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What happened to the Steelers’ 2015 draft class?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft at the end of the month, let’s look at how some of the Steelers’ drafts played out.

The 2021 NFL draft is now only three weeks away. Each week leading up to the draft, we are going to dive into an NFL draft class starting with the Steelers 2004 NFL draft. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers will be highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. As we get to more recent years, some will be combined as many of those draft choices are still with the Steelers.

Part 12 of 15 will highlight the Steelers 2015 NFL draft, where after five seasons no players remain on the Steelers roster.

So let’s take a look at the eight players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL draft:

Bud Dupree Outside linebacker, Kentucky

Round 1
Pick 22

After six seasons with the Steelers, Dupree’s time in the Steel City has just come to an end. Signing a five-year contract with the Tennessee Titans for an average of $16.5 million per season, Dupree was one of the higher paid free agent acquisitions in the 2021 offseason despite never making a Pro Bowl. Taking some time to get warmed up in Pittsburgh, Dupree did not offer much to the Steelers in his first two seasons. Starting 15 games in his third year in 2017, Dupree managed 6.0 sacks on the season. In year four, Dupree began to see a slight increase in production when he was moved from the left side to the right side of the defense. With the Steelers picking up Dupree‘s fifth year option, many Steelers fans thought it was not a wise decision. But Dupree had a great 2019 season where he started every game and notched 11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three passes defensed, 17 quarterback hits, and 16 tackles for loss. Dupree was well on his way to another outstanding season in 2021 when an ACL injury cut his season short in the 11th game. Still, Dupree had 8.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed, 15 quarterback hits, and eight tackles for loss. While Dupree’s production took off towards the end of his time in Pittsburgh, he simply became a player the Steelers could not afford, especially with All Pro T.J. Watt also playing the position.

Senquez Golson Cornerback, Mississippi

Round 2
Pick 56

It’s one of the more sad stories towards the top of the NFL draft when it comes to Senquez Golson. Known for his durability in college, Golson never could get going in the NFL due to injuries. In 2015, it was a shoulder injury during training camp which put him on season ending IR. In 2016, it was a Lisfranc injury early in training camp. While the Steelers were hopeful Golson could return during the season, he was not able to and was placed on IR in October. As the Steelers continued to sign and draft cornerbacks, Golson was fighting for a spot by 2017. On the first day of training camp, Golson was injured yet again and did not appear in any of the Steelers preseason games. Released as a part of roster cut downs, Golson did land on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad in November 2017, but only lasted one week. After a brief time on the Oakland Raiders offseason roster, Golson was released prior to making it to training camp and has not played professional football since.

Sammie Coats Wide receiver, Auburn

Round 3
Pick 87

Another less tragic story about how injuries affected players career comes with wide receiver Sammie Coats. Only appearing in six games his rookie season where he had one reception for 11 yards, Coats appeared to be ready to take the next step in his second season. With solid production through his first four games of 2016, Coats had a six receptions, 139 yard, two touchdown performance in Week 5 against the New York Jets. Unfortunately, these would be the only two touchdowns of Coats’s career as he suffered a hand injury during the game which affected his ability to catch. But rather than have the issue taken care of, Coats continued to play the next nine games but only had two receptions for 14 yards. After being inactive in Week 16 and not seeing the field in Week 17, Coats saw primarily special teams snaps in the Steelers two playoff victories of the 2016 season. In the loss in the AFC championship game, Coats had two receptions for 34 yards which would be his last with the Steelers. Traded to the Cleveland Browns at the end of training camp in 2017, Coats went along with a seventh-round draft picks in return for a sixth-round selection. Coats only had six receptions for 70 yards in 12 games with the Browns, and was released in the offseason. Claimed off of waivers by the Houston Texans, Coats appeared in 12 games in 2018 but only had one reception for 12 yards before being released in December. Coats briefly landed in Kansas City in the 2019 offseason but was released following the NFL draft. Transitioning to the XFL as a member of the Houston Roughnecks, Coats played in four games and had six receptions for 61 yards but on 19 targets. Coach recently signed a contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League for the 2021 season.

