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Have a BAD week? A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 54 min ago
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

BTSC’s random thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

After an eventful last two weeks in Pittsburgh football, the current week was awfully quiet, but as always, BTSC continues their recap of those events for our readers. But where they went wrong, was asking the one narcissistic writer that would put a bizarre spin on it to do it. So let’s all take a look at a BAD week in the Burgh together.

Sunday

  • Dave Schofield and his article on BTSC was quoted by Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk citing that the Steelers are not raising ticket prices for 2021. Dave went to his local courthouse in an attempt to change his name to Dave Scoopfield.

Monday

  • The dreams of those that wanted Sam Darnold in a black and gold uniform were dashed when Sam was sent to the Panthers for a meager price. I could have afforded that and hired the former USC signal caller to binge watch HBO Max.
  • Karl Joseph Watch Day 5: No report
  • Najee Harris was quoted on a tweet by Ian Rappaport that the Steelers Zoom call was his favorite. I hope he had more calls than just the Steelers and Jaguars.
  • It’s the day after Easter. I’m suffering from a Reeses Egg/hard-boiled egg hangover.

Tuesday

  • Speaking of hangovers, finally recovering from my vaccination over the weekend.
  • According to Mark Kaboly’s tweet, Steven Nelson told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller that he thought he outplayed his contract and deserved a new contract, but the Steelers didn’t share the same belief. Same thing happened between me and my first wife.
  • Karl Joseph Watch Day 6: Crickets
  • All quiet in Pittsburgh. But the WWE Hall of Fame inductions are on Peacock. Why do I love that stuff?
  • Speaking of Peacock, they air reboots of Saved By The Bell and Punky Brewster. I wish they’d redo Night Court.

Wednesday

  • The Steelers really like their sets of brothers. The team signed Jamir Jones, a linebacker from Notre dame that played with Houston. His brother, Jarron, is an offensive lineman with the Steelers.
  • Spent the rest of the day wondering if Minkah Fitzpatrick has a brother.
  • J.T O’Sullivan was on The Curtain Call with Geoffrey Benedict and Michael Beck. Great show talking about quarterbacks. Go and download it.
  • Dwayne Haskins deleted his Twitter account and removed all Steelers references from Instagram.
  • Karl Joseph Watch Day 7: Nada

Thursday

  • The Pirates suck again. Everything is normal once more.
  • Karl Joseph Watch Day 8: Seriously, he’s not coming!

Friday

  • Karl Joseph Watch Day 9: Signed with the Raiders. Well that was a waste of time.
  • James Conner repeatedly is rumored to be having serious talks with the Cardinals. I once drank so much Zima that I had a serious talk with an actual cardinal.
  • The Steelers signed DE T.J. Carter to a deal. It was a major disappointment to BTSC’s Tony Defeo when he realized that it wasn’t T.K. Carter, former co-star of Punky Brewster and Good Morning, Miss Bliss (the original title of Saved By The Bell).
  • Joe Haden announces that he would not be switching his number, but would have if he was a rookie to No. 5.

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my binge watching and black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

Are all the Steelers Week 1 starters in 2021 currently on the roster?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 5 hours 24 min ago
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Steelers will be adding draft picks, undrafted free agents, and others between now and September, but will any of them be the starter by Week 1?

The start of the 2021 NFL season is five months away. As depressing as it is to say this statement, it also shows the Steelers have a lot they can do with the remaining 18 offseason positions they can still fill in order to get to their 90-man roster. But will any of those additions line up as a starter for Week 1 this fall?

The reason the question is asked is in order to look at the Steelers current roster and see who is in line to be the starters. Are there positions where the Steelers desperately need an upgrade? While “desperately” is a relative term some may use to describe the situaition, an upgrade of some sort at several positions would be in the team’s best interest by the time the season rolls around.

While many Steelers fans are looking for the 2021 NFL draft to fill out the starting lineup, it’s not a guarantee that any of their draft picks will be starting in Week 1. Of course it is a desirable thing to see their rookies ready to go as soon as possible, but the Steelers are one of several NFL teams who try not to force their rookies onto the field too soon.

I have said many times that the Steelers do not draft their players to start right away, even their top selections. While I still stand by the statement, I don’t think it’s presented in the best way possible. After dwelling on the subject even more, I think the better way to say how the Steelers deal with things is they they enter the season with a plan in case any of their draft picks are not ready.

Case in point, none of the Steelers draftees from 2020 were Week 1 starters. Yes, Chase Claypool contributed right away, but he only saw 30% of the offensive snaps the first week of the season. As we all know, Claypool’s integration into the offense did not take long as by the fourth game he not only started, but had over 100 receiving yards with three touchdowns and three rushes for another touchdown.

