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Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/08/2022 - 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:

Steelers Touchdown Under: Getting to know the 2022 Steelers Draft Class the Aussie Way

The Steelers’ are now 6 days on from the 2022 NFL draft, so what can Steelers fans expect from these draft picks? Who do Steeler fans like? Who are we unsure about? Is there a next fan favorite amongst this group? These are just some of the many questions that Matty Peverell and Mark Davison will address On Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under. Matty P. and Marky P. bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in 2022 and beyond, as they chase a seventh Lombardi.

  • A recap of the Steelers 2022 NFL Draft
  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Extreme optimism after the Steelers 2022 NFL Draft

Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. This week, Joe Frost, Paul Yanchek and Chris Pugh discuss the Pittsburgh Steelers picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and the optimism surrounding it beyond the Steel City.

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: Show your Mom some love Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 6:45pm
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

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

Let me start off by wishing all you Moms out there a wonderful and love filled day tomorrow. As I write this over my morning coffee, I see that it will be a beautiful spring day. You know the one... sunny without a cloud in the sky... is this a cosmic tease or a prelude to a wonderful Mothers Day?

I am stealing from what I wrote last year, but added a bit more as the emotions allow me.

I have been incredibly lucky in my life with having wonderful women in it. I had 2 grandmothers that became the matriarch of both of their families. They both were quiet leaders in the things that mattered most; family, faith, and love. The both lost their husbands at far to early of an age and as such had to do double duty for the rest of their lives. I saw that legacy in my aunts and uncles and they did their parents proud.

My mother was quite simply a rock star. The definition of grace and love, quick with a hug, always ready for a good laugh and an assassin at euchre and bridge. Mom walked the walk and talked the talk when it came to living a principled life. Honesty, integrity and accountability were the values she fostered. Some of the best advice she gave me was “Almost nothing in life is as important as you think it is right now”.

She was an incredible Mom but maybe an even better grandmother. My kids and my nieces and nephews still love to tell ‘Meme’ stories. Loving your kids as a parent is beyond special but the love she showed her grandchildren was so pure.

She was a great example of how to live a honourable life in such unpredictable times. She made every room she walked into better and if she was somehow in your circle, you hit one of life’s jackpots.

Today, I am beyond lucky (think really blind squirrel finding a ‘nut’, and not just any nut but the nut of all nuts) to have Mrs. Canuck as the mother of my children. A Tasmanian Devil of energy, passion and selfless drive to make her world a better place. She is the role model that every child deserves and for that I am so thankful.

I realize that getting together with Mom in the traditional way may still be challenging for some of us, but life is an adventure so make sure you leave no stone unturned to wish Mom the best Mother’s Day ever.

  1. With the draft concluded most would agree that there are still some holes in the roster. Give us your reasonable solution to solve one particular hole? Don’t just say Free Agency. Tell us who you would sign and contract terms or who you would trade for and what or who you would give up... AND... remember we are essentially up against the cap right now!
  2. Much has been written about the Cam and Connor situation. Big brother / little brother situation. What is your favourite big/little brother story (not just limited to your personal situation).
  3. Let’s say the Browns do end up releasing Baker. Do you think the Steelers would try to sign him? If you were our new GM would you try to sign him?
  4. What is your go to move on a beautiful spring day like today - not a cloud in the sky but high of low 60’s?
  5. What are your specific Mothers Day plans? How will you honour your Mom, Wife or are you a Mom that will be spoiled tomorrow?

The 2022 Steelers see some relief in their schedule difficultly this season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

After being at both ends of the spectrum the last two seasons, the Steelers are in the middle of the pack for 2022.

In the 2020 NFL season, many felt the Steelers began the year 11-0 based on the fact they had one of the easiest schedules when using the previous year‘s records. In 2021, the Steelers still managed to find away and make it to the postseason despite having the NFL’s most difficult schedule based on the prior here. So how are things playing out for 2022?

Based on the 2021 records of their opponents this upcoming season, The Pittsburgh Steelers rank in a tie for 12th for the most difficult schedule. The combined record of the Steelers opponents from 2021 comes in at 148–141 with a 0.512 winning percentage. The teams which the Steelers are tied with the same winning percentage of their opponents are the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills.

The winning percentage of the Steelers opponents is down from the previous season where they were the most difficult schedule with a 0.574 winning percentage of their opponents based on the previous year. In 2020, where the Steelers were 31st in schedule difficulty only behind the Baltimore Ravens, their opponents win percentage was 0.457 the year prior.

The team with the most difficult schedule for 2022 is, appropriately enough, the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams with their opponents winning percentage of 0.567 from 2021. Rounding out the top five goes the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs tied for fifth. The easiest schedule in 2022 based on last year‘s records goes to the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys tied for the last spot. In fact, the bottom four positions all belong to the NFC East with the Detroit Lions the next in line.

When looking at the schedule difficulty within the AFC North, it plays out much like one would expect with all four teams finishing within two games of each other. Since the disparity of records of the other teams within the division is so small, the largest factor comes down to the three games by each team in which they face a different opponent as their other divisional rivals. With the Cincinnati Bengals finishing first in the division last season, their three extra games are against all teams with 12 wins in the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys. As for the Steelers, their three different opponents among the AFC North teams are against two teams with nine wins from last season in the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles as well as the 10-win Las Vegas Raiders.

Based on the differing records from their opponents, the difficulty of their schedule in the AFC North goes exactly as the teams finished in the division last year. The Cincinnati Bengals (3rd) have the most difficult schedule followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers (t-12th). The Cleveland Browns are tied for the 17th most difficult schedule with the Baltimore Ravens coming in 23rd on the list.

With the Steelers finishing more in the middle of the pack when it comes to schedule difficulty this year, one area where they have the best schedule in the NFL in 2022 is the total amount of miles traveled to away games. This information was recently reported by Adam Schefter and comes courtesy of bookies.com.

With the full NFL schedule being released Thursday night, here is a look at the teams that will travel the most miles and the most time zones this season, via @billsperos.

The Steelers will travel the fewest miles and not leave the eastern time zone all season. pic.twitter.com/MAzxijyYAC

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 6, 2022

Even with the Steelers having the extra away game in 2022 along with the rest of the AFC, the Steelers are traveling the least amount of miles as they do not leave the Eastern Time Zone. The farthest the Steelers will have to travel in 2022, by far, will be a trip to Miami. Otherwise, the next farthest trip is only about half the distance when the Steelers play the Atlanta Falcons.

While the strength of the Steelers opponents based on 2021 and the amount of miles they must travel this coming season is known, one other unknown factor for 2022 will be when each game is played. While some games are being announced at various times, the complete 2022 NFL schedule is due to be released this coming Thursday at 8 PM. After this time, there will be a much more complete picture for the task at hand for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers.

College coaches agree, Kenny Pickett was by far the cream of the QB crop

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team to take a quarterback in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, and college coaches agree with their decision.

With the dust on the 2022 NFL Draft settled, it is now time for everyone associated with the draft to think back on the three day process and evaluate what went right, and wrong, for all 32 NFL organizations.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they didn’t hide their desire to draft a quarterback, but no one knew they would have their choice of signal callers at pick No. 20. As we know now, the team took Kenny Pickett out of the University of Pittsburgh with that pick, and in a recent ESPN article which interviewed Power 5 coaches, they agreed with the fact Pickett was the cream of the quarterback crop in 2022.

When it came down to it, the coaches agreed the right quarterback came off the board first. Here is what they had to say:

Coaches said a lack of size also hurt this year’s quarterback draft class. They felt the right quarterback went first in Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, who will stay in the same city and facility with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who selected him No. 20 overall.

“Pickett was by far the one true NFL guy,” a Power 5 coach said Friday. “I don’t think the rest of them are first-round guys. It would have been a stretch.”

“Super-competitive guy, playmaker,” an ACC coach added of Pickett. “He’s tough and obviously, being at Pittsburgh will be good for him. He does fumble a lot, and that’s probably the one thing that could get him.”

Shockingly, the coaches went on to suggest the quarterback they deemed to be the best after Pickett wasn’t Desmond Ridder, the next quarterback selected in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons, but Matt Corral, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round.

According to the coaches, the biggest surprise wasn’t Pickett going in Round 1, or Ridder, Corral and Malik Willis going in Round 3. Instead, it was Sam Howell out of the University of North Carolina not going until the 5th Round to the Washington Commanders.

“I was more impressed with Kenny Pickett, but Sam Howell makes enough throws, has enough competitiveness, and he’s got enough of a frame even though he’s not tall and big,” an ACC defensive coordinator said. “He’s put together and can take a hit. He’ll be able to stay in the NFL for several years.”

Reading these comments solidifies the fact this quarterback class wasn’t strong, but if you follow things closely you will see how the Steelers got the one player almost everyone considers to be the lone first round talent, and most NFL ready, of the entire class.

Some consider this to be a cut on Pickett, but the Steelers absolutely saw the board fall their way by not having to trade up to get their guy in Round 1.

Will Pickett be the Week 1 starter for the Steelers? It isn’t impossible, and something head coach Mike Tomlin has said is a possibility since the team drafted him. However, the open competition will begin in Organized Team Activities (OTAs), continue into minicamps, training camp and finish in the preseason.