Doran Grant Cornerback, Ohio St.

Round 4
Pick 121

Failing to make the 53-man roster, Grant landed on the Steelers practice squad to start his rookie season. Prior to Week 9, Grant was promoted to the active roster where we spent the remainder of the season. Appearing in three games, Grant only played one defensive snap. The following season, Grant failed to make the active roster yet again and landed on the Buffalo Bills practice squad for a week. After a stop on the practice squad of the New York Giants, Grant landed on Jacksonville’s practice squad where he remained until the end of the season and signed a Reserve/Future contract. To start the 2017 season, Grant was placed on the Reserve/Injured list and was released in mid September. Grant then found his way onto the Chicago Bears practice squad where he remained for the entire season and the 2018 offseason. Failing to make the team in 2018, Grant played with the Atlanta Legends of the AAF in 2019 and the DC Defenders of the XFL in 2020. Grant signed with Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, but opted out his contract when the CFL canceled the 2020 season.

Jesse James Tight end, Penn St.

Round 5
Pick 160

Making the 53-man roster as a rookie, Jesse James did not appear in a regular-season game until November. In eight games as a rookie, James had eight receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. Playing every game of the next three seasons, James had a total of 120 regular-season receptions for 1,189 yards at nine touchdowns in Pittsburgh while adding another 13 receptions for 171 yards in six playoff games. Signing a four year, $22.6 million contract with the Detroit Lions in 2019, James saw his production take a major hit as the Lions also drafted tight end T.J. Hockenson with the eighth pick of the 2019 NFL draft. With only 16 receptions for 142 yards his first year in Detroit, James did have two touchdowns in his second season but only 14 receptions and 129 yards. Despite not missing a game, James simply didn’t factor much into the Lions’ game plan. He was released by Detroit this past March prior to the start of the 2021 league year and is currently a free agent.

L.T. Walton Defensive tackle, Central Michigan

Round 6
Pick 199

As much as the Steelers had earlier draft picks who did not make the 53-man roster to start the season, players further down the draft board managed to make the team. L.T. Walton made the 53-man roster his rookie season and appeared in six games. Playing in 10 games his second season, Walton started the last four games of the regular season filling in for an injured Cam Hayward. Walton also started two of the three Steelers postseason games in the 2016 season. In four years with the Steelers, Walton played in 40 games where he had 2.0 sacks and 26 tackles along with three passes defensed. Walton also had a fumble recovery in the Steelers Wildcard victory over the Miami Dolphins during the 2016 postseason. Signing with the Bills for 2019, Walton did not make the roster in Buffalo. He was re-signed by the Steelers in October 2019 following the season-ending injury to Stephon Tuitt. Walton was also placed on injured reserve in November without appearing in a game for the Steelers. Walton did not play in the NFL during the 2020 season and is currently not on any roster.

Anthony Chickillo Outside linebacker, Miami (FL)

Round 6
Pick 212

Not initially on the Steelers 53-man roster his rookie season, Anthony Chickillo made it on the Steelers practice squad for the first few weeks of 2015. Called up to the active roster at the end of September, Chickillo appeared in seven games as a rookie. Used primarily as a special teams player and rotational outside linebacker, Chickillo was signed as an exclusive rights free agent in 2017 and was given an original round tender as a restricted free agent in 2018. The Steelers signed Chickillo to a two-year, $8 million contract for 2019. After being arrested for a domestic dispute in October, Chickillo spent eight days on the Exempt/Commissioners Permission List. Appearing at 11 games with only 0.5 sacks, Chickillo was released in the offseason and signed with the New Orleans Saints for 2020. Failing to make the team, Chickillo was signed to the practice squad only to be poached a few weeks later by the Denver Broncos. Chickillo ended the season in Denver playing in 11 games with one sack, one pass defensed, and 11 tackles. Chickillo is currently a free agent heading into the 2021 season.

