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HIGHLIGHTS: Heyward Sacks in 2017

Steelers.com Videos - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 6:55am
Cameron Heyward led the Steelers with 12 sacks in the 2017 NFL season.

Steelers-By-Position: D-Line

Steelers.com News - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 6:30am
The defensive linemen have evolved into pass rushers, but stopping the run is important, too.

Art Rooney II hits nail on the head when pinpointing Steelers’ on-field area of improvement

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 5:36am

Every year the man who signs the checks lays out a plan to improve the team, and he hit this year’s plan out of the ball park.

Since taking over as the Pittsburgh Steelers President, Art Rooney II has done a couple things at the end of each season. First, he holds a question-and-answer style meeting with local media, and he always lays out what he thinks the team can improve on during the upcoming season.

In the past he has made suggestions like having to pressure the opposing quarterback better, protecting Ben Roethlisberger and even running the football more.

All were spot on, but I can’t think of a better area for improvement heading into 2018 than what Rooney suggested at this year’s media session.

The Red Zone.

The Steelers’ offense ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in red-zone efficiency, finishing No. 22 in touchdowns scored inside the 20.

For an offense which has Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a stellar offensive line, those numbers are flat-out pathetic.

Want to know the difference between success and failure? Look at the red-zone. The top three teams in red-zone touchdown conversions in 2017? The Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Yeah, those three teams were either in the Super Bowl, or playing on Conference Championship Sunday.

The Steelers had no problem moving the football, but in what had become a mark of the Todd Haley era, the offense stalled when it mattered most. Chris Boswell, although tremendous, was used too often to boot field goals rather than extra points.

Rooney sees this, but also wants to keep things in perspective.

“I think over the course of the season, we felt like we could be better on third-down conversions and red-zone conversions,” Rooney said during an interview with reporters. “But, overall, I think it’s one of those years where we’ve got to look at everything and try to figure out where we can get better.

“I don’t think there’s anything that kind of really sticks out in the way maybe that decision was made.”

The “change” Rooney spoke of was not retaining Todd Haley, but promoting Randy Fichtner to the team’s offensive coordinator job.

“I think that there are times when it makes sense to make a change, and so that decision was made” Rooney said. “I thought Todd brought a lot to us, and we had some success while he was here. Hopefully, we can build on some of that going forward. Our new coordinator is very familiar to everybody, so it’s not like we’re making major changes, and I think under the circumstances, that’s appropriate.”

These statistics, courtesy of Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, are telling:

The Steelers’ scoring percentage inside the 20 dropped from 59.18 in 2016 to 50.79 last season. This despite the Steelers having 3.9 red-zone scoring attempts per game, which ranked third in the NFL behind New England and the Los Angeles Rams.

The Steelers also regressed in goal-to-go situations, dropping from No. 2 (85 percent) in 2016 to No. 11 (75.8 percent) in 2017.

In Haley’s six seasons, the Steelers never finished higher than No. 10 in red-zone percentage. He also clashed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and recently had his third-down play-calling questioned by running back Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers will turn to Randy Fichtner (and by proxy, Roethlisberger) to get the Steelers’ offense straightened out, especially in the red-zone. If they can improve in this area, it might be a key factor in whether we see the team playing for Super Bowl No. 7, or watch someone else hoist the Lombardi trophy yet again.

HIGHLIGHTS: Best of Tuitt in 2017

Steelers.com Videos - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 4:55am
Watch some of the best plays from Stephon Tuitt's 2017 season.

After several changes, an updated list of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 4:41am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen more coaching turnover than normal. We give you the updated coaching staff...for now.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are usually the picture of stability, especially when it comes to their coaching staff. However, the team certainly has had more coaching change heading into the 2018-2019 season than most.

While all die hard fans keep their fingers on the pulse of the Steelers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, there are some who might have missed some news. For those people I felt it would be beneficial to update the team’s coaching staff after several changes have been made.

The question now is, will this be the coaching staff on Week 1 of the 2018 regular season? At this point there are a few question marks, but it is looking more and more like this is the staff to hopefully take the team to Super Bowl No. 7 for the black-and-gold.

