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Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 04/24/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

The Steelers Touchdown Under: Expectations and Bold Moves for the Steelers

Matt Peverell and Mark Davison deliver the goods with the latest episode of the Steelers Touchdown Under podcast. In this episode the two Aussies talk about the following:

  • Expectations for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • Bold Moves which could take place
  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Listen to the show below

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: Guy! Guy! Guy!

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Well Peeps, this weekend I will be very melancholic. Yesterday morning, my boyhood idol died.

Guy Lafleur in his prime was everything you loved about hockey. Speed, Accuracy. A BOOMING shot. Playmaking from the wing. Greek Godlike good looks and legendary hair. Goals, lots of record setting goals. (Canadian) Humility. A great teammate. And, Excitement! EXCITEMENT, like, get you and everyone in the arena, out of their seat exciting almost every time he simply touched the puck.

Growing up, I always played D, but if and when, I came screaming down that right side...I was him. Flowing blonde hair, winding up for the shot, and all the while making a gazelle look junior varsity level graceful.

Honestly, growing up being a Habs fan was only equal to being a Steelers fan. The ‘76-77 Habs team is still to this day the greatest hockey team to even be assembled. Want proof? Simply type “76-77” into your favorite search engine and watch what populates... 8 regular season losses. A team + / - of over 200. 132 points. 9 HOF players. And Guy was their best player.

It seems like yesterday at times. Out on the street, playing road hockey with wooden shafts and mostly plastic blades that we bought down the street at the hardware store. Most of our earlier games were played without two proper nets. We used buckets, or bricks, or rocks whatever we could find to use as posts. I was a hero when I got one for my bday. We would come home from school, do our homework and we would play only to allow for dinner interruptions. We played in the rain, snow, and even in 90+ degree heat.

We all wanted to be our respective heroes and imagined growing up to become one. Guy made the personal dream of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup seem that much more possible, because he did it, repeatedly. In his own way, he provided what every child needs, something to dream for. He gave me a path, some form of substance and structure to my hopes and prayers.

Looking back at those days, I came to realize that sometimes we were seemingly just playing to kill time. But upon further reflection, I understand that we were playing not only for the love of the game but that we were playing for the love of our friendship.

Obviously, I did not go one to play ice hockey professionally. However, I did grow up loving sports. Sports taught me many valuable life lessons. Guy was a big spark in that love affair that clearly lasts to this day.

For that I am incredibly thankful.

RIP, Guy.

  1. As we sit here now, the usual amount of speculation surrounding the draft is at it’s peak. Do we go QB? Take BPA? Trade up or trade down? Either way, it doesn’t stop all the ‘Experts’ from telling you what we should do with our pick. Experts here are defined as anyone in the national media, a confidential insider (yes, someone such as your sister’s mechanic’s second cousin counts in this case) but is not a local blogger. Who is your ‘trusted’ expert and why?
  2. Do you play any version of the mock simulator game? This covers off all types of different scenarios including but not limited to: all major sports, draft lottery positions, and those where you get to make the pick against the dreaded algorithm!
  3. With all the crazy trades and signings that have taken place this offseason, if we don’t get Dionte to sign an extension before the draft, does it happen? If so, when and to what terms do you think the parties will agree on?
  4. The MLB season has officially started. Do you even care? If so, who is your team and did you attend opening day? Please give us some details / expand your answer!
  5. Did you have a sports ‘hero’ growing up? Share something that made him or her special to you.

The Terrell Edmunds signing was both shocking, and amazing, as the draft approaches

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 1:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers bringing back Terrell Edmunds before the draft was both shocking, and amazing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had almost all of their starting positions set heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. All but one. The final position which everyone could agree was left vacated was at strong safety. With Terrell Edmunds still a free agent, the team seemed destined to head into the draft with a glaring need on their roster.

Then Friday evening happened.

It seemed as if Edmunds, and other safeties like Tyrann Mathieu, were going to wait till after the draft to make a decision on which team they would join for the 2022 season. For whatever reason, and it wasn’t based on a lack of suitors, Edmunds decided to sign with the Steelers for one year.

The #Steelers are bringing back S Terrell Edmunds on a 1-year deal, source said.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2022

As the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals were both reportedly interested in Edmunds’ services, Edmunds returned to the team who drafted him out of Virginia Tech in the first round.

But that wasn’t all. When you look at the cost of bringing Edmunds back, roughly $2.5 million dollars for 2022, it became a steal of a deal.

Pittsburgh is giving S Terrell Edmunds a 1-year deal worth $2.5M, source said. He had two other offers, but the former first-rounder elects to stay home. https://t.co/fewx3UrbBy

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2022

Considering Edmunds’ 5th year option would have been over $6 million dollars, the Steelers are bringing back one of their two starting safeties for a fraction of what it would cost if they had elected to pick up the option.

The fact Edmunds decided to stay in Pittsburgh at that rate is shocking enough, what is amazing is how it opens up a myriad of doors for the team in the draft process.

Whether you like Edmunds or not, and plenty don’t like the safety, the fact a player with his level of experience, and relationship with Minkah Fitzpatrick, was able to be retained at such a cheap price is staggering. Is Edmunds the playmaker of Mathieu? Not even close, but is he a serviceable player who will guarantee they have someone if the draft doesn’t fall their way this upcoming weekend? Absolutely.

After picking up Miles Boykin off waivers and re-signing Edmunds, the Steelers now have no glaring needs on their roster. Does the Boykin signing mean they won’t select a receiver in the draft? They absolutely will likely pick a receiver, but Boykin provides size, depth and a willingness to play special teams most rookies don’t have.

Likewise, does retaining Edmunds mean safety is no longer a team need heading into the draft? Far from it. If there is a safety they like, bringing Edmunds back for 2022 doesn’t mean they won’t draft that particular prospect. If anything, having Edmunds in the fold will help avoid the same problem the team had the year they drafted Edmunds in 2018. If you recall, the team had signed Morgan Burnett in free agency, and hoped to give Edmunds a year to mature and learn the system before being thrust into the starting lineup. Due to injuries to Burnett, Edmunds became the starter and never relinquished the role.

If the Steelers decide to draft a safety, consider Edmunds a bridge player before he hits free agency again after 2022 and the young player takes over in 2023.

Like Edmunds or not, this is a move which should make all Steelers fans happy. It gives the team a flexibility entering the draft they didn’t have on Friday morning. They now venture back into the category of being able to take a Best Player Available (BPA) approach to the draft process. As many have mentioned throughout this offseason, this is the ultimate destination to reach before the draft.

For Kevin Colbert’s last draft as the Steelers’ General Manager, consider it mission accomplished in the run up to the three day selection process. Now, all that is left is hitting a few home runs with the team’s seven draft picks in this year’s draft.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Day 3 results and UDFAs from The Legacy Live Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Time to take a look at the Day 3 results from the recent Legacy Live Mock Draft.

This is the final day results, along with the UDFA signings, from our live mock draft. Didn’t get a ton of responses from the Day 2 article although I felt that those picks presented solid value.

Here’s a recap of the draft picks which have been made:

Round 1 Pick 20 - Trevor Penning RT Northern Iowa - A 99 run blocking grade and the power and athleticism are legit for the big man.

Round 2 Pick 52 - Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh - Getting a pro ready QB in the second round, can we say STEEL?

Round 2 Pick 64 - DeMarvin Leal IDL Texas A &M - Boom or Bust? I trust Cam and the coaches to get the best out of the talented young man.

Round 3 Pick 66 - Chad Muma ILB Wyoming - Averaged 11+ tackles a game two years in a row. Sometimes you just need a football player the intangibles are not bad either

That brings us to Round 4 and the comp pick for Bud Dupree. Fitting that the pick will be used on another EDGE prospect. The starters are set in place with the current Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and fast improving Alex Highsmith. The roster has a few guys providing depth, but I believe in keeping that particular cupboard stocked with talent for the future.

With the 138th Pick The Pittsburgh Steelers select...

Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami of Ohio

Robinson’s draft projection is all over the place, and there is a reason why. The guy is fairly new to the position, having played quarterback in high school along with playing wide receiver for Miami of Ohio. The term raw with high upside has been attached to the former pass catcher. He has added size for the position, but will need to add more functional strength along with the finer points of the position. Strictly a pass rusher will need time to develop his run defense. Besides, we know the Steelers love them some raw, freak athletic types.

As you know, the Steelers did not have a 5th Round pick in this year’s draft. The Steelers were not on the clock until Pick 191. I was under the impression the Steelers did not pick until 208. Not trying to rock the boat, I went along with it.

After trading away the rights to James Pierre in the trade to get pick No. 64, I felt it was time to re-address the position and in fact I double dipped at the position.

With the 191st Pick The Pittsburgh Steelers select...

Montaric Brown, CB/FS, Arkansas

Brown possesses scheme versatility with his zone awareness and his ability to play man coverage. Not the fastest guy, but adequate enough to possibly move to the Free Safety position. Brown has said he is willing to play anywhere at anytime and would have no problem playing cornerback, slot corner or safety. Will take some risks and that puts him out of position at times. Pittsburgh has prided themselves on having their cornerbacks tackle, he fits that as well. His draft stock is all over the place, but there is something about his game I personally like. Outside of not having elite speed, he is a play maker on the ball.

With the 226th Pick The Pittsburgh Steelers Select...

Mario Goodrich, CB, Clemson

Playing opposite of Andrew Booth Jr, a sure fire first round pick, one would think Goodrich would get more than his fair share of targets. Goodrich gave up an impressive 49 QB Rating in those targets. He also is a very physical defensive back in both press and his ability and willingness to defend the run. Has the football IQ and instincts to be an effective zone defender. There is concern about his one-year of true playing time, but I look at it in a positive manner. He was ready when his number was called and he turned that one year into a First-Team All-ACC selection. While I see upside in the Clemson prospect, like Brown, both will need time to develop.

With the 242 Pick The Pittsburgh Steelers Select...

Gerrit Prince, TE, University of Alabama

The Steelers have their starters in Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry. There are also some players who provide depth, but I like competition. Prince, as of late, has gotten some attention but I feel it was another solid selection. Not going to wow you with his blocking although the same was thought about Gentry. Prince offers versatility maybe only Freiermuth presents, able to line up in a variety of positions and formations. Improved route running and solid hands with a 19.4 yard catch average in 2021.

On to the UDFA signings. The UDFA signings was set up using the draft order. We only had about 14 GMs show for the UDFA segment, so it is skewed a bit. The list below is who the Steelers signed in the exercise.

Isaiah Chambers, EDGE, McNeese State

Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami

Myron Cunningham, OT, Arkansas

Julius Faulk, CB, Delta State

Josh Babicz, TE, North Dakota State

Lance McCutcheon, WR, Montana State

Quay Holmes, RB, East Tennessee State

Josh Wilkes, WR, Arkansas Pine Bluff

Tre Walker, ILB, Idaho

Always interested in your feedback and Go Steelers

With Christmas Day being a Sunday, the NFL plans a triple header on the holiday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL schedule is slated to be released May 12th, but plans for the league’s Christmas day lineup are being released.

The NFL is delivering their 2022 regular season schedule to teams on Thursday, May 12th, but there are some intricacies of the schedule which are being released. One of those details is based on the fact Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year.

While some thought the league would have a full slate of game on Christmas, the league plans on playing the majority of its games on Saturday, with only three on Christmas day. The lineup on Christmas day should resemble the lineup on Thanksgiving which football fans have grown to love.

This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

The league will have three games on Dec. 25 for the first time: two in the afternoon on CBS and Fox, followed by a prime-time contest on NBC. NFL vice president of broadcasting Mike North revealed the tripleheader on a podcast hosted by WGR radio host and Buffalo Bills sideline reporter Sal Capaccio.

“Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends at the NBA. It is something that our friends are interested in,” North said. “If Christmas falls on a Sunday, it makes perfect sense.”

The NBA, who has long had marquee matchups on the holiday, will likely see a decline in their ratings with the NFL, who dominates all other sports, having marquee matchups of their own on the holiday.

This isn’t the first year the NFL has had games on Christmas, in fact it is the third straight year the league has played a game on Christmas. Schefter cites just how many people watched last year’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns.

Last year, Green Bay’s 24-22 victory over Cleveland averaged 28.6 million viewers on Fox, making it the third-most-watched game of the 2021 regular season. Indianapolis’ 22-16 win at Arizona averaged 12.6 million on NFL Network, the second-highest-viewed game in network history.

So, what will the slate of games actually look like in Week 16? According to Schefter, there will be a Thursday night game on December 22nd, 11 games on Christmas Eve, including a night game, and the triple header on Christmas day. Also, there will be a regularly scheduled Monday Night Football game on December 26th.

Who plays on which day that week will be known on May 12th, but for those fans who either love, or hate, their favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing on a major holiday, it seems rather inevitable in 2022 with the holiday falling on a Sunday.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

The pros and cons of the Steelers trying to trade for Deebo Samuel

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Forty Niners All Pro WR Deebo Samuel would look great in the Black and Gold, but at what cost?

San Francisco 49ers superstar wide receiver Deebo Samuel isn't happy, and has reportedly asked to be traded.

This has to be a stunning development for the Niners, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Rumors abound as possible reasons for Samuel's displeasure, ranging from his usage within the offense, to not being satisfied with his salary after outperforming his rookie contract coming off an All-Pro season.

I can't help but be reminded of when a Steelers disgruntled All-Pro wide receiver forced his way out of the Steel City. I have no reason to believe Deebo Samuel would resort to the same antics as Antonio Brown to facilitate a trade, but these situations have a tendency to get messy.

So, the ball is squarely in the 49ers’ court. It remains to be seen just how the Niners will respond, but dramatic holdouts can be a huge distraction for a legitimate NFC championship contender.

Nobody knows how this situation will play out, but for this article we will presume a trade is inevitable.

What would be the pros and cons of the Steelers trading for Deebo Samuel, one of the most uniquely versatile receivers the NFL has ever seen?

First up, let's take a look at the pros.

There really isn't an accurate comparison to Deebo Samuel in league history. He is a 6' 220lb. bowling ball of a wide receiver. He has good speed, excellent acceleration, and solid hands. However, those abilities are only a small part of what makes him a truly special player.

Samuel created a new moniker for his enormous contributions on the field. He labeled himself a "wide back" at the 2022 Pro Bowl, meaning a wide receiver capable of playing like a running back. Not just any old running back, but a Pro Bowl caliber runner.