As we all should know, the Steelers did not have a first round draft pick in 2020. Perhaps it is the first rounders who should be plugged in right away in Week 1.

The Steelers last first round selection was when they traded up to the 10th spot to select Devin Bush in 2019. While Bush officially did get his start in Week 1, he did not start in Week 2 and played just under 80% of the snaps in both games. By Weeks 3 and 4, Bush was up to playing 100% of the snaps. Had Bush not been ready, the Steelers had specifically signed Mark Barron to fill the role if needed.

Sticking with the 2019 draft class, Diontae Johnson was eased into the lineup the first two weeks seeing less than 50% of the snaps on offense. By Week 3, Johnson started the game and played 79% of the snaps.

Going back another draft class, Terrell Edmunds was forced into starting duty Week 1 due to nagging injuries to Morgan Burnett. James Washington only saw 11 snaps in Week 1 his rookie season and did not even have a target.

Not that I need to drive my point home any more, but in 2017 T.J. Watt was a Week 1 starter for the Steelers as he proved himself to be ready of earning the job over James Harrison. But also remember the Week 1 starter across from Watt his rookie season was Anthony Chickillo as Bud Dupree missed the game due to injury. As for other members of the Steelers fantastic 2017 draft class, JuJu Smith-Schuster officially got the start in Week 1 as the Steelers opened with three wide receivers, but he saw less than half of the Steelers offensive snaps and did not have a target. Smith-Schuster would not start another game for the Steelers until Week 8.

Ultimately, my point is the Steelers don’t go into the season unless they have a plan for the rookies not being ready to start the very first week. Looking at the Steelers roster as it sits, is this team ready to take the field with the players they currently have?

There are several positions of concern if the Steelers are choosing their starters at this time. While either B.J. Finney or J.C. Hassenauer could be the short-term starter for the Steelers, I think most of Steelers Nation would be leery of either one of them starting for the entire season, especially since Finney did not play an offensive snap in 2020.

At the running back position, the Steelers don’t have a player that has more than eight career starts. Both newly acquired free agent Kalen Ballage and Steelers fourth-year running back Jalen Samuels have each started eight games in their career. Third-year player Benny Snell Jr has started five games. Will one of these players be the Steelers starter Week 1, or will they be adding a player in some manner who will get the call to start the season?

The reason I posed this question is because there is a good chance that most, if not all of the starters for the Steelers in Week 1 of the upcoming season are currently on the roster. As much as fans would like a “plug and play” draftee at pick 24, that type of player still may not ready to be fully integrated until the third or fourth week of the season. As much as you hope the Steelers find a player who is ready to go their first NFL game, like a Devin Bush or T.J. Watt, there is not guarantee this will be the case.

This question will be so much more easily answered once the 2021 draft occurs. There may be a player at running back, linebacker, or center that the Steelers will have ready for the beginning of the 2021 season. But if the Steelers don’t invest high draft capital at that position, there’s a decent chance the player may not be ready to go at the start of the season. And as much as the Steelers may need certain players at certain places, we have seen far too many times, especially among other NFL franchises, teams putting too much on a player early in their career has ultimately been their downfall. If you can trust anyone not to do this, it’s usually the Steelers.

So how would you feel if the starting lineup in Week 1 of the 2021 season come strictly from the players currently on the roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Do you feel there is a position that they have to find somebody else, either in the draft or from the remaining free agents, who could fill in right away? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Is 2021 really the last ride for Ben Roethlisberger?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 24 min ago
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Most Steelers fans feel this is the last season for Ben Roethlisberger, but is it really the end?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers organization prepares for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, most are assuming this is Ben Roethlisberger’s final year under center. After signing a new contract which helped decrease his salary cap hit in 2021, Steelers General Manager and Vice President Kevin Colbert released the following statement via the team’s official website:

“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” said Colbert. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same – to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

Notice some of the verbiage used in the above statement.

“return to the Steelers in 2021”

The Steelers added voidable years in Roethlisberger’s new contract, but it sure sounds like the Steelers are either taking it one year at a time, or are banking on this being Roethlisberger’s final year with the team.

Let’s look at what Roethlisberger had to say after the new contract was signed and the ink had finally dried:

“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” said Roethlisberger. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team to address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

Notice Roethlisberger never stated this was “one last ride” or “a chance to win a championship in my final year”. Rather, it sounded like Roethlisberger wasn’t done, and possibly not just for this season.

Which brings me to my ultimate point with this article. What if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t done after 2021, what would the organization do? Would they tell him he is no longer welcome, sign Mason Rudolph to a new contract and force Roethlisberger into a Troy Polamalu/Hines Ward type retirement? Or, if he plays well in 2021, welcome Roethlisberger back for another season?

