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Black and Gold Links: The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver transformation officially underway

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 4:54am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers wide receiver transformation, also known as life without Antonio Brown, is officially underway with the team reporting to their rookie minicamp.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Life without Antonio Brown is anything but certain at this juncture. Not only replacing the receptions and yards, but the 15 touchdowns he was able to achieve in 2018. Nonetheless, the transformation is officially underway.

Steelers’ wide receiver transformation well underway

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp will remind how much things will change and stay the same in the wide receiver room.

The top offensive playmaker from the draft class, third-round Toledo receiver Diontae Johnson, will take the practice fields Friday with a profile eerily similar to the man who left town after four All-Pro seasons, Antonio Brown. Both are 5-foot-10 Florida natives from Mid-American Conference schools who offset below-blazing 40 times by playing the game fast. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake says Johnson gets in and out of breaks “as well as anyone I’ve seen in a long time.”

Brown does that just fine, too. But while rookie camp will feature plenty of defense, Johnson’s presence is significant because of what it represents: one cog in a pass-catching offense that must win collectively.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The No. 55 brings back some fond memories for Steelers fans. No, I’m not talking about Stevenson Sylvester, but Joey Porter. When first round pick Devin Bush picked the 55 for his jersey numbers, fans were excited...and rightfully so.

Wearing 55 for first time with Steelers ‘fit good’ on top pick Devin Bush

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Devin Bush wore a Pittsburgh Steelers practice jersey for the first time in his NFL career Friday at the team’s rookie minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

The rookie inside linebacker, the No. 10 pick in the NFL Draft, felt like he belonged from the beginning.

“I love it,” Bush said. “It fit good on me. I liked it. I’m just happy to be here.”

Bush will wear No. 55 for the Steelers, a number previously worn by Steelers linebackers ranging from his position coach, Jerry Olsavsky, to four-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro Joey Porter.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Every now and then a local product, often an undrafted rookie free agent, gets a shot with his hometown team. Steelers fans should be rooting for this kid...

Aliquippa’s Dravon Askew-Henry on signing with Steelers: ‘This is my home’

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Undrafted players and their agents often talk about the frenzied minutes and hours after an NFL Draft’s completion when a quick decision with major life ramifications needs to be made in short order.

Aliquippa’s Dravon Askew-Henry didn’t see it as having to make any decision at all after seven rounds were completed late last month without his name being called.

“I already knew what I wanted to do,” Askew-Henry said Friday. “If I was undrafted, I already knew where I wanted to go.

“This is my home.”

“Home” for Askew-Henry is the greater Pittsburgh area. So after he set a West Virginia record for most games started (51), Askew-Henry signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • A life without regret is a good life, and Justin Layne has no regrets about switching from a wide receiver to a cornerback when he attended Michigan State.

No regrets for Justin Layne about switching positions

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When he arrived at Michigan State in 2016, Justin Layne was hoping to follow in the footsteps of Andre Rison and Plaxico Burress – Spartans wide receivers who became NFL stars.

Before his freshman season was over, that dream was dashed.

Layne was playing cornerback.

“I wasn’t in favor of it at first, but it worked out, so I’m in favor of it now,” Layne said Friday after the first day of rookie minicamp for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

To. The. .#FlashbackFriday | @VinnyVidiVici98 pic.twitter.com/ziWbj5vpdU

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019

Devin Bush talks about learning the defense and how it feels to be in Pittsburgh following his first practice of rookie minicamp. pic.twitter.com/kF6OJgfeUk

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019

Benny Snell talks about nerves, his possible role, and explains what 'Benny Snell football' is. pic.twitter.com/3mYlqBHXft

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019

Stayin' hungry. pic.twitter.com/qpDctKYW4X

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 11, 2019

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh hosted their annual prom, and Ryan Switzer, along with B.J. Finney, enjoyed the amazing evening and danced the night away.@ChildrensPgh | @Switz | @catcenter66 pic.twitter.com/pcunbmBv6b

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 11, 2019

Diontae Johnson brushes off his lack of participation on Day 1 of Steelers Rookie Minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 1:17pm

The newest Steelers wide receiver didn’t participate fully in minicamp, but isn’t concerned with his first day as a professional.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been patiently awaiting the arrival of their newly added players, and that day finally came Friday when the team welcomed their rookies, among others, to Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp.

Everything from jersey numbers, skilled plays caught on film and activity levels were all the rage on social media, and websites like this, as they try to get a grasp on who might be big-time playmakers, and who might just be praying to stay on the 90-man roster long enough to collect a few paychecks.

One of the more head-scratching aspects of Day 1 was the activity level, or should we say inactivity level, of third round pick Diontae Johnson. The former Toledo wide receiver was present, but only participated in individual drills.

This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Johnson participated in the individual portion of the 1-hour, 45-minute workout, but he did little after that.

Johnson said he was not injured — “I’m fine. I’m fine right now.” — and deferred questions about his lack of participation to coach Mike Tomlin.

While his participation on Day 2 will be a good glimpse of whether he is dealing with a nagging injury or was held out for other reasons, it is safe to say any reason for him to be sitting out on Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp is not a big deal.

The Steelers’ newest wide receiver will get every opportunity to show off his skills when the veterans show up for minicamp and Organized Team Activites (OTAs) and eventually training camp, but for now taking precaution is paramount.

As for Johnson’s overall thoughts on his first day with the Steelers? He is just happy to be back playing football.

“It’s exciting being able to play football again, being able to run routes and catch balls and learn the plays,” Johnson said.

The rookie minicamp concludes Sunday before players return for OTAs on May 21st.

2019 Steelers Draft: Justin Layne has the swagger to back up his athleticism

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 12:05pm

To get to know the Steelers’ 2019 NFL Draft picks I reached out to their college affiliates to get to know them a bit more!

When any NFL team drafts new players, fans want to learn as much as they can about those particular prospects. What do they do well? What do they struggle with? How about their highlight reel?

For me, I like to talk to people who actually know them best, and this is one of the best aspects of working for SB Nation. After the Steelers selected their full compliment of players, I reached out to the writers who covered them in college to get to know them a little better.

In my opinion, these writers are the ones who watch them every play, every week for multiple years. So, today we hear from Kyle Thele from The Only Colors (SB Nation’s Michigan State website) as he gives us the lowdown on Pittsburgh’s second third round selection Justin Layne.

