You are here

Links

Looks like the Steelers are still comfortable with their backup QB situation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:25am
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

What’s it going to take to convince you that the Steelers really are comfortable with their backup quarterback situation? Because it looks like you’re still not convinced.

Shortly after the Steelers failed to select a single quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, and shortly after the Steelers signed zero undrafted free agent quarterbacks after the draft, I couldn’t wait to run to my laptop and troll the “Who’s going to throw him the football if Ben gets hurt?” crowd.

That crowd, the one that’s spent the past several months—or at least it just seems that way with this ongoing pandemic—obsessing over the need to sign Jameis Winston as a more viable backup quarterback option than Mason Rudolph and Co., just wouldn’t shut up about it. To that point, one of the first things someone Tweeted @ me after my Chase Claypool article was published on Saturday was, in-fact, “Who’s going to throw him the football if Ben gets hurt?”

Grrrrr! If ever an entity needed a trolling article about this subject, it was that crowd, and I couldn’t wait to write it.

But then it was revealed on Sunday that, not only did Winston sign with the Saints to be their backup quarterback, some guy named Nick Sitro Tweeted,Jameis Winston was offered a more lucrative deal by the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source. In the end, he decided to learn under Drew Brees and Sean Payton.”

“There goes that trolling, snarky article,” I thought. Sure, the Steelers didn’t draft or sign any young quarterbacks over the weekend, but if they really did offer Winston a lucrative deal to be their backup, how confident were/are they in the likes of Rudolph, Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch?

The reported offer to Winston was mentioned during my podcast with co-host Bryan Anthony Davis on Monday. We discussed it. We processed it. But there was still a part of me that thought the whole story was bullpucky.

The notion that the Steelers pursued Winston flew in the face of their entire offseason, and their statements and actions regarding Rudolph, the backup quarterback situation, etc.

And that’s why I kept my ears open for a follow-up to the Winston story from someone not named Nick Sitro.

It didn’t take long.

Hours later, it was reported by Dale Lolley, Gerry Dulac and other local Steelers insiders—guys not named Nick Sitro—that Pittsburgh didn’t offer Winston a deal and, in fact, had “zero interest” in doing so.

So, there you go. Time to write that trolling, snarky article.

I guess I already am.

Seriously, what’s it going to take for people to come to grips with the Steelers decision to not pursue more veteran, more accomplished quarterbacks to be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup for 2020? I’m guessing it’s going to take a whole lot more than the squashing of the Winston rumors, since I’m already seeing “#Steelers need to sign Cam Newton!” Tweets.

Hey, I get it, Rudolph looked like a second-year quarterback with zero experience in 2019. And Hodges mostly played like a guy who we might have hated, if not for his cool nickname and backstory.

I’m not even sure if I’m comfortable with the Steelers backup quarterback situation heading into 2020. But I really do hope Rudolph learned a lot last season while appearing in 10 games and starting eight in-place of an injured Roethlisberger. It was actually an intriguing development that most teams—franchises with older star quarterbacks who have recent draft picks as their backups—don’t get to experience.

It’s not often a team in that situation gets to compile real-live data on its young backup(s) to evaluate, process and make decisions on. The Steelers actually have that data now. Apparently, they’re comfortable with that data and the progress that Rudolph has made.

That’s really all that matters.

We can scream about the backup quarterback situation as loud as we want—and do it from the highest point of Mt. Washington—but the Steelers aren’t trying to hear us.

One of these days, I want president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert or head coach Mike Tomlin to address the media while doing an impression of one of those bad guys you always see in your typical fictional police drama. Not the main, menacing bad guy they usually catch at the end. But the schmuck bad guy that didn’t really do it but is having a hard time convincing the detective who is questioning him right before the bottom of the hour and Act III:

“Look, man, how many times do I gotta say it? We are not interested in finding another backup quarterback. Do..........you...........need........me.........to.........speak.........slower?”

If that doesn’t work, the Steelers may need to make a phone call and hire a lawyer to come deal with their backup quarterback situation.

Film Room: Steelers Kevin Dotson vs. Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That time the Steelers 4th round pick faced the Alabama defensive line.

One of the biggest negatives commonly asserted about Kevin Dotson was that he was dominating Sun Belt conference defensive lineman. It’s not hard to find reports stating that he didn’t face top competition. For the most part that is true. In 2018 Kevin Dotson and the Ragin’ Cajuns faced the #1 team in the nation, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Dotson would be matched up against 2018 3rd overall pick Quinnen Williams (#92 in red) and 2019 2nd round pick Raekwon Davis (#99 in red) throughout the game.

I’m going to list the defensive player he blocks for each clip, as they are easier to pick out on film than offensive lineman.

Double teams

Kevin Dotson (#75) is the RG, (toward the bottom of the screen) he and #50 double team Raekwon Davis (DT to the bottom of the screen, second from bottom on the DL) to the ground.

A well executed double team puts Davis on the ground and out of the play.

The next double team shows one of Dotson’s weaknesses, as he sometimes gets too much forward lean and gets off balance. Dotson at RG, blocks the DT to the bottom of the screen.

This time it ends with Dotson on the ground.

When Alabama put in their depth players the Cajuns started running on them with ease. Dotson again the RG, blocks the DT to the bottom of the screen.

Look at the center of the Crimson Tide DL and how fast they get driven back 4 yards. Johnny Dwight (#95) is a fringe NFL player currently with the Houston Texans, and Kevin Dotson drives straight through him into the linebackers. Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis would be put back out for almost all of the second quarter and well into the third quarter.

1 v. 1 run blocking

While the Ragin’ Cajuns scheme had Dotson double teaming quite a bit, he also did well when he was on his own. This play uses an unbalanced line, Kevin Dotson is lined up in the middle of the offensive line, and will block #92 the right DT (top middle DL)

That’s 2019 3rd overall pick Quinnen Williams (who helped bump the NYJ run defense from bottom 10 in 2018 to 2nd best in 2019) getting driven back 4 yards. When Dotson lands his punch and gets his hands set inside he moves people.

Williams let’s Dotson know he didn’t appreciate it on the next play, same locations for both.

This time Quinnen Williams gets his punch in first, Dotson just absorbs it and starts walking Williams backward before trying to switch to blocking him behind the play. This is more impressive than the previous one to me, because he loses the first contact to a monster of a DT but doesn’t lose the battle.

On this play the Cajuns pull their LG and LT, Kevin Dotson needs to seal Raekwon Davis (#99) out of the run lane. Dotson is right above the center, Davis is the top middle DT.

You can see Dotson and Davis stay on the line of scrimmage and Dotson moves him out of the run lane. Raekwon Davis didn’t record many wins against Dotson at all in this game, and ended up staying out on the field late in the game.

Pass Blocking

Dotson is the guard to the bottom of the screen, he blocks Davis, the bottom DT

Alabama’s #33 comes on a stunt, runs into Dotson and Raekwon Davis is able to get past him as the tackle provides no help on the stunt. You can see the effort Dotson puts in to get back and keep Davis off his QB. Really like the effort there.

This play involves a full slide to the left. Dotson is again the RG (second lineman from the bottom).

This is where Dotson is at his best in pass protection, when he’s in the middle of a wall. He’s a bit more vulnerable on his own in space, but in tighter spaces he’s a beast.

Wrap up

The Ragin’ Cajuns ran for 200 yards against the Crimson Tide, the most they gave up in 2018 and 5th most of the decade. Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs (#49) Johnny Dwight and Quinnen Williams combined for 40 Tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks in 2018, none of those were against the Ragin’ Cajuns, the only team to hold those 4 without a tackle for loss or a sack in 2018. That says a lot about the level of coaching and the players on that line.

Kevin Dotson didn’t get a lot of shots at future NFL DTs, but when he did he got the better of them. He was one of the standouts at the East-West shrine game, where he got the better of pretty much everyone.

Kevin Dotson is a mauler at Guard, a Ramon Foster clone, and from his film he looks NFL ready. I would not be surprised at all to see him end up starting at some point this season, especially if Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner struggle at RT. The one concern I have is that he always played RG, starting there for 52 games straight. He’s not going to take that spot from David DeCastro. He did play LG at the Shrine game, but it may take some time for him to be able to start at LG in the NFL.

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers OG Kevin Dotson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 6:30am
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at what was being said about the Steelers fourth round pick.