For the first time in a long time, Steelers fans have to be extremely excited to see how the NFL preseason plays out for their favorite team. With Mitchell Trubisky on board, as well as Mason Rudolph, the Steelers have plenty of options at quarterback. The hope is one distinguishes themselves throughout the process.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and get ready for training camp.

Chris Oladokun’s collegiate travels have helped the QB be a Steelers draft pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 10:30am
Jon Austria via Imagn Content Services, LLC

BTSC sat down with Steelers 7th round pick Chris Oladokun to talk all things black and gold.

On Tuesday, new Steelers Quarterback and 2022 7th Round pick Chris Oladokun joined the Steelers Draft Fix for an exclusive interview. BTSC’s Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar sat down virtually with Chris and got his thoughts on the NFL Draft process and what he’s looking to accomplish as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

The full audio of this interview is available in the Megaphone link at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here we go!

What was it like being interviewed by the Steelers during the pre-draft process?

During the pre-draft process — it’s obviously a long process, you know, a three or four month process — and when I took my visit with the Steelers I just really felt the energy there and felt like everyone was real cool and down to earth; straight forward.

That’s always somewhere I wanted to be, starting back in little league. Knowing other guys who played for the Steelers, guys like Ray-Ray (McCloud) who I grew up with, and I’ve been pretty close with Diontae (Johnson) the past couple years doing workouts and things like that; getting to work out with Cam Sutton this offseason. They just can't say enough good things about the organization, so when I got the call this past Saturday I was speechless and I was just super grateful.

What was your initial reaction to being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers?

It was unreal. At first they're like, “Here were going to give the phone to coach Mike Tomlin,” and when he got on the phone he started asking how my day was going. It was in the seventh round and I was like, “We’re gonna see what happens here in the next thirty minutes with these last picks.” He said, “Well, I plan to make your day a whole lot better and make you a Pittsburgh Steeler.”

I didn't know what to say at first. I was in shock and obviously we got Kenny (Pickett) in the first round and I'm excited to get to work with him as well. I just didn't know what they were going to do in the seventh round so when I got the call I was just speechless and my family started to break down crying and I was trying to keep from crying.

It was a moment I will never forget.

You’ve spent time at three different schools. What were the main factors in your decision to transfer not once, but twice?

Starting out at South Florida, that was my hometown school, so playing quarterback for my hometown was always a dream of mine. I loved USF and my time there and the relationships I built. It just came time for me to move on. Something I didn't necessarily want to do, but was looking for better opportunities to be the guy and that was essentially why I left USF.

Then I get to Samford and had a good 2019 season and I was looking forward to the future at Samford, and after spring season it just came time for me to look for another opportunity. A lot of times you see people transfer multiple times, they may think a guy has character issues or something of that nature, but that was never the deal with me.

Being a captain at all three schools is something I always take a lot of pride in and feel like that’s something hard to do and almost unheard of. After leaving Samford, I got the call from South Dakota State a couple days after they lost the national championship game and their quarterback, Mark Gronowski, went down. They needed someone to take them back (to the championship) and they gave me that validation and confidence that someone believed in me as much as I believed in myself. Going to South Dakota State was probably the greatest decision in my college career.

While at Samford, you played behind and then replaced former Steelers QB Devlin “Duck” Hodges. Tell us a little bit about that.

Yeah I got to know him (Hodges) pretty well. It’s sort of crazy when I was at Samford he got cut from the team and he came back to Birmingham and we would throw and what not and hang out on the weekends. Then, one Friday, I call him and say, “Hey, what are we doing this weekend?” and he said, “I'm actually on my way to Pittsburgh. The Steelers called me. I'm going to Pittsburgh!” Two weeks later, he was starting and became the most loved Pittsburgh Steeler ever. So, I sort of talked to him the other day about it, and I called him a Pittsburgh legend. That’s my guy.

Did you find that your experiences at each school helped shape you as a player?

100 percent! I played in three different schools in three totally different places in the country. Florida is a lot different from Alabama, and Alabama is a lot different that South Dakota. It was a lot different, not just on the field, but culturally. A lot of different moving parts and building a lot of different relationships with people that I didn't grow up around the same area as.

It was neat learning people and learning the way they grew up, and also on the field playing for some of the coaches and offensive coordinators and learning different schemes and how they manage the clock differently, how we practice differently. It all made me a better player and shaped me. It’s gonna build on my NFL career because the unknowns are always there, and I'm just gonna embrace them and be ready for the challenge.

Do you compare your game to any former or current NFL quarterbacks?

Definitely. Cam Newton because he was one of my favorite players growing up. I even knew about him when he went to Florida and watching him at Auburn. Guys I compare my game to are guys like Tyler Huntley. You saw last year played pretty well when he got in and he could extend the play with his legs and throw the ball pretty well and push the ball down the field.

Obviously Patrick Mahomes I've watched a lot the last couple years. He can extend the play with his legs, but he's not looking to run first. He’s always looking to push the ball down he field and that’s sort of how I play my game when it comes to extending those plays, because that’s where those explosive plays come. Outside the pocket when you get guys breaking open down the field and then you end up hitting forty and fifty yard gains.

Who was the best college football player you played with or against? Does anybody stand out?

Playing at three schools, there's a lot of guys for me. Going back to freshman year, playing with Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. Those two in the backfield were one of the most electric backfields in the country while they were together and obviously Marquez Valdez-Scantling was on that team as well. Then, playing this past year at South Dakota State, Pierre Strong — he ended up going to the Patriots — he's one of the best I’ve played with. He's very comparable to a guy like Marlon Mack, having played with both. I always said that the best player I played against this past year was the linebacker from Montana State. He was really really good. Troy Anderson. He flew around the field. What he ran his 40 (yard dash) in was pretty accurate to his game speed.

What is your mentality heading into the summer as you try to earn a spot on the Steelers’ roster?

I think its just get in there and soaking up as much information as possible. To just become a sponge and learn from guys like Mitchell (Trubisky) who’s done a really good job, and Mason Rudolph has done a really good job and started in some games for us. I'm just really excited to get in there and learn and meet my new teammates and build relationships with them and hopefully win a lot of games this upcoming year.

For myself, it’s really just competing. I've never shied away from competition. I'm going to push those guys like they're going to push me and hopefully we cam come together as one quarterback room and become one of the best in the league. That’s what I'm looking for.

What or Who are some of your inspirations as both a player and a person?

I think being a player and a person go hand in hand [in regards to] my inspirations. I have a little brother who plays cornerback at Bowling Green. Even though he's my little brother he's definitely one of my inspirations. He keeps me going. We work out together and we've been throwing together since we were in diapers and just always pushing each other, so he's definitely one of my inspirations to keep going.

Also, my family; my mom, my dad, my sister, my grandparents; they're all inspirations in my life because they've sacrificed a whole bunch in their lives, running me around to practice and games and supporting me in the highs and supporting me in the lows. And trust me, there's a lot of high and lows throughout my college career, so without them I wouldn't be in this position at all.

To hear even more from the Chris Oladokun interview, check out the full segment in the player below:

After the draft, the Steelers still have a huge hole on defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In Part 2 of the After the Draft series, we take a look at some of the holes remaining on the Steelers defense.

Earlier in the week, I attempted to identify the Steelers biggest roster holes still remaining on offense after the draft, focusing mainly on what I considered to be the most glaring need. The article generated plenty of interest and facilitated some informative discussion points. Many knowledgeable BTSC community members contributed to the discussion, listing their own thoughtful opinions and concerns.

Although I didn't include a poll; in hindsight I should have. The consensus among the community felt the Steelers still needed upgrades at backup running back, third string tight end, and offensive line depth. Swing tackle was the most glaring hole remaining for the Steelers offense, in my opinion.

In this article we are going to focus on the Steelers remaining roster needs on defense, and I will try to identify what I consider to be the biggest glaring hole.

The Steelers appeared to possess a potentially dominant defense heading into the 2021 NFL season. Then injuries, an unexpected retirement, and tragedy decimated the talented roster. Suddenly backup role players were thrust into starting roles, and the Steelers defense struggled, specifically the run defense.

The Steelers have addressed some of their depth issues through free agency and the draft, plus the expected triumphant return to form of some of the injured or missing in action, but questions still remain. Such is life in the modern salary cap era.

The Steelers biggest deficiency on defense in 2021 was the run defense, without question. Although the Steelers ranked ninth in pass defense, they finished dead last in the NFL against the run. I never imagined for a second that would happen in my lifetime. The Steelers pass defense ranking was actually a little misleading, because why throw the ball when teams could easily shove the ball right down the Steelers’ throats.

But enough about last season's nightmare of a run defense. Hopefully this season will be a complete 180 for the guys in black and gold. The healthy return of Tyson Alualu will do wonders for the run defense. I have considered Alualu the most underrated Steelers defender for the past couple of years. His value tying up blockers and holding the point of attack should never be taken for granted by any Steelers fan.