Gerod Holliman Safety, Louisville

Round 7
Pick 239

Holliman failed to make the Steelers 53-man roster his rookie season, nor did he make the practice squad. It wasn’t until the very end of December in 2015 when Holliman was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad and then given a Reserve/Future contract for the following season. Unfortunately, Holliman never made it to training camp with Tampa Bay as he was released following the 2016 NFL draft and did not land with another NFL squad. In 2017, Holliman joined the Columbus Lions of the National Arena League where he still plays.

Podcast: The state of the 2021 QB class, according to the principal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 11:00am

BTSC breaks down what the Steelers’ draft needs from specific universities before the NFL Draft

With NFL Draft talk rising towards the forefront, the Steelers have a lot of needs. One of them might be at quarterback according to who you ask. It’s possible that Kevin Colbert and company try to trade up or look for value in the later rounds of the draft. The team that gave you “Know Your Enemy” welcomes in experts from the college ranks to discuss their school’s draft prospects and how they would fit with the black-and-gold. This and much more will be pondered on the latest episode from the BTSC family of podcasts, “The Curtain Call” when Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict welcome J.T. O’Sullivan, former NFL quarterback and the creator of the acclaimed J.T. O’Sullivan Quarterback School, to talk the fit of QB prospects to the Steelers and the overall state of the Steelers at the position.

  • News and Notes
  • Special Guest J.T. O’Sullivan
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael and Geoffrey walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

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

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

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Part 2:

Teven Jenkins is versatile and physical, but is he an option for the Steelers in Round 1?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 10:00am
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

For teams who are looking for an offensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft, Teven Jenkins might be a prospect to keep an eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at an offensive tackle in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current offensive line depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.

Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but after players like Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater, there are a lot of talented tackles who could be available to the Steelers at pick No. 24.

There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a tackle to bolster their offensive line depth in 2021, and if Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins is available when the Steelers pick, is he an option as a first round talent?

I did some digging on Jenkins, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.

Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Jenkins. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!

Let us know your thoughts on Jenkins 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 new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Draft Profiles The Draft Network

Playing in 37 career games (35 starts) at Oklahoma State, Teven Jenkins experienced time at right guard, left tackle, and right tackle. With a bulk of his experience coming at right tackle, he blossomed during his final two seasons. Playing in the first eight games of the season, he elected to opt out after suffering what was reported as lower back issues. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound fifth-year senior offensive tackle is a top-heavy blocker that has experienced success in the team’s Air Raid offense. A quick setter that’s prone to take horizontal pass sets, he’s created a habit of establishing quick wins by striking his hands and controlling defenders. As a run blocker, he’s able to create considerable amounts of movement when able to gain momentum prior to engagement points. A well above average finisher, Jenkins is the type of offensive lineman that attempts to humiliate players in the opposite color jersey. The echo of the whistle doesn’t slow down his process and he continues on with his process until he wants to conclude. Jenkins’ athleticism and lack of overall range may create questions about his potential at offensive tackle and there will be some teams who grade him as a guard as a result. Jenkins will have a strong chance of being the first offensive lineman drafted from the program since Russell Okung (2010).

Ideal Role: Developmental offensive tackle that could eventually turn into a starter at tackle or guard.

Scheme Fit: Man/Gap/Power.

Fan Nation

Height: 6’5”
Weight: 317 lbs.
Class: Senior (red shirt)
School: Oklahoma State


Jenkins opted out of the final two Oklahoma State games to focus on the NFL Draft and the upcoming Senior Bowl. However, Jenkins ended up pulling out of the Senior Bowl event; it’s unclear if it’s injury-related.


He is a mean tackle with good overall size and bulk through his body but adequate length with solid overall athletic traits. Jenkins is patient as a blocker and has solid foot quickness to get into his vertical sets—he’s got enough fluidity, albeit not elite.