Kevin Dotson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 135th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s some scouting reports on him.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein

The Good

Fundamentals have been drilled into him
Initial steps are controlled and purposeful as run blocker
Brute force and leg drive to generate movement
Well-versed in inside and outside zone
Heavy-handed punch
Balanced posture in pass sets with punch-ready hands

The Bad

A little short with top-heavy build lacking proportion
Has issues keeping balance when he’s cross-faced off snap
Not a natural knee bender
Needs to re-set hands more quickly
Mirror suffers when he loses proper base width
Feet and agility to recover are below average

The Verdict

Backup-caliber guard with the football intelligence, technique and run-blocking ability for eventual starter consideration in the right circumstance.

Draft Network’s Joe Marino

The Good

Big and physical. Love how he rolls his hips into contact, fits his hands and accelerates his feet to create push in the run game. Does well to keep his pads low and maximize his functional strength. Pop in his hands is notable, as is his core strength.

The Bad

Has to work on his footwork in pass protection to maintain a consistent base and set himself up to slide and mirror. Plays too tall in pass protection and when combined with his inconsistent base, it leads to body control issues.

The Verdict

Louisiana offensive linemen Kevin Dotson enters the NFL after starting 52 consecutive games across four seasons in college, all coming at the right guard position. Dots is a mauler in the run game that maximizes his play strength to create significant movement. His anchor is stout in pass protection and he has an ideal frame for interior play in the NFL. With that said, he’s technique in pass protection needs quite a bit of work, especially with his feet. If he can develop his footwork, Dotson has the makeup of an NFL starter in a power run scheme.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller

The Good

Powerful player with a junkyard-dog attitude who wants to punch you in the mouth and looks for the finish every play. Excels in the run game and could compete in any scheme; isn’t the most gifted athlete, but he understands leverage and angles at the line of scrimmage and as a climber.

The Bad

Will turn 24 early in his rookie season, and teams may not see much room for technical or physical maturation in his game. Stiff lower body; will struggle to redirect laterally versus speed-rushers. Wants to deliver blows and can get overextended in both phases fairly often; comes with some balance concerns and is on the ground far too often.

The Verdict

Dotson didn’t face the stiffest of competition while playing at Louisiana, but he managed to dominate enough to be recognized as an All-American. He isn’t a top-tier overall athlete in space, but he is a heavy-handed striker who can knock dudes out.

Pro Football Network’s Andrew DiCecco

From his article analyzing the top Sun Belt prospects.

Dotson is at his best when operating as a road-grading run blocker, but he is as complete as any guard in the 2020 NFL Draft class. A technician on the inside, Dotson has the footwork, power, hand placement, and understanding of leverage to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

and. . .

Dotson managed to parlay his decorated collegiate career into an invite to the prestigious East-West Shrine Bowl last month. The interior mauler utilized his 81-inch arms, 10-inch hands, and brute strength to his advantage, imposing his will against some of the top defensive linemen in the country.

Kevin Dotson was not invited to the NFL combine, but was invited to the East-West Shrine Game where he was impressive. Here is an interview with him from that week.

Podcast: How much of an impact will Matt Canada have on the Steelers offense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is over, and although there are no more games, the news is still ongoing. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • How much of an impact will Matt Canada have on the Steelers’ offense?
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame coach, lauds Chase Claypool’s versatility

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/30/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is officially over. After finishing last year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, have another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at Brian Kelly’s comments regarding Chase Claypool’s ridiculous versatility heading into the NFL.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Steelers’ top pick, Chase Claypool, is anything but a one-trick pony.

Notre Dame coach lauds versatility that WR Chase Claypool brings to Steelers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Chase Claypool’s four years at Notre Dame included just about everything on the football field short of playing with marching band at halftime.

The second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Claypool lined up on the short side and wide sides of the field. He played in the slot.

If Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly needed a gunner on the special teams, Claypool probably was the first to raise his hand, too.

It didn’t matter if he was part of the designed play, Claypool found a way to get involved.

“He can come down and block anybody. Safeties, rovers, corners, he can get a mismatch on them,” Kelly said Tuesday in a conference call.

In 2019, Claypool produced career bests with 66 catches, 1,037 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games while mainly lining up on the short side of the field as Notre Dame’s “W” receiver.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers are putting ink to paper on some of their undrafted free agent players’ contracts.

Steelers sign six undrafted free agents to contracts

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed the first six of the 10 undrafted free agents they agreed to terms with Saturday upon conclusion of the NFL Draft.

Signing contracts Tuesday were linebackers Leo Lewis of Mississippi State and John Houston of USC, cornerbacks James Pierre of Florida Atlantic and Trajan Bandy of Miami (Fla), defensive end Calvin Taylor of Kentucky and punter Corliss Waitman of South Alabama and Mississippi State.

Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior, set a career-high with 5.5 tackles for loss in 2019. He added one sack, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Lewis entered Mississippi State as the nation’s top inside linebacker recruit out of Brookhaven (Miss.) and was a four-year contributor and played in 51 career games.

Lewis was named the SEC defensive freshman of the year in 2016.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A look back at Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Labriola on Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

Depending upon your age on March 14, 1967, maybe you spent the day in your house, the one you bought for $14,250, and sat in front of your black-and-white television and watched the newest episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Hogan’s Heroes.” Or maybe you decided to go for a drive in your car, not too far though, because after all gas was up to 33 cents a gallon. But if watching some TV or going for a drive didn’t interest you, maybe you turned on the radio to listen to songs from that latest album from the Beatles, the one they titled “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

What you didn’t do, and what you wouldn’t have done all day that day was pay any attention to the NFL Draft. Even if you cared, how could you? It wasn’t on television. It wasn’t broadcast on the radio. Besides, your Steelers didn’t have a first-round pick anyway, as usual. Traded it away for a couple of old guys you never heard of, as usual.

That was an era when the initials S-O-S came to stand for “same old Steelers,” and that derogatory acronym was all-encompassing. It could have referred to the team managing only five winning seasons in its previous 20, or maybe it was seen as being reflective of a draft “strategy” that had the team make only five first-round picks in the previous 10, and the only one of those who was any good was a future Hall of Fame quarterback named Len Dawson they never played and then traded away after three seasons. Probably for another guy you never heard of.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

3 picks on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft helped the Steelers draft class

A roundup of scouting reports for Anthony McFarland

Ranking the AFC North after the draft: Defense

Predicting the jersey numbers for the Steelers’ 2020 rookie class

The tough work begins for the Steelers’ draft class

  • Social Media Madness

I’m geeking rn y’all! Look at what the @SteelersShop just sent me! Wait until the end pops already rocking the new swag #HereWeGo @steelers pic.twitter.com/sW2sqvs6Kq

— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) April 29, 2020

"He's a guy that will say yes to any job."@missi_matthews checks in with @NDFootball @CoachBrianKelly to discuss the impact that @ChaseClaypool will have on the #Steelers.@UPMC | Watch the full interview on YouTube ⤵️

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2020

Drafted ✔
New hat ✔@highsmith34 | @SteelersShop pic.twitter.com/JnZFUeufbK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2020

Steelers top draft choice Chase Claypool announces his jersey number

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 7:12pm
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Although his college number 83 was available, Claypool will sport number 11 for the black and gold in 2020

The Steelers new wide receiver Chase Claypool posted a graphic on his Twitter account announcing his new number with in Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ top draft choice will be wearing number 11 for the upcoming NFL season.

New threads.. New number.. New beginnings. #1of1 #8plus3 #SteelerNation pic.twitter.com/AtcQKQ9Ds3

— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) April 29, 2020

While many believed Claypool would stick with his number 83 which he wore in college at Notre Dame, Claypool’s graphic showed him wearing number 11 in a variety of Steelers jerseys. Ironically, Claypool’s profile picture for Twitter already showed him wearing number 83 in a Steelers’ uniform. Between the time in which Claypool had hoped to keep his number 83 and the announcement of his actual number, something changed to where the Steelers rookie will now wear number 11.

Last season, tight end Zach Gentry played the preseason as number 83 only to have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ask him to pick a different number out of respect for his former teammate tight and Heath Miller. Ultimately, Gentry went with 81. Whether or not Rothlisberger had any say in Claypool’s number choice has yet to be determined. But with 83 being available and Claypool seeming to desire the jersey, it seems odd the 6’ 4” decided on the number 11 instead.

While some fans may have flashbacks from 2019 and the drops which came forth by former Steelers’ receiver Donte Moncrief, Claypool will hopefully make fans soon forget about the past and look towards the Steelers future at the position.