Stephon Tuitt's anticipated return is anything but a certainty, so the Steelers drafted talented rookie DeMarvin Leal in the third round as insurance. Adding Leal to a defensive front featuring All-Pro Cameron Heyward, Alualu, Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and Carlos and Khalil Davis should provide the Steelers plenty of quality defensive line depth. Tuitt is obviously the great unknown. If he doesn't return, then the Steelers may be wise to sign another experienced run stuffer.

The Steelers secondary has actually improved this offseason. Longtime starting corner Joe Haden remains a free agent and appears unlikely to return. Haden's game began to show the effects of Father Time last season in the form of injuries and decreased foot speed. Newly acquired free agent corner Levi Wallace is an upgrade, in my opinion. Wallace is a solid all-around corner. He has coverage versatility, and he is physical in the running game.

Ahkello Witherspoon is going into the 2022 season as the other starting cornerback. In the past, he has struggled when projected as a starting corner. Hopefully that tendency remains in the past, because the Steelers are counting on him playing like the exceptional coverage corner the Steelers saw in the second half of last season. What he possesses in speed and agility, he lacks in physicality. Basically, don't ask him to tackle.

Another area where the Steelers improved in the defensive backfield is at safety. Not only were the Steelers able to maintain their defensive chemistry by re-signing Terrell Edmunds on an incredibly team friendly contract, but they also were able to obtain veteran free agent free safety Damontae Kazee on another team friendly deal. Kazee is a ball hawking, deep coverage free safety with starting experience, but he also has spent time working in the slot. He is a huge addition as the third safety, and offers the Steelers plenty of flexibility. The rest of the Steelers defensive backfield depth from 2021 returns intact.

The Steelers have the best edge defender in the NFL in 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner T.J. Watt, plus promising Alex Highsmith trying to put it all together heading into his third season. The Steelers have another couple of talented youngsters with potential in Derrek Tuszka and Genard Avery, but they may deem it prudent to try and add a more accomplished veteran prior to the start of camp.

This brings us to what I consider to be the biggest glaring hole for the Steelers on defense: Buck linebacker.

The retirement mentioned earlier in this article was none other than Vince Williams. Heading into training camp, the Steelers thought they were going to have Vince's physical presence patrolling the middle of the field. His shocking departure left the Steelers scrabbling for a run stuffer in the middle of the defense. They traded for veteran Joe Schobert, but sadly he is far more cerebral than physical. It was a mitigated disaster.

Without Alualu and Tuitt around to keep them clean, the Steelers inside linebackers were overwhelmed with regularity. It definitely didn't help matters when Devin Bush was unable to return to his rookie form. What was most disturbing was the fact his aggressiveness and intensity never returned even as his mobility did. The disappointing performance resulted in the Steelers declining his fifth year option. The 2022 season is a make or break year for Devin Bush.

Fully realizing their need for an upgrade at interior linebacker, the Steelers quickly picked up former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack when he was surprisingly released in the early stages of free agency. I initially assumed Jack was brought in to motivate, or even replace, Bush as the Mack linebacker in the Steelers base defense. I made this assumption because Jack and Bush are of similar stature and ability. However, early reports suggest Jack will get first shot at the currently unfilled Buck linebacker position.

I have never considered Jack physical enough to be an ideal candidate at Buck linebacker, and I still don't. Jack could be effective if the Steelers defensive line remains healthy and efficient enough to keep both Jack and Bush clean and flowing to the football. However, I fear Jack will struggle if he has to take on blockers with any frequency, similar to Schobert and Bush last season.

Buddy Johnson is the only true Buck linebacker currently on the roster. Nobody knows what Johnson is truly capable of because he was either inactive or injured for the majority of his rookie season. I was hoping the Steelers would try to address the position in the draft, but they had other plans. Hopefully the Steelers will continue to scan the market for a more physical and experienced veteran. If not, we can only pray the defensive line remains relatively healthy and intact enough to keep the interior linebackers clean.

What do you feel is the Steelers biggest defensive need remaining? Please vote in the attached poll, and explain your thought process in the comment thread below.

Stay tuned for additional position breakdowns and evaluations from the BTSC staff, your one stop shop for all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why the amount of playing time Mitch Trubisky sees in 2022 will impact his overall salary

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Trubisky could almost double his pay in Pittsburgh with the amount of snaps he plays over the next two seasons.

On the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period in March, the Pittsburgh Steelers came to an agreement with quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the first few hours. Over time, details of the contract emerged to where it was known what Trubisky‘s contract and the effect on the 2022 salary cap looked like. With a $1.035 million base salary in 2022 along with a $5.25 million signing bonus, Trubisky I has a $3.66 million salary cap hit for 2022. With an $8 million base salary for 2023, Trubisky‘s cap number grows to $10.625 million in 2023.

It was also reported that there were up to $12.5 million in incentives in Trubisky‘s deal. With most of these incentives being tied to playing time according to reports, the exact scale was reported recently by Albert Breer of the Monday Morning Quarterback.

Looking at the full contract for Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky (details below), found a pretty interesting trigger in it. If Trubisky hits 60% play-time in 2022, there'll be a $1 million roster bonus due next March. If he hits 70% play-time, it's a $4 million bonus.

More here ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/xoacHHm6je

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 6, 2022

In all, there are three factors involved with Trubisky’s incentives. They are:

  • Percentage of offensive snaps played
  • The Steelers making the postseason
  • Trubisky being selected to the Pro Bowl

With the Pro Bowl incentive for each year being $250k, that makes $0.5 million of the $12.5 million accounted for. The main portion of Trubisky’s incentives come in the form of the percentage of offensive snaps played on a scaled system starting at 60% and increasing at 70% and again at 80%. There is also a large bump in the scale at 70% and 80% if the Steelers make the playoffs. In all, Trubisky could earn an extra $4 million in 2022 if he plays more than 80% of the Steelers offensive snaps and the team makes the playoffs.

It should also be noted that these incentives currently fall in the “not likely to be earned” category according to overthecap.com. If Trebisky hits any of these goals, the money he earns would count towards the 2023 salary cap.

What gets interesting is that if Trubisky hits the threshold of snaps played in 2022, it also kicks in a roster bonus due in March of 2023. According to Breer, the roster bonus is not guaranteed but would only come about if Trubisky is still on the Steelers roster at that time.

... And those roster bonuses for next March are NOT guaranteed. So they essentially would force the Steelers to make an early decision on Trubisky, and allow him to hit the market early in free agency if he's not going to be on the team.

Smart for both sides.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 6, 2022

So if Mitchell Trubisky plays 70% of the snaps for Steelers in 2022 and the team misses the playoffs, he will only receive a $1.5 million bonus for 2022. As for the roster bonus for 2023, it would be $4 million if the Steelers choose to still have Trubisky on the roster.

When it comes to the 2023 season, the scale for Trubisky’s bonuses are exactly the same as 2022. In all, this is what it would take for Trubisky to earn all of the extra $12.5 million in incentives in his contract:

  • Play 80% of the Steelers offensive snaps in 2022 and the team makes the postseason ($4 million)
  • Be selected to the 2022 Pro Bowl ($250k)
  • Remain on the roster in March of 2023 ($4 million)
  • Play 80% of the Steelers offensive snaps in 2023 and the team makes the postseason ($4 million)
  • Be selected to the 2023 Pro Bowl ($250k)

If the Steelers end up paying Mitch Trubisky the extra $12.5 million over the next two seasons, it would be due to success of the team in both years. Even if Trubisky is the starter in 2022 and earns his bonuses, it would likely be due to so much success that he would be the starter again in 2023 after the Steelers used a first round draft pick on quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Whether Trubisky hits these milestones or not is merely speculation at this time, but at least Steelers fans now know the numbers.

Is Mataeo Durant the Steelers’ answer to back up Najee Harris?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 6:30am
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Of the ten UDFAs, there are a few that seem to be showing promise and could become useful members of the Steelers roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made seven great selections in this year’s NFL Draft. I personally welcome them all to the black and gold family as they start out on their journey to become star Steelers of the future! I’m excited and hyped to see them all play in black and gold next year as the team goes in search of their seventh Lombardi trophy.

However, after those seven picks the Steelers weren’t done. The team went on to sign ten undrafted rookie free agents (UDFAs), as well as free agent safety Damontae Kazee.

Here are the 10 UDFAs:

RB — Mataeo Durant

RB — Jaylen Warren

OT — Jake Dixon

OT — Chris Owens

OT — Jordan Tucker

CB — Bryce Watts

CB — Chris Steele

OLB — T.D Moultry

DT — Tyree Johnson

DT — Donovan Jeter

Of these ten, there are a number who fill position groups the Steelers didn’t address in the draft. Those being: OLB, CB, OT or RB. From what I have read, there are high hopes for Mataeo Durant, Chris Steele and Jordan Tucker.

While four positions weren’t addressed in the draft, one of those four has not been addressed at all this offseason. Running back is the position which hasn’t been touched at all in either free agency or the draft. It is also felt the Steelers need to find someone who can support and allow the Steelers to spell star running back Najee Harris. Harris runs the risk of been run into the ground, and potentially injured, if he has a workload the same or heavier next season. The Steelers offensive coaches need to find a player who can help them manage Harris’ snaps in the 2022 season. Losing Harris for a game or more could massively damage the Steelers competitiveness.