Samuel is the best yards after the catch receiver in the NFL. He has been blessed with a compact, stocky frame; which allows him to be a powerful runner after the catch with his low center of gravity. He set the NFL record for a wide receiver with his 8 total rushing touchdowns during his breakout 2021 season.

The Steelers need a slot receiver, a big play threat on the outside, and a quality running back to spell Najee Harris on occasion. Samuel can do all of the above, and more.

For example, Samuel averaged 6.2 yards a carry last season, on top of his aforementioned record setting rushing touchdowns. He finished with over 1400 receiving yards in 2021, to go along with a 18.2 yard average, and another 6 touchdown receptions. He even threw a touchdown pass last season.

Samuel would be an instant superstar in Pittsburgh, beloved for his physicality and passionate playing style. He would evoke memories of Steelers legend Hines Ward. His incredible versatility would be a perfect fit for Matt Canada's offense. The possibilities would be endless.

The Steelers could offer Diontae Johnson straight up in a trade, but I doubt that would be enough to get the job done. This year's first round pick might be enough; and the Steelers would be getting a proven difference maker, one of the best in the league, instead of the uncertainty associated with any draft pick.

Now let's look at the cons.

Samuel isn't going to be cheap. Thanks in large part to the Jacksonville Jaguars overpaying two mediocre wide receivers in the early stages of free agency, the fair market value for receiver has been reset to a ridiculous level. Players like Samuel, a former second round selection who has outplayed his rookie contract by a wide margin, have seen the numbers and are ready to get paid.

Players of Samuel's caliber are always going to get paid. Better to pay top dollar for an elite player at their position, than pay slightly less to a player that is nowhere near being on the same level. Especially to a player with the versatility to impact your offense at multiple positions of great need. Maybe even throw another touchdown pass. He provides a lot of bang for your buck.

I fully admit that I am not a fan of the whole holdout tactics being utilized more and more around the NFL. T.J. Watt set a strong example of how to handle a similar scenario prior to signing his record deal before the start of last season. It is a business after all, but Watt and the Rooneys conducted their business professionally, avoiding unnecessary drama.

My biggest concern is the unconfirmed rumor that Samuel doesn't like how he has been utilized in the Forty Niners offense. His superior abilities as both a wide receiver and running back are what sets him apart from his contemporaries, making him unique and elite.

Any team that could potentially acquire Samuel will definitely want to fully capitalize on his enormous skill set. Hopefully Samuel's issue with his usage isn't about the range of his responsibilities, but more about him feeling his voice is not being heard when it comes to how he is being used.

Just because Samuel is capable of rushing like an elite back, doesn't mean that is the best way to utilize him each week. He may feel that his risk of injury increases with each additional tote of the football. Therefore, he may want to primarily be considered a wide receiver, a position that definitely comes with a longer shelf life.

Deebo Samuel is an All Pro receiver, and I believe he could potentially become a legend in Pittsburgh. It appears that there are going to be plenty of expensive wide receivers around the NFL moving forward.

I believe that Deebo Samuel will prove to be one of the few actually worth every penny.

If there is a run on QBs in the 2022 NFL draft, what will be left for the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Even though many are calling it a down year to draft a quarterback, how will the draft shape up they are still drafted early on Day 1?

There’s one week left. Yes, the 2022 NFL draft begins on Thursday, August 28, 2022, but what is almost just as important is that it ends two days later. Once the draft is complete, all the speculation can be put to rest about who the Steelers are interested in and can simply be who they landed as the point of discussion. But with a few days left leading up to the draft, there’s still a lot of speculation and no true way of knowing how everything is going to fall.

With the Steelers doing their due diligence in looking at their options at quarterback for the 2022 draft, there are some fans who are wholeheartedly convinced the Steelers will go in that direction with their first selection. While there is debate on who that player may be, or where the selection may actually take place, many feel that the position is one where the Steelers are simply locked in.

There’s also another large portion of the fan base who would prefer the Steelers not take a quarterback, particularly in this draft class, and use their resources to get the best signal caller possible when one may be available in future years.

One scenario I have been curious about would be what would happen if there is a run on quarterbacks early the 2022 draft. While some experts feel the more likely scenario is all the quarterbacks dropping in the draft, you just never know when desperate teams will make desperate moves and desperate selections.

I have to admit I am not one who wants to Steelers trading away assets to make a huge move way up in the draft. A small move is a different story based on what the Steelers would have to give up, but moving into the top 10 could significantly hamper the Steelers 2022 and 2023 drafts. If the Steelers make that move, they have to be absolutely certain with the player they select.

But what if a good number of quarterbacks are off the board before the Steelers can really consider moving up? This is still speculation that the Steelers would even want to make the move for a quarterback, what’s more interesting is to see how the rest of the draft would play out. If four quarterbacks go in the top 10, that just means other players who are expected to be drafted higher will be available for other teams.

This is the exact scenario that played out in the mock draft done by Maurice Jones-Drew this week at NFL.com. Jones-Drew did not have any quarterbacks going in the top five, but had Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, and Matt Coral as four the next five selections and all going in the top 10.

To give a recap of Jones-Drew’s draft, the first five picks were Trevon Walker, Aiden Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Sauce Gardner, and Icky Ekwonu. In the next five picks, the only non-quarterback was Jermaine Johnson. Jones-Drew had the Saints trading up to pick 10 to grab Matt Corral as the fourth quarterback.

With so many quarterbacks going in the top 10, there was a number of players still available in the teens that were surprising. Evan Neal did not go in to pick 13 and Kyle Hamilton made it all the way to the Eagles at pick 15. With picks 11 through 19 seeing three wide receivers, they were many more options available for the Steelers by the time it rolled around them and pick 20.

With the signing of Terrell Edmunds, because it was only one year, would the Steelers be interested in making a small move in order to grab a player like Kyle Hamilton? It would be one thing to have to move up to the top five to draft him like it was believed several months ago, but to only have to move up five spots could bring a player such as this into play.

In Jones-Drew‘s mock draft, with so many quarterbacks going early, he had the Steelers staying put and finding a player they were able to take which very few believe would actually make to pick 20. Specifically, Jones-Drew had the Steelers selecting offensive tackle Charles Cross from Mississippi State. Rarely following outside of the top 10 in the majority of mock drafts, if the Steelers were to land Cross at pick a number 20 it might almost be too good to be true. This would also definitely be a scenario in which the Steelers were not worried about drafting a particular position and were simply going with the best player available.

Although there are a number of Steelers fans who are sure the Steelers are going to draft a quarterback at the top of the 2022 NFL draft, I’m not convinced. I think the Steelers will do so if things fall in the right way, but I’m just as excited to see how it would go if all the quarterbacks go flying off the board early. Just looking at the number of players who would then be dropping lower than expected for them to possibly be drafted by the Steelers, seeing a run on quarterbacks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, just like in any draft, the Steelers ultimately need to make the most out of their first-round pick.

Why the 2022 Steelers shouldn’t draft a QB

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 6:30am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

This year’s draft is too loaded at other positions for the Pittsburgh Steelers to waste draft capital when they have other more pressing needs.

With the 2022 NFL Draft fast approaching, the rumors continue to abound about who the Steelers will take with pick No. 20. I, for one, hope the Steelers don’t take a quarterback in the first round.

Why, you may ask? Well, let me explain...

First, I honestly believe Mitch Trubisky needs to be given at least one season to prove himself as a starter. No fans can say, with any certainty, how his time in Buffalo has improved or impacted him as an NFL starting quarterback. It has to be hoped that Daboll and Dorsey’s coaching has had a positive influence on his skillset.

Furthermore, watching Josh Allen in practice everyday has also it has to have had a positive impact on him. Then, when you consider Buffalo uses a very similar offense to the one Matt Canada wants to use, one has to hope Trubisky won’t find learning the playbook difficult work.

Now add to this the fact that despite what Kevin Colbert said, the Steelers still have some needs which need to be addressed. Needs that are a lot more pressing than quarterback. The Steelers still have no top tier strong safety, even after the signing of Terrell Edmunds; despite the signing of Miles Boykin the wide receiver room is still thin; there is no CB1 on the roster and the defensive line is not getting any younger. Along with the fact there are still no guarantees what Stephon Tuitt is intending to do after missing the entire 2021 season. All needs that could so easily be met in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Moreover, I honestly believe that given the quality at certain positions in the early rounds of the draft, taking a quarterback could lead to the Steelers missing out on a talented prospect who could contribute far more than any of this year’s quarterbacks could, or will.

The wide receiver class in this draft possesses so much quality. In the first round instead of a quarterback you could possibly have the likes of: Jameson Williams, Chris Olave or Treylon Burks. All very exciting prospects who could easily offer the Steelers better value. Plus, with the amount of money now being paid to top wide receivers, having a rookie on a 5-year rookie contract could be well worth it. Even in the 2nd round there are top prospects like: Skyy Moore, George Pickens and Jahan Dotson, for example.

Even after signing Edmunds, this year’s draft has a number of high quality prospects at safety, who could very well be off the board in the 1st round and again offer more contribution and upside than this year’s quarterback class. It’s reportedly becoming a real possibility Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame could fall; Dax Hill out of Michigan is a quality hybrid safety and Lewis Cine from National Champions Georgia is a top quality player. It is also arguable all these prospects could be ready to contribute sooner than any of the quarterbacks, along with adding more value!

Now, add to this the fact there is still uncertainty over Tuitt’s future and the fact Tyson Alualu is not exactly getting younger, now defensive line could well become an urgent need that needs to be addressed with a plug and play starter. This year’s draft has a number of prospects who will go high in the draft, when it is said the Steelers could take a new signal caller. Jordan Davis and DeVonte Wyatt out of Georgia have been those top prospects which could bolster the Steelers defensive line for years to come and help improve last season’s awful run defense.

No, I haven’t even touched on the talent available at cornerback in Round 1. Or even the depth in talent in all these positions in later rounds. I guess what I’m trying to say is the Steelers could get far more value by picking a player from the many deep position groups in this year’s draft rather than a quarterback. Players who have a higher guarantee of contributing sooner. When you consider how many say this year’s quarterbacks would not have gone in the first two rounds of last year’s draft, I believe the Steelers need to skip the quarterback pick and address one of their other needs first.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/23/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: The difference between pundit speak and what coaches look for in the draft

Leading up to the NFL Draft, many analysts list traits that teams look for. But what do coaches really look for? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go, The Steelers Show. The BTSC duo will look at examples of “pundit speak”.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The legend of the BPA
  • and MUCH More
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: With one week to go, the Steelers Draft is still up in the air

With the NFL draft less than a week away, fans and pundits are thinking that they know what the Steelers are going to do. But do the Steelers know what they want to do? The first selection is for the black and gold is still very much up in the air. That, plus your question and comments on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony Defeo. Join Tony on those those subjects, engaging in Pittsburgh pro football talk and much, much more.

Check out the rundown of the show below and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The countdown to selection weekend is on, but the Steelers drive pick is still up in the air
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 10

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Dave, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

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.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

Additional Note: There will be no Friday Night Steelers Six Pack next week due to Day 2 of the 2022 NFL draft.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. This is the last Six Pack before the draft, so it will be a little draft heavy. What position do you think the Steelers could pass on for this draft that may take some fans and analysts by surprise?

2. What would need to happen for the Steelers to bring back Joe Haden for another season?

3. In two of the last three drafts, the Steelers have used capital from future years in order to make a move on draft day. Do you think the Steelers will use picks from future years to move up or gain selections in the 2022 draft? Is so, how many or how high of picks do you think they could use?

4. What is your boldest prediction for the Steelers 2022 draft? The bolder the better, but use something you are actually predicting to happen.

5. Terrell Edmunds is reportedly signing back with the Steelers on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. In 10 words or less, what is your knee-jerk reaction?

6. We are now getting into amusement park season, and I will be heading to Hershey Park this Sunday. There is one question where most people fall on one end of the spectrum or the other, so I’m just going to ask. Roller coasters: love them or hate them?

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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Steelers reportedly signing Terrell Edmunds to a one-year deal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 4:00pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers are reportedly bringing back their starting strong safety from the last four seasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were admittedly missing one starter ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Having players for every starting position outside of strong safety, it was unclear if the Steelers were going to make a move ahead of the draft, or how they were going to address the position. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Steelers have answer the question and are bringing back Terrell Edmunds for 2022 on a one-year contract.

The #Steelers are bringing back S Terrell Edmunds on a 1-year deal, source said.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2022

Starting 60 games in his first four seasons, Terrell Edmunds did not get his fifth-year option picked up by the Steelers as they opted to pick up free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick’s, who was acquired via trade in 2019, instead. With 340 tackles, five interceptions, and 21 passes defensed, Terrell Edmunds has been a player who is constantly available as he has only missed one game, Week 17 in the 2020 season, in his entire career.

As for how much it will cost the Steelers to bring back Edmunds, the answer is not much. According to Rapoport, the one-year deal is just $2.5 million dollars. Quite the bargain, even if just for one season.

Pittsburgh is giving S Terrell Edmunds a 1-year deal worth $2.5M, source said. He had two other offers, but the former first-rounder elects to stay home. https://t.co/fewx3UrbBy

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2022

The Steelers weren’t the only team who was hoping to bring Edmunds in via free agency. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals both were interested in Edmunds’ services. Nonetheless, he decided to stay in Pittsburgh.

This is now done. Dolphins, Bengals were among teams in mix RT @JFowlerESPN: Former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds is expected to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source. Barring late change of plan, four-year starter back in the fold as Steelers approach the draft.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 22, 2022

With Edmonds back in the mix for the Steelers in 2022, their options at the top of the upcoming NFL Draft are much wider. Not having to address a specific need, the Steelers may once again be in a situation where they can take the best player available. This doesn’t mean they won’t address safety in the draft, but it no longer becomes a high priority as the draft begins next Thursday.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and continued draft coverage for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

For more information on this move, and what it means for the Steelers and their salary cap, check out the Breaking News podcast with BTSC Editor Dave Schofield below:

NFL Draft fatigue is real, especially for those tasked with covering the event

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and I thank my lucky stars it will be over before too long.

Let me get something straight right off the bat. I love the NFL Draft. It is how the Pittsburgh Steelers have built their roster for a long time, but my love for the NFL Draft has waned tremendously since I took over BTSC prior to Bud Dupree the team’s top draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

It isn’t that I disdain the draft itself, no, far from it. The three day event is must-watch television for the die hard fan. However, it is the lead up to the event which has become both arduous and cumbersome at every juncture.