He plays with an excellent attitude and wants to run through opponents’ faces. He does a very good job getting his vice grips inside and exploding through his body while churning his legs on contact.

He sticks his control hand into the breastplate of defenders while using excellent grip strength to control. He positions himself well in the run game; frames blocks, plays with solid leverage and has enough athleticism to execute reach/stretch types of blocks.

Does a good job in deuce situations and transitions well—solid ability to locate defenders at the second level. He can lean a bit when moving laterally, which hinders his typically good balance.

He uses very good core strength to initiate contact and turn his body to create a seal against containing defenders on the line of scrimmage. He has a ton of power in his upper body and tosses defenders out of holes; he does a great job finishing blocks almost to an embarrassing level for the defender.

He has enough foot quickness to be a solid pass protector, but his length is somewhat an issue. Jenkins does a good job attacking the control arm of defenders in pass protection, limiting their space and making the longer defenders shorter. Jenkins shows good reactionary quickness and ability to handle attempted counter moves in this area.

His anchor ability is good; he sinks his lower body, plays with a firm base, has controlled speed to power moves through most of his career (Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins exposed this on a play in 2019).

Pewter Report

Jenkins is one of those prospects that changes your mind about it being “boring” to scout offensive linemen. I didn’t need any convincing, as it’s one of my favorite positions to study on tape, but Jenkins is a bar room brawler who tries to bring the pain on every rep. The root of football is grounded in physicality, and Jenkins embodies that mindset on every snap.

In his matchup against consensus top 50 edge defender Joseph Ossai from Texas, Jenkins was the dominant winner, putting Texas defenders on the ground all afternoon. He slammed Ossai in the play above, but even on plays where he wasn’t finishing like a mad man, Jenkins was getting the job done. The most undersold aspect of Jenkins game is explosiveness. He might not be the most tool-sy or athletic tackle in the class, but Jenkins checks the box in the areas that matter most for offensive linemen: explosive, short-area movements and body control.


By now you’ve probably seen the rumors that Jenkins’ arms might be under 33 inches long, but the offensive tackle told me on Friday that his arms measured 33 3/8 inches at the EXOS pro day on February 26. That’s a great sign for his hopes of remaining at tackle in the NFL, as sub-33 inches likely would have fallen short of every NFL team’s threshold for tackles.

Still, Jenkins’ lack of length is going to concern some teams at tackle, and there are occasions where it shows up on his college tape. He’s so good with his hands that I’d definitely still start him out at tackle in the NFL, but even if he’s good there, it’s very possible that Jenkins could be a Tier 1 guard in the NFL. His biggest concerns at tackle are going to be change-of-direction and length, and neither of those issues are as likely to be exposed on the interior.

Jenkins reminds me a lot of former Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, an excellent college tackle who would probably have been a very good tackle in the NFL, but was one of the best guards in the league for over a decade instead. I’m not saying Jenkins is quite on Yanda’s level, as the 2020 retiree will likely receive some Hall of Fame consideration, but Jenkins’ ceiling at guard is pretty high. He could be a special player there with some time to transition to a new spot.

However, there is more money, value and greater need at tackle in the NFL, and I would absolutely feel comfortable using a top-32 pick on Jenkins to play that position.

Breakdowns Game Film Other Breakdowns






A QB who can run would benefit the Steelers’ offense in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Whenever the Steelers decide to get the QB to replace Ben Roethlisberger, finding a mobile signal caller will be important.

With Ben Roethlisberger returning as the starting quarterback for the Steelers in 2021, changes in the team’s offense will likely be subtle. New coordinator Matt Canada may bring more shifts and motions to the table and will likely try to convince Roethlisberger to use more play-action and personnel groupings than he has in the past. But, for the most part, the offense will still rely upon Roethlisberger’s ability to throw the football from the pocket as its primary mode of attack.