One of the rookie undrafted free agents which there seems to be a bit of hope around is Mateo Durant. Durant is 6’1” 195 lbs. out of Duke, and the Duke offense ran a lot through Durant last season. The Steelers have shown great faith in Durant by awarding him with the largest running back UDFA contract ever. His contract includes a $15,000 dollar signing bonus. Durant’s three-year deal should total out at $2.575 million dollars, his salary cap charge would be around $710,000, but only $5,000 of Durant’s contract would enter the Steelers rule of 51 number against the 2022 salary cap.

But who is Mataeo Durant? He played four years at Duke as a running back and special teamer. During his time at Duke, Durant played in 44 games starting 12 of them. His career stats at are: 489 rushing attempts; 2,562 yards; 5.24 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns. He also proved himself a useful receiver out of the backfield, with 55 receptions for 488 yards and 4 touchdowns. It is a possibility Durant works out and proves himself worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster, where he would be expected to back up Najee Harris and contribute on special teams.

In terms of Durant’s skill set, he possesses quick feet and good straight line speed; however, he doesn’t have an elite burst of speed. He has shown improved patience as a runner, learning how to become better at cuts and at following pulling guards to enable him to optimize the length of his runs. Durant has a surprising burst of speed which can out run linebackers away from the line, despite not having that elite RB1 speed. One thing Durant needs to improve on is something the Steelers love their running backs to do and that’s pass protection.

Certainly, if Durant works out for the Steelers, it could solve one of their remaining roster problems, given the fact neither Benny Snell or Anthony McFarland have proven themselves able alleviate Najee Harris’s workload. Snell looked very ineffective when called upon last season and McFarland was a healthy scratch more often than not.

Lastly, Durant would be a young running back the Steelers could mold to their scheme and organization rather than bringing in a more expensive free agent like a Tarik Cohen or Sony Michel. The Steelers love to build through the draft and Durant could certainly provide them with that opportunity.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/07/2022 - 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: How the draft provided the final pieces of the Matt Canada puzzle

The Steelers draft gave Matt Canada new toys, is it enough to complete the puzzle? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The 2022 Draft and what it means to Matt Canada’s offense
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Still gushing over the Steelers pick of Pickett

You say that the Steelers selected Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft last Thursday night in Las Vegas, Nevada? Why? Because they thought he was the best choice, that’s why. Also, the Steelers don’t pick up the fifth-year option for linebacker Devin Bush. Those topics, plus your questions and comments on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack!

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 love for Kenny Pickett is large
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 11

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 5:45pm
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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, Jeff, 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.

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. Okay, easy question to start. Of the seven new Steelers players, which was your favorite and why?

2. On top of that, which pick do you think brings the best value? (Value is not just the pick, but the round in which the pick was selected.)

3. Let’s talk quarterbacks. What is your QB depth chart as we sit here right now?

4. On top of that, if you had to put a wager on which quarterback will be the Week 1 starter for the Steelers, who will/would it be?

5. The Steelers didn’t draft a cornerback or safety. They did re-sign Edmunds and bring in Kazee, but how comfortable are you with the team’s secondary as we sit here in early May?

6. For fun, what is the biggest, most significant, sporting event you’ve ever seen in person in your life?

Stay safe out there!

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

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Brian Flores outlines why the Steelers spent a 7th round pick on Mark Robinson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 2:30pm
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers took Mark Robinson in the 7th round, and there is a reason why they did.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Draft was extremely focused on the offensive side of the football. Whether that was by design or just how the board fell isn’t known, but the team ended up with five new offensive players and only two on defense.

The first defender selected was DeMarvin Leal in Round 3, and no other defender was selected until the 7th Round when the team took Mark Robinson, linebacker out of Ole Miss.

If you were like me, when the pick was made the first thing you did was try to search and find some information about Robinson. Scouting reports, NFL Scouting Combine results...anything.

What did the search results show? Nothing. And I mean nothing.

The more digging you did, the more you realize just how crazy Robinson’s story was to get to Ole Miss. We’ve all heard it by now. Former running back has his program remove scholarships and transfers. New school shuts down for COVID and gets a chance with Ole Miss. There he is a scout team defender who gets a shot to play and turns it into being a drafted player.

All of that doesn’t answer the question many fans had after the pick.

“Why did the Steelers make this pick?”

If anything, his long and winding road to the draft raises more questions than it does provide answers. After the pick was made, Brian Flores took to the podium to answer the question about what the team saw in Robinson in more ways than one.

“He was a running back for most of his career.” Flores said. “One year at linebacker at Ole Miss. I think that’s part of what we liked about him, there’s some upside here. This is somebody who hasn’t played the position for a long time, but he showed speed, he showed athleticism, he showed toughness, physicality, and a lot of things we liked. He’s a fun guy to watch on film for sure.”

That’s all well and good, but what is it about this former running back which saw the Steelers select him over other prospects in the 7th Round?

“I think he’s got some upside. When you learn a new position, there’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve early in the season, but as you watched him progress, going into games five, six, seven and eight, you saw him improve and get better.” Flores added. “That’s really what you’re looking for. You like to see that as a coach. He’s someone who is a hard-working kid. He kind of got that feeling, and I have that feeling too. It’s important to him, which is a big part of making progress as a player. I know he’ll work to get better.”

Only playing one year at linebacker, even in the SEC, you can imagine the learning curve which will take place for Robinson the first time he steps foot on an NFL practice field. But as Flores noted, he won’t be the only player experiencing a learning curve.

“He’s going to have a big learning curve.” Flores said. “Specifically for him, still being new to the position, but there’s a big learning curve for all rookies in the league getting used to the speed of the game, being in a new city.”

Anyone who has watched the Steelers, especially under Mike Tomlin, knows the path for a rookie who is a Day 3 draft choice to make the team is on special teams, and Robinson is no different.

“He’s played in the kicking game for sure.” Flores said of Robinson’s special teams experience at Ole Miss. “He’ll need to help us in the kicking game for sure. I’ve got some background on special teams, so I’ll try to steer him in the right direction, but Danny [Smith] will take care of that as well.”

So, what exactly did the Steelers, mainly Flores, see in Robinson which made him an attractive selection on Day 3? A lot of intangibles.

“Intangibles are a big thing.” Flores said. “In my experience, the guys who develop in this league are the guys who have the work ethic, the intelligence, and are obsessed with getting better. Those guys improve in this league. There’s a lot of good players in this league, as you all know. The guys who work and improve, often times they move passed other guys.”

Ultimately, Flores sees raw football players, who almost everyone who categorize Robinson as such, as a challenge. But not just a challenge, but something which excites the former head coach.

“For me, every player is raw, and I think every player can make improvements. As a coach, you get excited about that, finding the things they do well and trying to pinpoint those and put them in positions to do the things that they do well over and over again, and help them improve in the things where they’re not as good.” said Flores. “I think we all have weaknesses in whatever field we’re in. It could be coaching, journalism, football or basketball. I mean, everyone has weaknesses, and try to improve those weaknesses. As a coach, we’re trying to help improve those weaknesses, but we want to play to their strengths as well.”

When you consider all which Brian Flores outlined in his post-pick press conference, you can see why the Steelers chose Robinson over any number of players who most would have had a higher grade on. Robinson’s willingness to adapt, adjust and work at his craft is something the team finds value in.

Can Flores take this player and turn him into a starter? Only time will tell, but the coach is certainly excited about the player he just acquired as his position.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps.

NFL Draft: The 2022 All-Draft Team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 12:45pm
Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Andrew Wilbar’s annual All-Draft team has been released, but did any Steelers make the team? Let’s find out!

Every year following the conclusion of the NFL Draft, I create my annual All-Draft team. I simply go round by round, choosing my favorite players or fits from each round. I choose one player as my primary choice, with four other backup choices. In essence, I am choosing my five favorite picks from each round.

Here are the official ground rules created back in 2017:

  1. Simply choose your favorite four or five players (or fits) taken in each round of the draft.
  2. From those lists of four or five players, choose one that you like slightly above the rest. The others are your “bench” options.
  3. You cannot be too obvious with your first pick. In other words, Joe Burrow was not allowed back in 2020, and Penei Sewell and Trevor Lawrence were not allowed last year. So this year, no Aidan Hutchinson. Be reasonable with it. Avoid players who were selected in the top 5-10 picks of the draft.

This year, I am still using the same method for part of the article, but after much recommendation and feedback by you, the fans, I am going to fill out an actual team of players from this draft. I will fill all twenty-two starting positions with players from this draft, selecting three players from each round along with one undrafted free agent.

To better understand the idea of this exercise, check out my team from last year.