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
Assistant Head Coach: John Mitchell Offense:

Offensive Coordinator: Randy Fichtner
Quarterbacks Coach: Randy Fichtner
Wide Receivers Coach: Darryl Drake
Offensive Line Coach: Mike Munchak
Running Backs Coach: James Saxon
Tight Ends Coach: James Daniel

Defense:

Defensive Coordinator: Keith Butler
Defensive Line Coach: Karl Dunbar
Secondary Coach: Tom Bradley
Inside Linebackers Coach: Jerry Olsavsky
Outside Linebackers Coach: Joey Porter

Special Teams:

Special Teams Coordinator: Danny Smith

Steelers' 2018 schedule ranks 25th toughest in the NFL

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 4:26pm

The Steelers’ 2018 schedule is not complete with dates and times yet, but we know many of the opponents aren’t very good. 

Have the Steelers’ coaching changes been enough to fix the issues?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:25pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made some coaching changes in the past few weeks, but have they been enough to make a difference?

Many predicted this would happen, even after Mike Tomlin declared his entire defensive coaching staff would remain intact. Coaching changes had to be made, and the Steelers have made several since their sickening loss to the Jaguars at Heinz Field in the AFC Playoffs.

OUT: Todd Haley
IN: Randy Fichtner

OUT: Carnell Lake
IN: Tom Bradley

OUT: John Mitchell
IN: Karl Dunbar

OUT: Richard Mann
IN: Darryl Drake

For the Steelers, this is a lot of change in their coaching staff, and while fans pour over these coaches’ individual pasts to see how they can impact the Steelers next season, I ask if the moves made were enough?

In other words, while more moves could be made, should there be other coaches who aren’t asked back, are asked to retire, or are just shown the door and told not to look back?

The first person to draw the ire of the fan base would be a former player who used to make them cheer — Joey Porter. Porter coaches the outside linebackers, but has failed to truly develop players like Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree and many wonder what he will, or won’t, be able to do with the raw talent of T.J. Watt.

Porter isn’t alone. Danny Smith, although coming off a season where his special teams made more than enough plays, could be another coach who could be replaced. The thought of Chris Boswell’s poor onside kick(s) certainly comes to mind when thinking about the team’s overall special teams play.

Another former player, Jerry Olsavsky, coaches the inside linebackers, and the inability for the unit to withstand the loss of Ryan Shazier begs the question whether the team was leaning on Shazier’s freakish athleticism, the lack of depth was insufficient, or Olsavsky was somehow not capable of getting his players in position to make the plays necessary to have success?

John Mitchell wasn’t a problem along the defensive line. He is one of the most respected coaches within the Steelers’ organization, but what will his departure from the defensive line, and addition as an Assistant Head Coach, do to a team needing a swift kick in the derriere?

Either way you slice it, the Steelers needed to make changes, but have the changes made been the ones necessary to fix the issues both on and off the field?

Carnell Lake retired and Tom Bradley is filling his shoes, will this change lead to more inconsistent play in the back end of the defense, or be the beginning of a new secondary poised to make big plays for the defense?

Darryl Drake replaces legendary coach Richard Mann, and the question will be whether he will be able to bring a physical presence to the wide receiving corps without losing the traits Mann ingrained into the receivers minds regarding how to work the sideline, etc.?

I have long believed coaches can only do so much. As a coach, if you’ve coached at even the High School level, you realize this early on. Even the best plan, and adjustments, are pointless if your players are incapable of executing the plan to a ‘T’. While these coaching decisions may be a step in the right direction for the Steelers, only time will tell how they work out, and the most honest fan realizes more changes should be coming to help get the team over the proverbial hump standing in their way of Super Bowl No. 7.

By any means necessary

Steelers.com News - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 12:00pm
Offense got it done a variety of ways in 2017.

Experts predict the Steelers will franchise tag Le’Veon Bell, at least in the short term

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:22am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to have a difficult decision on their hands...

The ongoing discourse between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell has be interesting, to say the least. Pittsburgh openly stating they want to give Bell a long-term contract, and Bell discussing retirement as an option if the was given the franchise tag again for a second year.

The two parties reportedly set a February 20th deadline to reach a new deal, and this is an important date considering it is the first day NFL organizations can place the tag on players.

It is clear the two parties want to reach a long-term contract, but doing so is easier said than done. Bell wants to be paid as a top running back, and a number two receiver. After reportedly turning down a very lucrative, and fair, contract prior to the 2017 season, it forced the Steelers to pay him $12.1 million for one year of his service. Bell held out of all preseason activities, and he followed that up with a good season, staying healthy for the duration.