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

The NFL May have done too good of a job in performing a virtual draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 2:55pm
Photo by NFL via Getty Images

With the process apparently going off without a hitch, some team personnel may have enjoyed the process too much

It was hard to know what to expect from the 2020 NFL draft when it was announced it would be done virtually. Many fans, and some team personnel, feared the worst in regards to relying on technology for a process which helps shape a franchise for years to come. But with the virtual draft appearing to be pulled off without any glitches, it made for some interesting and entertaining moments.

It is possible that the 2020 NFL draft might end up producing more memes than any other NFL draft… combined. Between moms pulling girlfriends off of their sons, prospects snatching phones away from people, and couples emerging suspiciously from other rooms, there has been plenty of entertainment behind the scenes from the 2020 draft. And that is just the humans.

But with the side stories and entertainment removed, was it a successful draft format? For the times we are living in with the current global pandemic, it’s amazing the NFL was able to pull off their yearly spectacle. Add in the fact many people are longing for sports, the three days of the NFL draft had me forgetting about many other things going in this world if only for a while. Do to the fact this was the most-watched draft in NFL history, I can say with certainty I was not alone.

2020 #NFLDraft goes down as the most-watched ever with more than 55 million viewers over three days. MORE: https://t.co/iZCQew23TX pic.twitter.com/5I2edTokO1

— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) April 26, 2020

As for the coaches and GM’s involved in the process, some of them gave the virtual setting a ringing endorsement.

Anthony Lynn on the virtual draft: "Hell, I was talking to some of the other NFL coaches, and we was thinking maybe we should do this again next year. I mean, I'm at home in a t-shirt and shorts. No tie, no suit. It's pretty comfortable."

— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) April 25, 2020

One downside of the virtual draft was players losing their moment to walk across the stage. For those few who have had the experience, it’s something they will never forget. With having the draft conducted in this manner an impossibility right now, the NFL did a fantastic job holding the event as close to normally as possible.

It will be interesting to see how the players selected in the draft pan out for their NFL teams. Perhaps some teams got a steel late in the draft which they may not have otherwise based on the change in the process over the last several months. Or perhaps things weren’t really affected all that much when it came to player evaluations and teams making their selections.

One thing we do know for sure: If, a few years down the road, a team is deemed to have a very weak 2020 draft class, they will automatically have a built-in excuse.

Predicting the jersey numbers for Pittsburgh Steelers free agent signings

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 1:50pm
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BTSC guesses which numbers will be assigned to each Steeler acquisition from other teams.

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 a lot of times they need to find new numerical representation. Join us as BTSC continues our fun tradition of predicting what digits the new Pittsburgh Steelers will display as they play.

FB Derek Watt

Previous Number: 34

Projected Number: 44

Level of Certainty: The Highest

With Terrell Edmunds having a stranglehold on Derek’s old number with the Chargers, Watt already proclaimed on Twitter that he was taking double-fours in Pittsburgh.

Stefen Wisniewski

Previous Number: 61

Projected Number: 61

Level of Certainty: Very High

Stefan has won the same number with the Raiders, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Kansas City. It’s open in Pittsburgh and he’s won two Super Bowls wearing it. This is an absolute no brainer. He’s gotta have it.

Eric Ebron

Previous Number: 85

Projected Number: 85

Level of Certainty: Very High

Just like Wisniewski, has worn the same number with the Colts and Lions. In fact, he wore it in college at North Carolina as well. It is not assigned to any Steeler.

Chris Wormley

Previous Number: 93

Projected Number: 73

Level of Certainty: None

With the Ravens, Wormley wore his birth year. Currently Dan McCullers dons those digits. I could go No. 95 here, but I’m thinking more that he gets No. 73. With uncertainty that McCullers’ services are retained in September, the No. 73 could be temporary.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.

A unique way to grade the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 12:25pm
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

You want grades on the Steelers 2020 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 2020 NFL Draft class, I’m doing a disservice to the click-bait gods in the sky.

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?

Second round (49th, overall), Chase Claypool, wide-receiver, Notre Dame

I think it’s safe to say the Steelers went into the 2020 NFL Draft in search of depth at many positions. But not only depth, players who could potentially take the place of current starters who may depart as early as next offseason. Considering their first pick wouldn’t come until just after the midway point of the second round, it was really anyone’s guess as to who they would take and what position they would address first.

However, the second round is always a prime area of the draft for the “Why did they take that guy when that other guy was available?” reaction—I think this is due to so many known names dropping into the second round every year. With that in mind, I figured I’d see a ton of “Noooooooo!” knee-jerks on social media immediately after the pick. This happens every year—even when the Steelers make their first-round choice—but I expected it to be even more pronounced this time since the fans had to wait an extra day for the first choice.

What’s with that, btw--the "NOOOOOOO!"? Do some fans encounter Michael Myers at the exact moment the Steelers make their first draft choice every spring?

I digress.

Sure enough, Steelers fans didn’t disappoint with their reaction to the selection of Claypool.

But, again, Pittsburgh could have gone in any number of directions with its first pick.

And that’s why I give the selection Five Jumps for Joy for the Steelers taking a potential play-maker with great physical gifts—including size and speed—whose production increased each season at South Bend. Claypool may not have been quite as productive at ND as JuJu Smith-Schuster was at USC, but I think he’s a bigger and faster version of JuJu and with a higher ceiling.

I would give the pick a few Smashed Remotes due to the team passing on so many other players, such as J.k. Dobbins and (insert about a million other names here). But I’m guessing people would have included Claypool as a name they wished the Steelers would have taken had they gone in a different direction.

Speaking of social media and the “NOOOOOOO!” I would also add a few Smashed Remotes due to the fact that I found out about the pick about five minutes before I watched it on TV. But that’s more a me problem, due to having basic cable and a slower feed.

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

Third round (102nd, overall) Alex Highsmith, EDGE/OLB, Charlotte

As I wrote about already, I barely knew the name or the school. One Smashed Remote. And since the third round is often like the second round with so many familiar names sitting there for the taking, perhaps the Steelers could have gone in a different direction. Another Smashed Remote.

But Highsmith was rather dominant at Charlotte, a school that has been playing FBS football for less than a decade. And if dominating lesser competition was an endearing quality for Javon Hargrave, who played at tiny South Carolina State, why can’t it be for the new outside linebacker? One Jump for Joy.

Also, in a world where compensatory picks weren’t handed out each spring like Xanax during a pandemic, the 102nd spot of the annual NFL Draft would actually be the early portion of the fourth round. Viewing it from that perspective, you can appreciate the selection of Highsmith a bit more. The Steelers have a raw talent, sure, but someone who, if they were to mold him into a regular starter (or more), could one day be viewed as a steal. Another Jump for Joy.

And if Joey Porter, the former Steelers outside linebackers coach, could wring every last ounce of ability out of Anthony Chickillo, a converted defensive end, I’m confident Keith Butler, the current defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach, can do the same with a better talent in Highsmith. A Third Jump for Joy.

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

Fourth round (124th, overall), Anthony McFarland Jr., running back, Maryland

I believe the fourth round could wind up being the sweet spot of the Steelers 2020 draft class, starting with McFarland, their first of two fourth-round selections on Day 3.

When I first heard about the pick on the radio, I immediately gave it Three Smashed Remotes. But that was due to the bias of the radio host who wanted Pittsburgh to trade for Leonard Fournette. When I got home and started researching McFarland, I was intrigued. One Jump for Joy. Then when I watched highlights of him, I was blown away by his speed. Two Jumps for Joy. And when I discovered his speed was 4.4, I was in love. Three Jumps for Joy.

But then I remembered that the Steelers passed on the likes of Cam Akers and Dobbins in the second round and took a receiver, instead. I mean, couldn’t they have waited until the fourth round to select a receiver in a class that was considered to be historically deep? One Smashed Remote. But, wait a minute, the running back class wasn’t too shabby, either. And it looks like the Steelers took a talent in the fourth that may one day offer great draft value. Two Jumps for Joy.

But then there are the character concerns. One Smashed Remote. Thankfully, McFarland has many people in his life who can vouch for him—including the secret offensive coordinator and the head coach’s son. One Jump for Joy.

There is a history of injuries: Four Smashed Remotes. But they didn’t involve his knees. Also, he only carried the football 245 times in college: Four Jumps for Joy.