Round 1- Micah Parsons — LB — Penn State
Bench: Christian Darrisaw (OT), Kwity Paye (EDGE), Caleb Farley (CB), Zaven Collins (LB)
Round 2- Azeez Ojulari — EDGE — South Carolina
Bench: Kelvin Joseph (CB), Pat Freiermuth (TE), Samuel Cosmi (OT), Asante Samuel, Jr. (CB)
Round 3- Joseph Ossai — EDGE — Texas
Bench: Nico Collins (WR), Aaron Robinson (CB), Kendrick Green (C), Anthony Schwartz (WR)
Round 4- Jabril Cox — ILB — LSU
Bench: Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR), Robert Rochell (CB), Tylan Wallace (WR), Derrick Barnes (ILB)
Round 5- Daviyon Nixon — DL — Iowa
Bench: Shaun Wade (CB), Tony Fields II (ILB), Talanoa Hufanga (S), Simi Fehoko (WR)
Round 6: Elijah Mitchell — RB — Louisiana
Bench: Trey Smith (G), Trey Hill (C), Jaylen Twyman (DT), Hamsah Nasirildeen (S)
Round 7: Patrick Johnson — EDGE — Tulane
Bench: Chris Garrett (EDGE), Kary Vincent, Jr. (CB), Shaka Toney (EDGE), Michael Strachan (WR)
UDFA: Mac McCain III — CB — North Carolina A&T
Bench: Paris Ford (S), Cade Johnson (WR), Sadarius Hutcherson (G), Darius Stills (DT)

It is, in some ways, a different way of grading the draft picks based not only on value, but also on fit. My 2019 team included the likes of Antoine Winfield, Jr., Jaylon Johnson, Bryce Hall, Julian Blackmon, Willie Gay, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Tyler Huntley, amongst others. The most success I have ever had in rounds 1-4, however, was probably the first year I did this exercise: 2017. Here was the team from that year.

Round 1- Patrick Mahomes — QB — Texas Tech
Bench: T.J. Watt, Jabrill Peppers, and O.J. Howard
Round 2- Chidobe Awuzie — CB — Colorado
Bench: Adoree Jackson, Joe Mixon, and Dalvin Tomlinson
Round 3- Larry Ogunjobi — DT — Charlotte
Bench: Jourdan Lewis, Kareem Hunt, and Cameron Sutton
Round 4- Eddie Jackson — S — Alabama
Bench: DeDe Westbrook, Carl Lawson, and Jamaal Williams
Round 5- Roderick Johnson — OT — Florida State
Bench: Jake Butt, Desmond King, and Jordan Leggett
Round 6- Caleb Brantley — DL — Florida
Bench: Adam Bisnowaty, Elijah Qualls, and Brad Kaaya
Round 7- Ejuan Price — EDGE — Pittsburgh
Bench: Isaiah Ford, Jalen Myrick, and Elijah Lee
Undrafted- Jerod Evans — QB — Virginia Tech

Enough of previous years. Let’s get to this year’s team! If you would like to participate in this exercise, you can do so by commenting down below with your own team, using either of the two styles I use below.

Here are my 2022 All-Draft teams.

Traditional Round-By-Round Team

Round 1- Jordan Davis — DT — Georgia
Bench: Devin Lloyd (ILB), Tyler Smith (T/G), Jermaine Johnson (EDGE), Daxton Hill (S/NCB)
Round 2- Andrew Booth, Jr. — CB — Clemson
Bench: Christian Watson (WR), Arnold Ebiketie (EDGE), David Ojabo (EDGE), Skyy Moore (WR)
Round 3- Malik Willis — QB — Liberty
Bench: Travis Jones (DT), Dylan Parham (G/C), Nakobe Dean (ILB), Marcus Jones (CB)
Round 4- Jack Jones — CB — Arizona State
Bench: Zach Tom (OT), Daniel Bellinger (TE), Calvin Austin III (WR), Perrion Winfrey (DL)
Round 5- Jerome Ford — RB — Cincinnati
Bench: D’Marco Jackson (ILB), Damone Clark (ILB), Khalil Shakir (WR), Matt Waletzko (OT)
Round 6- Darrian Beavers — ILB — Cincinnati
Bench: Keaontay Ingram (RB), Matt Araiza (P), Jamaree Salyer (G), Malcolm Rodriguez (ILB)
Round 7- Jesse Luketa — EDGE — Penn State
Bench: Bo Melton (WR), Tariq Carpenter (LB/S), Andrew Stueber (OT/G), Rasheed Walker (OT)
Undrafted- Isaac Taylor-Stuart — CB — USC
Bench: Master Teague (RB), Carson Strong (QB), Isaiah Weston (WR), Darrell Baker, Jr. (CB)

All-22-Starters Team

No players selected in the top 10 are allowed.
The round of the player’s selection will be shown in parenthesis after the name.

QB: Malik Willis —Liberty (3)
RB: Keaontay Ingram — USC (6)
WR1: Christian Watson — North Dakota State (2)
WR2: Khalil Shakir — Boise State (5)
WR3: Bo Melton — Rutgers (7)
TE: Daniel Bellinger — TE — San Diego State (4)
LT: Zach Tom — Wake Forest (4)
LG: Tyler Smith — Tulsa (1)
C: Tyler Linderbaum — C — Iowa (1)
RG: Dylan Parham — G/C — Memphis (3)
RT: Andrew Stueber — Michigan (7)

RDE: Matthew Butler — Tennessee (5)
NT: Travis Jones — Connecticut (3)
LDE: Perrion Winfrey —Oklahoma (4)
ROLB: David Ojabo — Michigan (2)
MACK ILB: D’Marco Jackson (5)
BUCK ILB: Darrian Beavers — Cincinnati (6)
LOLB: Jesse Luketa — Penn State (7)
CB1: Andrew Booth, Jr. — Clemson (2)
CB2: Tariq Castro-Fields — Penn State (6)
FS: Daxton Hill — Michigan (1)
SS: Isaiah Pola-Mao — FS/SS — USC (UDFA)

Who would be on your 2022 All-Draft team? Would any Steelers make your team? Be sure to comment down below and share your All-Draft teams!

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 1: Quarterbacks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 11:30am
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part One, we’ll break down the quarterback room.

The Steelers quarterback (QB) room is finally filled up after two talents were selected in last week’s NFL Draft. Good thing too. After long-time starter Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, and the unbelievably tragic loss of Dwayne Haskins in early April, only one signal caller from the 2021 roster returns to the team in 2022.

That player is Mason Rudolph, the Steelers 2018 3rd Round selection. He has since been joined by free agent acquisition Mitch Trubisky, who is looking for a second chance in the NFL after struggling under high expectations and poor coaching in Chicago. Then just last week, the Steelers were the only team to select a QB in the first two rounds when they grabbed former Pitt star Kenny Pickett at pick 20 overall. They double-dipped at the position with their final pick in Round 7 by selecting Chris Oladokun, an athletic prospect out of South Dakota St.

The way this room shakes out in the lead up to the start of the regular season will be a huge part of the team’s level of success. How each player fits on the final roster is the big question, and one I will attempt to sort out in this piece.

Player Breakdown

Starting with the longest tenured Steeler at QB, Mason Rudolph has had a terrible offseason, and not because of anything he’s done specifically. It’s all about the additions here, which show a real, although not shocking, lack of faith in Rudolph as the future of the position in Pittsburgh. I believe he’ll have a chance to compete for a place on the final roster, but he has a steep uphill climb to the starting gig. He could be a candidate to be traded, however, I don’t believe that is likely at this point due to a low amount of interest from other teams and the fact that General Manager Kevin Colbert has repeatedly said he wants to take four QBs into training camp.

At the time, the signing of Free Agent Mitch Trubisky made perfect sense as the leader in the clubhouse to be the bridge QB between Roethlisberger and a draft pick to be added later. Trubisky has obvious upside as a guy with high draft pedigree who underwhelmed in a bad situation with his first team, but has flashed good mobility and playmaking potential. Up until Thursday, April 28, the career resurrection was on for Trubisky, and then, everything changed.

Enter Kenny Pickett, the dynamic and confident young gunslinger from local University of Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have both raved about Pickett’s pro-readiness and are planning to give him every opportunity to beat out Trubisky and Rudolph for the starting gig. Many Steelers fans, including myself, believed Pittsburgh’s strategy would be to ride with Mitch in 2022 while a young rookie developed in the stable environment that is the Steelers organization. After the selection of Pickett, the more likely situation is that the Steelers have always pegged the former Panther as “their guy” for 2022, and the signing of Trubisky was essentially a buffer against either missing out on Pickett entirely, or him turning out to be not quite as ready as expected. In either scenario, the Steelers brilliantly secured a Plan B which will allow them to remain competitive in 2022 no matter what.

The final piece to the Pittsburgh Steelers QB puzzle is 7th rounder Chris Oladokun, giving the team it’s fourth QB just as Colbert and company suggested they would do back in March. Oladokun is the wild-card swing with athletic upside and should be, at the very least, a candidate for the team’s practice squad. I had the privilege of sitting down with the South Dakota St. product with my co-host on the Steelers Draft Fix, Andrew Wilbar, just to talk about his draft experience and what he brings to the table as a QB. You can find that conversation in the player below. Chris has a fantastic energy and could make things interesting in training camp with his athleticism and game smarts.

Depth Chart Prediction

Although there is still much to sort out, the sentiment Pickett will be the Day 1 starter for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers is increasing by the day. However, don’t rule out what Trubisky can do in this competition as a veteran ready to prove his worthiness in the big leagues. Unfortunately for Rudolph, he is likely on the outside looking in for the starting job, but the Steelers like him and will give him a chance to compete. Finally, Oladokun gets a chance to show his skills in Training Camp and gives the Steelers their developmental prospect to, well, develop.