Will the Steelers finally be able to lock up Bell for more than just one year? Field Yates at ESPN gave his insight into the situation, playing GM for all 32 teams:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Running back Le’Veon Bell

While Bell at one point suggested he’d be disappointed if the Steelers franchised him again, it’s the starting point for Pittsburgh (with a price tag just north of $14.5 million). One factor in the decision on Bell is a team’s philosophy on paying running backs on long-term deals, as some believe the position is more replaceable than others. But letting Bell -- perhaps the league’s most complete back -- walk away would set back a high-octane offense.

Verdict: Use the tag on Bell, but aim for a long-term deal.

The prediction of using the franchise tag on Bell is far from a unique perspective, but what happens after this is what will truly be interesting. While the two sides want to get a deal done before ever being considered for the exclusive rights franchise tag, agreeing to terms on a long-term contract will be the true sticking point in the scenario.

If Pittsburgh uses the franchise tag to give them more time, but aren’t able to come to terms on a new contract, again, the team doesn’t have a ton of options. Yes, they could try to trade Bell, or they could call his bluff on his “retirement” talk and have him play the 2018-2019 season earning around $14.5 million dollars. Either way, a large portion of the salary cap will be devoted to Bell’s large salary.

The Steelers have already started freeing up some cap space, and most are assuming that is to make a serious run at giving Bell a contract which keeps him in Pittsburgh for several years; however, if 2017 taught us anything, it is talk is just talk, and getting a deal done will be more difficult than anyone is currently predicting.

Tom Bradley seems like a perfectly fine choice to be the Steelers next defensive backs coach

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 9:35am

Tom Bradley could be the perfect man to coach the Steelers secondary to a whole new level.

Back in the old days (for me, the '80's and 90's), you'd hear that the Steelers hired someone to coach a particular position on the team, and you'd just say, "Cool."

In-fact, those moves used to be so low-key and uneventful, sometimes, I wouldn't even know who coached, say, the special teams until I found his name in the annual team program.

Maybe my old-school nature caught up with me late last week, because when I heard that veteran coach Tom Bradley was hired on Thursday to take the place of Carnell Lake as Pittsburgh's defensive backs coach, I thought, "Cool."

Actually, my initial reaction was a little more positive, considering I was fully aware of Bradley's reputation as a bit of a defensive guru, thanks to his decades-long reign at Penn State as a, well, defensive guru.

Of course, the difference between the '80's and 90's, and the reactions these days to things like the hiring of position coaches, is the Internet.

Much like that draft pick you're initially excited about, after reading social media and even BTSC all day Friday, I was suddenly not as enthusiastic about Bradley's ability to coach up the Steelers young and, by all appearances, fairly talented secondary.

But then I turned away from the Internet and decided to use my common sense once again.

After all, if the Internet had its way, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would have done an extremely thorough search to find his next defensive backs coach. He would have examined every single candidate on the open market—and perhaps even tried to poach someone from another team.

Thankfully, position coaches are still hired basically like they were decades ago, as evidenced by Bradley getting the job one day after Lake announced his resignation.

But, in my admittedly amateur opinion, hiring Bradley to coach the secondary didn't seem like the kind of thing that required much thought.

We're talking about a guy who spent the past 39 years coaching just about everything on the college football level.

Most of those years were spent at Penn State, and most of Bradley's coaching focused on the defensive side of the football, where he spent the last 12 seasons there coordinating some of the best defensive units in the country.

But, make no mistake, Bradley's specialty was the secondary, a unit he oversaw from the mid-90's until the time he left the university.

If you're a Steelers defensive back (or a player at any position on Keith Butler's unit), you want access to Bradley's vast years of experience and knowledge.

People cite numbers, like the ones that were posted during Bradley's most-recent tenure as UCLA's defensive coordinator.

However, it's highly doubtful Bradley forgot how to coordinate a defense in such a short period of time.

It's more likely UCLA's issues had more to do with personnel than they had to do with the guy who was coaching it.

You might say it's a coach's job to coach up his players.

You don't think Bradley knows technique?

My God, he's been coaching that kind of stuff since Jimmy Carter was president.