I don’t know what the Steelers have in mind for their post-Roethlisberger offense, but, with the future Hall-of-Famer now 39 years old, they will need to turn their attention soon to finding his successor. Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins are the current backups. One or both may be given a shot to claim the starting job when Roethlisberger steps away. It is unlikely, however, that either is the long-term solution. Given how a new wave of young, mobile quarterbacks are reshaping the position, my hope is the Steelers will find a player who, in addition to being a proficient passer, is athletic enough to incorporate more quarterback run schemes into the offense when they decide on his replacement.

Often, when a suggestion like this is made, skeptics offer two criticisms. First, that a player like Lamar Jackson is required to conduct such an offense. And second, that this approach is reckless because it subjects quarterbacks to unnecessary hits and increases their potential for injury. Run the guy with the nine-figure contract so safeties and linebackers can tee off on him in the open field? Sure. That’s a great idea.

There are two problems with these criticisms. First, while Jackson is perhaps the best runner at the quarterback position in the history of the game, it does not require a player like Jackson to make quarterback runs effective. It doesn’t even require Kyler Murray or Cam Newton. Players like Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill are all effective runners. Those players, while not exceptionally fast or elusive, are mobile enough to exploit a defense that fails to account for them as run threats.

As for injuries, yes, in theory, the more a quarterback runs, the more likely he is to get hit. Dallas’s Dak Prescott saw his 2020 season end when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury on a designed run. Prescott’s injury, however, was no worse than Joe Burrow’s, who tore his ACL after getting rolled up on while stationary in the pocket, or Roethlisberger’s, who missed most of 2019 after suffering a non-contact throwing injury. Quarterbacks are well-protected by the rules of the game these days and are learning to minimize the hits they take by knowing when to slide and when to get out of bounds. A quarterback in the open field will always be a target. But he is harder to hit, and in some ways better protected, than one standing still in the pocket.

Additionally, as younger coordinators migrate up from the college ranks, where quarterback runs are common, the schemes are coming with them. Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury, Baltimore’s Greg Roman, Buffalo’s Brain Daboll, Carolina’s Joe Brady and, of course, Matt Canada all worked in the college ranks before coming to the NFL. Plus, quarterbacks reaching the NFL these days are trained more on read-options and pocket movement from the shotgun than on seven-step drops from under center. The game is changing, and pro offenses are changing with it.

As evidence, consider the following from @SharpFootball’s Warren Sharp. Total rushing yards by quarterbacks were at a record-high in 2020, eclipsing 2,000 yards for the first time. Those numbers are skewed a bit by Jackson, who accounted for nearly half of them. But the broader trend shows how quarterbacks have been used increasingly as rushing threats, especially in the last five years:

An even more telling statistic shows the increase in rushing touchdowns by quarterbacks. Those numbers have exploded the past few seasons, with the 2020 total blowing away the previous numbers:

Defenses get so used to playing 11-on-10 on run plays, relying on the plus-one advantage they gain when a quarterback hands the ball off and then becomes a spectator, that they often fail to account for him as a potential run threat. This is especially prevalent in the red zone, where defenders are often locked in man-to-man coverage with their backs turned to the quarterback or where they are loaded up between the tackles to stop the inside run. In both instances, they are susceptible to a running quarterback.

Here are some examples of how quarterbacks can be used in the run game, particularly as red zone threats. First, we see Houston’s Deshaun Watson. This is a 4th and 1 play where the Texans put two tight ends on the field, suggesting some sort of power run. Houston dials up an inside zone play but they do it as a read-option, allowing Watson to diagnose the edge player (indicated by the arrow in the photo below) and give or pull the ball based on his reaction:

Their smart use of 12 personnel employs one tight end (Jordan Akins, #88) as a fullback and another (Darren Fells, #87) split wide to create a blocking advantage against the corner to the boundary. Watson sees the edge defender bite on the inside run fake, pulls the ball and is escorted to the alley by Akins. Meanwhile, Fells wipes out the corner and gets a piece of the safety in the process. Watson uses his athleticism to finish the run in the end zone:

This is a nice play design, but it does benefit from the fact that Watson is one of the more elite athletes playing quarterback in the NFL these days. Let’s look at a player not quite on his level. Buffalo’s Josh Allen is a huge man at 6’5-237 but he moves well enough that the Bills have run him 300 times for 1,562 yards in his 44 NFL starts. That’s an average of 35 yards rushing per start. It’s not a crazy number but it’s more than enough to force a defense to account for him.