See the interview below:

1. Layne was a WR converted into a DB. Has this transition been a smooth one for Layne, or a struggle at times?

The transition has been pretty smooth. Layne is a phenomenal athlete. The move wasn’t forced or rushed, to his credit he earned all the accolades he received. With that being said, it was a transition. He didn’t just decide one day that he was going to be a corner. Layne grew into the role and slowly took on a bigger and bigger responsibility.

2. Layne had himself a tremendous combine and turned plenty of heads. What are his strengths as a DB at a big-time school like Michigan State?

Athletically, he is a perfect fit as a corner. Extremely quick and can stay in a receivers pocket throughout a route. MSU’s defense relies on corners being left on an island to slow receivers and Layne was perfect in that role. His stats don’t look gaudy mostly because quarterbacks just weren’t testing him.

3. On the flip side, what are some areas of Layne’s game which need improved upon?

Layne isn’t strong enough yet to body some of the bigger receivers in the NFL. He depends on his speed to be in the right position, so if he’s caught out of place, the receiver will stay open. Also, MSU corners have historically had issues with penalties after moving on to the NFL. They get away with a lot more in college than they do on Sundays.

4. While Layne has talked about having a chip on his shoulder not being drafted until the third round, what is his demeanor like on the field? Is he hard-nosed and mouthy? Or is a player who lets his play speak for him?

He’s a corner, so he’s going to have an attitude. Fans should be upset if he didn’t. He is extremely confident in himself and most definitely not shy. But in no way would I say any of that hindered his play. He was right to be confident and he should have a chip on his shoulder.

5. If you could sum Layne up into one word, or sentence, what would it be?

No Fly Zone: 2018. Layne lived up to the responsibilities of being the next shut-down corner at MSU.

A huge shout out to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to check back to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Camp Battles: Jaylen Samuels vs. Benny Snell Jr.

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 10:49am

We take a look at some of the more significant position battles that will be fought during minicamp, OTAs and training camp this offseason.

While it would be fair to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 roster looks set at several positions, there are still a handful of starting roles yet to be decided and a number of backup up roles remain up for grabs.

Over the coming weeks, BTSC editor Jeff Hartman and myself will take a look at some of the more obvious key names that will be fighting position battles throughout minicamp, OTAs and training camp later in the year, each taking a different side in the fight and providing our thoughts on why our pick will be the winner. On Friday we weighed in on the impending battles between quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph, today we move onto the running backs.

Jaylen Samuels vs. Benny Snell Jr.

Much like the duo fighting for the right to be the backup quarterback, this battle will be fought by two players selected a year apart, with the marginally more experienced player taken a round later in the draft one again. Expected to be used as part of a running back by committee approach, based on the comments of Mike Tomlin earlier in the offseason, both players should see more action than reserve backs have traditionally seen in the Steelers system as of late.

Intentions aside, James Conner will still see the bulk of the carries in any rotation and it seems more likely that Samuels and Snell will see action in specific situations as well as mop up duty towards the end of a game if the Steelers are running out the clock.

Samuels was something of a revelation when forced to start in placed of an injured Conner in Week 15, running for 142-yards off 19 carries against the New England Patriots and his efforts as a receiver over the final few weeks of the season were also notable. If Snell is to claim the backup role from Samuels, he will need to prove to the coaching staff that he can be relied on as both a receiver and a pass protector as a rookie - a daunting task for any first-year player.

Jeff Hartman

I believe the Steelers are on the verge of transitioning from a feature running back to a running back by committee approach, but I don’t believe 2019 will be the year this actually takes place.

Samuels played well spelling Conner in 2018, but with such a small sample size it is tough to truly predict how he would do in a larger role in 2019. As for Snell Jr., a rookie is purely a guessing game. No one knows how he will play in the NFL, but if he can duplicate some of the success, and style, he displayed at Kentucky there is a good chance the team will have added a very good complimentary back.

But back to the question at hand. Samuels or Snell? Barring a huge preseason, and impressive training camp, I see Samuels being the primary backup to Conner, but I also feel all three backs will have their role in the offense. Samuels to be the Swiss Army Knife who can be flexed out in the flat, and Snell more of a downhill runner who could be used in short-yardage situations.

Simon Chester

Benny Snell Jr. may have been one of the experts favorites heading into the draft and a dominant runner in the SEC, but he will have to show far more than an ability to run the ball if he is to leap frog Jaylen Samuels on the depth chart this offseason. The former North Carolina State product was not able to elevate himself above Stevan Ridley until mid-season in 2018 and it is hard to imagine Snell making the transition as a rookie much faster this year.

With his former college running backs coach now in charge of his position group in Pittsburgh, Samuels should have a head start in terms of his familiarity with the new man in charge and should already have a much better idea of what Eddie Faulkner will be looking for from his players.

Given his prowess around the goal line for Kentucky, Snell could yet find himself the man in short yardage situations, but Samuels’ proficiency as a third-down back should see him end the year with more carries and snaps than Snell. Expected improvements in his pass protection after his second training camp should only further cement his place as the backup to Conner. If Snell is to make the job his, barring a regression by Samuels, he will need to have an exceptional preseason.

Re-drafting the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 NFL Draft: Part 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 9:15am

It was just two weeks ago the Steelers completed the 2019 NFL Draft, so it seems like a good time to go back and see where things might have been different.

With the first five selections in the books, there are still spots which need to be filled to finalize the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers draft. Critics of the first two articles point out how I ignored certain positions without the series being completed. I deviated from the Steelers draft, as I have done in years past. My depth charts concerns were not those of General Manager Kevin Colbert.

This series was more of a fun redo using hindsight and hypothetical trades based upon teams that traded out of their slot. Using the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart, I tried to make it as realistic as possible for the moves I made. I just made a lot more trades than Steelers GM Kevin Colbert ever has.

Commenters criticized the first two articles over the lack of drafting an inside linebacker. As I stated previously with Vince Williams, Mark Barron and Jon Bostic, there was not a clear path for a starting inside linebacker to play. So the trio would be a bandaid until the 2020 draft when one would be taken early. That being said, it is finally time to pull the trigger on an inside linebacker who will add depth and would be given a chance to grow into being an NFL inside linebacker. That linebacker is Mack Wilson

Received

2019 fifth-round pick No. 149

Compensation

2019 sixth-round pick No. 175

2019 seventh-round pick No. 207

2020 sixth-round pick.

(The Oakland Raiders moved out of pick 149 for a total of 31.6 points according to the draft value chart. The Steelers trade value is 28.2 for the two 2019 picks and the rest is made up with the 2020 sixth rounder.)