Whenever your favorite team’s season officially ends, and for some fan bases this is pretty early in the regular season, draft preparation begins. Prospects are tracked, watched and ranked at every turn. The college football regular season, college playoffs and especially all-star games like the Senior Bowl.

When the NFL Scouting Combine rolls around, fans are in the heart of draft preparation, and what ensues are endless meetings, pre-draft visits and pro day workouts. It can all be a lot, but I haven’t even talked about the ludicrous rumors, reports and sourced information which almost always turns out to be false.

Oh, how could I forget the mock drafts?! Those mock drafts which have a team like the Steelers doing everything from trading up into the Top 10, trading back out of Round 1 and staying put at No. 20. If you are a fan who relies on these “experts” to give you some insight into the draft coming up next week, I feel for your sanity.

Again, the NFL Draft is a spectacle, and should be. Everyone has hope on draft weekend. Hope the group of players who are now coming into the organization who selected them will be the difference between winning and losing. The difference between being just a contender, and winning a championship.

But getting to that point, the actual 3-day event, is absolutely exhausting.

As I sit here on April 22nd, I don’t care to read, edit or even listen to anything pertaining to the NFL Draft. I realize my seat is different than most. Having to edit stories, do podcasts and break down prospects is part of the job. I still do my job, but it doesn’t mean NFL Draft fatigue isn’t real.

It’s very real.

In fact, I would bet many of you reading this very article feel the same way.

I am excited for the draft next week, mainly because I can’t wait to see who will be the new additions on the Steelers’ roster. I don’t care if they take a quarterback. I don’t care if they trade up, or back. I just want to see who will be wearing the black and gold for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, the fatigue will continue to set in, and has me asking multiple times...is it Thursday yet?

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft: Biggest Day 3 sleepers at every position (Offense)

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who are this year’s diamonds in the rough? Here are some late-round NFL Draft prospects you need to know about on offense.

I do many different draft-related articles here at BTSC, but outside of my mock drafts, my favorite articles each year are my articles focused on the biggest sleepers in the draft. First-round picks and quarterbacks get talked about by the national draft pundits at nauseum, and we generally become familiarized with our favorite prospects that may be available on day two of the draft, but very rarely are the day-three prospects even mentioned when talking about the draft. Today, we are going to shed some light on the best late-round draft prospects you may not have heard about.

Just like last year, we will split the sleeper series into two parts: offense and defense. Today, we will take a closer look at the offensive side of the ball. In case you missed last year’s offensive sleeper article, I will let you know that the first sleeper I mentioned at running back was Elijah Mitchell, who had an outstanding first season with the San Francisco 49ers and is expected to be the team’s starter moving forward.

This year, there will be a plethora of talented receivers and running backs available in the later rounds, some of which we will discuss today. If you want a full rundown of the day-three prospects in this draft, make sure you check out the final BTSC Big Board, which will be released the week of the draft. It will include in-depth breakdowns for the top 250+ prospects in this year’s draft, and just like last year, we will have a printable PDF of the Big Board rankings that you can use as a source and guide on draft weekend.

If you have any thoughts on the players mentioned in this article, be sure to share them in the comment section below. Do not forget to share your own list of steals as well!

Let’s get to the sleepers.

Quarterback E.J. Perry | QB | Brown

Bailey Zappe would be the easy answer, but I believe there is a chance he gets taken on night two of the draft. Thus, he was ineligible for this article. Fortunately, this class of quarterbacks has surprisingly good depth, which includes two small-school talents in E.J. Perry and Cole Kelley. Perry had plenty of throwing opportunities at the combine, and he certainly took advantage of them, displaying a nice combination of arm strength and ball placement. Here is what I said about Brown on the BTSC Big Board.

Perry is a former four-star athlete who brings plenty of upside as a dual-threat quarterback. Not only does he have the mobility to move around in the pocket, but he also has the quickness to make things happen as a runner in the open field. After transferring from Boston College to Brown, Perry set an Ivy League record with 3,678 yards of total offense in one season. His ball placement and accuracy outside the hashes are surprisingly good, but he needs to do a better job of reading the middle linebacker when throwing across the middle. I would also like to see him show more patience in the pocket and not throw as many passes off his back foot. Nonetheless, there is a decent amount of athletic upside with Brown, and I would consider him a worthwhile pickup if he is still available in the fifth or sixth round.

Other Sleepers: Cole Kelley (Southeast Louisiana), Brandon Peters (Illinois), D’Eriq King (Miami)

Running Back Keaontay Ingram | RB | USC

Ingram struggled with fumbles early in his career, but those issues seemed less concerning with USC in 2021. The Texas transfer is not getting much pre-draft buzz, but he has all the tools necessary to become a competent NFL running back. Here is my report on Ingram from the BTSC Big Board.

Andrew Wilbar: If there is a late-round running back in this draft that could emerge as one of the top three backs from this class, it’s Ingram. Ingram could have entered the 2021 NFL Draft but decided to transfer to USC for his fifth-year senior season. From an athletic standpoint, people will fall in love with this guy. Listed at 215 pounds, Ingram runs with purpose and power, and I think he will add more weight in the NFL and become a true bruiser at the running back position. He also has good patience as a runner, allowing a hole to open up before he makes his move. Ball security was a bit of an issue during his time at Texas, but he seemed to sure that issue up, only fumbling once during the 2021 season. The only other concern most people have is that Ingram was never extremely involved as a pass-catcher. Part of that could be because he was not always a full-time back at Texas, but he never eclipsed 250 receiving yards in a single season in college. Personally, I believe that this past season’s receiving numbers are due to USC’s offensive line. Their line struggled mightily in pass protection for a good chunk of the year, and Ingram was often forced to stay in the backfield and help protect the quarterback rather than running routes and getting receiving opportunities. Nonetheless, he is one of the most underrated running backs in this class, and the upside is tremendous.

Pierre Strong, Jr. | RB | South Dakota State

If a power back is not what you are looking for, how about one of the best change-of-pace backs in this draft? Strong has enough size to him to hold up as a workhorse back, but at the beginning of his career, he will likely be used as a complementary running back that brings an extra gear of speed to the offense. Here is what I had to say about him on the BTSC Big Board.

Andrew Wilbar: Strong is sometimes compared to Saints running back Alvin Kamara from a physical standpoint. His size is not overly impressive, but he has nice contact balance and good speed in the open field. Do not let his size fool you though, as he has enough power to run over defenders as well. Strong is also a dependable receiver out of the backfield who can be a mismatch for linebackers covering him, especially when you consider his speed and quickness. His ability to make a sharp cut and immediately turn upfield is as good as any other back’s in this class, and it is impossible to ignore when you watch him play. Could that be what sets him apart and makes him a diamond in the rough? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to like about Strong’s game. The biggest concern for NFL teams will likely be his low level of competition, but I cannot think of much else that NFL teams could complain about. There is risk involved with every FCS prospect, but I like Strong’s chances.

Other Sleepers: Master Teague (Ohio State), Hassan Haskins (Michigan), Tryvion Davis-Price (LSU), Bryant Koback (Toledo)

Wide Receiver Tyquan Thornton | WR | Baylor

While this receiver class is loaded with talent, there are not many players on day three that I am notably higher on than the national experts. However, one player I do like equally as much as some of the national experts is Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton. While he may not be a player I am completely in love with, I cannot help but be intrigued with his combination of height and speed. Here is what I had to say about him on the BTSC Big Board:

The most exciting thing about Thornton is his fantastic straight-line speed, especially when you combine that with his 6’3” frame. Typically, receivers who run below 4.3 in the 40 are undersized receivers who are limited to the slot. This is not the case with Thornton, however. He still needs to add weight to his slender frame, but he is a surprisingly physical receiver who does not shy away from contested catch opportunities. Not only does he get a quick release off the line of scrimmage, but he will also become more effective getting off press coverage at the line once he adds a little more muscle. There is definitely some rawness with Thornton, and there may be a little bit of projection here, but you cannot teach 6’3” and 4.28 speed.

Isaiah Weston | WR | Northern Iowa

If you want an efficient deep-play threat, Weston is your guy. Not only is he a phenomenal athlete, but he is also a player the Steelers have shown interest in. I do not see Weston as a true burner, but once he accelerates to full speed, there are glimpses of Martavis Bryant in his game. This is not to say he will achieve the same success Bryant had early in his career, but from a physical standpoint, it is a logical comparison. Here is my full scouting report on Weston from the BTSC Big Board.

Weston is an athletic specimen who has been linked to the Steelers in draft conversations this spring. At 6’3 ½”, 215 pounds, Weston raised eyebrows during his combine performance, recording a 4.42 40, 40” vertical, and 135” broad jump, and 20 bench reps. As a player on the field, the first thing that stands out about Isaiah is his ability to create big plays down the field. His 23.9 yards per catch in 2021 backs up this claim, and his nearly 900 receiving yards despite inconsistent quarterback play is telling as to how big a difference he can be to an offense. I would like to see a little better field awareness on catches near the sideline, but for a late-round pick, the combination of athleticism and production makes him worth a flier. If the Steelers decide to grab Weston late on day three, the selection would have my support.

Daylen Baldwin | WR | Michigan

Baldwin did not have as many opportunities as I was expecting when he decided to transfer to Michigan, and he was relatively underwhelming at his pro day, but he is tough to deal with on contested catches. He also has better deep speed than what his 40 time may indicate. You can check out my pre-draft interview with Baldwin below.

Other Sleepers: Dareke Young (Lenoir-Rhyne), Tyshaun James (Central Connecticut), Jalen Nailor (Michigan State)

Tight End Daniel Bellinger | TE | San Diego State

Many Steelers fans, myself included, were heartbroken not to see the Steelers draft Foster Moreau back in 2019, as he provided the rare combination of blocking ability and athleticism as a receiver. Well, if you like the traditional in-line tight ends who can still make explosive plays down the field, Bellinger is your guy. Here is my report on him for the BTSC Big Board.

Bellinger is an intriguing day three option with two-way upside. However, there are a lot of minor details in his game that need to be refined. Although he displays natural hands and good awareness as a pass catcher, his routes are far from crisp at the cut. Fortunately, he seems to have the awareness and understanding to know when his quarterback needs to get rid of the ball, as he generally gets his head around in time to make an attempt at bringing in a pass headed in his direction. As a blocker, Bellinger is patient but smart. He waits for the defender to get close enough to him to make contact without lunging, and he has proven to play with a consistent pad level. Bellinger is my favorite day-three sleeper, and I would not have a problem at all if the Steelers took him to bolster their depth at the position.

Lucas Krull | TE | Pittsburgh

Krull is another height/weight/speed guy who hauled in a respectable six touchdowns in 2021. He tested much better than I had anticipated, running a 4.64 in the 40 and a 7.15 in the 3-cone drill at 6’6”, 253 pounds. There are times when Krull comes out of his stance a little stiff, but when he gets behind the linebackers, he has the physicality to bully the safeties behind him in the open field. Krull displays reliable hands as well as physicality at the point of attack, but what I like most about his game is his willingness and toughness as a run-blocker. There are a few minor technique issues that will need to be cleaned up in the NFL, but his tools are intriguing. With his size, he has the potential to become a dominant presence in the red zone.

Other Sleepers: Josh Babicz (North Dakota State)

Offensive Tackle Zach Tom | OT | Wake Forest

First off, let me give credit where credit is due. Perhaps the most knowledgeable commenter here at BTSC when it comes to the offensive line is Steel34D. When he brings a player to my attention, I look into him, and more times than not, I come away impressed with what I see. This was the case with Zach Tom, who I was relatively unfamiliar with until the later portions of this pre-draft process.

Tom is still learning how to gain leverage as a run defender, and he is far from a finished product, but his pass protecting skills are some of the best you will find in this year’s draft. His performance against Florida State was the best tape he put out, being faced against first-round prospect Jermaine Johnson for a respectable number of snaps. In these snaps, Tom displayed his ability to anchor as well as mirror in pass protection, shutting down one of the most athletic pass rushers in the country all game long. Johnson simply could not get anything going when faced against Tom, due in part to the fact that Tom kept his his chest protected incredibly well while also remaining balanced in his pass sets.

I am generally not a fan of waiting until day three to address tackle, but if Tom is still available at the end of round four, he may be worth considering when the Steelers are on the clock at pick 138.

Matt Waletzko | OT | North Dakota

The Steelers generally prefer going to the Power Five to get their talent, but one of the best small-school linemen in this draft is Matt Waletzko. If he slips past the fourth round, some team is getting a steal. Here is what I had to say about Waletzko on the BTSC Big Board.

Mobility is the first thing that jumps out on tape with Waletzko. He does a good job getting to the second level of the defense, and he is above-average as a blocker downfield. Sometimes I feel as if he has a little too much zeal coming out of his stance, because there are times where he will just overrun blocks; I mean, I am glad he has quickness off the snap, and I am glad he has fantastic mobility, but you don’t want to be overrunning blocks and getting to the second level too soon either. Nonetheless, he keeps his shoulders square, he has good hand placement, and he has some power in his hands. He does not have superior strength, but I think he will get stronger once he gets with a strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He also has shown an ability to pull, which only increases his value to NFL teams. I do have concerns about his level of competition, as he hardly faced NFL-talent-level players in college. That could be partially why he looked so dominant on tape. Nonetheless, he is a prospect that I would be more than willing to take a chance on if he falls to day three.

Other Sleepers: Dare Rosenthal (Kentucky), Spencer Burford (UTSA)

Interior Offensive Line Tyrese Robinson | G | Oklahoma

Robinson will not wow anyone with his athletic numbers, but the man put out several years of impressive tape, specifically when aligned at guard. Here is what I had to say about Robinson on the BTSC Big Board.

SLEEPER ALERT! Robinson is a powerful lineman who was dominant as a run blocker in 2019 and dominant as a pass protector in 2020, allowing only two sacks in over 400 snaps. That was good enough for PFF to reward him with the team’s highest pass-blocking grade. 2019 was really when I fell in love with him as a prospect, though. Robinson proved to be an absolutely punishing run blocker, keeping his pads square, using his length to create good leverage, and finishing all his blocks. While he played guard for most of his career, Oklahoma’s coaching staff decided to move him to tackle in 2021, and he was not quite as dominant after the position change. He wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but he would occasionally get beat on inside moves due to his lack of lateral agility and mobility. Robinson is most definitely not a tackle in the NFL, but he is a fantastic guard who I consider one of the most underrated players in the 2022 draft class.