Finally, the Steelers could have examined every possible candidate to coach their defensive backs, and it's highly unlikely they would have found a man with Tom Bradley's impressive credentials.

Give the guy a chance. He just might be the man to take the Steelers secondary, and by extension, the entire defense—to a whole new level.

Despite the lack of a championship, fans should trust the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 7:30am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team fans should trust to make the right decisions this off-season.

I know this won’t be a popular narrative among Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but I truly believe it. As the organization embarks on another off-season without a Super Bowl championship in tow, fans’ confidence in the team is at an all-time low.

I spoke about this not too long ago, but instead of just wondering where the swagger went, it’s also worth noting why fans should still have that swagger and how they should still trust the Steelers, even without a recent championship under their belt.

While some are disgusted with the Steelers’ salary-cap situation, no team is better at manipulating the cap than Pittsburgh. Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan know how to navigate the team through the rivers of salary-cap hell and get them safely to the other side.

When you look at the team’s current free-agent situation, only the signing of Le’Veon Bell, if the team chooses to do so, would be considered a high priority. And the team has already started moving money around to give them the flexibility to make the moves they deem necessary to win. On top of that, there’s no way they’re done moving money and freeing up more space this off-season.

When it comes to the addition of talent via the 2018 NFL Draft, let’s be honest. During the Tomlin and Colbert era, the team has had way more hits than strikeouts, to use the baseball analogy. Yes, there was Jarvis Jones and Limas Sweed, but there was also Cameron Heyward, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, David DeCastro and more! This team might take risks, and you may not agree with their draft philosophy, but they’ll act with due diligence, adding players with the talent to contribute — just look at the past two rookie classes for example.

If there’s been an Achilles heel for this front office, it would be free-agency. The Steelers almost always stay on the sideline, waiting for the feeding frenzy to die down before making moves—and some of those moves have done anything but work out. For every DeAngelo Williams and Joe Haden signing, there have been players like Ladarius Green and LeGarrette Blount. The team might like to go out and put their name in the hat for players like D’onta Hightower, but that’s generally not how the team operates. They are a homegrown organization, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.

So, let’s recap.

The Steelers are among the best at manipulating the salary cap and signing their own. They have a great track record in drafting players, and they’re batting about .500 when it comes to picking up new talent via free agency.

Okay, you take these givens and consider the holes needing filled on the the current roster and you see an organization more than capable of putting another Super Bowl-contending team on the field for the 2018-2019 season.

Yes, I realize the last two seasons have ended with gigantic thuds, but I also know this team wins, and eventually they’ll win when it counts. But will these big-game wins come next season? No one can answer that right now, but I certainly have faith in the organization to get the team back where they need to be.

After the dust of Super Bowl 52 has settled, where does James Harrison stand with Steelers fans?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 6:24am

With the Super Bowl now in the rear view mirror, it’s time to re-visit how Steelers fans feel about James Harrison.

In the lead-up to Super Bowl 52, James Harrison was a hot-button topic with Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Some had no problem with him leaving. After all the Steelers didn’t use him. But others saw his departure as a sign of treason, never to be forgiven.

But a lot has happened since then. Yes, Harrison played in the Super Bowl for the Patriots, but New England lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. This shouldn’t matter in how the black-and-gold fan base views Harrison, but it does.

When Harrison was asked at a media session about his legacy in Pittsburgh, his answer was:

“Ask Franco [Harris].”

Franco Harris finished his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, not the Steelers, but never played in a Super Bowl for Seattle and never had teammates bad-mouth him publicly about the behavior he exhibited prior to his departure.

Art Rooney II spoke about Harrison in his season-ending chat with local reporters, and he had the following to say about ‘Deebo’:

“We had discussions about James over the course of the season, and I’ll just say it was a disappointment,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told Bob Labriola of the team website. “James’ career here, I would have hoped to have it end a different way, so it was a disappointment that it turned out that way. I’ll say that there is probably blame on both sides of the fence on that one, but it’s the way it turned out. In terms of him going to New England, when you make a decision to let a player go, you know somebody can pick them up. You can’t sit here and worry too much about where he might go from here once you’ve made the decision. You are better off moving on.”

The Steelers moved on and so did Harrison, but has the fan base moved on? If Harrison decided to retire, would you embrace your No. 92 jersey with affection, or leave it in the closet never to be seen again? Would you cheer for him if/when he came back to be honored, or would you boo him for betraying the team and the fan base?