The voidable years in Roethlisberger’s new contract certainly leave a potential return as an option, but the scenarios for Roethlisberger go beyond just his will to return in 2022. What if the season goes south in a hurry? What if Roethlisberger doesn’t play well in 2021? What if, somehow, the Steelers win a Super Bowl, does Roethlisberger ride off into the sunset like his childhood idol John Elway and call it a career?

The fan base can debate Roethlisberger’s future until they are blue in the face, but I think it would be foolish to think Roethlisberger is thinking 2021 is the last ride. In fact, if you listen to Roethlisberger, or read his comments, you would most likely think the complete opposite. Barring a disastrous 2021 season, I feel Roethlisberger will want to return in 2022. The question then is will the Steelers want him back?

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to follow BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

Podcast: Which player will show Steeler fans that the standard is the standard?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 54 min ago

Check out our latest weekly venture with an international flavor. Put another shrimp on the barbie and check out Steelers Touchdown Under with two blokes from Australia, Matty Peverell and Mark Davison.

When Mike Tomlin says that “the standard is the standard” in means something. It’s the Steeler way. Which player is next to make that mean something?

Join the two Aussie blokes, two mates, Matty Peverell & Mark Davison (from Steelers Nation Australia) and the future, as they bring an international perspective to the Steelers 2021 offseason and what needs to be done to set the team up for a successful 2021 chase for that seventh Lombardi.

This is what will be discussed on the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts that’s now moved over to its live YouTube home.

This week, Marky D is joined by Geoffrey Benedict who is in for the vacationing Matty P.

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers Fact or Fiction: a-ha edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 54 min ago
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

BTSC takes five burning questions regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers and labels them as fact or fiction.

There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the guessing going on more than anything with little action going on. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be the timeless No. 1 hit from 1985, “Take On Me” by a-ha.

Here’s a sample of that great single...

So needless to say

I’m odds and ends

I’ll be stumbling away

Slowly learning that life is OK

Say after me

It’s no better to be safe than sorry

Take on me, (take on me)

Take me on, (take on me)

I’ll be gone

In a day or two

Oh the things that you say

Is it live or

Just to play my worries away

You’re all the things I’ve got to remember

You’re shying away

I’ll be coming for you anyway

You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some great 80s techno pop from Norway. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.

Are we on point? Only time will tell.

The Steelers are likely to trade up in the first round for Justin Fields Fiction

Reports came out this week that the Steelers have a whole lot of interest in Justin Fields. To do so, the interest would have to be so high that Kevin Colbert and Company would have to be keen to the possibility of trading up in the draft for the quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Now it’s not out of the question for the black and gold to trade current and future picks to slide up and take a player that they greatly covet. It happened just as recently as 2019 when the franchise traded a second in ‘19 and a third in ‘20 to select Devin Bush Jr. But Bush was selected to fill an immediate need and because he could start right away. The quarterback position in 2021 is not as pressing as other positions such as center and running back. I view Fields as the fourth-best quarterback in the draft class and I can’t see the Steelers parting with valuable draft capital to obtain him with Ben Roethlisberger extended. But with the sprinkling in of Matt Canada’s offense, Justin could be the ideal quarterback of the future and the Steelers could get started on the future now, instead of getting No. 7 the help that he needs now.

It’s okay to pick a running back in the first round Fact

It used to be that the first round of the entry draft would be littered with top-flight running backs. But that has changed quite a bit in the new millennium. In the last ten drafts, only six rushers have gone in the top ten and a mere 12 were selected in the first round. Last year, LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Hellaire barely made it on the first day by being tabbed by Kansas City with the final pick of Round 1. In the second round of last year’s draft, standouts D’Andre Swift (35), Johnathan Taylor (41), Cam Akers (52) and J.K. Dobbins (55) went between 32 and 55. The earliest instance that the Steelers selected a back in the past decade was 2013 when they grabbed Le’Veon Bell in the second round with the 48th pick overall. Even though there is value in the third and fourth rounds with runners such as Trey Sermon, Kenneth Gainwell, Rhamondre Stevenson and Chubba Hubbard (to name a few)... the trio of Travis Etienne, Najee Harris and Javonte Williams seem ready to start Week One and could be game breakers. They could all possibly be gotten in the second round, but it’s very unlikely they they will last when the Steelers pick next at 55. Needs at center and offensive tackle are great, I know that. But it all depends on how much the Steelers want these named positions. They could still get a very good OT in Round 2 and could very well get a blockbuster center in Round 3. But the front office needs to determine which one of these guys that they want the most and not care what round they take him in, regardless of whether it’s not considered a typical Round 1 position anymore.