I am absolutely rooting for all these guys and can’t wait to see if one of them can become the next Steeler great at QB. And with all that being said, here is my final depth chart prediction:

QB1: Kenny Pickett

QB2: Mitch Trubisky

QB3: Mason Rudolph

Practice Squad: Chris Oladokun

How do you think the Steelers Quarterback room will shake out? Answer in the poll below and don’t forget to leave your comments as well. Also remember to check out the latest edition of the Steelers Draft fix where Andrew Wilbar and I grade the Steelers selections and even give our ideal Steelers Drafts based on how the actual draft board fell.

Predicting the Steelers’ 2022 53-man roster: Post NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 10:43am
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the conclusion of the 2022 NFL draft, it’s time to make our way-too-early predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster.

The kickoff to the 2022 NFL preseason is just about three months away. While numerous things can happen between now and then, it’s time to give our way-too-early predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster to begin the 2022 season. With no players actually setting foot on the field yet, it’s difficult to project who the bottom of the roster players will be. Regardless, BTSC editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman will give their input onto their thoughts of who will make the roster come September.

As always, we welcome you to join the conversation in our comment section below this article. Let your voice be heard and join in the black-and-gold conversation!

Offense

Quarterback (3)

Dave: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph

Analysis: Before anyone takes a snap, I’m not ready to trade away a quarterback or be certain that Chris Oladokun grabs a position. All that can happen, but I want to see a little bit of quarterback play first.

Jeff: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph

Analysis: Chris Oladokun doesn’t make it to the team’s 53-man roster, but the hope is he is either stashed on Injured Reserve (IR) like Joshua Dobbs last season, or placed on the practice squad. If Oladokun plays well in the preseason, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the roster and another roster move being made, like a trade.

Running Back (3)

Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Mateo Durant

Analysis: I stole a position here in order to add an extra receiver. Did the Steelers really need four running backs and a fullback last year? I don’t think so. And why not throw in a UDFA to make the team somewhere? This is assuming the Steelers don’t add a veteran player before Week 1.

Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr. Anthony McFarland Jr.

Analysis: McFarland was a draft pick, and the Steelers still favor those players in these situations. Otherwise, I see Benny Snell being the No. 2 back regardless of the third player on this depth chart.

Fullback (1)

Dave: Derek Watt

Analysis: I’m not putting Connor Heyward in this category, so it stays with Watt. The shouting about the salary cap savings can now commence.

Jeff: Derek Watt

Analysis: The only true fullback on the team. Moving on...

Wide Receiver (6)

Dave: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski, Miles Boykin

Analysis: I specifically put Boykin at the end because if the Steelers only keep six wide receivers Gunner O should still be one of them as the returner. I see more value with an extra receiver than at running back the way Steelers are doing things. And the reason Boykin is the one at the end of the list is because he’s the most expensive of those who they may not keep.

Jeff: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski

Analysis: If there is a player whose roster spot isn’t guaranteed, it’s Boykin. Someone like Cody White or Anthony Miller could push him off the depth chart if they out-perform him in camp/preseason.

Tight End (3)

Dave: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward

Analysis: I think this is the easiest spot to put Connor Heyward on the roster, but it’s not that it’s his only position. I know that Steelers also like Rader, but he is still a prime guy to make the practice squad.

Jeff: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward

Analysis: I could see the team possibly keeping a fourth tight end in Kevin Rader, and considering Heyward could fall under several categories on this prediction it could be feasible. As for now, I’ll still to these three.

Offensive Line (9)

Dave: Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, J.C. Hassenauer, John Leglue

Analysis: I went with nine offense of lineman because it makes sense for the Steelers to do so, but they could go with eight and call up players from the practice squad if there is an injury. I could see John Leglue landing on the practice squad instead of the 53, or they could make sure they protect him and go the route listed above.

Jeff: Chuks Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., Joe Haeg, John Leglue, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenauer

Analysis: As of now I have Haeg beating out Chaz Green, but this is an area, primarily offensive tackle, where I could see the team making a move after cuts have been made. Otherwise, the interior of the line is constructed.

Total Offense: 25 Defense

Defensive Line (6 - Dave / 7 - Jeff)

Dave: Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams

Analysis: Here’s my first big surprise. I don’t have Stephon Tuitt in this group. There’s a chance he could land on the PUP list or something of that nature, but I’m just not sure yet. In other words, I’m not holding a roster spot for him and will adjust once we know it’s needed. I also think if the Steelers do have to it and keep an extra defensive lineman they might only go with four cornerbacks.

Jeff: Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Stephon Tuitt, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams

Analysis: What a depth chart along the defensive line. I think the team rolls with this group, and I also expect Tuitt back in the fold in 2022.

Outside Linebacker (4)

Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery

Analysis: With the way the roster stands now, I don’t see this being any different than these four players. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some depth added here before Week 1 if the Steelers don’t like what they’re getting in the preseason.

Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery

Analysis: Steelers save a roster spot with Avery being able to play both ILB and OLB. If a pass rusher is released by someone, the Steelers could add at this position.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Dave: Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson

Analysis: The top two guys I believe are safe, and I would even put Spillane in that category. I’m getting the feeling that there’s four dogs and two bones between Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson, Marcus Allen, and Ulysees Gilbert III. I’m just hoping the young guys show they can play and get the spots.

Jeff: Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson

Analysis: While it’s no guarantee Robinson makes the roster, I think he’ll be a very good special teams player for the Steelers. There is value in that, and so I think he makes the team.

Cornerback (5 - Dave / Jeff - 4)

Dave: Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Arthur Maulet, James Pierre

Analysis: I see Maulet sticking around for sub packages, and James Pierre and Justin Layne both fighting for what is, at most, one spot and could even be zero spots if the Steelers want to keep more on the defensive line.

Jeff: Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, James Pierre

Analysis: Going into a season with just four cornerbacks isn’t ideal, but the Steelers will likely utilize some of their safeties as slot cornerbacks. This makes Arthur Maulet expendable, and why I chose him to not make the team.

Safety (5)

Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood

Analysis: Karl Joseph could also be in the mix here, but it would be difficult for the Steelers to keep six safeties. Since he was on the practice squad for most of 2021, I’m sending him back there and going with the other players.

Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood

Analysis: For those who freaked out over having four cornerbacks, Norwood and Edmunds will likely help round out the defensive back depth chart by playing more flex positions.

Total Defense: 25 Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Analysis: Last year I went with these three players throughout most of the offseason despite there being battles at two of the spots. I don’t see the same battles this season.

Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Analysis: No need to make any changes, as of yet.

Total Team: 53

We break down the 53-man roster further on the latest episode of the “Let’s Ride” podcast. You can check out the latest episode in the player below:

FILM ROOM: Austin and Heyward are the final pieces of the Matt Canada puzzle

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 8:30am
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense got two more pieces to their overall puzzle on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

In the classic 1980 film “The Blues Brothers,” main characters Jake and Elwood Blues, played famously by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, are determined to put their old band back together to raise money to pay the taxes on the orphanage they grew up in to keep it from closing. Their “mission from God” results in an epic amount of chaos and destruction but, ultimately, accomplishes its aim.

Jake and Elwood must be role models for Matt Canada.

Canada, with the blessing of his bosses in Pittsburgh, has spent the 2022 offseason putting his own band back together. That band, the 2016 offense he coordinated at the University of Pittsburgh, is not being re-formed literally. The Steelers have not signed Nathan Peterman, who was Canada’s quarterback at Pitt, or James Conner, his tailback, or Quadree Henderson, his do-everything slot player. They have, however, assembled the pieces to mimic that 2016 unit.

That Pitt offense was perhaps the best in school history. It averaged 447 yards and 41 points per game, both school records. Its calling-card was creativity. Canada flummoxed opponents with unconventional personnel groups and formations, and his array of shifts and motions earned him a reputation as a guru of pre-snap movement. He ran simple concepts in unorthodox ways, like we see here:

That’s jet sweep to a 250-pound H-back. Canada loved heavy personnel groupings, and would sometimes load the field with multiple fullback/tight end types. He does so here, using 13 personnel to compact the defense so he can run a reverse to the speedy Henderson:

While there was a lot of smoke and mirrors to that offense, it was based on a common principle: run the football, and supplement the run with constraint plays. Connor led the way, rushing for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns. Henderson was the main complimentary piece and the player Canada aligned most creatively. He rushed for 631 yards on an array of jet sweeps and reverses and caught 26 passes, mostly on quick screens. The leading outside receiver was Jester Weah, a 6’3-205 pounder who had good ball skills and was effective on downfield routes, often preceded by play-action.

The use of in-line tight ends and fullbacks is what made the offense most interesting. By 2016, most coordinators treated these players as pawns. To Canada, they were more like rooks. He moved them horizontally and vertically, and used them to “capture” opponents with their blocking, pass-catching and running. George Aston, a 6’0-240 pound fullback, was his favorite in this regard. Aston had 22 rushes, caught 22 passes and totaled 15 touchdowns. Tight end Scott Orndorff was the team’s leading receiver, with 35 receptions.