Here’s a great example of how the Bills use Allen as a red zone run threat. With a 2nd and 5 from the +6 yard line, Buffalo gets into one of my favorite formations: nub-trips (or, more specifically, trips to one side with an attached tight end to the other). I won’t list all of the reasons I love this set, but the Bills demonstrate one of them. The condensed edge to the tight end side creates a scenario where a cornerback must become the force player against an off-tackle run. By using Allen as a ball-carrier, Buffalo gets a numbers advantage into the boundary with the added benefit of running at the corner:

The corner (indicated by the arrow) must become the force player on this QB sweep by the Bills.

This is too easy. Buffalo pulls the center and play-side guard while leading with the back as well. The guard wipes out the corner while the back shields Allen from the safety. Touchdown, Bills:

A mobile quarterback can also be advantageous in unscripted situations. As mentioned above, when defenders lock on in man coverage they are forced to turn their backs on the quarterback to run with receivers. This delays their reaction time against the run since they cannot see the QB leave the pocket. In the GIF below, Dak Prescott takes advantage of such a situation.

The Cowboys call a bootleg from the +8 yard line. Miami’s edge player bites on the run fake, allowing Prescott to get outside the pocket. When the safety runs with tight end Jason Witten (82) in coverage, it opens up a huge alley through which Prescott escapes into the end zone:

Here’s a similar scenario involving New York’s Daniel Jones. Watch the middle of the field open like the Red Sea on this 4th and 5 play. The Giants, anticipating Tampa will be in man coverage, run a series of man-beating horizontal routes that draw the secondary towards the numbers. Tampa loses the integrity of their pass rush lanes, allowing Jones to exit the pocket into a pasture of green grass in the middle of the field:

No one will ever confuse Jones with Jackson or Murray. But he is athletic enough for the Giants to get creative with him as a runner. They predominantly use Jones on designed runs to the edge like this one, where he has plenty of space to slide or run out of bounds to avoid taking a hit (here, he simply uses his speed to outrace a defender to the end zone):

The play above looks a lot like a Matt Canada design. It involves a condensed formation, horizontal motion and a ball fake to attack the open grass. Canada will not be able to use these concepts with Roethlisberger. And, while younger and more mobile, neither Rudolph nor Haskins are especially athletic outside the pocket. But Canada doesn’t need a Jackson or a Murray to run his quarterback effectively. Jacoby Brissett, who has never been considered a “running” quarterback, rushed for 902 yards in two seasons with Canada at NC State. A merely decent athlete would allow Canada to get creative with the QB run game.

None of this is to suggest the Steelers should build their offense around a running quarterback the way Baltimore has. The NFL is a passing league and any team who struggles in that area will find themselves limited (as evidence, look at what’s happened to the Ravens in the post-season the past few years). The league’s best offenses supplement successful passing with efficient running. And, more and more, they use their quarterback as a run option to increase efficiency, particularly in the red zone.

The Steelers were a good red zone team in 2020, finishing 8th in the league in scoring percentage. They were woeful in 2019 without Roethlisberger, however, finishing dead last. Once Roethlisberger is gone, it’s likely they’ll have to find more creative ways to score. Designed runs with the quarterback are proving to be an effective way to do so.

Nearly all the top QB prospects in the upcoming draft are mobile. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance can all move effectively. Only Alabama’s Mac Jones resembles the stationary pocket passers who once defined the position. That generation, led by Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Roethlisberger, is quickly fading away. In its place is a new breed of quarterbacks who, in addition to being accomplished passers, are trained to play with their legs. In their search for an heir to Roethlisberger, the Steelers should seek a quarterback who is first and foremost an elite passer. But to unlock the true potential of Matt Canada’s offense, they would be wise to target one who can run the football as well.