Cornerback is now high on the list of priorities Fact

I’ve read plenty of submissions in live chats and in comment sections in which the author would voice how dismayed they would be if the Steelers took defense with their top pick. I get how pressing the need is for offensive players is in this draft. I just rambled on excessively in the previous offering. However, Joe Haden will not be around too much longer, as this is the final season on his contract and Steven Nelson is gone. That leaves Cameron Sutton, James Pierre and Justin Layne. Sutton has the most experience of the trio, but still has not garnered a lot of time because of the presence of Hayden and Nelson. I know that the Steelers have a stigma of not being great at drafting the corner position, but we do forget about some decent selections like William Gay, Keenan Lewis and Sutton. If the Steelers were drafting in the top 10 year after year, they would be better at drafting at that particular position. But I also know that I have a hard time arguing this point with a lot of people. If the right player is available though, the Steelers front office needs to keep on trying.

Trading back is fine, but ideally not out of the first round Fact

I am definitely on Team Trade Back, but as deep as this draft is in some places… the Steelers don’t want to drop too far back. The main reason for that is the fifth-year option that comes with a first round pick is so critical. Also, the Steelers don’t want to lose out on a possible immediate starter and franchise player. Of course, one could come in the second round or another. But if the Steelers could get another second round pick (which is a hard get) or a third (more realistic), They could surely accomplish a lot of their goals in the 2021 draft. What I’d really like to see them get is a fifth-round pick. Since they lost one in the Chris Wormley trade last year (they did get a sixth in that same trade though), they will go a long time without a selection on Day Three. I’m still in favor of the trade down, but only if it’s done strategically. Trading down with Tampa Bay, who could use a running back, could give the Steelers the No. 32 and the No. 64 pick to go with their 55th.

Character issues aren’t that big of a deal when it comes to draft prospects Fiction

Jeff Hartman brought this up the other day on The Steelers Preview and I had a chance to really think about it. Character issues are actually an enormous deal when selecting a player in any round. even those with great talent suffer on the field because of their suspensions. Josh Gordon was not the same when he finally came back, neither was Martavis Bryant really. Bryant was a first round talent that fell all the way to the Steelers in the fourth round. I don’t think they would make that selection again if they knew then what would lead to his trade. Sure trouble can find a player without issues as well. Randy Gregory and Shane Ray cone to mind as guys that dropped because of off-field issues and never lived up to their talent. Now there are many that you could bring up, despite red flags, that flourished. But the bottom line remains that blemishes on the record can become a headache that can’t be remedied for franchises.

Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.

Will the Steelers entire 2020 draft class make the 53-man roster in 2021?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 8 hours 54 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Every Steelers draft pick from the 2020 draft saw action in their rookie season in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 draft class made history last season, even as one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. For the first time ever, every draft pick saw regular-season game action for the Steelers during the rookie season. Not only have the Steelers not had an entire draft class appear in at least one game at rookies, they have never had an entire draft class all appear in one game for the Steelers at any point in their career. The contributions from their six elections, especially with such a limited training camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is truly remarkable.

When the season started, five of the Steelers six draft picks made the 53-man roster with the only exception being safety Antoine Brooks Jr. Brooks was signed to the Steelers practice squad and elevated to the active roster for four separate games as either a standard elevation or a Covid replacement. At the beginning of December, Brooks was added to the 53-man roster.

As for the other five selections in the 2020 NFL draft, they all remained on the active roster, minus anyone temporary going on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, for the entire season. Every player appeared in a game with Brooks appearing in the fewest with four. Three of the six draft choices started regular-season games in 2020 with Kevin Dotson starting four, Alex Highsmith starting five, and Chase Claypool starting six.

What the Steelers rookie class did in 2020 was truly amazing. What makes it even more of a better story is the fact the Steelers did not have a first-round selection.

So what about the 2021 season? Will all the players make the roster this year?

As we know, in the NFL there’s always somebody out there looking to take someone else’s job. While their first season with the Steelers seemed to be successful, these players still have work to do and should not take their roster spots for granted.

First of all, the three players who started games in 2020 are also pegged to be opening day starters for the Steelers at this time. Chase Claypool, Alex and Smith, and Kevin Dotson should all be considered locks for the Steelers 53-man roster assuming they are all healthy.

As for the other three players, they also have a solid chance of making the roster. Fourth-round pick Anthony McFarland Jr. played in 11 games in 2020 and saw 89 offensive snaps. On the season, McFarland carried the ball 33 times for 113 yards and had six receptions on nine targets for 54 yards. As the Steelers are looking to revamp the running game, it’s not impossible for McFarland to be someone who could be on the chopping block, but it is highly unlikely that the Steelers would not give him at least two seasons to show what he can do in the NFL.