Now that the dust has settled on free agency and the draft, it seems Canada intends to replicate this philosophy with the Steelers. We saw a limited version of it in 2021, but it never really took off because it lacked the personnel to make it work. Now, he has the pieces to fully embrace it. The overhaul started up front, with upgrades to the line. They will, hopefully, allow Najee Harris, whose downhill running style is reminiscent of Connor’s, to be the focus. Quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett are better versions of Peterman. 2nd Round draft pick George Pickens is a more dynamic version of Weah. Pat Freiermuth is Orndorff with far more athleticism.

Which brings us to the final two questions that complete the Canada puzzle. Who would be the speedy jack-of-all-trades who could play the Henderson role? And who would play George Aston, the versatile H-back who could be the rook Canada values?

Those questions have been answered.

In Round 4 of last week’s draft, Pittsburgh chose Memphis receiver Calvin Austin III. Austin is undersized at 5’8-180 but is solidly-built. He ran 4.32 at the NFL Scouting Combine in March, making him one of the fastest players in the draft. He played outside most of the time at Memphis but will likely bump inside for the Steelers, where he will fill the Henderson role and be used in a variety of ways.

Steelers’ fans may be wary of that description — cue the Dri Archer and Chris Rainey comparisons — but Austin is nothing like either of those players. Archer and Rainey were both running backs by trade whom the Steelers tried to convert into a hybrid role. Neither was big or strong enough to be a successful NFL back, nor did they run good enough routes to excel at receiver. By contrast, Austin is a proficient route-runner and accomplished receiver that the modern NFL, with its jet sweeps and read-options, can accommodate as an occasional ball-carrier.

When considering why the Steelers selected Austin, it’s important to envision how he will fit in Canada’s system. Getting the ball to Austin quickly and allowing him to operate in space will be a priority. This play looks an awful lot like the second GIF I posted above, with Henderson running a reverse out of a condensed formation. Memphis does something similar with Austin. The defense looks to have him hemmed in around the 35 yard line, but once he sticks his foot in the ground and gets vertical, he blows past people like they’re standing still:

Another way Memphis did this was with the perimeter screen game. This is a particularly nice design, where the quarterback executes sprint-out action one way to get the defense flowing away from Austin, then pivots and throws back to him. The Steelers tried this at times last season with Ray Ray McCloud, but he did not possess Austin’s burst. Austin only needs a crack on the perimeter to hit a home run. With the big, physical blockers they have outside in Freiermuth, Pickens, Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin, the Steelers should provide Austin the space he needs:

Memphis also used Austin well in their RPO game. This is something Canada attempted to develop with Ben Roethlisberger but found little success. Trubisky and Pickett have both been trained as RPO quarterbacks and should be more comfortable with their execution.

On this one, Memphis has a zone run paired with a slant from Austin, who is split wide to the right of the formation. The quarterback is reading the play-side linebacker, who is unblocked. When he steps up with the run action, it opens a window behind him for the slant. The quarterback finds Austin there, and once the ball is in his hands, you can see how dangerous he becomes:

As for traditional routes the Steelers employ, Austin did those things well, too. Here he is running Mesh, a Pittsburgh staple, where he comes across the field from his alignment split wide to the left of the formation. Memphis actually screws up the route — they have two players settle into the high hole instead of one crossing the field opposite Austin — but it doesn’t matter. Once Austin catches the football and gets upfield, he’s off to the races:

Finally, I mentioned above that Austin was an accomplished route runner. If the Steelers do want to play him outside, as perhaps the solo receiver on the back side of a 3x1 set, where he’s likely to draw single coverage, he can do that. Watch him here, aligned to the bottom of the screen, abuse the cornerback with a wicked break on this skinny post. Austin stems the route outside to get the corner to widen, then breaks across his face in a flash. He finishes the play by making a nice catch with his hands before splitting the corner and safety:

If Austin will be Quadree Henderson in Canada’s offense, 6th Round pick Connor Heyward will be George Aston. The 6’0-235 pound Heyward is almost identical in size to Aston. Like Aston, Heyward can block, run and catch. Heyward is a far superior athlete to Aston, however. He is also superior to Derek Watt. Many thought the selection of Heyward was redundant considering Watt remains on the team. But Heyward is more versatile than Watt, especially as a receiver. Watt will likely find a place on the roster as a special teams ace. When Canada wants an H-back, however, Heyward should get the nod.

To give you an idea of what type of an athlete we’re talking about with Heyward, here he is at tailback:

And here he is catching a swing route out of the backfield and making a defender miss after the reception:

George Aston couldn’t do these things. Nor can Derek Watt.

What makes Heyward most attractive, though, is his potential in the H-back role, which essentially combines the duties of fullback and tight end. Heyward, aligned here off the hip of the left tackle, provides an effective receiving option in the play-action passing game, something Canada seems determined to establish after years of the Steelers struggling in that area:

On this one, Heyward comes from the left wing into the right flat. The athleticism he displays for a player at 235 pounds is eye-opening:

Oh, and he returns kickoffs, too, where he is, let’s just say, challenging to bring down:

So Heyward can run, he can catch, and he can return kicks. That’s all impressive. But the real test will depend upon how well he can block. Heyward unselfishly switched from running back to tight end for his senior season at Michigan State. The Steelers have listed him on their depth chart as a tight end, too, although it’s unlikely he’ll play in-line the way Zach Gentry does. As an H-back, his blocking duties will involve cutting off edge players and leading on linebackers, like we see here:

And here:

In this role, Heyward is capable. His technique needs work, and he needs to learn to move his feet through the whistle. But he’s a hard-nosed player and a selfless teammate, and he will do what it takes to improve.

The versatility Austin and Heyward offer provide Canada tremendous flexibility. Their additions complete a bold overhaul for the Steelers. When play gets under way in September, only Diontae Johnson will remain from the group that started the season on offense in 2020. In just two years, Pittsburgh has fully re-shaped the unit to accommodate Canada. This puts the onus squarely on him, as he will own their success or failure. It’s a big gamble, putting so much faith in a guy who is yet to succeed at the NFL level. But, if he can recreate anything like the success he had at Pitt in 2016, it will have been a gamble worth taking.

The Steelers got a great value pick in DeMarvin Leal, or did they?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 7:15am
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarvin Leal looks like the kind of player who should have been selected much higher than he was in the 2022 NFL Draft. Why wasn’t he, though? There are many theories, but it’s still really hard for people to say.

As is usually the case with this portion of the draft, I had no idea who DeMarvin Leal, a defensive lineman from Texas A&M, was when the Steelers selected him in the third round (84th, overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday night.

But maybe I should have. According to the experts and big boards, Leal was a much better prospect than the 84th best. In fact, I’m currently looking at a notebook where I wrote down Drafttek’s big board rankings from about a month ago, and Leal was 26th. Did I just write that down wrong? I ask this question because when I checked it just now, Leal was the 57th overall prospect on that site.

I don’t know what to believe about Leal, other than nobody else seems to either.

Leal certainly had an accomplished career with the Aggies and was voted First-Team All-American as well as First-Team SEC in 2021.

Leal finished with 133 tackles and 13 sacks in three seasons and appears to have a good motor. He also went up against the best competition week-in and week-out in the toughest conference in college football.

So what’s the deal with Leal? Why didn’t he get drafted much higher? Why aren’t the fans celebrating this awesome steal the Steelers got in the third round?

Maybe because Leal is one of those “tweeners,” a guy who is too small to play in the interior of the line and too slow to play defensive end.

Case-in-point, according to Leal’s NFL.com Draft profile, he posted a 5.0 for his 40 time at the Combine. As for that competition, Leal evidently struggled while going up against two of the top tackles in the SEC as well as the 2022 NFL Draft—Evan Neal and Charles Cross.

Does this mean Leal was a bad pick? No, I don’t like to say such things about any of these players when they first turn pro, but if Leal’s lack of explosiveness was what helped to drop him into the third round—it would be much easier to find a “perfect fit” if one’s mearusables jumped off the charts—his ceiling might just be that of a decent and solid starter.

Is that enough? It remains to be seen. Can Leal help with the run if he’s considered to be too small to play in the interior? Can he terrorize the passer if he’s too slow to consistently win matchups at the line of scrimmage? If that’s a “no” on both counts, well, maybe Leal is just going to be okay.

But okay isn’t horrible, and it’s not set in stone just yet. That’s the great thing about being a rookie. You get to change a lot of minds and write your own story despite what your pre-draft profile might say.

Pros: DeMarvin Leal addresses a need along the defensive line.

Cons: He might lack the size and/or explosiveness to fill that need.

Pros: The Steelers are going to give Leal a good chance to fill it anyway.

Scouting Roundup on Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 6:00am
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the pre-draft evaluation of the Steelers 4th round pick.

With the 138th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected wide receiver Calvin Austin III from Memphis.

Here’s what was being said about Austin before the Steelers selected him in the third round.

Joe Marino for The Draft Network

The Good

Austin is an explosive athlete that can take the top off the defense but is also lethal with the ball in his hands. His skill set demands touches in the quick passing game, on handoffs, and in the vertical passing game.
Austin isn’t just a speedster, he is a nuanced receiver that runs great routes, has terrific hands, and has excellent ball skills. He features a diverse release package where he uses foot-fire, angles, and twitch to get off the line and into his routes.