Other Sleepers: Ben Brown (Ole Miss), Matt Allen (Michigan State)

Those are my favorite offensive sleepers, but who are yours? Do you see any of the late-round prospects in this draft as potential steals? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!

Top 5 Pittsburgh Steelers undrafted players, 1980-1999

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Who are some of the Steelers best players who went undrafted over the 20 years of the 80s and 90s?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the 2022 NFL draft, there is a lot of focus on who they will be selecting throughout the three days. While these players are the ones expected to contribute the most throughout their career, sometimes it’s a player who wasn’t selected in the draft that can really make a difference in pushing a franchise to the next level

Knowing the importance of getting quality backups and special teams players beyond the draft, occasionally a superstar will emerge who didn’t get their name called from the stage to start their career. For this reason, let’s look at the top five players who went undrafted but began their careers with the Pittsburgh Steelers between the years 1980 and 1999. To make the process easier, players are only considered for the list if their first NFL regular season game was for the Steelers, even if they were picked up by another franchise first but never saw game action.

Unlike in the 2000s, the Steelers did not find many quality players who were undrafted. In case you missed the previous installment of 2000-present, it can be seen here:

5. Harvey Clayton (1983-1986) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Undrafted out of Florida St. in 1983, Clayton appeared in 14 games as a rookie where he had an interception returned 70 yards for a touchdown along with 2.0 sacks. Getting another interception and another sack in his second season, Clayton became a starter in 1985 and 1986 at cornerback for the Steelers. Leaving for the New York Giants in 1987, Clayton only appeared in two games before being out of the NFL. His nephew, Antrel Rolle, did win a Super Bowl with the Giants.

4. Josh Miller (1996-2003)

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers were his first NFL team, Josh Miller started off his career with the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League. After two seasons in the CFL, Miller was in Seattle Seahawks training camp in 1996 but did not make the team and instead landed in Pittsburgh. The Steelers punter for eight seasons, Miller had an average of 42.9 yards per punt in the regular season while in Pittsburgh. Another noticeable statistic, Miller completed one pass on one attempt for an 81-yard touchdown to Chris Hope in 2003. After the Steelers, Miller also kicked for three seasons in New England and one additional game in Tennessee in 2007.

3. Brian Blankenship (1987-1991) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

A rookie offensive lineman in 1987, Blankenship allegedly ripped the rat tail off of Brian Bosworth during a kickoff. A full-time starter on the Steelers offensive line for two seasons, Blankenship only appeared in three games in his fifth year in 1991 as he suffered a neck injury and never played again.

2. Dwight Stone (1987-1994) Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Was he a running back? Was he a wide receiver? Most importantly, he was undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State and began his Steelers career 1987. Playing eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dwight Stone had 152 receptions for 2,460 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns while also having 96 rushes for 557 yards and one rushing touchdown. Additionally, Stone also had over 2,000 kick return yards for the Steelers on 109 returns including one touchdown. Stone went on to play four years in Carolina and two years with the New York Jets but never saw the success he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1. Keith Willis (1982-1991) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Undrafted out of Northeastern University in Boston, Keith Willis played nine years with the Pittsburgh Steelers starting in 1982. Becoming a full-time starter in 1985, Willis had 59.0 career sacks in Pittsburgh which has him eighth all time, including numbers from the Steel Curtain era before sacks became an official individual statistic. Starting 87 games, Willis had at least one sack in every season he played for the Steelers. After one season in Buffalo followed by another in Washington where he only appeared in one game, Willis has been a defensive line coach since 1995 for various universities, the CFL, also spent five seasons with the Tennessee Titans from 2016 to 2020.

Steelers 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Wide Receiver Rankings

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Our resident NFL Draft analysts give in-depth scouting reports and rankings for every draftable wide receiver

We’re back! The BTSC Big Board crew has returned for a second consecutive season! Between now and April, numerous BTSC draft analysts will give you stats, grades, and in-depth scouting reports for over 300 prospects in this year’s class. Just like last year, we will be doing these rankings by position until the week of the draft, when we finalize the overall rankings and release our all-positions-combined big board.

This week, we’ll be taking a look at the wide receiver position. After losing three receivers in the offseason in JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud, the Steelers seem in dire need of some more playmakers on the outside. The Gunner Olszewski and Miles Boykin signings certainly help, but the general consensus is that Pittsburgh should still be in the market for a rookie receiver or two in the upcoming draft. Thankfully, it’s yet another incredibly deep class at the position.

The analysis is a collaborative effort of Ryland, myself, K.T. Smith, Jeremy Betz, Shannon White, skyfire322, Noah_E., and NecksNation, while the stats are compiled by SNW via Sports Reference. Proofreading was done by our newest big board contributor, DoomzoneFF.

If you have any thoughts on these wide receiver prospects and their potential fit with the Steelers, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Let’s get to the Big Board!

1. Drake London | USC | 6‘-5“, 210 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 10
2021 stats: GP 8, Rec 88, Yds 1084, TD 7.

Andrew Wilbar: London was putting up the gaudiest numbers in college football until a fractured ankle ended his season prematurely. Nonetheless, he remains the WR1 on my board. At 6’5”, 210 pounds, London was a monster on 50/50 balls, high-pointing the ball on a consistent basis. London also has incredibly strong hands and surprisingly good speed, reminiscent of Mike Evans coming out of Texas A&M in 2014. London does not have as thick a frame as Evans did, but I do expect London to try to add more weight before the combine rolls around this March. If he has a strong week at the combine from both a health and athleticism standpoint, he could sneak into the top five picks depending on which teams are in need of his services. Fans are going to fall in love with his gigantic catch radius and big-play ability.

Necksnation: London is a bit tough for me to evaluate. Although I didn’t find his film to be as impressive as some of the other top receivers in this class, his production, and advanced stats are fantastic. He’s excellent at jump balls, and with his size, it’s something that should translate to the next level. His physical measurables are great across the board, and he should test well at his pro-day workout. Additionally, he is deceptively good at running after the catch. He isn’t really a home run threat after the catch, but he consistently does a nice job of gaining a few extra yards before going down, and those yards account for a considerable portion of his overall production. As a route runner, he won’t take the top off a defense, but he’s decently shifty and gets more separation than you’d expect for a guy of his size. His ball skills are his best trait, and while I’d like to see him become a little more elusive in open field, he is more than capable of creating big plays through making contested catches downfield. In addition, although you’d like to see him cut down on concentration drops a bit, he’s a monster when it comes to making difficult catches. London should make an instant impact as a safety blanket, but he absolutely has the potential to become a good WR1 in the mold of Mike Evans or Michael Thomas.

2. Jameson Williams | Alabama | 6‘-2“, 189 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 11
2021 stats: GP 15, Rec 79, Yds 1572, TD 15.

Andrew Wilbar: Coming into the season, most draft nuts, including myself, were focused more on John Metchie than Williams, but Williams’ 21.3 yards per reception, 15 touchdowns, and 1,445 receiving yards during the regular season made him the primary focus as the season went on. Williams is an Ohio State transfer who dominated when given the opportunity at Alabama. His big-play ability is evidenced by his yards per catch, but I think we take for granted his ability to create separation with his elite speed. There are times when you see Williams running a go-route, and it looks as if there was a blown defensive assignment. Then you see a different camera angle, and there is a defender accounting for him, but he has been left in the dust. Williams was just so much faster than a lot of his competition, and his 6’2” frame allows him to take nice, long strides and increase the amount of separation. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a torn ACL in the National Championship Game, causing his stock to drop toward the mid to late first round. Nonetheless, if he can make a full recovery, he will be a dangerous receiver in the NFL as soon as 2023.

3. Garrett Wilson | Ohio State | 6‘-0“, 188 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 16
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 70, Yds 1058, TD 12.

Jeremy Betz: Wilson is an electric playmaker and excels vs single coverage as a shifty route runner with exceptional quickness. His uber-fast 40 time at the NFL Combine only confirmed what you see on tape: a speedy, do it all athlete at the WR position. Wilson could stand to add some bulk to his frame at the NFL level to improve his ability to beat press coverage and stronger DBs. However, he shows fantastic strength at the catch point, and snatches the ball out of the air with strong, sure hands. I don’t think Wilson is a true burner, but he has the ability to get behind the defense and stretch the field vertically on the outside. He projects as an X or Z receiver at the next level, where his quickness and decisive route-running will help him create separation and get open.

4. Christian Watson | North Dakota State | 6‘-5“, 208 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 20
2021 stats: GP 15, Rec 43, Yds 801, TD 7.

Ryland B.: What are the Steelers missing most in their wide receiver core? I think the top two answers would be speed and toughness. And Watson has both in spades. The 6’4” receiver ran an elite 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine at 208 pounds, and it shows on tape. Watson consistently showed the ability to take the top off of defenses and simply run past opposing defensive backs. But Watson is also one of the best-blocking receivers in this year’s draft. He has good strength, great effort, and even a pancake or two on tape. For a bigger receiver, Watson’s agility is impressive. He’s a smooth athlete who is surprisingly shifty in the open field, finding success on jet sweeps as well as on kick returns. His route running could be a bit more sudden, and his route tree was fairly limited at NDSU, but neither seem to be major concerns – and Watson certainly has the physical tools to excel in these areas. He has good hands and ball-tracking ability for the most part, although he has struggled in contested catches and concentration before although he showed great improvement last year. The biggest knock on Watson would be his level of competition at NDSU, and it seems fair that the FCS receiver may have a steep learning curve at the next level. But a 4.36 is a 4.36 at any level of football, and Watson remains my favorite round 2 target for the Steelers.

5. Jahan Dotson | Penn State | 5‘-11“, 184 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 28
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 91, Yds 1182, TD 13.

Necksnation: Dotson may be undersized, but he’s certainly a tough player, consistently demonstrating that he is willing to take hits over the middle. That said, he may want to add some more weight onto his frame before taking the field as a pro. At only 178 lbs, his size could be of some concern when he’s getting blasted by NFL defenders. However, there’s a lot to like about Dotson. His hands just might be his best attribute, as he made a number of highlight-reel catches at Penn State, and he rarely struggled with drops. Dotson does a great job to gain separation, and his natural smoothness translates into his abilities after the catch, where he is able to make defenders miss in open field and outrun them to create big plays. At the combine, he tested well for the most part, but his 3-cone drill time ranked in the 9th percentile, which is lower than you’d like for a small, shifty player. He does appear to fall under the category of “faster than he is quick’’, but he looks shifty enough on the field that this should be problematic for him. While Dotson doesn’t have any outstanding physical traits, he seems to have the requisite toughness to succeed in the NFL, and although his size may preclude him from being a true WR1, he certainly has the talent to be a quality receiver.

6. Skyy Moore | Western Michigan | 5‘-10“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 35
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 95, Yds 1292, TD 10.

Shannon White: Moore is a local product, having played high school football for Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. Moore was listed as an athlete when he joined the Western Michigan football program, and had never played wide receiver before. That makes his incredible growth at the position even more impressive. The Broncos play in the MAC conference, a conference from which the Steelers have successfully found more than a few talented prospects.Moore officially measured in at 5’10” and 195 sturdy lbs. He has superior quickness, start-stop ability, and an almost instant acceleration. This allows him to easily gain consistent separation off the line of scrimmage, and his run after the catch ability makes him a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the football. Moore runs crisp routes, and can run the complete route tree. He has solid hands, and the toughness to work the middle of the field. If you can’t tell by now, I am completely infatuated with Moore’s potential within the Steelers’ offense.

7. Chris Olave | Ohio State | 6‘-1“, 189 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 36
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 65, Yds 936, TD 13.

Jeremy Betz: When you turn on the tape, Chris Olave is one of the smoothest movers you’ll find. He also plays extremely fast, even more so than former Ohio State teammate, Garrett Wilson, despite running a slightly slower 40 than Wilson at the Combine. Olave was used mostly as a vertical threat in college, where he made an absurd number of big plays, especially in big moments. His fluidity and athleticism should allow him to do more in the NFL, and I would expect Olave to become one of the most dynamic young receivers in the league in a short amount of time. There is a realistic chance he could be available when the Steelers pick at the end of Round 1. Olave could be a versatile game-changer for Pittsburgh if they should decide to address WR on Day 1.

8. Treylon Burks | Arkansas | 6‘-3“, 225 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 37
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 66, Yds 1104, TD 11.

Noah: Burks has been one of the most talked-about prospects throughout the draft process but especially post-combine. He was supposed to be a guy that’s 6’4” with a 40 time in the low 4.4’s but instead, he’s 6’2”, running a 4.55. However, his tape tells a completely different story. He is a monster after the catch despite a lackluster 40 time, and he catches everything. His catch radius is one of the biggest I’ve seen and he does a great job tracking the ball through the air. He knows how to beat press coverage and has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense. There are definitely concerns when it comes to route running. It’s sloppy at times and he needs to have more burst out of his breaks. The slower than expected 40 time has steered people away from Burks and I can see why. But to me, a guy that catches everything and has his RAC ability is a major threat to opposing defenses. There’s a chance that he falls out of the first round and if he does, he is going to be a steal for whoever takes him.

Necksnation: Burks is one of my favorite receivers in this class. He has the rare ability to outmuscle defenders as well as outrun them, and although his 40 yard dash time wasn’t great, he displayed elite game speed that is evident in his tape. His ball skills are incredible, and I was impressed by his ability to consistently high point the ball and position himself so that he could make the catch over the defender. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to make these difficult catches if he didn’t have great hands, but Burks checks that box as well. His drop rate of 5.7% is pretty good, but he really thrives when asked to make difficult catches, where he uses his strong and large (82nd percentile in hand size) hands to secure the ball with ease. Although many receivers are skilled in these 50-50 ball situations, not many can match Burks when it comes to running after the catch. He does a good job of accelerating to break away from defenders in the open field, and he had many long receptions that were composed mostly of yards gained after the catch. His top end speed is decent, but he can also use his size and strength to break tackles when he needs to. Versatility is another important aspect of Burks’ game, as he lined up out wide, in the slot, and even in the backfield during his time at Arkansas. He ran for 112 yards and a touchdown in 2021, and he could be used as somewhat of a receiving back similar to Deebo Samuel in the NFL. The main area of his game that really needs polishing is his route running. He looks stiff at times, and he isn’t particularly agile in open space. He still found ways to gain separation, but it’s certainly something that he should work on this offseason. However, once he improves in that area, he has the potential to be an elite WR1 in the mold of AJ Brown.