If Carlos Davis can keep from getting into scuffles with teammates on the sidelines, he has the opportunity to continue to earn playing time along the defensive line. Davis appeared in nine games for the Steelers in 2020 where he had one tackle for loss and six total tackles. On the season, Davis saw 54 defensive snaps and two snaps on special teams. Although the Steelers have their entire defensive line returning from 2020, it appears Davis should continue to have one of the spots.

The player who is most likely a question mark is the one who saw the least amount of action last season. As stated before, Antoine Brooks Jr appeared in four games for the Steelers where he had two tackles. In all, he played 29 defensive snaps and 10 snaps on special teams. What Brooks does have going for him right now is the Steelers are not overly crowded at the safety position. Of course, the Steelers could add more players in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft or in free agency. Either way, Brooks will definitely get his chance to showcase his skills in training camp and should be favored to make the roster for 2021.

So while not every player is a lock, every member of the Steelers 2020 draft class has a good chance of making the 53-man roster come Week 1 of the 2021 season. Of course, a lot can change between now and them, and injuries also come in to play, but minus those possibilities each player should have their opportunity this fall.

So what do you think? Do you think all six members of the Steelers 2020 draft class will make the 53-man roster to start the 2021 season? If not, who do you think is on the bubble? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

My latest NFL Draft crush: Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 24 min ago
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

If I had one draft wish, it would be that the Steelers selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

Admit it, when you first glanced at the “Kyle” part of my headline, your initial urge was to rush over to the comments section and/or your favorite social media platform and complain about Behind the Steel Curtain’s ongoing desire to see the Steelers draft a quarterback.

No, the Kyle that has caught my eye isn’t Florida quarterback Kyle Trask; it’s Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

Now, before you rush over to the comments section and/or your favorite social media platform to complain about me having a draft crush that the Steelers have no realistic way of selecting, take a chill pill.

I know this, but people can’t help who they develop crushes on. Truth be told, I’ve been admiring Pitts since I started seeing his name at the top of draft boards months ago. I mean, a tight end at the top of NFL draft boards with all of those quarterbacks, receivers, offensive tackles, cornerbacks and elite pass-rushers? That’s kind of like The Good Fight—a CBS All-Access original—receiving similar accolades to the original programming produced by streaming titans, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

But it wasn’t until I started paying attention to what scouts and experts were saying about Pitts that I truly became intrigued by him.

I used to think “Too fast for linebackers and too big for defensive backs” was just a cliched, default thing non-experts like me said when describing the key attributes of a dominant tight end. However, not only do experts actually say this stuff about Pitts—“He’s a tough matchup for most linebackers and too big for most cornerbacks,” says NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein—but it shows up on screen when you watch his highlights.

The kid—excuse me, the MAN—is a beast. Pitts is 6’6”, and defensive backs look like small children as they try to cover him. Ever d-up your little brother in basketball? That’s how these defensive backs look as they try in vain to reach around Pitts’ enormous frame and prevent him from reeling in a pass. Yes, Pitts is way too fast for linebackers, but with 4.4 speed, defensive backs also have trouble catching him in the open field. Even when some itty, bitty cornerback catches up with Pitts, however, good luck wrestling his 245-pound frame to the ground.

Pitts didn’t make life easy on defenders in college, and I doubt they’ll have much success stopping him in the NFL.

Zeirlein’s draft profile of Pitts includes such a long list of strengths, if I copied and pasted all of them, I might be accused of plagiarism.

But there is one that I absolutely must share:

  • “Body control and timing make time stand still as airborne baller.”

Doesn’t that quote make the hair on the back of your neck stand up?

Pitts also has some weaknesses (nobody is perfect), including a lack of the strength, size and instincts necessary to block like a traditional tight end.

When it comes to that, who cares? Worrying about Pitts’ blocking ability is like worrying about the trunk space of your new sports car.

There are those who think Pitts will transition to receiver at the pro level, but I say keep him at tight end. It’s a new era for the position. Tight ends are supposed to be weapons in today’s NFL, not glorified tackles—it’s like, “Hello, the 1980s called; they want their idea of a tight end back.”

Anyway, I realize the Steelers have no realistic shot at drafting Pitts, but if you gave me one wish, he would be the player they somehow wound up with.

When was the last time the Steelers had a Gronk-like tight end that was an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses? If you said, "never," you would be correct.

Word is, the Falcons could take Pitts with the fourth pick, and if they don’t, Carolina might give the newly-acquired Sam Darnold a major weapon. I sure hope the Bengals and Dolphins don’t get any ideas in between.

If the Steelers can’t have Kyle Pitts, I don’t want any other team in the AFC crushin’ on him.