Podcast: The Steelers still have roster options for 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 8:25am

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

The Steelers have made moves in the 2021 offseason and holes still exist. But so do plenty of roster options. Plus, two more players get added to the big board. Join BTSC’s Matt Peverell for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

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

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

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You can listen to the show in the player below.

If reports are true, the Steelers simply didn’t want Steven Nelson for 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The player with the biggest free agent deal in Steelers history wasn’t asked to change anything with his 2021 contract.

On Friday, March 19, news broke of the Pittsburgh Steelers allowing starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade. The move seemed to catch numerous Steelers fans off guard as they were enjoying quality cornerback play the like they had not seen for several seasons. By the following Tuesday, Nelson was granted his release and is currently a street free agent.

So what exactly happened to cause the parting of ways between Nelson and the Steelers? Many assumed, me included, the two sides were working out changes in his contract for 2021 and simply didn’t see eye-to-eye. It was a logical conclusion as the Steelers were needing to reduce their salary cap and Nelson was a prime candidate for a contract extension.

This appears to not be the case.

In a recent interview on the “Movin’ the Chains” podcast with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on SiriusXM Radio, Nelson opened up about his departure from Pittsburgh. One of the revelations of the situation according to Nelson was there was no effort from the Steelers to change anything about Nelson’s contract prior to informing him to seek a trade and then granting his release. I was able to have Steven Nelson personally confirm this to me that this was the situation.

Here is how Nelson explained the situation on “Movin’ the Chains” on Tuesday.

“It came down to me being traded, or being released, and I just want to make it very clear, to those out there who might not know or are assuming, that there was never a discussion with me being able to get take a pay cut,” Nelson explained. “I was never even given that opportunity to take a pay cut. It was either trade or release. I just want to clear that up.”

What Nelson failed to explain was if he would have been willing to take the pay cut he was not offered. Of course, we will never know if the Steelers simply chose to move on from Nelson and not work out his contract in any way. Based on other portions of the interview with Nelson, it appears unlikely he would have been on board with taking a pay cut as he feels he has over-performed his contract with the Steelers over the past two seasons.

“I felt, and also my agent felt, that we were due an extension due to the fact that I had outplayed my current contract for the past two years,” Nelson explained. “Given that where the corner market is, there was a lot of high cap numbers on the team going into the offseason. Everybody can put two and two together. Somebody like myself, in my prime, would have thought to help that situation, and an extension would at least be at the front of the line for discussion. But it clearly didn’t go that way for whatever reason. The Steelers wanted to move a different way and thought I was expendable in my prime via trade.”

Although the Steelers made the decision to move on, Nelson believes he has more than proved himself to be deserving of a sizable contract with another NFL franchise.

“I know my value.” Nelson stated. “I know my worth. I just turned 28. Being a five-year starter, a proven starter. I’ve played over a thousand snaps, maybe the only corner who has played a thousand snaps in the last three years. If you’re talking durability and what teams want, you know what you’re going to get.”

According to Nelson, there are a number of teams who understand the value he brings enough to at least inquire about his services.

“I don’t what to put out the exact teams, but let’s just say about a third of the NFL, a lot of corner-needed teams, have reached out,” Nelson stated.

Even though things didn’t work out in the end with the Steelers, Nelson does not hold a grudge against the franchise for having to do what they did in a salary-cap-strapped season.

“I have no ill will towards the Steelers,” Nelson confessed. “It is what it is. You can’t cry over spilled milk. They made their decision, I’m a man about it, and we move on. I wish them the best.”