9. John Metchie III | Alabama | 6‘-0“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 38
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 96, Yds 1142, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Metchie’s late-season ACL tear is a cause for concern, but if he can heal completely there is a lot to like about the Alabama receiver. He has good size and speed, but also excellent agility, especially for a receiver with his frame. Route-running is probably Metchie’s best trait, and receivers that specialize in separation generally project well as NFL receivers. His route tree and versatility are another strength; Metchie isn’t afraid to go over the middle, can be a deep threat, and is deadly after the catch and on sweeps. He’s also as tough as nails and a willing blocker. But with as many WR1 traits as Metchie has, there’s a reason why he’s generally seen as a round 2 target. The issue is his hands. Metchie doesn’t drop the easy catches, but he’s not good in contested catches, and he’s not a great hands-catcher either. He doesn’t make the acrobatic grabs a top-tier receiver would make, and there are a few too many drops on tape. Still, there’s a lot of potential that Metchie has as a high-end WR2, and his biggest issue is largely fixable.

10. George Pickens | Georgia | 6‘-3“, 200 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 52
2021 stats: GP 4, Rec 5, Yds 107, TD 0.
2020 stats: GP 8, Rec 36, Yds 513, TD 6.
2019 stats: GP 12, Rec 49, Yds 727, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Pickens is a big, tall, and lanky receiver who the Steelers have shown some pre-draft interest in. He’s not the shiftiest guy in this class, but he’s a solid route runner with great long speed, making him a physical deep threat down the field. Pickens has natural hands, a wide catch radius, and great ball-tracking ability. Pickens has a nasty competitive streak as well. His biggest concern was an ACL injury, but Pickens was able to compete in the combine and ran an impressive 4.4 40-yard dash which quelled some of the concerns. He’s currently projected as a second-round pick, but Pickens has the potential to be an excellent boundary receiver.

11. Alec Pierce | Cincinnati | 6‘-3“, 213 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 58
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 52, Yds 884, TD 8.

Noah: Pierce isn’t the most complete receiver in this class, but there’s a lot to like. He wins with athleticism, and his ability to come down with contested catches is off the charts. He’s able to consistently get open from both the outside and the slot. His route tree is pretty limited but he’s very sudden out of his break and has the makings of a prototypical “Z” receiver in the NFL. He has got phenomenal hands, his catch radius is huge and he’ll haul in anything thrown his way. However, Pierce is probably going to have a hard time creating separation at the next level and he is not a threat after the catch. Pierce is one of my favorite under-the-radar prospects in this draft but the lack of separation and RAC ability is going to cause him to fall.

12. Khalil Shakir | Boise State | 6‘-0“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 65
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 77, Yds 1117, TD 7.

Ryland B.: Shakir’s knack for acrobatic catches really stands out. He has good hands and excellent ball-tracking ability, always putting himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Even though he played the most in the slot at Boise State, he lacks the ideal quickness for the position in the NFL. Shakir has a slower release than most and although he has good long speed he isn’t a short distance accelerator. As a route-runner, Shakir takes great angles and his buildup speed can create separation down the field, but he isn’t the twitchiest. However, he shows good vision after the catch and was a successful returner in college. Shakir’s solid athleticism and size, along with his ability to be a reliable pass-catcher, project him as a very good 4th or 5th receiver on an NFL depth chart.

13. Jalen Tolbert | South Alabama | 6‘-3“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 82
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 82, Yds 1474, TD 8.

Necksnation: After enjoying a breakout year in 2020, Tolbert inserted himself firmly into the Day 2 conversation with another stellar season in 2021. He tested well at the combine to go along with a great statistical season, albeit against weak competition. Although his breaks aren’t the cleanest, Tolbert is a relatively smooth route runner who usually finds ways to get open. It’s an area that could use a bit of work, especially since he’ll be going up against much better defenders in the NFL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he still did a decent job of gaining separation. His ball skills and hands are very good, which help him come down with a lot of contested catches. He may not be a particularly big receiver, but he’s generally sure handed, and provides a safety blanket for his QB. Additionally, Tolbert is quite good after the catch. He doesn’t quite have burner speed, but he does a decent job of making defenders miss and accelerating to pick up some extra yards. He has an intriguing skillset that gives him solid upside, and he showed that he can handle a large target share at South Alabama, where he was the only viable receiving option. That won’t be the case for him in the NFL, but he should be a decent contributor from day one, and if he receives proper coaching, Tolbert has the potential to become a legitimate WR1.

14. Calvin Austin III | Memphis | 5‘-9“, 162 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 87
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 74, Yds 1149, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Austin has literal track speed, and it translates into explosive plays on the football field. Austin is a smooth athlete, lighting-fast accelerator, and a great route-runner. He has quickness to make defensive backs look silly and the speed to run past a secondary. Despite his diminutive size, he has a great release with urgent footwork and violent hands. But size is still a major issue. Austin’s 5’9” frame just doesn’t have an elite catch radius despite his good hands, and at 162 pounds he doesn’t pack much physicality after the catch although he plays with good effort. Austin’s 4.3 speed makes him an intriguing NFL prospect, but his size may result in him only finding a gadget role in an NFL offense.

15. Bo Melton | Rutgers | 5‘-11“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 88
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 55, Yds 618, TD 3.

K.T. Smith (CHISAP): Melton can run, having clocked a 4.37 at the Combine. I’m familiar with his speed, having coached against him when he was a stud receiver at Cedar Creek High School in southern New Jersey and watched him run by our defensive backs like they were standing still. Melton was a straight speedster back then. In the years since, he has become a good overall route runner and a player whose body control and athleticism allows him to compete for just about any ball thrown in his range. He can be a bit stiff at times, and he could struggle to separate against big, physical press corners in the NFL. But if teams want a home-run hitter with an exceptional work ethic, Melton is a great choice.

One more note: the Steelers have always valued players of high character, and Melton has it. When the son of one of the assistant coaches on our staff was diagnosed with leukemia, Melton, who was at Rutgers at the time, made a video for the boy, then sent him a signed pair of cleats and a football signed by the entire Rutgers team. He didn’t brag about his good deed on social media or make a public show of it. I only found out about it because my assistant coach told me. Melton did it because a young boy was sick and because the South Jersey football community is like a fraternity. They say character is defined by the things you do when no one is looking. If that’s true, Bo Melton is a young man whose character is exemplary.

16. Tyquan Thornton | Baylor | 6‘-3“, 182 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 94
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 62, Yds 948, TD 10.

Andrew Wilbar: The most exciting thing about Thornton is his fantastic straight-line speed, especially when you combine that with his 6’3” frame. Typically, receivers who run below 4.3 in the 40 are undersized receivers who are limited to the slot. This is not the case with Thornton, however. He still needs to add weight to his slender frame, but he is a surprisingly physical receiver who does not shy away from contested catch opportunities. Not only does he get a quick release off the line of scrimmage, but he will also become more effective getting off press coverage at the line once he adds a little more muscle. There is definitely some rawness with Thornton, and there may be a little bit of projection here, but you cannot teach 6’3” and 4.28 speed.

17. Romeo Doubs | Nevada | 6‘-2“, 200 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 98
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 80, Yds 1109, TD 11.

Andrew Wilbar: Doubs is an interesting case. He had an incredibly strong connection with Carson Strong, but he has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his collegiate career, and he is currently recovering from a knee injury. Because of this, he was unable to do any athletic testing at the scouting combine in March. On tape, I see a guy who not only has a nice combination of length and speed, but also runs more precise routes than most receivers his size. When he is at his best, I see some Julio Jones in his game, but he is relatively ineffective when he fails to concentrate. A lack of concentration has led to a drop here and there, but those mistakes are few and far between. Overall, there is not much to complain about with Doubs other than the injury concerns. He has added a few pounds and filled out his lanky 6’2” frame, which will hopefully help him sustain more hits at the NFL level. He will be a nice value pick for a team early on day three.

18. David Bell | Purdue | 6‘-2“, 205 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 102
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 93, Yds 1286, TD 6.

Necksnation: Bell doesn’t possess the speed and athleticism that is becoming more and more common in today’s receivers. However, what he lacks in quickness he makes up for with physicality and contested catch ability. His production at Purdue was excellent, recording 2946 yards and 21 touchdowns in 29 games. Additionally, although he had the occasional concentration drop, he was generally one of the most sure handed receivers in the country, posting an outstanding 68% catch rate as a junior. That number would be good for a guy who primarily works underneath, but Bell runs routes over the entire field as an outside receiver. While Bell isn’t particularly agile, his routes are better than you’d expect for someone with his athletic profile, and his diverse route tree gives him some versatility. He does struggle to consistently gain separation, but luckily for him, his ability to make contested catches is his best trait. He does a fantastic job of high pointing the ball, and his impressive hands and ball skills make coming down with 50-50 balls look easy. He is a physical receiver who is willing to make tough catches over the middle, and although he isn’t a huge threat after the catch, he still produces a decent number of chunk plays by making difficult catches downfield. Bell’s stock has declined a bit over the last few months, which is largely due to his poor testing at the combine. His production and route tree make him seem like a fairly pro ready option, which is impressive for someone who won’t turn 21 until December, but his lack of athleticism may limit his upside. However, receivers like Keenan Allen have proven that you don’t need to be a speed burner to succeed in the NFL, and Bell could develop into a similar type of player at the next level.

19. Wan’Dale Robinson | Kentucky | 5‘-11“, 185 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 103
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 104, Yds 1334, TD 7.

Necksnation: Robinson certainly looked impressive during his junior season after transferring to Kentucky, but there are concerns about how he will translate to the NFL. The first thing that jumps out about Robinson is his size, or lack thereof. Not only is he 5’8” and 178 lbs, but he has the shortest arms of any receiver to enter the draft since 1999 by nearly half an inch per arm. The good news is, he did test very well at the combine from an athletic standpoint, and for the most part it shows up on his tape. I would consider him to be a guy who is “quicker than he is fast.” In open field, he was frequently able to make defenders miss and gain lots of yards after the catch because of it, which resulted in a lot of big plays. Additionally, he is a smooth and quick route runner, frequently able to create separation and find holes in the defense. However, for a guy who relies so much on his athleticism, Robinson gets run down from behind more often than he should. He did run a good 40 yard dash, but there were numerous instances in his tape where he could have scored but didn’t because he was unable to maintain his top speed throughout the play. It is a bit of a concern, and it makes you wonder how he’ll fare against NFL defensive backs if he’s getting chased down by college defenders, but his speed should improve a bit as he transitions to the pros, and hopefully it won’t be an issue for him. Robinson is also more than willing to take hits over the middle and survive hits to make tough catches. This is definitely a strength to his game, but you can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to take those same hits in the NFL with his small frame. Despite these concerns, Robinson’s natural quickness and ability to get open should make him serviceable at the next level. He’ll almost certainly never be a WR1, but he could be a solid WR2 with the ability to line up in the backfield (he had 134 total carries across his two seasons in Nebraska before transferring). He could also have value as a returner, an area where he wasn’t used often in college, but it seems like a natural fit for his skillset. At the end of the day, Robinson will likely never carry an NFL team’s passing offense, but he should provide some burst and versatility to a team, and should be able to carve out a decent career in that type of role.

20. Velus Jones, Jr. | Tennessee | 6‘-0“, 200 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 104
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 23, Yds 628, TD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is built almost like a running back. As he possesses a strong base as well as an ability to break tackles in the open field. While the number of receptions may seem on the low side, the way he was used did not allow him to receive much volume. His efficiency as a deep threat was quite impressive, though. He displayed his explosiveness at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine, although there were a couple easy passes that he dropped. His route-running is not incredibly refined either; however, he can create yards in space, and he can torch defenders over the top. If he can master those two areas of his game, his other deficiencies will not be as big a concern.

21. Kyle Phillips | UCLA | 5‘-11“, 177 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 105
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 59, Yds 739, TD 10.

Skyfire322: Phillips was a dual-threat WR and punt returner for the Bruins. While he didn’t have a highlight reel that you see from top college WRs, he most certainly holds his own. He’s very shifty and thrives in the slot position. However, that seems to be the only role he’ll be able to play as he lacks the quickness and length to stretch the field. While he can create decent separation, Phillips also has difficulty with contested catches primarily due to his size. Ball-handling skills are phenomenal both as a WR and punt returner, which scouts should consider. I believe he could be a diamond in the rough, potentially being drafted in the 3rd or 4th round.

22. Jerreth Sterns | Western Kentucky | 5‘-9“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 117
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 150, Yds 1902, TD 17.

Ryland B.: If you did a double-take when you saw Sterns’ 2021 stat line, you won’t be the only one. Playing in a potent WKU offense with star QB Bailey Zappe, Sterns put up season numbers that look like many college receivers’ career totals. Despite not being invited to the combine, Sterns ran a 4.4 40 at his pro day, and it shows up on tape. He’s incredibly explosive and obviously productive. Sterns showcases great athleticism and acceleration, often outrunning entire defenses on his many big plays in 2021. He’s a natural hands catcher who picks the ball out of the air with ease. However, his smaller size prevents him from making the more acrobatic and contested grabs. He isn’t incredibly physical either and paired with his lower level of competition in college it’s fair to say Stern’s incredible production may not translate well to the NFL level. Still, Sterns has proven himself to be a quality playmaker with good athleticism, and he should find a role of some sort in an NFL offense.

23. Danny Gray | SMU | 6‘-1“, 180 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 118
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 49, Yds 803, TD 9.

Ryland B.: Yet another receiver who ran in the 4.3 range at the NFL combine, Gray could be a possible speed threat option for the Steelers in the middle rounds. He was more often than not the fastest guy on the field, and it really shows. Gray’s speed and change of direction really stand out on tape, and he’s a menace with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think there’d be even more touchdowns on tape if he didn’t deal with so many underthrows on deep routes. Gray has a tall, lanky frame and often struggled with more physical corners. He has a good release but would often get jammed in press, or struggle to separate in more physical coverage. Gray has good hands but has a bit of a habit to body catch, although he does have some good contested catches on tape. Overall, there’s some great potential with Gray, who could really succeed as a deep threat on the next level.