NFL prospects start accepting offers to be present at the live 2021 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - 11 hours 54 min ago
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft will be a public event for the first time since 2019, and several prospects plan on being there in person to hear their name called.

It is weird to say, but the NFL hasn’t had a live NFL Draft since 2019. Not that two years ago is a ridiculous amount of time, but the 2020 virtual draft was more than different. Many fans didn’t know what to expect for the 2021 NFL Draft. It was scheduled to be live in Cleveland, OH, and after the league decided to cancel the NFL Scouting Combine it didn’t look good for the draft.

Nonetheless, the NFL announced they were going to have the draft live, and with fans in attendance, so it looks as if the virtual draft was a one year blip on the radar. The draft is just weeks away, and that means specific prospective players are accepting invitations to be at the draft live for when their name is called.

The list of players who have accepted invites as it currently stands:

  • Alabama DT Christian Barmore
  • LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
  • Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
  • Alabama QB Mac Jones
  • North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
  • Penn State LB Micah Parsons
  • Florida TE Kyle Pitts
  • Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
  • Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II
  • Miami DE Gregory Rousseau

This from the NFL’s official website:

The 2021 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 29 with the first round (8 p.m. ET), followed by Rounds 2-3 on Friday (7 p.m. ET) and finishing with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday May 1 (12 p.m. ET). Tune in to NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes for live coverage on each day. Construction on the main stage along Cleveland’s waterfront has already begun, near FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Some of the best aspects of last year’s unique virtual draft will be implemented into the television broadcast, including the participation of draft prospects from their homes.

The upcoming draft seems to be more normal than most had expected, and the hope is this is just the beginning of NFL stadiums having fans in attendance for all of the now 17-game regular season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Retro Podcast: Steelers shred “paper champs’ on an “Immaculate” anniversary

Behind the Steel Curtain - 12 hours 24 min ago

Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo take a look back into Steelers lore in the BTSC family of podcasts. Check out the newest offering of the “Steelers Retro Show“.

Our journey in the BTSC Delorean to Steeler yesterday begins in a time when Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was at the top of the movie box office, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was lighting up the airwaves and the Steel City was celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

Meanwhile in Tampa, the Pittsburgh Steelers were underdogs to a team that they called “paper champions” a season before after the Bucs disrupted their pregame warmups on ABC’s Monday Night Football.

Welcome to December 23, 2002.

Flash back to that awesome classic on the Steelers Retro Show and join BTSC’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis as they go back in time and relive this memorable matchup.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • What was happenin’ in 2002
  • The Steelers travel to Tampa trying to clinch a division
  • and MUCH MORE!

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

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Saturday Night Open Thread: Troy, Teases, and Townshend

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 6:00pm
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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

It is absolutely gorgeous outside right now, so I am not going to spend much time with a preamble. Off to get the deck furniture out from storage and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee in the sun before the rain sets in this afternoon...

  1. Sadly, an era came to an end 6 years ago on this date, when Troy Polamalu retired. What is your favorite Troy memory?
  2. With the usual ‘underwhelming’ activity in Free Agency, what position would you fill prior to the 2021 NFL Draft? Additionally, what position do you think Kevin Colbert will fill (if he is able to get someone to agree to terms of course)?
  3. This week I read an article claiming that the average American put on a whopping 29 lbs during COVID! Are you average, above average, or an underachiever? Either way, what has been the recipe for disaster or (hopefully) success?
  4. To add another layer to the question above, let’s revisit the most important meal of the day. Saturday is a day of ‘rest’ for most of us, and that should give us some extra time for breakfast. Give us your best weekend breakfast.
  5. Clearly, many of us share a love of all things Steelers. But we also love to talk about food, beverage, movies and music. I can only imagine some of you and your air guitar solos. So, give us your favorite tune to bring out the air guitar and channel your inner Hendrix, Pete Townshend or Eddie Van Halen.

With the 2021 NFL Draft weeks away, Steelers team needs come into shape

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 1:30pm
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to start rebuilding their roster through the 2021 NFL Draft, but what positions they target is still up in the air.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several needs on their 2021 roster, and they are looking to rebuild their roster, especially on offense, through the 2021 NFL Draft. With the salary cap dipping from $198.2 million dollars in 2020 to $183 million dollars in 2021, teams like the Steelers were forced to be more spectators than buyers when NFL Free Agency started in March.

Teams with little to no cap space were forced to look ahead to the draft and hope to start the rebuilding process the old fashioned way — through the draft.

But this isn’t anything new with the Steelers, they have always tended to build from within, focusing on drafting players rather than going out and spending big money on free agents.

With that said, and the NFL Draft just weeks away, it is fair to say the Steelers’ team needs are starting to come into shape. Pro Days are all but over, and the Steelers’ scouts, coaches and front office personnel are starting to construct their draft boards.