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

Fourth round (135th, overall), Kevin Dotson, guard, Louisiana

Perhaps it’s fitting that Ramon Foster just retired after 11 years of just about the most durable and consistent play the Steelers could have asked for out of an undrafted free agent guard. I say that because if the Big Ragu—charismatic, lighthearted, funny, started lots of games during his career—was about 10 years older, he could probably be Dotson’s father.

Dotson was the first player drafted who wasn’t invited to the Combine. One Smashed Remote, right? However, the more you learn about him—he started 52-straight games in college, was voted Second-Team All-Sun Belt (2017), First-Team All-Sun Belt (2018, 2019) and AP All-American (2019)—you have to ask why he wasn’t invited to the Combine in the first place? Two Jumps for Joy and an Expunged Smashed Remote.

From everything I’ve read about the guy, a week in Indianapolis working out for and talking to scouts and coaches may have increased his draft stock--but maybe his potential can be the Steelers little secret. Two Jumps for Joy.

His drawbacks seem to be physical. One Smashed Remote. But his technique already seems to be fairly polished. One Jump for Joy.

This is the first promising draft prospect handed to Shaun Sarrett since he became offensive line coach. If he’s anything like his mentor—Saint Mike Munchak—I am extremely confident he can ultimately mold Dotson into a starter. Five Jumps for Joy.

As far as Dotson’s personality, I’ve already learned that he likes to tell defensive linemen the play ahead of time just so they can be demoralized after not being able to stop it. One Jump for Joy. He’s worked as a bouncer. Bar 11 Jumps for Joy. He likes to pull pickup trucks for exercise. Harrison Hundred Jumps for Joy. Also, he grew up a Steelers fan. Six Jumps for Joy. Not only that, he’s a big Jerome Bettis fan (the fat man’s Jack Lambert for the modern Steeler Nation) 36 Jumps for Joy. And, finally, he posted a video to social media of him waving a Terrible Towel as he introduced himself to Steeler Nation. IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL and XLIII Jumps for Joy.

Final tally on the Jump for Joy/Smashed Remote grading scale: Plus-282

Sixth round (198th, overall), Antoine Brooks Jr., safety, Maryland

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to do a whole lot of jumping for joy or smashing of remotes once the Steelers get to this point in the draft. When a player is taken this late, you just have to hope he surprises you by making the team out of training camp. Yes, Tom Brady and Antonio Brown were both drafted in the sixth round, but so were many, many others.

Brooks sounds like another attempt by the team to find that hybrid type who can play safety, slot and dime linebacker. One Jump for Joy for trying. Will he be able to pull it off? At this point, I don’t anticipate him being able to pull it off any better than Marcus Allen, fifth round, 2018 NFL Draft, has up to this point of his young career. One Smashed Remote.

I’ve read some good things about Brooks Jr., such as his ability to play the run and tackle in the open field. One Jump for Joy.

But he doesn’t have ideal speed for pass-coverage. One Smashed Remote.

At the moment, the only two Steelers defenders who seem capable of being dynamic play-makers in the middle of the field—safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and inside linebacker Devin Bush—were high-pedigreed draft choices. Therefore, they may not be able to find another ideal guy who can play safety, slot and dime linebacker until the next time they have a first-round draft pick. Two Smashed Remotes.

But, again, Brooks is a sixth-round pick. If the least he does is provide the Steelers with adequate depth at the safety position—something Pittsburgh was sorely lacking heading into the draft—that would be a sixth-round pick well-spent. Two Jumps for Joy.

The one truly intriguing thing I’ve read about Brooks is that guys like him tend to drop in the draft because NFL teams have a hard time finding the right fit for them in today’s modern defenses. You can look at in both a positive and negative sense when analyzing the kind of career Brooks could have in Pittsburgh. One Jump for Joy. One Smashed Remote.

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

Seventh round (232nd, overall), Carlos Davis, defensive tackle, Nebraska

What I said about sixth-round draft picks also applies to seventh-round draft choices.

At this point, Davis impresses me a little less than Isaiah Buggs, Pittsburgh’s seventh-round pick from Alabama in 2019. Does he impress me more than Big Dan McCullers? I’m afraid to say anything bad about the guy, for fear that he finds incriminating evidence on me similar to what he must have found on head coach Mike Tomlin years ago.

At 313 pounds, could Davis fill the Steelers need for a starting nose tackle? Is there even a need for a starting nose tackle, what with the Steelers implementing their sub-package defenses way more than their base defense?

Even if he doesn’t become a starting nose tackle, does Davis have what it takes to one day factor heavily into the defensive line rotation alongside Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu? Considering those guys—and the recently-departed Hargrave—are all high-pedigreed players, probably not. One Smashed Remote.

However, if Davis can provide the kind of depth that L.T. Walton did during his Steelers career, that wouldn’t be a bad thing for a seventh-round pick. One Jump for Joy.

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

Despite rumors, Kevin Colbert admits the Steelers did not make an offer to a veteran QB

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:55am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rumors were swirling about the Steelers offering a contract to a veteran backup QB, but Kevin Colbert put those rumors to bed recently in an interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base, there was a recent infatuation among the masses over free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. Well, to be accurate, not just Winston but any veteran free agent quarterback who could play behind Ben Roethlisberger.

After the 2019 season, Pittsburgh fans got to see first-hand what life without Roethlisberger would look like. After leaving the Week 2 game vs. the Seattle Seahawks with a season-ending elbow injury, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges failed to produce enough to get the team to the postseason.

It made sense for the Steelers to explore veteran options at quarterback, hence why many were comfortable with the rumors of the team putting their feelers out regarding bringing in a player with experience who could keep the ship afloat if Roethlisberger were lost for any significant amount of time in 2020.

Think another Charlie Batch...

But, as it turns out, the Steelers didn’t make an offer to a veteran quarterback, and that includes Jameis Winston. Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was on 93.7 The Fan admitted the Steelers never made a move for another quarterback to add to their depth chart.

GM Kevin Colbert just told @FanMorningShow Steelers did not make an offer to a veteran QB

— Eric Hagman (@esh714) April 29, 2020

While the thought of a quarterback makes sense from a football standpoint, from a logistics standpoint it certainly is flawed. A player like Winston is going to request top dollar, and guaranteed money, both of which the Steelers simply don’t have. The team has made moves, but at positions which they deem to be more in need compared to backup quarterback.

The Steelers didn’t have many options, financially, for a quarterback who could be viewed as an upgrade over the quarterbacks they have on their roster, including Paxton Lynch. In my opinion, if the Steelers lose Roethlisberger for the season again, the season is likely over before it started. However, the true question is if Roethlisberger were to be lost for 4 games, could Rudolph, or another quarterback on the roster, win 3 of those games until No. 7 returns?

After 2019 it is natural to have your doubts when answering that question.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season and schedule release coming next week.

A trio of smart Day 3 2020 NFL Draft selections solidify an effective draft for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 9:50am
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Three Pittsburgh Steelers Day 3 picks just round out a very good draft class for the black-and-gold.

The draft means different things to different franchises. For some, it’s the opportunity to land an essential franchise quarterback. For others, it’s a chance to fill a glaring need. Some draft for speed or for smarts, others to fit a particular scheme. Many simply take the best player available. A few appear to throw darts at a figurative dartboard and choose whomever they hit.

This year, with no obvious immediate needs but several positions at which they could use depth or a player to fill a role, the Steelers entered the draft with a wide-open pool of candidates. This gave them the luxury of eating off of the entire menu, so to speak, with only quarterback and tight end as position groups that seemed off the table. It made life difficult for pundits and mock-drafters trying to predict whom they might select. But it allowed the Steelers to search for players with specific strengths without having to worry if they could start right away.

After sitting out day one of the draft (Minkah! Did you know we got Minkah!), the Steelers attacked day two with a mantra lifted from the classic Talking Heads song “Once In A Lifetime.” By drafting a wide receiver and a linebacker, their philosophy remained the same as it ever was. The selections of Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool and Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith made it six out of the past eight drafts where they went WR/LB with two of their first three picks. Death, taxes and the Steelers drafting a wide receiver and a linebacker in the first few rounds - these are life’s inevitabilities.

Reaction throughout Steeler Nation seemed mixed towards the Claypool and Highsmith selections. Neither fortifies an immediate area of weakness and many debated whether they were the best players available at their respective positions. Claypool is interesting for his size and speed and will give Ben Roethlisberger another big target in the passing game while adding physicality as a run blocker. Highsmith is most likely a special teams contributor in 2020 while being groomed as the possible successor to Bud Dupree should Dupree leave after playing out his franchise tag. Beyond the Steelers love of drafting receivers and linebackers early, the question many asked is why they opted for those players in those particular draft slots.