24. Justyn Ross | Clemson | 6‘-4“, 205 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 140
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 46, Yds 514, TD 3.

Necksnation: Necksnation: Ross had an incredible freshman season, but injuries have derailed his career ever since. However, if he can stay healthy and reach the potential that he showed as a freshman, he could become a star in the NFL. Ross certainly has the size to succeed at the next level, and although he doesn’t have incredible speed, he provides a decent amount of chunk plays. You won’t see him making too many 70 yard receptions, but he does a nice job on intermediate plays to pick up 15-20 yards for his team. His diverse route tree allows him to gain separation in a myriad of ways, especially on short to intermediate routes. Additionally, he does a nice job of gaining a few extra yards after the catch, and he is more than capable of breaking some tackles in the process. He can also juke out defenders when necessary, although it isn’t necessarily his ideal way of getting by defenders, but it’s certainly an ability that he possesses. His ball skills are elite, and he makes plenty of difficult catches downfield and in the end zone. He did have some concentration drops, but overall, his hands are a strength of his game, and they really benefit him when he’s making contested catches. Ross has a lot of traits that could make him a WR1 in the NFL, but he will need a good amount of coaching to get back to where he was pre injury. That said, it is worth wondering if he is injury prone. He broke his foot in 2021, but more importantly, it was discovered that he had a congenital fusion in his spine, which could have stopped him from ever playing again. He is healthy now, but whatever team that drafts him should do so with the awareness that he may have limited durability. But if he’s able to stay on the field and live up to the hype of his freshman season, he could wind up as a major steal on Day 2, and he’s worth taking a gamble on sometime in the middle of round 3.

25. Isaiah Weston | Northern Iowa | 6‘-4“, 210 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 146
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 37, Yds 883, TD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Weston is an athletic specimen who has been linked to the Steelers in draft conversations this spring. At 6’3 ½”, 215 pounds, Weston raised eyebrows during his combine performance, recording a 4.42 40, 40” vertical, and 135” broad jump, and 20 bench reps. As a player on the field, the first thing that stands out about Isaiah is his ability to create big plays down the field. His 23.9 yards per catch in 2021 backs up this claim, and his nearly 900 receiving yards despite inconsistent quarterback play is telling as to how big a difference he can be to an offense. I would like to see a little better field awareness on catches near the sideline, but for a late-round pick, the combination of athleticism and production makes him worth a flier. If the Steelers decide to grab Weston late on day three, the selection would have my support.

26. Samori Toure | Nebraska | 6‘-3“, 193 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 155
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 46, Yds 898, TD 5.

Ryland B.: Toure was an elite FCS receiver before transferring to Nebraska for his final season. Despite the higher level of competition, he still put up good numbers for a college wideout. Toure has good size and is a natural athlete. While not a freak of nature, he has good long speed, acceleration, and effortless change of direction. He has good hands and is an impressive blocker as well. He’s not a polished route-runner but the potential is certainly there. He got open a good number of times on tape but was either overthrown or not even seen by the quarterback. Toure could surprise as a pro.

27. Kevin Austin, Jr. | Notre Dame | 6‘-2“, 215 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 167
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 48, Yds 888, TD 7.

Skyfire322: Austin has an excellent ability to separate himself. Once there’s an open field, it’s almost a given you’ll see him break a 20-30 yard catch easily, mainly because of his explosiveness. He knows how to track the ball due to his frame and could be a nightmare for the secondary. However, he seems to play a bit stiff and often uses his body to catch, meaning he doesn’t fully utilize the great length to his advantage. One big concern is multiple surgeries on his left foot, which caused him to miss quite a bit of time. While his physical traits and draft results show one thing, I believe he will be a developmental receiver and will get the call in the draft’s later rounds.

28. Emeka Emezie | North Carolina State | 6‘-3“, 220 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 187
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 60, Yds 802, TD 6.

Andrew Wilbar: Emezie is a strong-handed receiver who provides the most value as a 50/50 ball specialist. He lacks that second gear of speed to separate, but when you are as good as he is with no room to work with, it is not as big an issue. Another concern, though, is his inability to run sharp routes. His route-tree is incredibly limited, and he struggles to cut back quickly toward the ball on in-breaking routes. Still, as a one-trick pony in the later rounds, Emezie could carve out a nice role for himself as a red-zone threat.

29. Jalen Nailor | Michigan State | 6‘-0“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 201
2021 stats: GP 9, Rec 37, Yds 695, TD 6.

Ryland B.: In a receiver class as fast as this one, Nailor’s 4.5 40 time may not seem as speedy as it is. But in a deep class of field-stretching receivers, Nailor shouldn’t be left out of the picture. He’s an accomplished deep threat in his own right, with speed to torch most college corners but also great stop-start ability. Unsurprisingly, he’s a great route-runner, but he is guilty of occasionally rounding off his cuts. Nailor displays good physicality, although he isn’t exactly the biggest on the field and has struggled with injuries in the past. Nailor has good hands overall and has flashes of great contested catch ability, although I’d like to see him be more consistent when it comes to tracking the ball. He definitely has some upside in this loaded receiver class.

30. Jaquarii Roberson | Wake Forest | 6‘-1“, 182 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 202
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 71, Yds 1078, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Roberson is a tall and lanky receiver with good speed and quickness. He’s an agile and aggressive route-runner who makes good cuts and has a solid release. He lacks top-tier long speed but is fast enough to be a threat down the field. Roberson seems to have good hands but fails in terms of being a physical catcher in contested scenarios or against tighter coverage. There’s potential here to be a poor-man’s Diontae Johnson of sorts, although Roberson lacks the requisite physicality to be more well-rounded.

31. Reggie Roberson, Jr. | SMU | 6‘-0“, 200 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 208
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 51, Yds 625, TD 6.

Ryland B.: Roberson is another speedy SMU receiver in this year’s draft. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career, which has hurt both his draft stock and production. Still, he’s a dangerous deep threat and return man with good quickness although he’s not quite as agile as his teammate Danny Gray. Robertson isn’t the contested, physical catch type, but he has excellent hands and ball-tracking. It remains unclear if Robertson is completely healthy at this point in career, which makes drafting him both a major risk but also a move with the potential to pay off dividends if Robertson’s tape can look anything like it did during some SMU games.

32. Dareke Young | Lenoir-Rhyne | 6‘-3“, 220 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 211
2021 stats: GP 5, Rec 25, Yds 303, TD 4.

Andrew Wilbar: Young is one of many small-school receivers in this class that possess intriguing size and athleticism. Young was productive in the five games he played in, but the sample size is relatively small, especially for a small-school prospect who is already struggling to prove his legitimacy. One thing I do like about Young is his willingness to do the dirty work, as he is unafraid to come across the formation as a decoy and simply block. He was used often on jet sweeps in college and had success in that role, leading me to believe that his best fit would come in an offense that uses a lot of pre-snap motion. If he can learn to create better separation late in his routes, he could develop into a solid number three or number four receiver for an NFL team.

33. Tyshaun James | Central Connecticut | 6‘-3“, 210 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 212
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 56, Yds 978, TD 9.

Andrew Wilbar: If you want someone with physicality at the point of attack, above-average athleticism, and impressive production, James may be your guy. Playing at Central Connecticut will not do a prospect any favors when it comes to draft stock ahead of the draft, but James checks a lot of boxes. Measuring in at 6 ‘2”, 214 pounds at his pro day, James recorded a 4.49 40, 22 bench reps, 37 ½” vertical, 131” broad jump, and 7.07 3-cone drill. James is an impressive receiver when it comes to making contested catches. He uses his body to box defenders out, and he does a great job of high-pointing the ball. James lacks the versatility of many of these other late-round receivers we are discussing, but if given the chance, he could provide solid depth as a boundary receiver for an NFL team.

34. Tanner Conner | Idaho State | 6‘-3“, 226 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 216
2021 stats: GP 6, Rec 34, Yds 685, TD 3.

Andrew Wilbar: When you watch Conner on tape, he looks like a tight end playing out wide. He does not have the quickest acceleration off the line, and his route tree does not have a multitude of branches, but he displays sure hands, and he wins the contested catches. At 6’3”, 226 pounds, Conner recorded a 4.5 40, 19 bench reps, a 39” vertical, a 127” broad jump, and a 7.15 in the 3-cone drill at his pro day, proving that his athleticism is no fluke. I like Conner’s ability to high-point the ball while also displaying excellent body control. He does not have the greatest lower-body strength for someone his size, but he is incredibly difficult to bring down in the open field. Overall, I am a fan of Conner’s traits, but only solid production against poor competition might make some teams hesitant to pull the trigger on him. In the later portions of day three, he is worth the risk.

35. Dee Anderson | Alabama A&M | 6‘-6“, 220 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 232
2021 stats: GP 9, Rec 33, Yds 493, TD 12.

Andrew Wilbar: Anderson is a big possession receiver who thrives on winning contested catches in tight coverage. The red-zone menace recorded only 33 catches in 2021, but 12 of those were touchdowns. Oddly enough, this is a good portrayal of how he could be used in the NFL. He was highly touted coming out of high school, committing to LSU all the way back in 2014. After three years of minimal production, he packed his bags and transferred to Oklahoma State, where he played just one game and recorded only one reception. He still lacked high volume after transferring to Alabama A&M, but his role did increase, and he proved his ability to win in the red zone. I anticipate the team he goes to using him like they would a tight end, except he would still align out wide.

36. Ty Fryfogle | Indiana | 6‘-2“, 205 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 239
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 46, Yds 512, TD 1.

Jeremy Betz: Fryfogle is an interesting study. As a junior in 2020, he was starting to climb up the WR rankings for posting after posting a ridiculous 3-game stretch in which he accounted for 560 yds and 6 TDs vs Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan St. his size and athletic ability will entice one teams but his drop off in consistent production in 2021 will leave some doubts about his ability to be a difference maker. Turn on the film though, and you’ll see a strong, big-bodied pass catcher with natural hands and good upside.

37. Jalen Virgil | Appalachian State | 6‘-1“, 210 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 259
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 15, Yds 226, TD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Virgil made Bruce Feldman’s 2021 freak list for his world-class speed, and while Virgil disappointed me with his 4.4 flat in the 40, he has more than enough speed to cruise by the average defensive back. There are times when Virgil is a little stiff in his stance at the line of scrimmage, which causes an occasionally slow get-off. However, he has the ability to change speeds mid-route, which makes him difficult to cover one-on-one on in-breaking routes. His route-running skills are adequate but not mind-blowing, and his hands are generally reliable. The biggest problem lies in the fact that he would go games without making any difference on offense before he would go off for a big play. Inconsistency was his downfall during his final year of college, and that remains his biggest flaw heading into the NFL.

38. Erik Ezukanma | Texas Tech | 6‘-3“, 220 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 260
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 48, Yds 705, TD 4.

Ryland B.: It may be the BIG-12 background, but Ezukanma reminds a bit of former Steeler James Washington. Ezukanma isn’t the deep threat that Washington is, but he has solid build-up speed and good hands. He’s a good competitor but doesn’t have a great release, with not a lot of twitch in his route-running. He has a strong frame and good strength, making him a solid possession receiver who can be hard to bring down after the catch. He’s a good blocker as well. Overall, Ezukanma shows potential as a physical pass-catcher at the next level, but his lacking ability to create separation is concerning.

39. Ra’Shaun Henry | Virginia | 6‘-3“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 277
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 34, Yds 603, TD 3.

Skyfire322: Ra’Shaun Henry utilizes his speed to get to the ball. He has excellent breakaway speed, agility, and decent hands. He also can get aerial which makes him a weapon in the endzone. His speed makes him great on the outside, but he’s very smart and most certainly holds his own running routes. However, he has difficulty escaping defenders and tends to give up once he’s wrapped up. Henry’s slim frame and lack of strength hurt him, as well. I believe his most significant issue is that he relies on his speed and nothing else. He is a very interesting prospect, but I think he’ll be in a developmental role.

40. Savon Scarver | Utah State | 5‘-11“, 175 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 278
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 27, Yds 641, TD 1.

Ryland B.: It was hard to find much tape on Scarver beyond the occasional highlight reel, which isn’t exactly the most balanced source. But Scarver showed some intriguing potential in regards to his speed, and he was named a consensus All-American back in 2018 as a returner. In fact, Scarver has 7 kick return touchdowns in his NCAA career, an impressive number. He’ll definitely be an older rookie, and his lack of size and level and competition are definite issues, but Scarver seems to be worth bringing into camp as a UDFA return specialist.

41. Mike Woods | Oklahoma | 6‘-3“, 198 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 281
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 35, Yds 400, TD 2.

Ryland B.: I can’t say I’m as enthused as others are about Wood’s potential. His longer stride may be deceptively fast, but he looks rather slow on tape. He isn’t very quick and creates little separation, and the only times I saw him getting really open were due to poor defensive awareness. It’s not all bad, though. Woods displayed strong hands and the ability to make more difficult catches, and he’s one of the stronger blocking receivers in this class. He might not be worth a draft pick at this point, but definitely is a strong UDFA candidate.

42. Daylen Baldwin | Michigan | 6‘-2“, 219 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 289
2021 stats: GP 7, Rec 17, Yds 256, TD 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Baldwin is a double-transfer who did not see as much volume as many people had anticipated him getting at Michigan. He disappointed in his athletic testing at his pro day, but he has the talent to make an NFL roster as a contested-catch and deep-ball specialist. To learn more about Baldwin check out my interview with him below.

43. Braylon Sanders | Ole Miss | 6‘-0“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 291
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 24, Yds 549, TD 4.

Ryland B.: Sanders has good speed but didn’t strike me as particularly quick. He’s a buildup accelerator that doesn’t have the ideal explosion at the top of his routes. Still, his speed and angles as a route runner help him gain decent separation. He has great hands and is capable of the occasional circus catch. As a blocker, he didn’t show great urgency, and his release is average. Sanders can catch well and he has good speed – giving him plenty of potential to be a solid receiver at the next level.