What are the team’s biggest needs heading into the draft process? NFL.com’s Dan Parr ranked the team needs for all 32 teams. See what he says about the Steelers:

Biggest needs: OL, RB, EDGE, CB, LB

With time likely running low on the remainder of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the Steelers’ main focus in the draft should be bolstering an offensive line that will be replacing at least two starters (Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler) and injecting life into a running game that ranked dead last a season ago.

In my opinion, putting OL (offensive line) as a team need is a cop-out. Of course the Steelers need to add along the offensive line, but what position takes precedence? Would a tackle be a top need over a center or guard? Those are truly the difficult questions the Steelers face, but outside of that there is no arguing Parr’s team needs. The Steelers absolutely need to add to their offensive line depth, running back, pass rusher, linebacker alongside Devin Bush and with Steven Nelson released the cornerback position also becomes a need.

What do you think? Is there a position you would rank ahead of another? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft and the remaining time in Free Agency.

Podcast: The Steelers were never going to trade for Sam Darnold

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 11:00am

There is plenty to discuss on the latest episode of the popular podcast Steelers Six Pack w/ Tony.

The more anybody thinks about it, the more it should be realized that the Steelers were never going to trade for Sam Darnold. All that plus your questions on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack! Join Tony Defeo on those those subjects, engaging in draft talk and taking your questions on this edition 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
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

Top 5 things the Steelers should NOT do in the 2021 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 10:00am
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, it is worth going over what the Steelers organization should avoid during the three day event.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, and many in the fan base are enamored with what the organization should do when it is their turn to pick during the three day event.

But what about what the Steelers shouldn’t do? What about the aspects of the draft the Steelers should avoid at all costs?

Thursday night during the Steelers Preview podcast, myself, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis answered this very question with a list of five things the Steelers should not do during the draft. Some of the lists are the same, while some are completely different.

Check out our lists of what the Steelers should avoid during the draft process, and be sure to let us know what you think the Steelers should avoid in the comment section below:

Jeff Hartman
  • Don’t draft by position

This is one you’ll see in all of our lists, and it can be exemplified by players like Artie Burns and Terrell Edmunds. Don’t be fixated on a position, it never ends well.

  • Don’t trade out of the first round for a mid round pick

If you are going to trade out of the first round, you better be improving your situation in the early rounds. In fact, if I were to go a step further I would suggest not losing a first round pick, but simply swapping a first round pick and then getting another pick later in the draft.

  • Don’t take a quarterback out of Round 1.

If you do take a quarterback, it should be because one of the top tier quarterbacks who fell to No. 24, or if you trade up, not because you are reaching at a prospect.

  • Don’t select a defender in the 1st round who is labeled as a project

If the Steelers need anything in Round 1, it is a player who can provide an immediate impact. Not a project. Think about some of the other projects they have taken on the defensive side of the ball in Round 1. Players like Cam Heyward and Bud Dupree. If the Steelers are going to go defense in Round 1, make it be a proven commodity, not a project.

  • Don’t pick a player solely based on where they went to school/conference

While the Steelers love their Power Five conferences in the first round, Alex Highsmith of Charlotte is the perfect example of ignoring where a player went to school. Rather, focus on the potential and film. Don’t let someone going to an SEC or BIG 10 school cast a shadow on a smaller school player who is brimming with potential.

Extra: Be aware of off field issues, and don’t risk a high pick on a player who could be a detriment to the organization. Examples of this would be Mike Adams and Martavis Bryant.

Dave Schofield
  • Don’t lock in on a position in Round 1

Two words: Artie Burns. It’s fine to eliminate positions the Steelers don’t need in the first round, but don’t narrow it down to only one position they have to take.

  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make the call

If the Steelers really want someone and they think they can move up to get him, go for it.

  • Don’t ignore the phone when it rings

If pick 24 rolls around and somebody else really wants to move up, listen to what they have to say. The Steelers don’t even have to add more picks, they can simply improve their position in other rounds.

  • Don’t feel like a WR is an option in Round 1

The room is full right now, and even though two wide receivers are set to be free agent next year, it’s not the most pressing need to take as the Steelers top selection.

  • Don’t draft a TE in Round 1 unless Pitts is in his last name

No one else is worthy. Although it would be a dream scenario where Pitts falls to a point where the Steelers could get him via trade or their natural pick, it’s not going to happen. He’s the only one worth going with in round one.

Bryan Anthony Davis
  • Don’t draft for a particular position
  • Don’t ignore the injury report. Be cognizant of it.
  • Don’t pick a quarterback later than the first round of the draft.
  • Don’t panic. Have different scenarios ready to go. You can mix or match needs and players to each round
  • Don’t put way too much stock in late risers.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as the team prepares for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the NFL Draft.