Day three of the draft, where rounds 4-7 are conducted, brought a different atmosphere and level of expectation. Whereas teams are compelled to produce starters in rounds 1-3, rounds 4-7 is where, ideally, depth pieces and role players are added. Those who were not overwhelmed by the Steelers’ first two selections should take comfort in what the team was able to do with their next three. Their picks in round four, running back Anthony McFarland and guard Kevin Dotson, and round six, safety Antoine Brooks, are the types of picks that round out a roster like Pittsburgh’s. None are complete players but all bring necessary skill sets. Each player fills a specific role or provides a trait that was lacking. All have a great chance to both make the squad and contribute, if not in 2020 then in seasons to come. This trio of smart selections solidified an effective draft for the Steelers.

Here’s a quick look at how each fits the roster and at what they might contribute:

Anthony McFarland, Maryland, RB, 5’8-208

For those who loved LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire or, like me, Utah’s Zach Moss as fits for the Steelers, McFarland is not far off. He resembles Moss and Edwards-Helaire in stature and he combines the power to run inside with a shiftiness possessed only by Kerith Whyte on the running back depth chart. Whyte showed some promise as an outside runner and kick returner last season but struggled to run between the tackles. McFarland pairs Whyte’s burst to the edge with a more physical inside game. He is potentially a dangerous kick returner as well. His presence is likely to mean the end of Whyte’s time in Pittsburgh.

McFarland’s calling card is his burst. He has good vision and cuts decisively. Once he gets vertical, he has home-run hitting ability like no one in the Pittsburgh backfield. Watch him jump-cut to his right on this inside zone run and then sprint away from the defense:

McFarland has what my college roommate would call “schwoogie,” an entirely made-up word used to describe a player whose elusiveness can make an opponent look foolish. Case in point - the Wisconsin edge defender in the GIF below:

Scientifically-speaking, the Steelers backfield prior to the draft suffered from a low quotient of schwoogie. McFarland will remedy that.

McFarland is not a threat to supplant James Conner as the every-down back (this year, anyway) but he could push Benny Snell for reps as the primary backup. He is also a good candidate to play in 3rd down packages and perhaps see snaps in the slot where he could run jet sweeps and quick screens. He will have to master NFL pass protection and win Ben Roethlisberger’s trust in those situations. But McFarland has good hands and if the Steelers can get him the ball in space he has the strength and explosiveness to create plays like this:

In short, McFarland has a Darren Sproles quality the Steelers have lacked in their backfield for a long time. McFarland played under new Steelers’ quarterbacks coach/offensive assistant Matt Canada at Maryland in 2018 where, against an Ohio State team loaded with future pros, he gashed the Buckeyes for 298 yards rushing on just 21 carries. Canada will surely have some suggestions on how to get the football into the hands of the newest weapon in the Steelers’ arsenal. That, in itself, is an exciting prospect.

Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana, 6’4-320

Within minutes of being selected with the team’s second fourth round pick, Dotson emerged as a mini-cult hero in Pittsburgh once videos of him pancaking opponents and pulling trucks emerged. Reports of his exceptional smack talk didn’t hurt, either.

Dotson is an old-school physical lineman whose style of play should conjure memories of former Steeler brawlers Chris Kemoeatu and Willie Colon. He plays with a nasty disposition, finishing his blocks and seeming to revel in dominating opponents. That was easier for Dotson at low-level Division I Louisiana than it will be in the AFC North. Still, Dotson’s style of play should be a welcome addition to a unit more known for its finesse than its physicality.

Dotson might brawl like Kemoeatu and Colon but he is far more mobile than either. His 4.8 forty time at his videotaped pro day was eye-opening. Watch Dotson’s fluidity in the GIF below. Normally I’m not interested in big dudes running the forty but Dotson shows off really impressive athleticism for a man his size:

The drill tape from his pro day is equally encouraging. One thing coaches love seeing is a player’s drill work translate to the game field. The purpose of drill work is to get a player to master the techniques necessary to be successful in live action. Few things are more deflating for a coach that repping a technique over and over in practice only to see a player fail to apply the mechanics in a game. A player whose drill work translates to the game field is valuable.

Here is Dotson working a zone blocking drill at his pro day. Dotson steps correctly with his play-side foot, departs at a slight angle to stay on his track, punches on his second step, keeps his hands and elbows inside the frame of the defender and moves him off the ball with short, choppy steps. This is near-perfect zone blocking technique:

Now check out his game tape. Dotson is the right guard here. This is a wide zone run so his departure step is more horizontal than it was in the drill. Everything else is the same. Dotson punches on his second step, keeps his hands inside, takes choppy steps to displace the defender and then runs him off the line of scrimmage. He finishes the block properly with a shove. This block is athletic, it’s physical and it mirrors the drill work. Anyone who enjoys offensive line play should be excited watching this:

In my piece last week, I floated LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry as a potential guard prospect for the Steelers. One of the things I liked about Cushenberry was the fact he had been under-recruited out of high school and told he was too small to be a big-time prospect. Cushenberry used those snubs as fuel to help him become a team captain and the best lineman on the Tigers’ national championship team. Similarly, Dotson wound up at Louisiana because he was not a big-time high school recruit, was overshadowed in his time there by teammate and fellow guard Robert Hunt, and, despite making 56 consecutive starts and earning first team All-American honors this past season, was not invited to the NFL Combine. Dotson may resemble Cushenberry for the chip he carries on his shoulder. Players with that “something to prove” mentality tend to be hungry and driven.

In Pittsburgh, Dotson will have time to develop. He will back up whomever starts at guard opposite David DeCastro (Matt Feiler or Stephen Wisniewski are the likely candidates) and will work on developing as a puller, which is his biggest weakness. He is a more complete player than the line picks the Steelers have made in recent years (Derwin Gray, Chuks Okorafor and Jerald Hawkins) and looks like an eventual starter. Dotson may represent the future of line play in Pittsburgh in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era: a physical run-blocker who can transform the nature of the unit as the Steelers transition to their next franchise QB. If Dotson can be the hammer here that he was in college, he will cement himself as a fan favorite.

Antoine Brooks, SS, Maryland, 5’11-220

Brooks has the highest boom or bust potential of the three players profiled here. He is a terrific tackler, as evidenced by the fact he led the Terrapins in solo tackles in 2019 and recorded 237 total tackles for his career. He aggressively attacks ball-carriers and does a great job getting low and running his feet on contact. His film is replete with highlights like the one below, where he eludes the block of the slot receiver to make a tackle for loss on a bubble screen:

Here’s another, where Brooks (lined up on the hash to the top of the screen) man-handles the slot before playing off of him to make a perfect form tackle on the back:

Brooks’ weakness is in coverage, where scouting profiles describe him as tight in the hips and displaying only average ball skills. There are not many clips of Brooks playing two-high safety on his highlight reel. Almost every stand-out play he makes comes when he is rolled up in the alley or at the second level somewhere. This may be where Brooks potentially “busts” on the boom or bust spectrum. A safety with weak cover skills doesn’t last long in the NFL. That could indeed be the case with Brooks, and is likely why he was still available in the 6th round.

My sense, however, is the Steelers did not draft him to be a traditional deep safety. At 5’11-220, he has the frame to handle in-the-box duties at the second level. His blend of speed, toughness and tackling ability make him a great candidate to fill the nickel and dime backer role occupied last season by Mark Barron. This is the one area of immediate need on the defense and the Steelers do not have a player in-house to fill it. Ulysses Gilbert III, Marcus Allen and perhaps Terrell Edmunds are all candidates. But Gilbert and Allen are as unproven as Brooks and the Steelers seem to prefer keeping Edmunds at safety as much as possible.

Brooks’ case for the job resides in the fact he is faster and a better overall tackler than Allen and, at the second level, is likely a better coverage player than Gilbert. Brooks is also said to be an excellent blitzer. His closing speed certainly hints at potential in that area. Brooks may not lock down the job out of the gate but his tackling makes him a great candidate to play special teams while he learns the sub-package linebacker role. I would not be surprised if by mid-season he had worked himself into the rotation. He could develop into a younger version of Barron, which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

A speedy running back unlike any other on the roster. An old-school, physical lineman with chip-on-the-shoulder motivation. A thick safety with the tackling chops to fill the sub-package linebacker role. The Steelers did a great job fortifying areas of weakness on day three of the draft. None of these players may become stars but all have the potential to be important contributors. Their selections solidify what should become an effective draft in Pittsburgh.