The former Alabama Crimson Tide was a polarizing player for draftniks. The three analysts at The Draft Network highlights this with their differing evaluations. With Barron and Williams under contract for the next two seasons, that would give Wilson time to marinate to become more consistent at the next level. His solid coverage skills could allow him to see the field in sub packages early in his career.

For only the second time in the draft, the Steelers stand pat with their last pick, #192. The departure of a tremendous amount of offensive weapons the past two seasons is concerning. With the offseason addition of speedy wideout Donte Moncrief, second-year wideout James Washington, and the addition of 2019 second round selection Irv Smith at tight, concerns are not tossed aside but dampened. Eli Rogers is not a world beater manning the slot but he is a favorite target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in big games the past two seasons. Rogers accounted for 12 receptions for 99 yards in the playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the reason wide receiver was not high on the draft board.

What is lacking from the receiving corps is a tall wide-bodies receiver with solid hands and a skill set to aggressively go after contested passes. That is solved with the selection of Kevin Harmon.

The former North Carolina St. product plummeted in the draft because of his 4.6 40 yard time at the combine and could not surpass the time at his pro day. Where Harmon excels is the use of his body to shield defenders from the ball and catch contested passes. His outstanding body control allows for Roethlisberger to use the sidelines and back shoulder passes. Harmon delivered nearly 15 yards per reception in 2017 and 2018 while surpassing the 1,000-yard mark both seasons.

Clearly, Colbert and the Steelers organization were not as concerned about the holes that I perceived them having. Otherwise, the draft would have gone in a different direction. I am very concerned with the current depth chart at tight end and safety. Who fills the void left by Morgan Burnett in dime situations and big nickel? How much of a drop off will the offense see with Xavier Grimble on the field when Vance McDonald misses games? Those two questions will not be answered until the season is underway. With how I conducted the draft, those questions would not be so worrisome, not to mention other positions I accounted for in the draft.

Draft summary.

Pick #30: CB Byron Murphy

Pick #42: TE Irv Smith Jr.

Pick #56: S Nasir Adderley

Pick #70: CB David Long Jr.

Pick #141: RB Qadree Ollison

Pick #149 ILB Mack Wilson

Pick #192 WR Kelvin Harmon

Green Bay Packers 2020 fourth round pick.

Rare Steelers memorabilia from team archives goes up for auction

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 7:32am

A collection game-worn jersey from the team’s archives are just some of the items that went on up for auction as part of Leland 2019 Spring Classic Auction on Wednesday.

The opportunity to purchase guaranteed authentic memorabilia from the Pittsburgh Steelers personal archives does not come around very often, but for those with deep pockets, there is now a rare chance to get your hands on some special items on sale as part of the Leland 2019 Spring Classic Auction.

Established in 1985, Lelands is the world’s first sports memorabilia and card auction house and a noted seller of some famous sports collections. As of Wednesday, they are now taking bids on a number of Steelers game-worn jerseys that were supplied to them from the team’s own collection, as per Auction Report.

The collection includes jerseys worn by many notable players from the teams of the 70’s, as well as iconic names of the 90’s, part of a range of items that includes some vintage sideline attire and a watch commemorating Super Bowl XXX. The full list of lots up for auction can be found here, but these are a few of our favorite items and their current bid price at the time of writing.

  • 1982 Jack Lambert white game-worn jersey - $14,641
  • 1976 Mel Blount black game-worn jersey - $5,500
  • 1977 Jack Ham white game-worn jersey - $8,052
  • 1979 L.C. Greenwood white game-worn jersey - $5,500
  • 1979 Dwight White white game-worn jersey - $8,857
  • 1993 Rod Woodson black game-worn “Pick Six” jersey - $5,000
  • 1993 Dermontti Dawson black game-worn jersey - $0 (minimum $3,000)

The auction ends on June 6 at 10 p.m. ET and some of the proceeds from the sale of the Steelers memorabilia will be donated to the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brian Injury Research. Surprisingly, a 1990 Neil O’Donnell game-worn jersey already has a bidder of $500 for the item, a large sum of money to pay just to burn something.

Steelers Rookie Minicamp Recap, Day 1: Devin Bush every bit of the leader he was labeled

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 6:10am

The Steelers’ rookies took the field for the first time in black-and-gold in Day 1 of rookie minicamp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Friday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, but they didn’t have their full compliment of players in uniform. No, it was just the rookies participating during Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp Friday.

Considering this is the first time the media, and fans, have gotten to see the newest members of the 90-man roster, there was plenty of news to decipher after the players ended practice.

In this recap we will give the majority of credit to those who were there by just highlighting the content which we are sharing.

With that said, let’s get to the news of Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp:

  • Early defensive leader

Everyone leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft said Devin Bush is a leader in every possible way, and this held true for his first practice as a professional. Bush was calling the defenses, but was extremely vocal on Day 1. It is early, but a good sign early for the prized rookie of the 2019 draft class.

Devin Bush called the Steelers defense on his first day of rookie minicamp. His athletic ability was on display, but Bush said he was more focused on “being vocal as much as I could...trusting what I see.” Fellow rookie Justin Layne calls Bush “a dog” on the field. pic.twitter.com/RupzvS3OhI

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 10, 2019
  • Welcome to Benny Snell Football

Benny Snell doesn’t lack confidence. This fact was known well before the draft commenced, but Snell didn’t shy away from any questions when he met with media after practice Friday. He talked about playing ‘Benny Snell’ football, and what that means...

Benny Snell talks about nerves, his possible role, and explains what 'Benny Snell football' is. pic.twitter.com/3mYlqBHXft

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019
  • Just the facts

As expected, Devin Bush was swarmed by media at the conclusion of practice, and he didn’t have much to say. He was confident, smart and knew how to word his answers properly. A good start for Bush both on and off the field.

How comfortable is Devin Bush in the black and gold?

Well, he's already calling the defense a bit. It's literally Day 1.

Listen to his full interview from the Rooney Complex right here: #dkps #steelers pic.twitter.com/EPJW21NL5A

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 10, 2019
  • Justin Layne talks

Layne talked about attending Michigan State, growing up in Cleveland as a Browns fan and playing against Devin Bush. Let’s just say he is happy to have Bush on his side for once...

From rivals to teammates, Justin Layne is loving life beside — not against — Devin Bush.

He has that and more from the Rooney Complex after Day 1 of rookie minicamp. ( via @HunterAHomistek) pic.twitter.com/ImM1rUaAGM

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 10, 2019
  • No. 84 already dished out

Well, didn’t take long for the equipment crew to hand out No. 84...

