Steelers’ next starting center. Pittsburgh has a rich history at the position: Mike Webster; Dermontti Dawson; Maurkice Pouncey. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-12

Fourth Round (128th, overall), Dan Moore Jr., tackle, Texas A&M

The Steelers really couldn’t address all of their needs with premium draft choices; if the sentiment was that the tackle class was deep, perhaps they could find a fine prospect in the fourth round. One Jump for Joy. According to the folks at NFL.com, Moore was a great value pick and may have been a second or third-round choice in a year when the position wasn’t so deep. Two Jumps for Joy. And by PFF’s count, Moore allowed two sacks in 327 pass-block snaps in 2020. One Jump for Joy. Unfortunately, I’ve also read that Moore was a reach who could have been taken in the sixth round. Two Smashed Remotes.

Moore appears to be a pure left tackle who, like Green, enjoys blocking for the run. (Is this a theme?) Maybe Klemm can develop Moore like he helped to develop Kevin Dotson, a fellow fourth-round pick, last year. One Final Jump for Joy.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-three

Fourth Round (140th, overall), Buddy Johnson, inside linebacker, Texas A&M

That’s right, the Steelers stayed in Aggie Country to make their second selection in the fourth round.

Johnson was a player I recently “picked” in the sixth round with the help of the Pro Football Network mock draft simulator. Two Smashed Remotes for horrible draft value.

According to his NFL.com Draft Profile, Johnson is a “Blue-collar inside linebacker with good size and a forceful demeanor to stake his claim inside the box.” Also, according to his profile, Johnson was a team leader at A&M (speaking of themes). Two Jumps for Joy.

Unfortunately, despite his sub-4.6 speed, Johnson is a liability in pass coverage. One Smashed Remote. But the way Johnson is being described—leader; blue-collar; forceful—he sounds an awful lot like Vince Williams. Two Jumps for Joy even with the familiar inability to cover people. Buddy—real name, Devodrick—got his nickname because his mom thought he looked like the Buddy Lee doll from some blue jeans commercial. That’s nice and all, but I think Johnson may soon be given a new nickname: “Baby Bince.” Three Jumps for Joy.

Speaking of Buddy, I seem to recall the Steelers having some success the last time they had a Buddy on the roster. I’m talking about Alvin “Bud” Dupree. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Something tells me we’re about to be flooded with many “Why Buddy Johnson could be the perfect complement to Devin Bush” articles.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-four

Fifth Round (156th, overall), Isaiahh Loudermilk, defensive lineman, Wisconsin

The Steelers originally didn’t have a fifth-round pick, but for some reason, they felt it necessary to trade away a 2022 fourth-round choice to Miami to be in a position to nab Loudermilk, a player that many felt could have been had much, much later. NFL.com graded Loudermilk at a 5.55—or just .15 higher than Carlos Davis, last year’s seventh-round pick out of Nebraska. Yes, apparently, the Steelers were all, “We’ll start the bidding at a seven.” The Dolphins were all, “How about a six?” And the Steelers countered with, “Make it a four, and you got yourself a deal!” Five Smashed Remotes.

It’s hard to see what’s so special about Loudermilk, other than a name that will surely make him an early favorite for the Isaac Redman Award. One Tempered Jump for Joy.

I suppose Loudermilk could put himself in the mix for one of the backup spots along the defensive line. Isaiah Buggs, the team’s seventh-round pick from two years ago, and Davis provided unproven depth in 2020. Could Loudermilk possibly do the same or more in 2021? I get the feeling Loudermilk will wind up on the practice squad—a spot befitting his draft grade—and ultimately cause many fans to carry on about that fourth-round pick as if the Steelers signed away their firstborn children. Four Smashed Remotes.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Minus-eight

Sixth Round (216th, overall), Quincy Roche, outside linebacker, Miami

The Steelers certainly entered the 2021 draft in need of some depth at outside linebacker.

Roche is an intriguing prospect who spent his first three years at Temple and was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. Two Jumps for Joy. Roche transferred to Miami in 2020 and was voted Third-Team All-ACC. One Jump for Joy for being recognized in a much tougher conference. Roche displayed good-to-great pass-rushing ability in college, tallying 26 sacks at Temple and another 4.5 with the Hurricanes. According to Pro Football Focus, Roche had more quarterback pressures (104) than any defensive player in the country the past two years. That’s the kind of advanced stat that makes you wonder if Roche can be that proverbial diamond in the rough. Three Jumps for Joy. At the very least, Roche should become the latest late-round or undrafted outside linebacker who goes nuts in the preseason. Two Jumps for Joy.

It’s paramount that teams develop players that weren’t drafted with premium picks. Maybe Roche can be one of those guys. Nothing to hate about this pick, in my opinion.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-eight

Seventh Round (245th, overall), Tre Norwood, cornerback, Oklahoma

The Steelers drafted a cornerback in the seventh round? He might as well retire, right now. One Smashed Remote. Fortunately for Norwood, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin described him as a “Swiss Army Knife” while announcing the selection, thus distancing his new defensive back from the stigma of being a cornerback drafted by him. One Jump for Joy.

Norwood, who posted five interceptions in 2020, certainly looks the part. But I guess he doesn’t always play the part and struggled to cover receivers in college; in other words, versatility may have to be his bag, baby. Nothing wrong with that. There’s certainly room on the Steelers’ depth chart at safety behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. And, hey, the world needs special-teamers, right?

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Even

Seventh Round (254th, overall), Pressley Harvin III, punter, Georgia Tech

Step back, you mean to tell me the Steelers drafted a punter? One Smashed Remote. At least it wasn’t in the fourth round. One Jump for Joy.

Harvin was pretty darn good at Georgia Tech, averaging 44.7 yards per punt over four years and winning the coveted (for punters) Ray Guy Award in 2020. Two Jumps for Joy.

Also, step back, Harvin is 260 pounds. I mean, a chubby punter with a strong leg—you gotta love it! Three Jumps for Joy.

It looks like the Steelers—and, most importantly, their fans—will finally be able to rid themselves of Jordan Berry. Two Jumps for Joy. Forget Loudermilk; I think we may have our top Redman Award candidate. One Jump for Joy.

I wouldn’t be so sure of that, though. Berry is Australian, and he always brings the bigger knife to training camp every year to battle younger punters trying to take his job. One Smashed Remote.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-seven

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:

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

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.

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