Ranking AFC North rosters after the draft: Defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 8:15am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

How do your favorite Steelers compare to the rest of the division?

The draft is now complete!

...Meaning we enter the time of speculation between now and whenever the NFL allows teams to practice together.

So, as teams put the finishing touches on their 90-man roster, I’ve attempted to objectively rank and compare each AFC North team’s positional groups to the others. I’ve only mentioned players that have a good chance of starting or being primary depth - UDFA’s don’t have much of an affect on the rankings as of right now.

Interior Defensive Line
  1. Steelers (Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Chris Wormley).
  2. Ravens (Brandon Williams, Calais Cambell, Justin Madibuike, Daylon Mack).
  3. Bengals (Geno Atkins, D.J. Reader, Carlos Dunlap).
  4. Browns (Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi, Andrew Billings, Jordan Elliot).

The Steelers have a powerful defensive duo in Heyward and Tuitt, backed by some underrated depth in Alualu, Buggs, and Wormley. The addition of Calais Cambell to the Raven’s defensive line upgrades the group to the second spot. Geno Atkins and D.J. Reader are both excellent lineman for the Bengals at #3, while Richardson, Ogunjobi, and Billings round out the stacked defensive line rankings in a AFC North.

Will this ranking change anytime soon?

The AFC North is full to the brim with talented defensive lineman, with all four teams conceivably having a shot at taking the top spot this season. However, Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt look to be the best combo on this list, and look to wreak havoc in 2020 if the latter can stay healthy.

EDGE/Outside Linebackers
  1. Steelers (T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith).
  2. Browns (Myles Garrett, Oliver Vernon, Chad Thomas).
  3. Ravens (Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson)
  4. Bengals (Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson, Andrew Brown).

T.J. Watt is the best pass rusher in the AFC North, and possibly the entire NFL. Him and Bud Dupree elevate Pittsburgh to first place on the list. The Browns, led by former #1 overall pick Myles Garrett fall into second, while the Ravens land in third with Pro-Bowler Matt Judon and some solid depth. The Bengals are once again in last place, with decent edge rushing tandem in Hubbard and Lawson.

Will this ranking change anytime soon?

The already elite T.J. Watt is still improving, but Bud Dupree may be on his way out of Pittsburgh. The Browns are in a somewhat similar position, as Garrett looks to bounce back in a big way in 2020, but his running mate in Oliver Vernon might be cut before the season starts. If the depth charts stay the same for all four teams, not much change will occur. However, if Dupree or Vernon leave their respective teams, there could be a shake-up in the rankings.

Linebackers
  1. Ravens (Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, L.J. Fort).
  2. Steelers (Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysses Gilbert III).
  3. Browns (Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki, B.J. Goodson).
  4. Bengals (Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither).

It was a mixup between the Ravens and Steelers for the top spot, and even though Devin Bush is better than Patrick Queen, the Ravens win first place by being a little bit deeper at the position. The Browns found a late-round starter in Mack Wilson in last year’s draft who looks to build upon a solid rookie season in 2020, while the Bengals invested some mid-round capital on their linebacking core in an attempt to upgrade from a dismal 2019.

Will this ranking change anytime soon?

As was previously mentioned, the Ravens and Steelers are neck-and-neck when it comes to the first spot on the list. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers leapfrog the Ravens this season, especially if Ulysses Gilbert can prove himself as a starter. The Browns and Bengals look to be stuck on the bottom half of the list unless one of them has managed to grab an incredible late-round steal.

Cornerbacks
  1. Steelers (Joe Haden, Steve Nelson, Mike Hilton).
  2. Ravens (Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith).
  3. Browns (Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Terrance Mitchell).
  4. Bengals (William Jackson III, Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes).

Once again, the Steelers and Ravens are both contenders for the top spot in the AFC North. I might be a homer, but I believe Haden and the criminally underrated Nelson outplayed the Raven’s starters by the slimmest of margins in 2019. The Browns have a solid starting pair in Ward and Williams, while the Bengals look to have an average starting secondary once again in 2020.

Will this ranking change anytime soon?

Possibly, as an aging Joe Haden’s play might regress enough to let Baltimore reclaim the cornerback crown. The Browns have two young, talented starters as well that might make some noise this upcoming season.

It’s going to be a long year for Cincinnati.

Safeties
  1. Steelers (Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Antoine Brooks Jr.)
  2. Browns (Karl Joseph, Sheldrick Redwine, Andrew Senejo, Grant Delpit).
  3. Ravens (Earl Thomas, Chuck Clark, Geno Stone).
  4. Bengals (Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Shawn Williams).

The presence of Minkah Fitzpatrick elevates the Steeler’s safeties just over the Brown’s four-deep safety group. Earl Thomas remains an excellent free safety for Baltimore, but the depth behind him is less than stellar. The Bengals have solid starters at safety, but once again are unable to rise beyond fourth place in the rankings.

Will this ranking change anytime soon?

A strong season from Terrell Edmunds will solidify Pittsburgh atop the AFC North safety rankings. However, the Brown’s new addition, Grant Delpit, has a chance at being a huge draft steal for the Cleveland franchise. Earl Thomas and Jessie Bates are both above-average starters, but the depth behind each player is questionable.

The Steelers defense is undeniably one of the best, if the not the best, in the AFC North. T.J. Watt and co.’s talent was reflected well in their positional rankings, as the Steeler’s defense looks to turn in another dominant year in 2020.

Make sure to stay tuned to BTSC for more coverage of the Steelers and their star-studded defense.

Don’t miss the first part of this series, the offense, by clicking HERE.

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting roundup on Steelers RB Anthony McFarland Jr.

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 7:00am
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Looking at the pre-draft buzz for the Steelers 4th round pick.

With the 124th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Anthony McFarland Jr., a RB from Maryland. Here’s what was being said about him before the draft.

First off, Anthony McFarland Jr. is not related to Booger McFarland. Just in case you didn’t know.

CBS sports scouting report

The Good

Holds up well in pass protection
Wasn’t asked to catch passes often, but looks capable
Really explosive, capable on taking it home any given play

The Bad

Runs high, which limits output between the tackles
Elite straight line speed but agility is a question mark

Dane Brugler’s 2020 NFL Draft Guide (Free here if you have a subscription to the Athletic)

The Good

Built low to the ground with quality run balance…leaves linebackers grasping for air with his cutback skills and vision…shot out of a cannon once he commits north-south…accelerates into contact, allowing him to brush off weak or arm tackles.

The Bad

Marginal run power as an inside runner…tends to get bounce happy…wasn’t asked to carry a full load and was kept on a pitch count……usually solid hands, but dropped four passes in 2019…inconsistent productivity and upside in pass protection…struggled to stay healthy over his career.

The Verdict

Overall, McFarland comes with questions regarding his blocking, workload and durability, but the Dalvin Cook flashes make him worth the gamble at some point on day three of the draft.

Brugler’s draft guide is a great resource, it has a lot more on McFarland and all the draft picks, worth signing up for a 7-day free trial to read.

Max Owens of Buffalo Rumblings

The Good

Gets to his top speed in a hurry
Shows ability to get skinny through small seams
Has burst to beat linebackers and safeties to the edge
Elite speed in the open field as a straight-line runner
Shows ability to stack cuts in the backfield to find holes/elude defenders
Runs through arm tackles consistently
Low amount of tread with just 245 carries over the span of his college career

The Bad

Lacks any sort of patience to wait for blocks to develop
Slow to see cutback lanes when the first hole is plugged
Slow processor to make proper cuts to find seams outside the tackles
Had a lot of big holes to run through with tons of space to work with
Lacks significant creativity for such a speedy player
Pass protection is a liability with lack of effort and ability due to a small frame

The Verdict

McFarland offers the potential of a perfect change up to a starting-caliber running back at the next level. He is likely never to be an RB1 in the NFL but certainly possesses plenty of traits for RB2 ability.

Addressing the character concerns

Bob McGinn for The Athletic (subscription required)

In McGinn’s article called “Scouts on top running backs” he quotes anonymous scouts talking about Anthony McFarland. There was some good and some character concerns brought up that. as far as I can tell, hadn’t been publicized before.