44. Jontre Kirklin | WR/QB/CB | LSU | 6‘-0“, 184 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 294
2021 stats: GP 6, Rec 4, Yds 49, TD 0.
138” broad and 42” vert

Ryland B.: This guy is a football player. Although not invited to the combine, Kirklin put up excellent testing numbers – but let’s talk about his versatility. Kirklin projects as a wide receiver at the next level, but he has experience in special teams, at cornerback, and at quarterback. The latter of which he threw for 3 touchdowns in the Texas Bowl for LSU. It’s something that likely won’t help him as a pro unless another Kendall Hinton scenario occurs, but Kirklin clearly has a great feel for the game. As a receiver, he shows great quickness, acceleration, and speed. He’s a twitchy athlete with some clear potential as a route-runner, Kirklin shows some good effort in the blocking game as well. His production, on the other hand, is quite underwhelming. His “jack of all trades master of none” status may push Kirklin to the later rounds or even undrafted free agency, but there’s some clear talent here some team will definitely take a flier on.

45. Tre Turner | Virginia Tech | 6‘-2“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 295
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 40, Yds 675, TD 3.

Ryland B.: Turner is a fairly productive receiver with solid size. He’s a good athlete with 4.5 speed and impressive acceleration. He shows some technical ability in his route-running, but I was most impressed with his wide catch radius and hands. His release was excellent as well. Turner isn’t a freak athlete but he has adequate testing numbers and good technical abilities. He could be a good fit as a possession receiver at the next level.

BEST OF THE REST 46. Trevor Begue | Incarnate Word | 5‘-11“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 310
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 46, Yds 620, TD 3. 47. Kevin Shaa | Liberty | 5‘-11“, 165 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 311
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 28, Yds 516, TD 6. 48. Deven Thompkins | Utah State | 5‘-8“, 155 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 314
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 104, Yds 1704, TD 10. 49. Chris Booker | Ohio State | 6‘-3“, 192 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 325
2021 stats: GP 5, Rec 2, Yds 27, TD 0. 50. Tyeous Sharpe | Fayetteville State | 5‘-11“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 338
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 40, Yds 529, TD 7. 51. Calvin Taylor, Jr. | Hawaii | 5‘-11“, 195 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 349
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 73, Yds 876, TD 4. 52. Sy Barnett | Ferris State | 6‘-1“, 205 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 354
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 12, Yds 166, TD 1. 53. Charleston Rambo | Miami | 6‘-1“, 185 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 355
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 79, Yds 1172, TD 7. 54. Tay Martin | Oklahoma State | 6‘-3“, 186 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 359
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 80, Yds 1046, TD 10. 55. Stanley Berryhill III | Arizona | 5‘-11“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 365
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 83, Yds 744, TD 1. 56. Kalil Pimpleton | Central Michigan | 5‘-9“, 175 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 374
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 62, Yds 960, TD 4. 57. BJ Byrd | Morehead State | 6‘-0“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 382
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 90, Yds 1313, TD 13. 58. Jahcour Peterson | Ole Miss | 5‘-8“, 190 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 388
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 26, Yds 392, TD 0. 59. Dontario Drummond | Ole Miss | 6‘-0“, 215 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 396
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 76, Yds 1028, TD 8. 60. Makai Polk | Mississippi State | 6‘-3“, 200 lbs Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 397
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 105, Yds 1046, TD 9.

Which wide receivers in this class intrigue you the most? Which receiver do you think makes the most sense for the Steelers? Who is your favorite sleeper? Be sure to share your thoughts on this big board and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!

Too many questions need answered before the Steelers sign Diontae Johnson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There are a lot of good reasons to wait one more season before making a long-term commitment.

Diontae Johnson, on the surface, has the look of a player continuing to ascend, approaching the top tiers of the NFL receiver hierarchy. Rumors are he wants to be paid like it too. While I don’t put too much stock in offseason stories like this, it has led to an interesting discussion of how good Diontae Johnson really is.

Johnson was the Steelers first third round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the first player I did a post-draft film room on. He stood out with his releases and physical route running that was impressive for his size. He had quick success with the Steelers, finishing second on the team in receiving as a rookie, and first in targets. In 2020 with the return of Ben Roethlisberger he led the team in both targets and receiving yards, and in 2021 he led the team in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns. Johnson also made his first Pro-Bowl as a replacement.

On the strength of that resume, it looks like Diontae Johnson is on his way to a big payday, especially with the way wide receiver contracts are going up this off-season. But should the Steelers lock up their young top receiver now, or risk him going into next season and ending up even more expensive?

To me, the answer is easy, the Steelers shouldn’t commit long-term to Johnson right now. And the reason is there are too many questions out there as to how good Diontae Johnson is going to be going forward.

The crux of this situation is the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger. Diontae Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger developed quick chemistry, leading to Diontae Johnson ranking 4th in targets over the last two years, behind only Stephon Diggs, Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp.

But again, Ben Roethlisberger is gone. And that leads us to the questions.

Will the volume continue?

We can’t just assume Mitchel Trubisky and Diontae Johnson are going to form the kind of chemistry Ben Roethlisberger and Diontae Johnson had. And if they don’t? then you don’t want to have a huge investment in a player that might not end up being the #1 receiver for your team. And the Steelers are likely going to be drafting a quarterback in the next few years, we don’t know how Diontae Johnson will do with whatever young quarterback the Steelers end up with. Diontae Johnson has good production with Mason Rudolph, but the Steelers aren’t putting their eggs in Rudolph’s basket he’s in a competition and he isn’t the favorite.

We also need to consider the offense is likely to change with Ben Roethlisberger exiting the huddle. Matt Canada was the offensive coordinator in 2021, but there was a lot of holdover from offenses that Roethlisberger was more comfortable in. How much the offense will change is yet to be seen, but with the investment in run blocking lineman I think the safe bet is we see a lot more focus on running the ball and an offense that isn’t going to be quick to drop the run and lean on the quarterback like it did in 2021.

With lower volume comes less productivity, which means the Steelers signing Johnson right now could very well be buying high on his production.

Can Johnson be a complete receiver?

I covered this in a previous article, but Diontae Johnson has been legitimately bad on passes thrown 15+ yards downfield.

I’m not going to restate the entire article, you can click the link above if you want to read it all, but Johnson’s catch rate plummets and he doesn’t offset that with big gains like other receivers do, and that leads to him being one of the worst deep pass receivers among higher volume receivers in the NFL.

You would be right to ask how much of that is on the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his arm that was never the same again after surgery. But there are Steelers ahead of Johnson in deep pass efficiency the last two years. On passes Ben Roethlisberger threw 15+ yards downfield, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, James Washington and Eric Ebron all have better yards per target than Diontae Johnson. Those are also the only receivers with 10+ downfield targets. Which means of the 5 receivers Ben Roethlisberger targeted 10 or more times downfield, Diontae Johnson was the least efficient.

There is hope that Johnson can do better in the future. Mason Rudolph had much better results throwing downfield to Johnson, but that just raises the possibility that Johnson could improve, which means it is a question you would want an answer to before signing a big, long-term contract.

Is Diontae Johnson really a number one receiver?

If we put aside the above questions, there’s still reason to question if Diontae Johnson is truly a number one receiver, or if his production is inflated because of his target volume. Johnson was second in targets only to Cooper Kupp, but was 5th in receptions and 10th in receiving yards. That drop off is because Johnson’s yards per reception ranks 82nd, and his catch rate 140th among qualified targets.

But there’s more. Since 2019 there are 80 NFL players that have at least 7 games with 50+ receiving yards while posting a 10+ yards per target for that game. Basically, a productive and efficient game. 80 players is roughly 2.5 players per NFL team. Diontae Johnson isn’t one of them. He has 6. James Washington has 7, Chase Claypool has 8 games in that category. Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster both have 6.

Johnson had 3 of his 6 games in 2019, meaning while Chase Claypool had 8 productive and highly efficient games the last two seasons, Johnson had 3. Because another thing that shows up in stats is that Johnson is less efficient when he is targeted more.

In the 49 games Johnson has played in so far in his career, he has 21 games with 7 or fewer targets, and 28 with 8 or more targets. Even though he had 7 more games with higher volume of targets, he had more games with 8+ yards per target when he was targeted less than 8 times. Only 14% of the games Johnson was targeted 8+ times resulted in a yards per target of 8 or higher, but in 38% of the 21 games he was targeted less than 8 times he had a yards per target of 8 or higher.

Looking farther into it, Diontae Johnson’s best production and efficiency came in games when he was targeted 6 or 7 times. In those games he caught 39 of his 58 targets (67%) for 518 yards. That’s a yards per target of 8.93, which is really good. That’s almost prime Antonio Brown levels of efficiency. Compare that to his numbers in games with 10+ targets, which account for half of the games he’s played in the NFL. 184 receptions on 300 targets (61% catch rate) for 2097 yards. That’s a yards per target of 6.99, an almost 2 yards per target drop per target when he is a bigger focal point of the offense.

The evidence here raises a valid question, is Diontae Johnson a guy you can run a good offense through, or is he a high-end #2 receiver that got way too many targets in 2021? The Steelers offense hasn’t exactly thrived with Johnson as the number one receiver, and while there are numerous reasons for that, we don’t have an answer to this question yet.

It wouldn’t be prudent.

Diontae Johnson is a good receiver, and he may very well be worth a big contract. This article isn’t here to say Diontae Johnson isn’t worth a No. 1 receiver deal, just that there are enough questions about his ability to be that guy going forward that it would be wise for the Steelers to wait out the next season and let Diontae Johnson show them who he can be in Matt Canada’s offense with Ben Roethlisberger no longer throwing him the ball.

Until those questions are answered, it’s an unnecessary risk and the Steelers would be best off passing on committing to Johnson until he answers them.

A History of the Steelers and the NFL Draft, Part 6: Offensive Linemen

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 7:15am
I know Vance McDonald (89) is a step behind the line, but look how small he appears next to Big Al and Ramon Foster. Vance is 6’4” and played at 267lbs. Yikes. | Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Who have the Steelers drafted in the trenches?

And we’re back for part 6 of this tour through the Pittsburgh Steelers draft history. Previous parts can be found here:

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: What colleges do the Steelers prefer?
Part 3: What colleges did Noll, Cowher, and Tomlin prefer?
Part 4: Positions by coach — backfield
Part 5: Positions by coach — pass catchers

In this edition, let’s look at offensive linemen, the players who never get the accolades, but who ultimately decide most ballgames. We’ll take these by three positions — first centers, then guards, and finally tackles. That might be a little superfluous with the early years, where players moved around a little more, but it’ll make more sense with the recent few decades.

Onward:

Centers Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images Unfortunately, this is not the Bill Walsh you’re currently thinking of.

The Steelers have drafted 67 centers over the 86 years of NFL drafts. That seems reasonable, but it’s actually a bigger number than it appears: remember, they only chose 48 quarterbacks in that same time. Crazy. That said, only TWO centers have ever been picked in the first round, 1937’s Mike Basrak from the football powerhouse of Duquesne (taken 5th overall, the second first round pick in Steelers history, and the highest selection Pittsburgh ever used on a center), and 2010’s first rounder, a gentleman from Florida that you may remember: Maurkice Pouncey. Of course, when the draft was shorter, higher picks were in lower rounds. Pouncey was the 18th overall pick in 2010; Chet Gladchuk (center from Boston College) was the Steelers’ second round choice in 1941, but was only the 12th overall selection.

Center is also the position that features my favorite Steelers draft choice of all time: Roger Adams. If you read my earlier installments of this series, you may recognize that name. Adams was the team’s 4th round choice in 1945 out of Florida (somehow only selection #29 overall, which would make him a first rounder today). Why is he my favorite? Because he didn’t actually leave school that year, but returned to Florida for the next season. So the Steelers just picked him again the next year, spending a 24th round choice in the 1946 draft (#224). Same guy. And to top it all off, he never actually played a single snap of NFL football — not for the Steelers or for anyone else. I don’t care how many times I return to that sequence, it still blows my mind.

Chuck Noll and Centers Set Number: X28827 TK1 My favorite thing about Mike Webster: that his biceps were so big his jersey sleeves were skin tight. That’s not how they made uniforms back then; he was just that strong.

Of the 67 centers this team has drafted, only 19 have come since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. The Emperor was responsible for 12 of those, including probably the two best centers in team history — Dermontti Dawson (2nd round, 1988) and Mike Webster (4th round, 1974). Hmm. Team history? These two both have legitimate cases for the best centers in NFL history.

Dawson, it turns out, was Noll’s highest selection on a center, coming as he did in the 44th slot. If I were gauging a “worst” draft choice Noll spent on a center, it’s probably the only other second rounder, 1976’s James Files, who came in at the 56th overall choice, and then never played a down of NFL football.

Bill Cowher and Centers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Dermontti Dawson introduces the Cleveland Browns to the concept of the “pulling center.” This is one reason he’s in the Hall of Fame. Centers aren’t supposed to be this quick.

Bill Cowher inherited Dawson at age 27, on the cusp of seven consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, so he didn’t have to do much with this position for a while. When he moved on, free agent Jeff Hartings was the replacement. As such, Cowher only drafted four centers in 15 years, with the highest choice being 2001 fifth rounder Chukky Okobi. It’s hard to call any of his choices “good” or “bad”; most of them never really saw the field.

Mike Tomlin and Centers Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images It’s entirely possible we’re looking at three Hall of Famers in this photo. (What a shame DeCastro’s career got cut short...)

Mike Tomlin had a rough couple of seasons of O-Line play early in his tenure as coach. In 2010, he invested in Pouncey with the aforementioned first round pick, and got a decade of All Pro play in the middle. That makes him, pretty obviously, the best center selection of Tomlin’s career.

Outside of Maurkice, Tomlin has only drafted two other centers at all. One was 2009 seventh rounder A.Q. Shipley, who never suited up for the Steelers, and has been a journeyman and spot starter (mostly on whatever team Bruce Arians is coaching). The other is 2021 third rounder Kendrick Green, who had a mixed rookie year last year, and may resurface as a guard when it’s all said and done.

Guards Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images This is the voice you hear on the radio on Sundays, Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have drafted 118 guards over the years, but never committed a single first rounder on an OG until 1986. That’s amazing. 54 of those choices (nearly half) came in rounds 13 through 31 — draft rounds that haven’t existed since 1977. All but one of those choices came before Chuck Noll as well. In other words, the Steelers took a lot of late-round fliers on guards in the early years. If the game starts in the trenches, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that these guys were NOT great in their early iterations.

Chuck Noll and Guards Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Tunch Ilkin, Merrill Hoge, and Carlton Haselrig: three spectacular overachievers of the late Chuck Noll years.