Well, it didn’t take long to hand out that no. 84 jersey. It’s a mite bigger this year... #Steelers #rookieminicamp pic.twitter.com/zrFNkQxqDY

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) May 10, 2019
  • No team drills for Diontae Johnson

For some reason the third round wide receiver didn’t participate in team drills today, but said it wasn’t due to injury. We shall see what Days 2 and 3 hold for the former Toledo product.

Third-round pick Diontae Johnson said he didn’t do any team drills on first day of Steelers rookie minicamp, but he said he is not injured.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) May 10, 2019
  • The number struggle for rookies is real

Benny Snell wanted No. 26. He didn’t care about Le’Veon Bell, or any type of legacy attached to the number, but he wasn’t able to get it since Mark Barron, a veteran, got dibs on the number.

Benny Snell will wear 24. Mark Barron got first dibs on 26.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 10, 2019
  • Locker Room News

For those who care about where players lockers are in the team’s locker room...

Steelers first-round pick Devin Bush was given Antonio Brown’s much sought-after corner locker stall. @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 10, 2019
  • Video / Photos

Good hands from Devin Bush (55), even Ulysees Gilbert (54) pic.twitter.com/m0Vwxykx6f

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) May 10, 2019

Devin Bush‘s first round of slammin’ some sleds in the South Side. #dkps #pirates pic.twitter.com/l6tAt8xCFn

— Hunter Alek Homistek (@HunterAHomistek) May 10, 2019

Mike Tomlin keeping a close watch on Diontae Johnson pic.twitter.com/k9GyFY6CFQ

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 10, 2019

Isaiah Buggs (Roll Tide) pic.twitter.com/GSQqpe53xc

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 10, 2019

Justin Layne making a break on the ball pic.twitter.com/5g3RJNeQHP

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 10, 2019

DC Keith Butler taking an interest in Sutton Smith pic.twitter.com/ykNEKht7KL

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 10, 2019

Comin’ off the ball pic.twitter.com/HXMgkPMEYZ

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 10, 2019

New Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson getting two feet in bounds. Position coach Darryl Drake approves. pic.twitter.com/uZhBE8mjDn

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 10, 2019

Black and Gold Links: Rookie CB Justin Layne knows how to find the football, something the Steelers need

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/11/2019 - 5:05am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at the Steelers’ 3rd round pick of Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne. In this breakdown it shows how Layne is someone who doesn’t just find the ball well, but knows how to take it away. Something the Steelers desperately need.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Justin Layne is a former wide receiver, so it should come as a shock to no one that he has superior ball skills as a cornerback. To say the Steelers could use this on their defense is a gigantic understatement.

Carter’s Classroom: Layne finds the ball

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

The Steelers double-dipped at cornerback by signing Steven Nelson in free agency and drafting Justin Layne from Michigan State with their second pick in the third round, the 83rd overall pick in the draft.

Layne was among the better cornerback prospects projected to be drafted on Day 2, though some draft analysts, including Mel Kiper, gave him a first-round grade. However, when Deandre Baker was the only cornerback drafted in the first round and six others were taken in the second round, Layne’s value was in question until the Steelers made him the 10th cornerback selected.

Nelson and Joe Haden are the going to start, so Layne doesn’t have the pressure of having to produce immediately. But his college tape shows promise and the Steelers are excited about his potential. The Steelers aren’t alone. ESPN’s Todd McShay rated Layne as his favorite of the Steelers’ nine picks, Devin Bush included, and NFL.com’s Lance Zierleinselected Layne as one of his three favorite picks of the third round.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Steelers Rookie minicamp is finally here. Some storylines to follow as the newbies get indoctrinated into the NFL.

Rookie minicamp: Lolley’s five things to watch

By Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

The Steelers will get their first look at their draft class on the football field this weekend as they begin their rookie minicamp Friday.

And while the team obviously felt good about what it accomplished two weeks ago when it selected these nine players in the draft, there are times when draft picks set foot on the field and are better -- or worse -- than anticipated.

That said, there isn’t a lot that goes on in these kind of settings that should overwhelm any of the young players. The coaching staff expects mistakes. What the staff doesn’t want to see are the same mistakes made over and over.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Speaking of rookie minicamp, the minicamp roster has officially been announced.

Minicamp roster announced

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Steelers’ players will take the field this weekend for the team’s rookie minicamp, the first time the new draft class and undrafted free agents will be together.

The team will also be joined by some first-year players, as well as rookies who are there on a tryout basis.

The Steelers will hold five practices over the three days, including two on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The team’s rookie minicamp roster, which includes 60 players, is below. The numbers assigned to the players are subject to change, with only first-round pick Devin Bush’s No. 55 official.

To see the full roster, click HERE

  • Sticking with the rookie theme, the Steelers rookie minicamp, which is a three day affair, has the rookies in town for their first football experience. Hear what some of them had to say.

The rookies have arrived

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

For some of them, it was the first time they ever walked into the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. For others, they had been there before, either for a pre-draft visit or during draft weekend.

But for all of them it was the beginning of a new adventure, a new chapter in their lives.

“I have been getting asked by people since the draft, what’s it feel like? Does it feel real?” said Zach Gentry, the tight end from Michigan the Steelers took in the fifth round. “It hadn’t hit me yet. I think today it finally hit me, being in the building, being around the other guys. It’s go-time tomorrow.

“I am excited. I am stoked to get out there and show what I have. I am very excited about it.”

It was arrival day for the Steelers rookie class on Thursday, a day to settle in and learn where everything is before the team’s three-day minicamp kicks off on Friday.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Who is poised for BIG sophomore season?@PSchrags @JamesWashington@nateburleson @CalvinRidley1

: @gmfb pic.twitter.com/8R5i6m1tUD

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 10, 2019

@_Dbush11 locker set up #HereWeGo @steelers pic.twitter.com/DX9d499Xad

— Steelers Equipment (@SteelersEquip) May 9, 2019

For some it was the first time they walked into the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. For others they had been there before. But for all of them it’s a new chapter in their lives as rookies arrived for minicamp. Hear from @Juiceup__3, @_jlayne & more.