“He looks like Dalvin Cook. He’s a little smaller but he has that type of speed. If you can give him a crease in a one-cut scheme I think he could be effective. Dalvin’s a more complete player, especially when you factor in the off-the-field stuff.”

And there was this

“We took him off the board because his football character is absolutely atrocious,” said another scout. “He’s like a child. Really high maintenance. Every week there’s going to be something with this guy. Now, talent-wise, whew. He’s a weapon.”

I looked for off the field problems involving him, and couldn’t find anything. His commitment to Maryland was over the top, you can follow the snap chat saga in this SBNation article from 2017.

That’s all I could find about Anthony McFarland Jr. But then there’s a lot of stuff that colleges don’t publicize. But after the Athletic article draft analysts started dropping his stock.

The Steelers took him right where he was predicted to go before that article came out. I think it is important to note the insider connections that the Steelers have with Anthony McFarland that may have impacted their decision to take him.

First off, Mike Tomlin’s son was a team mate of Anthony McFarland, and as a WR would have interacted with the starting RB in meetings. I’m sure Mike Tomlin had a chance to get an anonymous statement from a team mate of McFarland’s if he was a locker room problem.

Second, Matt Canada, the Steelers QB coach, was McFarland’s coach at Maryland in 2018, both as offensive coordinator and interim head coach.

Third, Scottie Montgomery, former Steelers WR coach and friend of Mike Tomlin (check out this SBnation article from Testudo Times for more insight there) was McFarland’s offensive coordinator in 2019.

That’s three connections to Anthony McFarland the Steelers had available to mine for info about his character. I think it is safe to say the Steelers had more insight on that side of McFarland than the scouts who were anonymously quoted in The Athletic.

Predicting the Steelers ‘digit identity’ for the 2020 Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 6:30am

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.

WR Chase Claypool - Notre Dame Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

College Number: 83

Projected Number: 83

Level of Certainty: The Highest

This is a perfect situation for the Steeler’s top choice of 2020. He wore it in college and it’s open in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger vetoed Zach Gentry (a fifth rounder) from sporting Heath Miller’s old number, I don’t foresee that happening here.

EDGE Alex Highsmith - UNC-Charlotte Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

College Number: 5

Projected Number: 56

Level of Certainty: Medium

I was thinking that double-fives would be perfect here, but last year’s Joe Greene Great Performance Award winner (Devin Bush Jr.) snagged it. I was kicking around 95 as well, but my gut says that Alex keeps the five and adds a six. Hopefully Highsmith can channel his inner LaMarr Woodley and Robin Cole, but not revive memories of Anthony Chickhillo.

RB Anthony McFarland Jr. - Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

College Number: 5

Projected Number: 21

Level of Certainty: Medium

Here’s another Steeler draft pick that sported the cinco a nivel universitario. Sorry that I slipped into Spanglish there, Since that isn’t a running back number in the pros, I’m definitely thinking a numbers in the twentys here fits best. Mewelde Moore wore the Clemente well. I can see McFarland two-oneing it for the Steelers.

G Kevin Dotson - Louisiana-Lafayette Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Number: 75

Projected Number: 79

Level of Certainty: Medium

No one is ever going to wear the number 75 again, thanks to Joe Greene’s excellence and it being retired. So Dotson’s college digits are out of the question. His favorite player growing up as a Steeler fan was Jerome Bettis. The No. 36 was always a part of any password he ever used. I think that would be awesome (and hilarious) to give the gigantic lineman Bussy’s old number...but the NFL would never allow that. I think Dotson would wear the seven-nine well.

S/LB Antoine Brooks Jr. - Maryland

College Number: 25

Projected Number: 25

Level of Certainty: Very Low

I’m not sure where the Steelers are going to go here. There isn’t a plethora of numbers in the 50s to give Brooks a LB number. Since he’s technically still a safety (although the scuttle but is that the steelers consider him a linebacker), I’m going to give him back his college digits. Let’s hope he’s more of a Ryan Clark than an Artie Burns.

DT Carlos Davis - Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

College Number: 96

Projected Number: 69

Level of Certainty: Low

I picture Davis as a nineties guy, but 95 (the only one available) doesn’t fit here in my mind. Let’s flip Carlos’ college numerals and giggle.

Last year, we predicted 4 of 9. Can we top it? We will see. Not sure when, but we will see.

Podcast: How will Chase Claypool’s college production translate to the NFL?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest BTSC podcast, our Steelers ‘Stat Geek’ breaks down the numbers surrounding the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over, and the news is still ongoing. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Stat Geek. On this show deputy editor Dave Schofield and his brother Rich break down all things Steelers stats, and also answers questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look at Chase Claypool’s college stats
  • Which UDFAs will make the roster?
  • Stats, stats and more stats
  • Close look at the Steelers’ goals for 2020
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave and Rich walks 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.

Editor’s Note: Audio will be published around 11:00 a.m. ET

The Stat Geek Q&A which will publish at 1:00 p.m. ET audio below:

Black and Gold Links: Is Antoine Brooks the hybrid LB/S the Steelers defense needs?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is officially over. After finishing last year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, have another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether Antoine Brooks is the Steelers hybrid linebacker/safety the team needs on defense?

Let’s get to the news:

  • Antoine Brooks is a thumper, but is he the hybrid player the Steelers defense needs in 2020?

Steelers hoping to take advantage of ‘half linebacker, half safety’ Antoine Brooks

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A prevailing opinion heading into last week’s draft was the Pittsburgh Steelers could have used immediate help at seven positions.

With six picks at their disposal, that was a problem.

The Steelers ultimately got reinforcements at wide receiver, outside linebacker, running back and offensive line with their first four picks. They would nab a defensive tackle in the seventh round.

That left one pick for two positions of need, safety and inside linebacker, in this frenetic game of draft-pick musical chairs. What were general manager Kevin Colbert & Co. to do?

Split the difference.

When their turn in the sixth round came Saturday, the Steelers took Maryland’s Antoine Brooks at No. 198 overall.

“He’s half a linebacker. He’s half a safety,” Colbert said.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Don’t expect the Steelers’ 2020 draft class to do much this season.

Mark Madden: Steelers’ 2020 draft class won’t offer immediate help

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Meh (adjective): Not impressive, so-so; apathetic, indifferent.

Now that you know the word, use it in a sentence: The Steelers had a meh draft.

The odds of that increase when you don’t have a first-round pick. They also increase when you take a player who wasn’t considered good enough to invite to the NFL scouting combine, one who was a walk-on at a Group of Five school and two from football powerhouse (gag) Maryland, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2014.

There were 32 players selected in the first round. Fourteen were from Alabama, Clemson, LSU or Ohio State. The race doesn’t always go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But it’s certainly the way to bet.

The Steelers need help immediately, but won’t get it from this draft. They hate to fast-track rookies. Troy Polamalu didn’t start a single game his first season. This year’s rookies won’t have OTAs or mini-camp, and maybe not exhibition games.

To read the full articles, click HERE (Free)

  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly absolutely glows about Chase Claypool’s work ethic and more.

‘He epitomizes Steelers Nation’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

There was a lot of excitement among Steelers Nation when the team selected receiver Chase Claypool in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 49th player selected overall.

Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly wasn’t at all surprised by that excitement.

Kelly knows first-hand what Claypool brings to the table. He saw him grow and develop from an unheralded freshman who came to Notre Dame after the coaches saw his high school highlights on Facebook to a completely different player who left Notre Dame after winning the Monogram Club Most Valuable Player honors his final season.

“For me, his coach, what I have enjoyed more than anything else is somebody that had grown up and matured over his time at Notre Dame,” said Kelly after the Steelers selected Claypool. “He was mentored by some great players before him. They have really influenced him as well. As we got to last year, he really emerged because he wanted to live up to that ability as well.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

An exclusive interview with Steelers rookie WR Chase Claypool

An updated roster after the NFL Draft and the UDFA signings

Scouting Reports on Alex Highsmith, the Steelers 3rd round OLB pick

Ranking the AFC North after the draft: The offense

NFL teams can now pick up free agents without it hurting their compensatory formula

  • Social Media Madness

.@missi_matthews goes 1-on-1 with @highsmith34 to talk about being drafted to the #Steelers, learning from T.J. Watt & Bud Dupree and more.@UPMC

Watch the full interview on YouTube ⤵️

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 27, 2020

What. A. Game. This. Was.