So it appears the book on Steven Nelson in Pittsburgh has been closed. Exactly what the Steelers thought process is has not yet been explained, and likely never will. Perhaps it was strictly a numbers game as the Steelers would have been on the hook to pay Nelson $8.25 million for 2021. Perhaps it was that the Steelers felt bringing back Cam Sutton fit more in line with their defensive philosophy. Perhaps the Steelers felt that Nelson believed he carried more monetary value than what they were willing to pay for his services despite not even having a discussion. Perhaps it was simply a “cost above replacement” move.

As much as Nelson’s interview answered some questions, it raised even more. But at this point in the 2021 offseason, and with Steven Nelson a free agent, these simply aren’t questions which will make any difference to the 2021 Steelers when it comes to taking the field this fall. Instead, it’s simply “next man up” at the cornerback position.

Steven Nelson‘s entire interview on “Movin’ the Chains” can be heard here:

Check out my podcast, The Source with Steven Nelson , on Anchor!

Full interview from @SiriusXMNFL for all you hungry listeners. #Boom

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) April 7, 2021

Why I like to wait until the final month to start really getting into Steelers draft talk

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/08/2021 - 6:00am
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always smart to wait until the final month to talk about the Steelers’ draft needs.

We’ve finally hit the month of April, and the 2021 NFL Draft is now just over three weeks away.

It was about two weeks ago that I finally got off my butt (or, more accurately, planted it in front of my laptop) and started to really get into the prospects and who I thought the Steelers might select with the 24th pick. When it comes to that, you might say I’m lazy, but I like to think I’m a man of my word. You see, it’s my approach to draft coverage each year and always will be.

I’m very honest about my routine and have lots of reasons for this policy.

For one thing, even after the Steelers’ season officially ends, I still stay super focused on the NFL playoffs, a tournament that often isn’t over until a month later. For another thing, I love football; I look forward to the start of each season the way kids do their summer vacations. I just hate to see the football season end, and I want to squeeze every last ounce of excitement out of it while I can—even if the Steelers aren’t main characters in the final chapters.

Third, except for a few prospects, the stocks of these guys rise and fall so much between early January and the actual draft, I figure there is no point in paying attention until around now—and even now, it’s like trying to gauge the local daily weather forecast by watching all three news affiliates. Have you seen these big boards? Have you seen where Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is ranked on all of them? He’s all over the place. He’s up; he’s down. That goes for a lot of these guys; trying to predict where most will go is akin to attempting to catch a butterfly on a windy day.

Fourth—and this might be the most important reason of all to wait—no matter which answer I come up with for the “So, who do you think the Steelers will draft?” question, there is always backlash—especially on the Internet. I know what you might be thinking. Sure, arguing about sports with your friends is fun, but the Internet is so not your friend. My friends don’t say things like, “Your opinion is trash; it’s garbage. It’s both trash and garbage at the same time, which I never knew was possible.” “I used to love coming to your house, but I rarely want to hang out here anymore, because your opinions are nothing but garbage.” “I don’t know who owns this house, these days, but they should be embarrassed at what a dump it has turned into.”

Also, your friends don’t call you from burner phones and use aliases as they badger you for a month over an opinion you may have had about a center.

And, of course, you don’t have to take restraining orders out on your friends or ban them from your home after your latest mock draft.

So, no, it’s not quite the same as arguing about sports with your friends.

Fifth—and this might be the most sensible reason to wait—the first major wave of free agency often has a way of narrowing down the direction the Steelers may go in the draft.

For example, after the Steelers signed Eric Ebron last year to be their number two tight end opposite Vance McDonald, you could accurately assume the position was off their draft board. Sure enough, they didn’t select one at all.

This year, after the Steelers made no major free-agent moves, you can point to six positions—offensive tackle, center, running back, tight end, inside linebacker and even cornerback—as possible round-one targets. No, free agency didn’t answer many questions for the Steelers, but now that we know that, we can research their draft needs with a much broader scope than we did last year.

In conclusion, I realize I still might have to deal with all the aforementioned pre-draft annoyances—especially those pesky restraining orders. However, by waiting, I only have to do so for the final month.

That, my friend, is the best draft value.


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