More: https://t.co/JesBKPKq30 pic.twitter.com/eFadXOdQtc

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) May 9, 2019

The rookies are ready to roll‼️ pic.twitter.com/vD2ZLOkFCu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019

Rookies gettin' geared pic.twitter.com/xu5JbVddR8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 19

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 5:41pm

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. I asked this question on my ‘Steelers Burning Question’ podcast this week (you can listen to it below). Which player from the 2017 NFL Draft will have the best 2019? T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster or James Conner? Please explain your answer...

2. At season’s end, who has more touchdowns? James Washington or Donte Moncrief?

3. What are your record predictions for the AFC North in 2019?

4. If you could pick ONE player who was drafted in 2019 to NOT make the team, who would it be?

5. If you had to pick one, who would you pick? Kevin Greene or Greg Lloyd?

6. a) OVER/UNDER on Chris Boswell missed field goals in 2019 — 4
b) OVER/UNDER on Boswell missed point afters in 2019 — 3

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Steelers rookies ready to show their stuff at rookie minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 1:45pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers started the rookie minicamp Friday, and those participating are excited to turn some heads.

The draft is over. No more fanfare and all the pomp and circumstance which surrounds the event.

Now it is just about one thing — football.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers their rookie minicamp started Friday, and to suggest those who were participating in the event were excited to get on the gridiron might be one of the biggest understatements of the offseason.

“I am excited. I am stoked to get out there and show what I have. I am very excited about it.” Rookie tight end Zach Gentry told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.

“I can’t wait to show the coaches what I can do, just compete and get better,” said Justin Layne, the third-round pick from Michigan State. “It’s kind of crazy. It’s like the first day of high school or college. It’s that nervous feeling. I still think it hasn’t hit me yet. I think it will hit me tomorrow when we get on the field. It’s football. I am ready to get to work.”

“I am ready to get on the field and start playing some ball,” said Sutton Smith, a linebacker from Northern Illinois who was taken in the sixth round. “Getting fit for my helmet and having the Steelers logo on the side of my noggin, it’s fun. I can’t wait to go out there and have some fun with it.”

“It’s kind of surreal now that I am here,” said third-round pick Diontae Johnson from Toledo. “I am signed. I don’t have to worry about anything but football. I have been working out. I am excited to show the coaches what I can do.

“I am going to go out there and be myself, show the coaches what I can do. Once we are done with rookie minicamp I can get out there on the field with the veterans as well. That is what I am looking forward to.”

The Steelers will welcome the veterans soon enough, but this experience gives the rookies just that, experience, without having those veterans there to put added pressure on them.

Throughout minicamp, many fans have asked what coaches look for, and one of the team’s staff told Missi Matthews just that:

What are #Steelers coaches and scouts looking for during Rookie Mini-Camp?? Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt explains... pic.twitter.com/wmB9jYa2Y2

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 10, 2019

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes not only from rookie minicamp, but also the rest of offseason workouts as the Steelers start to fine tune the machine heading into the 2019 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Camp Battles: Joshua Dobbs vs. Mason Rudolph

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 11:35am

We take a look at some of the more significant position battles that will be fought during minicamp, OTAs and training camp this offseason.

While it would be fair to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 roster looks set at several positions as the team prepares to hold their rookie minicamp on Friday, there are still a handful of starting roles yet to be decided and a number of backup up roles remain up for grabs.

Over the coming weeks, BTSC editor Jeff Hartman and myself will take a look at some of the more obvious key names that will be fighting position battles throughout minicamp, OTAs and training camp later in the year, each taking a different side in the fight and providing our thoughts on why our pick will be the winner. First up for discussion, the quarterbacks.

Joshua Dobbs vs. Mason Rudolph

Selected in back-to-back years, Josh Dobbs coming via the fourth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft and Mason Rudolph a season later via the third-round, neither player is in any real danger of losing his job to an outsider this offseason, with Brogan Roback the only other quarterback currently on the roster. But if either player has any hopes of one day assuming the position currently held by Ben Roethlisberger, both will need to show enough improvement in 2019 to convince the coaching staff that it might one day be possible.

That being said, becoming the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh is a long way off with Roethlisberger now under contract for three more seasons; the bigger concern for the two prospects in 2019 revolves around who will win the battle to be the backup to Big Ben this year.

That title belonged to Dobbs in 2018 and while retaining the role would be a good sign for his future with the Steelers, those who believe that Rudolph has the qualities to become a starter in the NFL will expect a significant leap in his second season - one that could possibly include taking the backup role away from Dobbs.

Jeff Hartman

For all those in the ‘Mason Rudolph Fan Club’, of which I am a charter member, the thought of Rudolph not passing Dobbs as the primary backup to Roethlisberger is downright deflating. Luckily for those in the Fan Club, I don’t foresee this happening. The Steelers made an investment, although not a rich investment, in Rudolph, and after spending his rookie season watching and learning it is his time to be the QB2 on the depth chart. This isn’t a knock on Dobbs, but to me Rudolph is a more polished quarterback with a better skill set to orchestrate the Steelers’ offense if Roethlisberger goes down. Dobbs will certainly remain on the roster, but the two quarterbacks will swap positions in 2019 with Dobbs being the game day inactive this year.

Simon Chester

While admittedly a fan of Mason Rudolph and the potential he hinted at during college, I cannot deny an increasing sense of belief in the abilities of Josh Dobbs heading into his third season. Judging the development of any quarterback forced to sit behind Roethlisberger is challenging and it is difficult to make many assumptions based on the 12 passes Dobbs threw in five limited appearances last year coming off the bench.

However, based on his performances during preseason in 2018, Dobbs was a completely different quarterback than the one who suited up as a rookie. Showing far more confidence and a much better command of the playbook, the added dimension that Dobbs offers as a runner over Rudolph could well put him over the top in the race for the backup role if he can prove he has made a similar leap again this year.

The ability of both young quarterbacks to support Ben Roethlisberger and act as an extra set of eyes for him on the field will also be significant in the race to back up Big Ben and it would not be a surprise to learn that Dobbs is the one who is further along in that regard. The former Tennessee product should enter the preseason in pole position to be the backup and it will be up to Rudolph to take the job away from him. As long as Dobbs can show he has improved again, the only way his rival should be able to take his job is by being close to perfect, and that is a big ask for Rudolph in year two.

Steelers announce 2019 rookie minicamp roster and jersey numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 10:30am

The Steelers will open their rookie minicamp with 60 players on Friday, a group that includes a mix of rookies, first-year players and several prospects invited for a tryout

With the start of their rookie minicamp, the Pittsburgh Steelers will get a chance to see their entire 2019 NFL Draft class working out together for the first time ever on Friday, a three day training session that will feature 60 players. Made up of drafted and undrafted rookies, first-year players and a significant number of names invited for a tryout, the group will take part in five practices together and finishing on Sunday.