Of the 34 guards selected since 1969, Chuck Noll was responsible for 22 of them, including two first rounders. The earliest choice spent on a guard was the first first-rounder of team history, John Rienstra from Temple, taken at 9th overall. Rienstra also holds the title (for me) of worst draft choice spent on a guard. He lasted five years in Pittsburgh, and was only a primary starter one season. Noll’s other first rounder is probably the only other player in the discussion — Tom Ricketts, 1989’s 24th overall choice from Pitt. Ricketts only lasted three seasons with the Steelers and was never a primary starter. Ugh.

That said, Noll did find some gems in later rounds. 1971 fourth rounder Gerry Mullins (from USC) started four Super Bowls. Steve Courson (5th round, 1977) collected two rings as well. Craig Wolfley (5th round, 1980) might be the most famous of the bunch, as he has been one of the voices of Steelers radio for years.

But I’ll say that Noll’s best selection of a guard is 1989 12th rounder Carlton Haselrig, the only player in NFL history ever drafted from Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Haselrig, as we mentioned earlier in this series, didn’t even play college football, though he was a six-time NCAA champion wrestler. You can imagine the connection between grappling and playing on the offensive line, but this is a bold selection, even in the 12th round. Haselrig stuck around for four years, even making a Pro Bowl in 1992. If you’re going to whiff on Ricketts in round one of that draft, you might as well hit a deep shot with Haselrig in the 12th. That’s some kind of value.

Cowher and Guards How athletic was Alan Faneca? Look how far he is from the line of scrimmage. This is a guard, for pete’s sake.

The Chin went for guards significantly less often than his predecessor, with only eight drafted over the years, including two first rounders. Cowher’s highest choice spent on a guard was also undoubtedly his best, 1998 first rounder (#26 overall), Alan Faneca from LSU. How good was Faneca? From 2001 to 2007, he was first team All Pro six out of seven years. The one year he wasn’t an All Pro at guard was 2003, when he had to take a position change to tackle, and still made the Pro Bowl. It took him a couple of years to make the Hall of Fame, but Faneca has a legitimate case for the best person to ever play the position.

Strangely, there aren’t a lot of other meaningful names at the position for Cowher. Kendall Simmons (1st round, 2002) was a good player, but diabetes swallowed a whole season for him, and probably kept him from reaching his potential. Later round choices Willie Colon (4th/2006) and Chris Kemoeatu (6th/2005) were mixed in their careers — good road graders who participated in getting Big Ben nearly killed for a few years in the mid-decade. Still, I don’t think I’ve got a “worst” pick for this position.

Tomlin and Guards Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images Look at how big David DaCastro’s head is. Seriously, it’s like 1.5 heads. It’s enormous.

Mike Tomlin also only drafted a few guards in his career — five to be exact (*Ramon Foster was a UDFA, so he doesn’t count). Only once has Coach T gone for a guard in the opening round: 2012, when Stanford’s David DeCastro slipped to #24, and the Steelers snapped him up. DeCastro, of course, became one of the NFL’s best linemen of the era, and undoubtedly the greatest guard choice for Tomlin’s career.

Fun fact: neither Tomlin, Cowher, nor Noll ever used a second round pick on a guard. In fact, Tomlin’s next highest choice after DeCastro is 4th rounder Kevin Dotson from 2020, who looked excellent as a rookie and will hopefully come back up after a down year in 2021. No one else came higher than round 5. So again, there’s not really a “worst” pick.

Tackles What is it with Steeler rookies looking like they’re 35? This guy looks positively middle-aged.

177 offensive tackles have been drafted by the Steelers over the years, but only four in the first round. For a position so prized in today’s game, this is remarkable. In fact, only two of those picks came in the draft’s top 10, and both were long ago — 1955’s sixth overall pick Frank Varrichione from Notre Dame, a four-time Pro Bowler who never missed a start in six years as a Steeler; and 1968’s tenth overall pick Mike Taylor from USC, who started only 12 games in two years before Chuck Noll traded him away in the middle of his first year as coach. So the team was a touch schizophrenic when it came to offensive tackles...

Just like with the guards, the early Steelers took a lot of late-round fliers on tackles. 84 OTs were chosen between rounds 13 and 31, with only one Noll choice among them.

Chuck Noll and Tackles Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Tunch Ilkin should’ve had a better nickname. The Terrifying Turk? Tunch the Tank? Something like that.

In his 23 years at the helm, Chuck Noll drafted 28 offensive tackles, but never went for one in the opening round. His highest overall selection was 1976 second rounder (37th overall), Ray Pinney. Pinney started 81 games for the Steelers over the years, including Super Bowl XIII, but doesn’t qualify as the best tackle the Emperor drafted. In fact, Noll killed it with tackles for a number of years. Here’s a sampling from his first dozen drafts:

1969: John Kolb — 3rd round (56th overall), nine year starter, four rings, four Super Bowl starts
1971: Larry Brown — 5th round (106 overall), started Super Bowls IX and X at tight end, then started Super Bowl XIV at RT
1972: Gordon Gravelle — 2nd round (38th overall), started only two years in town, both of which ended in championships, Super Bowls IX and X
1976: Ray Pinney (see above)
1980: Tunch Ilkin — 6th round (165 overall), 143 games started, two Pro Bowl seasons

Ilkin is my choice as the best tackle of Noll’s career, since his success came with so little help behind him. 1982 2nd rounder John Meyer (who never played a down of NFL football, choosing a career writing pop songs about bodies and wonderlands instead) has got to be the worst. That said, there’s a lesson from Noll about getting value in the middle rounds. Can it still be done in the 2020s? Good question. It was true in the 70s for sure.

Cowher and Tackles Photo by Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary You can tell Max Starks is gigantic because this is 241 pounds of Roethlisberger that would accordian a normal man.

Bill Cowher chose 11 tackles in his 15 years, most of them coming in the top three rounds (eight overall, with five in the third round). Both of Cowher’s first round tackles were kind of underwhelming — 1992 first rounder (11th overall) Leon Searcy, the first draft choice of Cowher’s tenure, wasn’t bad, starting for a few years (including Super Bowl XXX), but then got plucked by the expansion Jaguars in 1996, where he got his only Pro Bowl nod. His replacement was 1996 first rounder Jamain Stephens (29th overall), who lasted two seasons in Pittsburgh and was never the primary starter. That has to be the worst tackle choice of Cowher’s career.

Cowher’s best tackle is a toss-up. 2000 second rounder Marvel Smith battled injuries but played well, collecting two Super Bowl rings and a 2004 Pro Bowl berth. 2004 third rounder Max Starks started two Super Bowls himself, one on each side of the line, and hosts a Steelers podcast with Wolfley. Call it a wash.

Tomlin and Tackles Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images “You’re not swinging a helmet at a quarterback on my watch, psycho.”

Mike Tomlin has drafted only 10 tackles in his 14 years, and none in the first round, though he’s gotten several years out of free agents, such as Alejandro Villanueva or Flozell Adams. Tomlin’s highest choice is easily his worst, 2012 second rounder Mike Adams (56th overall), who simply never turned the corner in the pros.

Current starting tackles Chukwuma Okorafor (3rd/2018) and Dan Moore (4th/2021) both came via the draft, but neither are currently my choice for the best drafted tackle of the Tomlin years. That’s another toss-up between 2011 second rounder Marcus Gilbert and 2012 seventh rounder Kelvin Beachum. Gilbert was probably the better player, and lasted longer in town, but Beachum was never supposed to be starter, given his draft status. They both contributed to the much-improved line of the 2010s.

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images Alan Faneca does his best Jim McMahon while the Steelers defense flatlines the Baltimore Ravens.

What can we discern from all this? One lesson might be that the Steelers are likely to grab a lineman or two this year, but unless it’s a generational talent (Pouncey, DeCastro) it’s probably not going to happen in the first round. And if it’s an offensive tackle prospect, maybe the Steelers should wait until round two. The last really good first round tackle came when Eisenhower was president.

Let’s talk defense. Coming soon...

My first, genuine, Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Mock Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

My first official and genuine Steelers mock draft (and, no, this is not satire).

Yes, before you even ask, this is actually real. This is not an April Fool’s joke (that was weeks ago). This is not satire. I’m actually serious this time and have done a real mock draft for you to praise, criticize, mock (no pun intended), whatever.

Why? For starters, out of all the satire I’ve done as a writer over the years, the angriest I have made folks is when I've decided to post fake mock drafts—even though all mock drafts are technically fake, right?

Also, it seems like mock drafts just generate so much traffic, talk and reaction, there’s really no point in being a phony about one; I can actually get the reactions I’m looking for simply by being authentic and giving an honest effort to pick players.

Of course, I didn’t do this draft all by myself (that would be crazy). I enlisted the help of the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and allowed it to pick for each team before and after the Steelers in every round, while I studied the pool of players available to make Pittsburgh’s selection. I waived every trade request that popped up and just selected a player in the first, second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. (The Steelers did not have a fifth-round pick thanks to a trade during last year’s draft that enabled them to select Isaiahh Loudermilk.)

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to get to it:

Round 1 (20th, overall), Trevor Penning, offensive tackle, Northern Iowa

That’s right, I decided to go the offensive tackle route and give the Steelers a legit prospect at the position. It’s true that Dan Moore, a fourth-round pick from Texas A&M in 2021, made the team and started 16 games at left tackle last season, but who’s to say Penning can’t step in and be an immediate upgrade, while Moore moves over to the right side and beats out Chukwuma Okorafor, his new contract be damned?

There were some interesting names still available when Pittsburgh’s time on the clock commenced—including Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum and Washington’s Trent McDuffie, but the cries for improving the offensive line haven’t died down since last offseason despite the Steelers honest effort to do just that. Also, Pittsburgh does seem to be in better shape along the interior of the offensive line than it does at tackle. As for corner? I wasn’t sure if that was a true position of need or not. Finally, I may have gone quarterback here if Malik Willis and/or Kenny Pickett was still available, but not only were both gone but so was Matt Corral.

I could have been reactionary and just taken the fourth quarterback on the board, but I gambled on Ridder still being there in the second round.

Round 2 (52nd, overall), Desmond Ridder, quarterback, Cincinnati

Sure enough, my gamble paid off. I don’t know how many feel about Penning in the first round, but I think it’s hard to argue with snagging one of the top quarterback prospects—someone the Steelers supposedly have had their eye on during the pre-draft process—in the second round.

Round 3 (84th, overall), Calvin Austin, wide receiver, Memphis

While I gambled on a good quarterback prospect still being there in round two, my gamble that one of the top half-dozen or so receivers still being around in the third round didn’t work out in my favor. But Austin is no slouch, even if he is a bit undersized at 5’8” and 170 pounds. However, Austin’s 40 speed—4.3—was too good to ignore, same with his production during his last season at Memphis, when he caught 74 passes for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns. I like Austin’s shiftiness, and I’m confident that he could step in and be a major contributor as part of a Pittsburgh receiving corps that was depleted by free agent defections.

Round 4 (138th, overall), Kyren Williams, running back, Notre Dame

Quality depth at running back behind Najee Harris is of great concern to Steelers fans.

Williams isn’t the fastest or biggest running back in this year’s class, but he was a team captain and leader at a marquee school and was certainly productive during his only two seasons as a full-time starter, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark each time. Williams also caught a combined 77 passes over his final two seasons at Notre Dame and could be the perfect complement to Harris when and if Mike Tomlin decides to go a little easier on his top back.

Round 6 (208th, overall), Micah McFadden, linebacker, Indiana

I made it to this point without addressing the Steelers' safety position (you can't address all the needs at once), but by the time the sixth round rolled around, there didn’t seem to be a safety on the board who was better than what McFadden could possibly be for the defense at inside linebacker and on special teams. Do I expect McFadden to start or even make the team? I can't see the first thing happening, but if McFadden does make the final cut, he could be a valuable role player.

Round 7 (225th, overall), Chandler Wooten, linebacker, Auburn

Like McFadden, I don’t expect a ton from Wooten, but the Steelers can certainly use depth at outside linebacker, and someone like Wooten could be that diamond in the rough that makes the team and becomes a consistent contributor as a backup and on special teams.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: Cryptic Tweet Chaos

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the hottest and most toxic takes on Steelers twitter. This week, fans are melting down over DJ and his supposed cryptic tweets, and some are already shipping him elsewhere. Plus, the biggest week yet for mock drafts, and the latest clue in our Heinz Field Draft Party Giveaway. Join Kyle and Greg for their black-and-gold breakdown of everything “Stillers” on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and so much more.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Diontae Johnson and the art of tweeting cryptically
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: The next weeks will be filled with change for the Steelers

So much is uncertain for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers with less than a week to go until Draft Weekend. One thing that is indeed for certain is the fact that there will be plenty of change for the Steelers in the weeks ahead. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman and Dave Schofield with Bryan Anthony Davis out for the week. Join the remaining non-slackers as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • Inside Steelers
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride Friday: Is the Steelers stock trending up, or down, before the draft?

An NFL team’s draft stock fluctuates constantly. In the offseason, the Steelers’ draft stock has looked like an echocardiogram. Where does it stand right before the draft? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with Jeff Hartman. Join BTSC’s Senior Editor for this and more on the Friday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The state of the Steelers stock
  • A visit from Blue Check Beck
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

2022 NFL Schedule to be released May 12th

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/21/2022 - 4:57pm
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL regular season schedule will be released as the dust on the NFL Draft settles.

The National Football League knows how to make an event appear out of thin air. In fact, they do it every year with the regular season schedule being released. If you are my age, 39, or older, you remember the days when the scheduled was in the newspaper, and that was the extent of the fan fare surrounding the schedule being released.

Fast forward to 2022, and it has become a spectacle.

As I said, the NFL knows what it’s doing.

When you consider the 2022 NFL Draft will be wrapped up, and the dust settling on the three-day event, the NFL throws out the schedule to get fans excited and hold them over until mandatory minicamps happen.

The date for the schedule to be released in 2022 will be Thursday, May 12th.

This per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network:

The NFL will release its 2022 schedule on Thursday, May 12.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 21, 2022

There will be plenty of rumors swirling about the schedule release, and there will be a full-blown hour long event as talking heads break down the schedule every which way, and sideways.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have statistically one of the easier schedules in the NFL, based on 2021 winning percentage. But if anyone knows how things can change dramatically in one year’s time, it’s the Steelers.

Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, what do you look for when the schedule is released? Prime time games? The bye week? As for me, I always look to see if the Steelers play on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas as I can’t stand having to write/podcast over the holidays.

Let us know what you look for in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

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