Harrison has said he doesn’t want to retire yet, stating he would like to play two or maybe three more seasons. No one knows where his next job will be, but how do you view Harrison’s Pittsburgh legacy right now? Vote in the poll below, and let us know in the comment section below!

Steelers 2018 Free Agent Market Watch: The Backup Quarterbacks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 5:46am

BTSC highlights the top free-agents at each position in 2018 and whether or not they might be considerations for the Steelers. Here are the top quarterbacks on the market.

Last year at this time, Ben Roethlisberger mentioned that he was going to explore all options in the off-season, including retirement, and the prospect of life-after-Ben became a possibility for the first time ever for some. This year, the feelings and indications of Ben returning are much more clear. Ben has confirmed that he will remain the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.

While drafting his successor is becoming more of a priority, acquiring the next starter through free agency is not. However, finding a better option to replace Ben if an injury occurs should be.

In this series, BTSC will go position by position and highlight some of the top free agents at each one to determine whether Pittsburgh is a possible place for any of them to land. This week, we’ll take a look at the quarterback position.

Since I don't consider established starters like Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and even Josh McCown realistic options for Pittsburgh, they won’t be highlighted here. Neither will Cincy RFA A.J. McCarron. The Steelers aren't going to throw their hat in the ring for a guy seeking starter money or one in exchange for which they’d have to surrender draft picks to a divisional rival. Instead, I’ll look at players that could serve as better backups than Landry Jones. I have serious doubts that Jones could do what Nick Foles did this year in relief. But the fact remains that, if Ben goes down, those games without him don't have to automatically be a lost cause. That’s why a solid backup could be a priority.

Here are the best free agent signal-callers available that might fit the Steelers bill.

1. Sam Bradford-Minnesota Vikings

The first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft has had a hard-luck NFL career. He's been besieged with injuries as a Ram, Eagle and Viking, derailing a promising career. In one start last year in Minnesota, the Oklahoma-alum had a completion percentage of 84.4, a QBR of 143.0 and three touchdowns against zero picks. For his career, Bradford is a 62.5% passer with 101 TDs against 57 interceptions. Trouble is, he’s been as fragile as an antique vase. Despite all of that baggage, the 31-year-old might be a solid option as Big Ben's backup and replacement for the guy who started after him in Norman.

2. Teddy Bridgewater-Minnesota Vikings

Another hard-luck guy is Bridgewater. I don't really see him as being much of an option for the Steelers and I envision him staying in the Twin Cities. When healthy enough his first two seasons, Bridgewater was 17-11 as a starter. But he hasn't started a game since 2015 and might be damaged goods at this point. The 25-year-old still has a chance to reclaim his spot as a starter in this league, but a backup stint might be where he needs to start his road back. If the money is right, he could be a steal.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fitzpatrick has a lot of experience as a starter in this league during his 13-year career. The Harvard grad is intelligent and a leader on the field, but his days as a starter seem behind him. The veteran of seven teams has a reputation as an interception machine, but career-wise, he has 173 TD passes against 136 INTs. As a sub for Jameis Winston in three games, Fitzpatrick threw for 1,103 yards, seven scores and three picks. If the 35-year-old wants a shot at a ring, he should seize an opportunity to play in Pittsburgh. Fitz would be a reliable option should Roethlisberger succumb to injury.

4. Geno Smith-New York Giants

Smith was projected to be a solid, dependable passer in the NFL, but the WVU product has had an unfortunate and tumultuous career, including his four years with the Jets and one with the Giants. He's battled injury and inconsistency in the pros, throwing 29 TDs against 36 picks while completing only 57.9% of his passes. The 28-year-old could benefit by playing under Big Ben, but he would come with a lot of worry and uncertainty, and might not even be an upgrade over Jones.

5. Blaine Gabbert- Arizona Cardinals

The 7-year veteran proved to be a capable backup for Arizona last season. The 28-year-old was 5-5 as a starter for the hard-luck Cardinals last year. He threw six for six scores and six to opposing defenders, but he gave the Cards a chance every time out.