And while their numbers have yet to be made official, we now also know the jersey numbers assigned to their most recent draft picks. But those interested in picking up the shirt of their favorite rookie might want to hold off for a bit. With the exception of Devin Bush wearing No.55, the rest of the names on this list are still subject to change.

#Steelers 2019 Draft Picks jersey numbers for rookie mini-camp:

18 - Diontae Johnson
24 - Benny Snell Jr.
31 - Justin Layne
51 - Sutton Smith
54 (D) - Ulysees Gilbert III
55 - Devin Bush *
77 - Derwin Gray
83 - Zach Gentry
96 - Isaiah Buggs

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 10, 2019

In the case of Ulysees Gilbert III, his jersey number is also currently allocated to offensive lineman Dwayne Wallace, one of the 18 players invited for a tryout.

The full list of names taking part in Pittsburgh's rookie minicamp, as per Steelers Director of communications Burt Lauten.

Those wondering what the Steelers hope to see in these limited training sessions that do not permit contact, scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt explained to team reporter Missi Matthews what the coaching staff would be looking for this weekend.

What are #Steelers coaches and scouts looking for during Rookie Mini-Camp?? Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt explains... pic.twitter.com/wmB9jYa2Y2

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 10, 2019

Re-Drafting the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 NFL Draft: Part 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 9:32am

It was just two weeks ago the Steelers completed the 2019 NFL Draft, so it seems like a good time to go back and see where things might have been different.

Cornerback, tight end and safety were all addressed in redrafting the 2019 NFL draft. What holes do the Steelers have left? What depth pieces do they still need? That is what I will tackle while continuing my 20/20 view of the 2019 draft. This is just a fun project not designed to criticize Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, but just saying “what could have been”. I am using actual teams that traded out of their spots and Jimmy Johnson’s draft value chart to ensure to simulate the actual value that teams put on draft slots.

Summary after two rounds after making three trades during those rounds.

30th pick: Cornerback Byron Murphy

42nd pick: Tight end Irv Smith Jr.

56th pick: Safety Nasir Adderley

Picks remaining: #83, #122, #141, #175, #192, #207, and #219.

Continuing with the trend, the Steelers once again move up in the draft with all the draft capital they have stockpiled, this is easily done. The Steelers move up from pick #83 up to #70 to double dip at cornerback and select David Long Jr.

Received

2019 third-round pick No. 70

Compensation

2019 third-round pick No. 83

2019 fourth-round pick No. 122

219 seventh-round pick No. 219

(According to the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart, The Los Angeles Rams gave up 228 points to move up for pick #70. With the move above, the Steelers give up 228. 4 points.)

Some draftniks said that Long was too short for a prototypical NFL cornerback coming in at 5-10 5/8″. What they fail to mention was Long’s 39.5” vertical leap, 4.45 forty time, and his superb 6.45-second 3-cone drill. Those along with his other measurables puts Long into the 92nd SPARQ percentile.

It is not only his athleticism that is impressive it is what he did for the Michigan Wolverines. I will let Pro Football Focus say all that needs to be said about Long.

“The statistics Long put up at Michigan are eye-popping. On 595 coverage snaps in his career, Long allowed a grand total of 18 receptions on 60 targets for 130 yards. There were 100 separate incidents of a cornerback allowing at least that many yards in a single game last year – that list includes draft prospects Saivion Smith (Alabama), Isaiah Johnson (Houston) and Kris Boyd (Texas). The craziness doesn’t stop there. Of his 18 receptions allowed, only three resulted in first downs and one resulted in a touchdown. The longest catch he allowed in his career went only 24 yards, and this past season, it was 12 yards. He broke up more passes (19) than he allowed receptions and never allowed more than two catches in a single game.”

For the first time during the draft, the Steelers remain locked into the #141 draft slot. At this stage of the draft, teams are going for depth and special teamers who may be hidden gems. For Pittsburgh, they have a glaring hole at their third running back spot. 2017 one game wonder, Stevan Ridley fumbled his way out of Pittsburgh. The Steelers do not need the next James Conner or Jaylen Samuels, instead, the team needs a big powerful running back who can pick up short yardage. I did not have to look far as Pitt Panther Qadree Ollison fits the desired specifications.

Ollison will not leave players in the dust or breaking their ankles. At 6’2 and 230 pounds, he does not go down easily by arm tackles and is built perfectly for those crucial fourth and one situations. With 34 receptions the past two seasons, he has soft enough hands not to be an utter liability in the passing game. His pass protection needs some work but is better than a lot of running backs in the draft.

Another two picks in the books which brings the total haul so far to five. Being able to look back makes the redrafting way easier compared to what Colbert and company deal with during the three days of the draft. Ollison could have filled an immediate short-yardage need in 2019 while Long may be relegated to only special teams play while he sits and learns. Could he have moved past Artie Burns and Cameron Sutton in 2019? I think neither set the bar high and believe he would have seen a limited number of defensive snaps this season.

The draft so far.

Pick #30: CB Byron Murphy

Pick #42: TE Irv Smith Jr.

Pick #56: S Nasir Adderley

Pick #70: CB David Long Jr.

Pick #141: RB Qadree Ollison

Green Bay Packers 2020 fourth round pick.

Draft picks remaining: #175, #192, #207

If you missed Part 1 of the Steelers re-draft, click HERE

NFL experts predict Devin Bush to win 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 8:06am

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a move to take Devin Bush, and these NFL experts believe his performance will be well worth it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded away a lot to move up 10 spots in the 2019 NFL Draft, and all for Devin Bush. The vast majority of the Steelers’ fan base loved the team’s draft day trade, and the prospect they received in return, but there were some who thought the cost was too steep.

For those who still might be doubters regarding the Steelers’ acquisition of the former Michigan standout, the NFL experts at ESPN are heaping on praise with several of them picking Bush to win the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award. An award which hasn’t been won by a member of the Steelers since another ILB won it when Kendrell Bell was given the honor.

Check out what the experts are saying about why they think Bush will be the best rookie defender in the NFL in 2019:

KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. The domino effect he is likely to have on the Steelers’ defense could be what’s needed to get Pittsburgh back into Super Bowl contention.

Jason Reid, The Undefeated: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s a big-time talent who fills a major need for Pittsburgh. And if he’s as good as we think he could be, Bush could take the Steelers’ defense to a higher level.

Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll make an immediate impact on a high-profile defense at an obvious position of need.

It didn’t stop there. One expert labeled Bush as not just a solid pick, but his favorite pick of the entire 2019 NFL Draft:

Joyner: LB Devin Bush to the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 10). John Madden used to say that one or two tough tacklers can make all of the difference on defense, as their enthusiasm for hitting can inspire the rest of the defenders to be better hitters and tacklers. Bush will be that type of tackling and hitting difference-maker for a Steelers defense that hasn’t been the same following Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury.

Joyner’s praise for the black-and-gold’s top pick went a step further, as he went on to detail the Steelers’ entire 2019 draft class as having the biggest impact on the team among all 32 teams and their respective classes.

Joyner: Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were a pass-happy team that didn’t tackle well and often played uninspired football last season. This draft class was selected to help fix that, as linebacker Devin Bush, cornerback Justin Layne and running back Benny Snell Jr. all add an immediate dose of physicality and toughness to an organization that needs a reminder of what Steelers football is supposed to be.

At this point, the NFL Draft is two weeks old, and the question now is has your opinion of the draft class changed? Or has it remained the same? After reading about some of these new prospects, has your opinion changed at all? Let us know in the comment section below and make your voice heard!

Steelers second in the betting behind Browns to win AFC North

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 6:45am

The hype surrounding the Browns has reached the bookmakers this offseason, with Cleveland shortening in price as favorites to win the division in 2019 after the draft.

With the conclusion of the draft, most bookmakers have released updated odds and an increased range of markets for the upcoming season over the last few days, a list of betting opportunities that now includes new lines for the division winner markets in 2019 from multiple outlets.

And where the Pittsburgh Steelers were once narrow second-favorites to the Cleveland Browns in the race to win the AFC North at a price of +160 to the Browns offering of +140, it would appear there has been something of a shift after the draft in favor of Cleveland.

AFC and NFC divisional odds, via @betonline_ag. pic.twitter.com/VPRaRlzcas

— Christopher Price (@cpriceNFL) May 8, 2019

A trend that is reflected by sports betting comparison site oddschecker.com, with several bookmakers shortening their price on the Browns.

The Baltimore Ravens also continue to drift in the betting, lengthening out to an average of 3/1 with most sportsbook to win the division, while the Cincinnati Bengals remain an irrelevance at prices ranging from 11/1 to 20/1 depending upon where you look.

Cleveland last won a divisional crown in 1989, a year in which they went 9-6-1 and lost to the Houston Oilers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Winning the North would also require the Browns to have a winning record, a feat they have not achieved since 2007. But with the mass of talent they have signed over the past few seasons, there is clearly an increasing number of people who believe they will break that trend this season.

Podcast: Is Diontae Johnson entering a lose-lose situation with the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 5:34am

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.

The 2019 NFL Draft is over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a fresh, new season — 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
  • 2019 NFL Draft Breakdown: Diontae Johnson
  • Steelers News
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • and MUCH MORE!

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: How Mike Tomlin had his eye on Devin Bush a long time before the 2019 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 4:35am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how despite the Steelers moving up in the 2019 NFL Draft to take Devin Bush out of Michigan, this wasn’t a knee jerk reaction. In fact, Mike Tomlin had his eye on Bush for a very long time.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Devin Bush was the player the Steelers’ coveted, and they traded up 10 spots to get him. But don’t think Mike Tomlin didn’t have his eye on Bush for a long time before draft night.

Devin Bush landing with the Steelers was 11 years in the making

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Making a blockbuster draft-day trade is never that simple, though.

It’s about timing, opportunity and growth from the player and the team. A series of roster decisions over the past five years caused Pittsburgh to retool its once-proud defense with an infusion of speed. A demanding ex-NFL father pushed Bush to the brink, until he was a versatile linebacker and leader for any defense.

The culmination of those paths led Pittsburgh to its splashiest Day 1 move since securing Troy Polamalu in 2003, moving up 10 spots in a trade with the Denver Broncos to select Bush, a two-time captain with Michigan.

”Super loyalty,” Bush calls it.

While Bush burned leg muscles and smoothie calories on his way here, the Steelers burned gas miles to ensure he got to Pittsburgh.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Plenty of NFL experts are predicting Devin Bush to be named the 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

NFL experts predict: Answering the 2019 draft’s biggest questions

By: ESPN

Who is your early pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. The domino effect he is likely to have on the Steelers’ defense could be what’s needed to get Pittsburgh back into Super Bowl contention.

Jason Reid, The Undefeated: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s a big-time talent who fills a major need for Pittsburgh. And if he’s as good as we think he could be, Bush could take the Steelers’ defense to a higher level.

Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll make an immediate impact on a high-profile defense at an obvious position of need.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • There are some who aren’t very convinced James Conner is the answer at the running back position for the Steelers. To that, this answer from Bob Labriola should work just fine...

Asked and Answered: May 9

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

JERRY AVERS FROM LANCASTER, PA: Is the running back position going to be an open competition since we added possibly a better one in the draft?ANSWER: I don’t understand why you have such a low opinion of James Conner, but allow me to refresh your memory with some statistics: In 2018, his second NFL season, Conner rushed for 973 yards and averaged 4.5 per carry doing it; he also caught passes for another 497 yards, which gave him 1,470 yards from scrimmage; and in addition he scored 13 touchdowns. To put this into further perspective, this is a list of the NFL running backs who finished with more yards from scrimmage in 2018 than Conner: Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara. The one negative that can be associated with Conner’s performance in 2018 was his four fumbles, and if that continues to be an issue for him, well, suffice it to say he would discover that Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t have a bottomless well of patience for running backs who cannot hold onto the football. But as of right now, James Conner is entering his third NFL season, and he has improved consistently over that time. If Benny Snell Jr. can find a way to carve out a complementary role as a rookie, the Steelers backfield – Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Snell, and fullback Rosie Nix – could be a real force during the 2019 season.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Every want some sweet Steelers swag to show off in your house, office or man cave?

Jerseys worn by Steelers Hall of Fame alumni up for auction

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Lelands are auctioning off more memorabilia from the team archives, including game-worn jerseys sported by Pro Football Hall of Fame players Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount and Rod Woodson.