The Bad

When it comes to areas of concern, it comes back to his size. Austin is an undersized receiver that doesn’t offer much length.

The Verdict

He has the makings of an electric top-three option for an NFL passing game that can also contribute in gadgety ways and as a punt returner. He will make an NFL team more explosive, but there are some limitations to be mindful of because of his frame.

Ian Cummings for Pro Football Network

The Good

Austin’s athletic profile is incredibly enticing, but his refinement and calculated approach take him a step above the average speed receiver. He has always shown flashes of route-running prowess, but Austin noticeably improved his attention to detail as a technician in 2021.

The Bad

As a receiver, Austin doesn’t have the size to consistently fight through contact at the stem. More physical defenders can delay and muddy his breaks. Additionally, Austin’s frame naturally limits his catch radius in situations where he has to extend. He doesn’t box out defenders well and can be draped by larger defensive backs.

The Verdict

Austin’s size will be a fierce mitigating factor for his upside as an NFL Draft prospect. But even taking that into account, the ceiling is high for a player like Austin.

Ryland B. for Behind the Steel Curtain

The Good

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.

The Bad

Size is still a major issue

The Verdict

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.

Reality Check

Okay, seriously, I tried. I tried to find meaningful analysis of Calvin Austin III that didn’t just state that he’s essentially a perfect receiver. . . but he’s small. But really, that’s all there is out there. Basically Calvin Austin III can be summed up by a tweet I put out jokingly right after the draft.

So. . . he's not big. pic.twitter.com/nbIDAmtJum

— Geoffrey Benedict (@phantaskippy) April 30, 2022 Summary

If you put the traits Calvin Austin III shows in a 5’10” receiver’s body, he’d be a top 5 pick. He’s a game wrecker with the ball in his hands, he’s a really good route runner, he’s not afraid to get physical.

He’s just small. Too small for the NFL. And I’m absolutely certain Mike Tomlin will be reminding him of that every practice of his Steelers career.

To be honest, at 5’7” he shouldn’t be able to make a successful career as an NFL receiver. But the Steelers aren’t betting against him, and neither am I.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/06/2022 - 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 four 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: Mock the Mock Results

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) break down the hottest and most toxic takes on Steelers twitter. This week, the fans (mostly) welcome a new draft class. We’ll break down the report cards from across the media. Plus, we’ll introduce the newest Steelers to some of the people they’ll find on Black and Gold social media. Then the results of our Mock the Mock study. We’ll tell you who had the most and least mockable mock drafts of the off-season, and reveal what the mocking stats tell us about reality.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Mock Draft results
  • 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: Small hands, bloodlines and characters abound

A week removed from the start of the NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers refilled their cabinet with seven drafted players. There are plenty of narratives attached to the class of ‘22 like hand-size, family ties and bold personalities. 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, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio 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: The Steelers’ options at quarterback are great heading into 2022

The Pittsburgh Steelers added two new quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, and it sets the organization up nicely for the future of the position. This, and more, on the latest “Let’s Ride” podcast with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • How the Steelers’ QB situation is solid heading into 2022
  • 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

The Steelers offense can be extremely versatile with the additions of Pickens and Austin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/05/2022 - 2:30pm
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver room now allows Matt Canada to have the versatility he wants at the position.

When you take the time to consider just how the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver room has changed throughout the course of an offseason, it is pretty incredible. In 2021, their wide receiver depth chart looked something like this:

JuJu Smith-Schuster
James Washington
Chase Claypool
Diontae Johnson
Ray-Ray McCloud

Now, fast forward to the Steelers’ current wide receiver depth chart after the 2022 NFL Draft, and it has changed dramatically. Here is what a rough depth chart would look like prior to minicamps:

Diontae Johnson
Chase Claypool
George Pickens (R)
Calvin Austin III (R)
Miles Boykin
Anthony Miller/Cody White/Rico Bussey

While the two rookies are far from proven commodities, it is easy to say how the team’s pass catchers give the team a versatility they didn’t have last season under Matt Canada. When it comes to versatility, the more you can do will help you see the field more. In this case, it starts with the biggest question on fans’ minds...

Who will play in the slot in 2022?

Could it be George Pickens who mans the slot?

“We see him as kind of both.” Matt Canada said after the second round pick and his ability to play both outside and the slot. “He’s so explosive, I mean you look at what he did in his career down there, he did a lot. They used him in multiple places with the talent they had, and we certainly have a couple of guys who we feel really good about at wideout. So, we’ll see where he fits and where the best place to put him is, but I think he can do both.”

Is Calvin Austin the answer in the slot?

“He can play both.” Wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson said after the 4th Round selection. “Right now, we don’t know exactly where we will put him, but with his ability to play both inside and outside, he gives us some flexibility in that regard.”

What about someone like Chase Claypool, any chance he is their next slot receiver?

“I believe he [Claypool] does [have the ability to play the slot].” Canada said. “I think we can do a lot of different things with Chase, and I’m excited about exploring that, when we get into that here through the summer and the next fall.”

A lot of possibilities, but no one who is the clear cut slot receiver most offensive coordinators covet this time of year. But back to those rookie receivers and what they bring to the room. When it comes to the Steelers’ second round pick, it was clear what separated Pickens from the rest of the receivers in the draft.

“His body of work prior to his injury is one thing we were impressed with.” said Canada. “We did a lot of study on his 2020 season and even prior to that. I do think his pro day showed how explosive he was, and we were there to watch it. Coach Jackson and Coach Tomlin were there, and I think that put him in a place where we felt really good about having a chance to get him at this point in the draft.”

Outside of his individual skill set, how can someone like Pickens come in and help the wide receiver room?

“I think Diontae and Chase have spoken for themselves. Chase had a great year, maybe not what he wanted last year but was really close. ‘Tae came back and had a really good year.” Canada added. “I think when you have two guys like that, one more explosive receiver doesn’t allow anybody to double team. They have to pick who they want to double. Obviously, we feel good about Pat [Freiermuth] so I think it allows us to have great versatility in our offense and allow people to decide who they want to double, because you can’t double them all. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to work, I’m not going to get into that yet, but I do think it’s a really good asset for us.”

Pickens is a big target, and the opposite could be said about Calivn Austin III. But what Austin brings to the receiver room is something entirely different. Not just speed, but a competitiveness which made him an attractive selection for the Steelers.

“He’s probably one of the fastest guys in the room, but he’s a smaller guy.” Jackson said after the 4th round pick. “All the rest of the guys are pretty big except for Diontae [Johnson] but he brings the speed element, and he brings toughness. Not saying that the guys weren’t tough last year, but he brings some toughness along with his competitiveness, and I believe he’s going to make the room fun. He’s going to bring some juice and stuff to the room.”

When you add all this up, the youth combined with experience and the position flexibility it makes the Steelers offense extremely versatile. Versatility is something the offense didn’t have much of in 2021, and the hope is 2022 will be the year Canada’s offense can be properly implemented and blossom with his players now in place.

The receivers now in the fold will be a huge part of that process.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp.

Updating the Steelers’ 2022 offensive depth chart following draft weekend

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/05/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

After filling out their roster over draft weekend, where do the Steelers stand at each position?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to shape their 2022 roster, some things become a little more clear as others still have plenty of questions. Looking specifically at the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers have retained several of their free agents and added new players into the mix both in the draft, free agency, and undrafted rookie free agents.

Since the team filled out and ready to head into Phase 2 of OTAs and minicamp, let’s look at the Steelers offensive depth chart by position. For now, we will look at all players on the Steelers’ roster and the rookies who were added. The players added over the weekend put the Steelers over the 90-man limit, so once new contracts are made official there will need to be a few cuts.

QB
Mitch Trubisky
Mason Rudolph
Kenny Pickett
Chris Oladokun

RB
Najee Harris
Benny Snell Jr.
Anthony McFarland
Trey Edmunds
Mataeo Durant
Jaylen Warren

FB
Derek Watt

WR
Diontae Johnson
Chase Claypool
Geroge Pickens
Calvin Austin III
Miles Boylin
Cody White
Anthony Miller
Steven Sims
Tyler Vaughns
Rico Bussey
Gunner Olszewski

TE
Pat Freiermuth
Zach Gentry
Kevin Rader
Connor Heyward
Jace Sternberger

OT
Chukwuma Okorafor
Dan Moore Jr.
Joe Haeg
Chaz Green
Jordan Tucker
Jake Dixon

G
Kevin Dotson
James Daniels
John Leglue
Malcolm Pridgeon
Nate Gilliam
Chris Owens

C
Kendrick Green
Mason Cole
J.C. Hassenauer

When it comes to the offensive line, I picked just one category for players at this time although there are a number of players with position flexibility.

Much like defense, the Steelers have proper numbers at each position group going into training camp. Well the Steelers seem to be satisfied with the names in each group, fans May have differing opinions when it comes to that for each position.

So what position group stands out as having more players than necessary? Which ones do you think the Steelers still may have the most concerns? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

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