Other Notable Free Agent Quarterbacks

Matt Moore-Miami Dolphins

Jay Cutler-Miami Dolphins

Derek Anderson-Carolina Panthers

Drew Stanton-Arizona Cardinals

Tom Savage-Houston Texans

Chad Henne-Jacksonville Jaguars

E.J. Manuel-Oakland Raiders

Mark Sanchez-Chicago Bears

Ryan Mallett-Baltimore Ravens

Asked and Answered: Feb. 13

Steelers.com News - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 5:00am
Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers focus solely on defense in latest 2-round mock draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 1:23pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers will need to focus on defense again in the 2018 NFL Draft, and that is exactly what they do in the latest 2-round mock draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several needs as they approach the 2018 NFL Draft, but you would be hard pressed to find any offensive position anywhere near the top of those needs lists.

Rather, the defensive side of the football is where the team should be, and likely will, focused on throughout the lead up to the selection process. And, again, taking a defensive player in the first round.

But what about the second round? In the latest two-round mock draft by Dan Kadar, of SB Nation, he has the Steelers going back-to-back defense in the upcoming draft.

Take a look at the predictions for the Steelers below:

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Arden Key, Edge, LSU

The Steelers need a player who can create pressure off the edge because thus far Bud Dupree hasn’t been that player. Key is raw, and has some off-field questions to answer, but he’s at the least a good edge rusher.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

The thought of Pittsburgh going defense in the first two rounds is not exactly predicting something outlandish. The biggest holes on the team’s roster are certainly on defense, but is drafting another edge rusher a sign of things to come for the Steelers’ defense, mainly Bud Dupree, or is it simply trying to improve the overall pressure the defense can put on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing?

Most, including myself, would agree inside linebacker is a much bigger need than edge rusher, but it has well been known the Steelers draft Best Player Available (BPA), and not based on specific positional need.

Nonetheless, what do you think about the Steelers’ drafting defense in the first two rounds? And what do you think of these prospects? Let us know in the comment section below!

Nix: 'It feels good to feel wanted'

Steelers.com News - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 1:10pm
Everything is coming up roses for Roosevelt Nix.

Steelers create $13 million in salary cap room — with Le'Veon Bell in mind?

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:27am

The Steelers are feverishly reworking contracts to create salary cap room as if they need it to sign someone to a major deal.

A look at Combine participants

Steelers.com News - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:00am
The NFL Scouting Combine will take place in Indianapolis.

Why the Steelers should consider moving in the 2018 NFL draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 9:23am

With two months and change to the NFL draft. I dissected whether the Steelers should move in the upcoming selection process.

Currently, the Steelers are sitting at the 28th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, and with current draft analysis, it appears unlikely that any of the top players on the Steelers’ wish list will be available when they are on the clock.

Many fans believe Alabama’s Rashaan Evans would be the best pick. However, don’t get your heart set on this prospect. Evans will be this year’s Haason Reddick. Early mock drafts will have him going around the Steelers 28th pick, but the kid is going to test out of the gym. He’s already done it in high school, and after 4 years playing for the Crimson Tide, I don’t think it’s possible for his numbers to regress.

If the Steelers want a shot at this linebacker, they’re going to have to leapfrog linebacker-needy Dallas. But going from 28 to 18 would require a king’s ransom. The Steelers would likely have to give up each pick from the top three rounds to move up 10 spots. So, unless the Steelers fall in love with Evans, don’t expect them to sell the farm for one prospect.

What is more likely is trading back the Steelers 28th pick. Experts expect a run on offensive lineman and wide-outs at the end of the first round/beginning of the second rounds. So, trading back with a team that wants some protection for a young QB makes a lot of sense for both sides.

The ideal trading partner, in my opinion, is the New York Jets. The Jets currently have two second-round picks, so they’ll be more willing to move one of them. The Steelers would likely acquire the 37th pick and the 72nd pick (3rd round) for their 28th selection. The trade back still keeps the Steelers in play for Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison, and gives the team four picks in the first three rounds.

The Steelers shouldn’t be too worried about another team selecting Harrison. If you look at picks 29-36, the only team that would have safety high on their board would be the Cleveland Browns, and considering the Browns likely draft Minkah Fitzpatrick at pick No. 4, they probably won't take another safety this high in the draft.

The draft boards will change drastically once we hit the combine and pro days, but the Steelers could use some extra picks to fill the holes in its defense.

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