Is there a #Steelers game you'd like us to re-air? We're compiling a list of your requests for a Steelers Game Rewind!

Submit your vote in the @SteelersUnite section of our mobile app for a chance to relive a game in #SteelersHistory! pic.twitter.com/FVN3qLAumq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 27, 2020

Coming to @heinzfield#SteelersDraft | @ChaseClaypool | @highsmith34 | @AnttMacc_ | @kdd7696 | @TwanDoee | @_KING_LOS__ pic.twitter.com/wDwpSOQJIZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 28, 2020

Mike Tomlin recognizes the challenges of acclimating the Steelers 2020 draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/28/2020 - 2:40pm
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In his post draft comments, Tomlin discussed various issues making the 2020 draft process and beyond different from previous years

Following the 2020 NFL draft on Saturday, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert held a media session online with local Pittsburgh reporters. While they did address questions about specific players, Tomlin also gave a statement about the overall draft process and gave praise to those working hard for the Steelers organization.

“I would just like to compliment Kevin and the scouting department on a job well done amidst some unusual circumstances, unusual for all globally, but I was really comfortable throughout this weekend, and I think that’s how you judge your preparedness, your level of comfort in terms of your ability to execute throughout the draft, and it was a good weekend for us. We’re excited about the young men that we were able to acquire, and now it’s our job as a coaching staff to get these guys assimilated into the program, and not only them but all of our guys as we get into the virtual off-season starting on Monday, and we’re excited about that.”

Tomlin was immediately asked about the difficult task of getting their rookie draft picks assimilated to the team and ready for the 2020 season under the current circumstances.

“You know, it’s going to be challenging,” Tomlin replied. “But you know my mentality; it’s going to be challenging for everyone globally, so from that standpoint it’s fair.”

Although implementing new players into a system is going to be fair across-the-board in the NFL, the Steelers not having a first-round selection in 2020 may actually have the situation play to their advantage. With Minkah Fitzpatrick technically being the Steelers first-round pick, he already has 14 games with the Steelers and 32 in the NFL. As other teams hope to get their rookies involved as much as possible when teams can once again assemble, the whirlwind for rookies will not be what it once was and may have consequences. Not having to rely heavily on top draft picks, in particular this season, could fall right into the Steelers hands.

Coach Tomlin continued on in discussing how it would be possible to get their rookies up to speed.

“It’s our job to be innovative and forward in our thinking in terms of utilizing all the tools and technology at our resources to get to know them so that they get to know us so that we can begin the giving and the receiving of information that’s associated with them getting started. We’re excited about it.”

Having a completely different process in acclimating players moving forward, Tomlin was also asked about the process of gathering information about players prior to the draft. With the Steelers’ new quarterback coach Matt Canada being the interim head coach at the University of Maryland in 2018, Tomlin was asked if Canada’s experience with other players helped to have some inside information.

“You know, we have inside information on a lot of our picks in most years,” Tomlin confessed. “You can draw the parallels because of the relationships and make a story out of these two, but the reality is we work our tails off to gather intel on everyone that we select, and this one is just probably more obvious from an outside standpoint, Matt’s experience with those guys in that program obviously was an asset to us, but we have a lot of information come to us in a lot of ways in most selections that we make that add to our comfort.”

One other aspect of the two draft picks out of the University of Maryland and which Tomlin did not address was the fact his son Dino Tomlin played wide receiver for the Terrapins in 2019. With Tomlin taking note of his son’s games, it was much easier to notice the talent on the field as the team was one in which Tomlin himself was following.

In all, the draft process, along with the post draft activities the Steelers are used to holding, are quite different for 2020. With players not being instantly flown into town and given a tour of the facilities, teams are doing their best to get to know their new draft picks. And as virtual OTA‘s get underway, the Steelers will do their best to have their rookies jump on the moving train that is life in the NFL.

Steelers exercise fifth year option on T.J. Watt for 2021 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/28/2020 - 1:18pm
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In a move which shocked no one, the Pittsburgh Steelers have exercised their 5th year option on OLB T.J. Watt.

In a move surprising no one, the Pittsburgh Steelers have exercised the fifth year option on a T.J. Watt’s rookie contract. The option will be for the 2021 season, and is fully guaranteed.

We have exercised LB T.J. Watt’s fifth-year option from his rookie contract.@BordasLaw TRANSACTION: https://t.co/64OEsaDDFG pic.twitter.com/Ribgmq4MMc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 28, 2020

After three seasons with the Steelers, Watt has not only become one of the Steelers’ premier defensive play makers, but one of the best in the entire NFL. A finalist for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award, Watt amassed 14.5 sacks, an NFL-leading eight forced fumbles with four fumble recoveries, along with two interceptions last season.

Watt is currently entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, so exercising the fifth year option will keep the elite defender in Pittsburgh for at least two more seasons. It is highly unlikely Watt will ever hit the free-agent market as the Steelers would be wise to sign him to a long-term deal either next season, before his fifth year option, or the following year while using the franchise tag.

For the 2020 season, Watt’s current number against the salary cap is just under $3 million. Using the fifth your option will come at a much higher cost, especially with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players drafted in 2017 will still fall under a provision in the old CBA as it is explained on NFL.com as follows:

For players selected in the top 10 picks of the 2016 or ‘17 drafts, the fifth-year option will pay a base salary equal to the transition tag for the position at which he played the most plays in his fourth season (the season prior to the option year). For those selected from picks 11 to 32, the option will be equal to an amount calculated by using the formula for the transition tag but with the third- through 25th-highest PYS in the player’s fourth season rather than the top 10 such salaries. The tender for the 2016 and ‘17 classes is guaranteed for injury only and becomes fully guaranteed for skill, cap and injury if the player is on the active roster at the start of the league year of his fifth (the option) season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.

A breakdown of how Alex Highsmith brings an impressive pass rush to the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/28/2020 - 12:30pm
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The former walk-on might not have played in the SEC, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t talented.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took a relatively unknown player in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected OLB Alex Highsmith out of Charlotte. You could hear the collective, “Who?!” coming from all angles and platforms when Steelers Nation heard the pick.

However, even though a player is relatively unknown doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for their future. For instance, in the 2019 NFL Draft when the team selected wide receiver Diontae Johnson in the third round, and Johnson proved to be more than worthy of the selection when he completed his rookie season.

With Highsmith not likely to be injected into the starting lineup anytime soon, thanks to T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, it is worth looking at some of his film and breaking down just how he can help the team in 2020, outside of special teams.

NFL Network analyst, and former NFL lineman, Brian Baldinger did a breakdown of Highsmith and labeled his pass rushing moves as intriguing, to the point where NFL teams should take notice.

Check out the video below:

.@CharlotteFTBL @highsmith34 has a growing advanced level array of pass rushers moves that interests me and should interest many @NFL teams. You might even require some patience. It just might pay off #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/MPG41dVb9i

— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) April 20, 2020

There is no doubt Highsmith is a project in many ways, but the question many fans want to know is if he will be able to be a fill-in pass rusher when needed, and still be able to get the job done?

That certainly is up for debate, but Baldinger, among others, is intrigued by what Highsmith can bring to the Steelers in 2020 and beyond.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 season!

In an exclusive interview with BTSC, Chase Claypool talks jersey numbers, nicknames and more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/28/2020 - 11:05am
The Steelers newest receiver in a game vs Navy | Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Steelers 2nd round pick spoke with me on a wide variety of topics and is excited to finally get out to Pittsburgh

When the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to draft Chase Claypool 49th overall, not only did they draft an outstanding athlete, but they added an outstanding person. I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes of his time, and asked him some questions to let Steelers fans know more about their top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

When asked what he wanted Steelers fans to know about him, Chase decided not to talk about his physical prowess, or random fact. He said that he wants to will always be available to fans and “Not be too big time for anyone”.

His hard nosed play style and levelheadedness is a combination that could endear him to SteelerNation. Claypool’s combination of skill and personality could lead to a marriage between the player and city that could easily last more then a decade.

Claypool also listed Jalen Ramsay and Joe Haden as the DBs he can't wait to play against. Luckily he’ll get the opportunity to play across from Haden on a weekly basis, but a matchup with Ramsay will have to wait 4 more seasons.

He also dove into the nickname gaining momentum on social media, Mapletron, how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his training, and more!

Check out the full interview with the hard hitting, playmaking receiver below!

Pages

Subscribe to Steelers Fans of Minnesota aggregator