The Steelers collection contains 28 items, including cleats and a chinstrap worn by Hines Ward during the 2002 season, a vintage jersey/sneaker trunk and sideline jackets. It is part of the Lelands Spring 2019 Classic Auction.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

see you in the end zone, @Juiceup__3. pic.twitter.com/VFOzsxhjWr

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

Do. NOT. Get. In. His. Way.#TBT pic.twitter.com/Fq4Tf0J5R8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

Footwear fitting area pic.twitter.com/aaW6LxlcG9

— Steelers Equipment (@SteelersEquip) May 9, 2019

Helmet fitting area pic.twitter.com/k2vafhL2bK

— Steelers Equipment (@SteelersEquip) May 9, 2019

#Steelers WR James Washington (@JamesWashington) donning the team’s Throwback uniform for a photoshoot with Team Photographer Karl Roser (@karlroser) at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex pic.twitter.com/HkEzHopvvF

— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) May 9, 2019

#HappyBirthday @CowherCBS! pic.twitter.com/yWFaQOKmb2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 8, 2019

Steelers release two players, including place kicker Matt McCrane, to get roster to 90 players

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 4:30pm

The Steelers released two players to get their offseason roster to the 90 man limit.

After the 2019 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t just add 9 drafted players, but also 10 undrafted players. This put their roster well over the 90-man offseason limit. Moving Ryan Shazier to the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list helped, but they added P.J. Locke to his roster spot.

In other words, they needed to release two more players to get to the league-mandated 90 players.

On Thursday afternoon they did just that by releasing place kicker Matt McCrane and former AAF CB/S Jack Tocho.

We have released K Matt McCrane and CB Jack Tocho.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

While Tocho won’t bring up any crazy memories with fans, they should all remember McCrane for stepping into kicking duties in Week 17 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and nailing the game-winning field goal. The kick kept the Steelers’ frail playoff hopes alive for at least another few hours until the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns ending the Steelers’ postseason hopes.

With the roster now officially to the 90-man limit, the offseason roster will be very fluid. Injury, and the release of other players, will have players coming and going throughout minicamp, OTAs and possibly even training camp. In other words, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on the roster, updates and depth charts as the offseason continues to drag on for the black-and-gold.

Steelers announce the signing of rookies Zach Gentry and Ulysees Gilbert III to 4-year deals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 3:46pm

The Steelers signed two more members of their 2019 draft class on Wednesday, leaving just Devin Bush and Justin Layne left to agree to terms

The Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced the signing of two more members of their 2019 draft class on Thursday afternoon, confirming four-year deals with tight end Zach Gentry and linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III via social media.

We have signed fifth-round pick Zach Gentry to a four-year deal.@BordasLaw TRANSACTION: https://t.co/05mgmW1Kc5 pic.twitter.com/084EMxXOUy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

We have signed sixth-round pick Ulysees Gilbert to a four-year contract.@BordasLaw TRANSACTION: https://t.co/NdluZRUMZD pic.twitter.com/OR5eTkC5de

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2019

These signings follow agreements made with third-round draft pick Diontae Johnson, fourth-round selection Benny Snell Jr. and seventh-round pick Derwin Gray announced on Wednesday, and deals signed by sixth-round picks Sutton Smith and Isaiah Buggs on Tuesday.

And while the terms of their deals have yet to be revealed, it should be expected that the numbers will closely match the figures projected by OverTheCap.com ahead of the draft. A deal that would pay Gentry close to $2.85 million over the length of the contract and include a signing bonus worth in the region of $340,000.

Gilbert is projected to receive a contract worth around $2.6 million, one that will come with a signing bonus worth just over $125,000.

With rookie minicamp set to start on Friday, the Steelers now have seven of their nine draft picks under contract and it should be expected that an agreement with third-round selection Justin Layne will be confirmed in the coming days as well.

A deal with linebacker Devin Bush is likely to take a little longer to negotiate, with agreements over the guaranteed portions of the contract and offset language often taking longer to work out. Once some of the names at the top end of the draft have agreed to terms, it should give Pittsburgh a framework for their deal with Bush.

2019 NFL Draft Class:

1 — Devin Bush — Unsigned

3 — Diontae Johnson — Signed 4-year contract

3 — Justin Layne — Unsigned

4 — Benny Snell Jr. — Signed 4-year contract

5 — Zach Gentry — Signed 4-year contract

6 — Sutton Smith — Signed 4-year contract

6 — Isaiah Buggs — Signed 4-year contract

6 — Ulysees Gilbert III — Signed 4-year contract

7 — Derwin Gray — Signed 4-year contract

Post-NFL Draft Power Rankings: Steelers now considered a middle-of-the-road team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 2:03pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers used to be fixtures at the top of these NFL Power Rankings...now they are merely just a middle of the pack team.

There are certain websites who love to rock the boat. Why? Because they know it will create discussion. It is a solid business model for a site trying to drive traffic to their website, and ESPN, among others, is atop the heap when it comes to this style of online journalism.

One of the things ESPN does so well are their periodical Power Rankings articles. They don’t just put them out weekly during the season, but also throughout other parts of the calendar year.

Pre-Free Agency Power Rankings
Post-Free Agency Power Rankings
Post-NFL Draft Power Rankings

You get the picture, but while we all recognize these rankings are meaningless, it is a good place to take a look at how your favorite team, in this case the Pittsburgh Steelers, stack up against their peers in the NFL.

For the beloved black-and-gold, it seems like ages ago when they were considered a Top 5 team on rankings like this one. They always applauded the offensive line, franchise quarterback and the ‘Killer B’s’. While the quarterback and line remain the same, plenty of other aspects have changed.

After the 2019 NFL Draft, and the Steelers adding 9 players to their current roster, the folks at ESPN have decided the Steelers are nothing more than a middle-of-the-road team. Take a look at their latest rankings below, and let us know what you think in the comment section below!

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Los Angeles Rams
4. New England Patriots
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Chicago Bears
8. Houston Texans
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Philadelphia Eagles
...
15. Cleveland Browns
16. Pittsburgh Steelers

Projected wins: 8.5

Chance to make playoffs: 45.8 percent

Where the team improved this offseason: Pass coverage. The Steelers have shown a commitment to improving their pass defense over the past three months. The signing of free agent Steven Nelson gives Pittsburgh a legitimate starting corner alongside Joe Haden. The franchise drafted linebacker Devin Bush No. 10 overall in part because of his speed and coverage ability, areas in which free-agent linebacker Mark Barron also will help. Third-round cornerback Justin Layne was considered one of the most aggressive press corners in the draft. The back end looks stronger, which is necessary for a team that has struggled drafting cornerbacks in recent years.”

17. Baltimore Ravens

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