Predicting the positions the Steelers will select in the 2021 draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

It’s not about which exact player or in which round, but what positions will the Steelers draft.

On Tuesday’s episode of the Scho Bro Show podcast, the question was posed as to what positions the Steelers would select in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft. The discussion was not about which players, or determining which round each position would go, it was simply looking at what positions for Steelers would take.

Of course, it is merely speculation and basically an exercise in seeing how many each one of us could get correct. Additionally, it assumes the Steelers make eight draft selections and not either gain more capital by trading back or give up picks in order to trade up.

Here were the selections each of us made. Note that they are listed in no particular order.

Big Bro Scho:

Center
Tackle/guard
Running back
Quarterback
Outside linebacker
Inside linebacker
Cornerback
Safety

Dave Schofield:

Center
Tackle
Running back
Tight end
Outside linebacker
Outside linebacker
Inside linebacker
Cornerback

To clarify a few of these selections, Big Bro Scho specifically said he wanted a lineman that could play either guard or tackle coming out of the draft, as this was simply not trying to say it would be one or the other selected. I specifically thought the Steelers would double up on one position in this draft and I thought it would be outside linebacker since they are currently very thin at the position.

It was interesting that both of us went with four offensive players and four defensive players. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it’s simply how it worked out.

So now it’s your turn! There’s no need for names or assigning a position to a round. The question is simply predicting the positions of the Steelers scheduled eight draft picks for the 2021 NFL draft. The comments are open, you should know what to do.

If you are interested in listening to The Scho Bro Show podcast where were discussed our selections, it can be heard in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Black n’ Gold Best: The Steelers Top 10 Round 4 Draft Picks since 1969

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 7:30am
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft on the horizon, BTSC takes a look at the best of the Steelers’ No. 4 picks since 1969.

The NFL draft is coming up and the Steelers will, once again, rely building heavily through the draft instead of free agency. There are some rounds that the Steelers excel in. Of course, the first round the Steelers have brought in a plethora of Hall of Famers like Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Rod Woodson, Alan Faneca and Troy Polamalu. Teams are expected to find their best talent at the top of the draft. But the other rounds are where it becomes tougher. BTSC will go back to 1969 (when the Chuck Noll era began) and rank the best Round 4 picks in team lore. Rankings were aided somewhat by the Career Average Value stat from Pro Football Reference.

Notable No. Fours: Kevin Dotson (2020), Benny Snell Jr. (2019), Martavis Bryant - Clemson (2014), Joshua Dobbs (2017), Cortez Allen - The Citadel (2011), Daniel Sepulveda - Baylor (2007), Willie Colon - Hofstra (2006), Oliver Gibson - Notre Dame (1995), Kevin Henry - Mississippi State (1993), Adrian Cooper - Oklahoma (1991). Chris Calloway - Michigan (1990), Jerrol Williams - Purdue (1989), Dan Turk - Wisconsin (1985), Weegie Thompson - Florida State (1984), Rick Woods - Boise State (1982), Calvin Sweeney - USC (1979), Larry Anderson - Louisiana Tech (1978), Ted Petersen - Eastern Illinois (1977), Theo Bell - Arizona (1976), Jimmy Allen - UCLA (1974), Ed Bradley - Wake Forest (1972), Ed George - Wake Forest (1970)

10. Deshea Townsend - University of Alabama (1998 - 117th overall) Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Deshea Townsend is one of those blue-collar Steelers that will never be recognized as a team legend, but he was a prominent piece of the puzzle for two Pittsburgh Super Bowl winners. Drafted in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Alabama Crimson Tide corner began to make a name for himself as a special teams standout as a rookie. The first player to be issued No. 26 since Rod Woodson’s departure, Townsend was a valuable reserve for the Steelers secondary corps before finally becoming a starter in Year 7 opposite Ike Taylor.

Townsend held down his post as the team’s primary right corner for four straight seasons before accepting the responsibilities as the teams slot corner for his final two seasons. Deshea always had a knack for coming up big when the team needed a big stop on defense. His sack of Matt Hasselbeck (pictured above) helped seal the victory for the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, while his 25-yard pick-six of Tony Romo was the winning score in a key December 2008 game during the Super Bowl XLIII season. After a 12-year career in Pittsburgh, Deshea left the Steelers in 2010 for half of a season with the Colts. His final tallies as a Steeler were 183 games, 15.5 sacks and 21 interceptions. Since retiring, Deshea has been a defensive backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals, Mississippi State, Tennesse Titans, New York Giants and the Chicago Bears.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Townsend in 1998: 1) Alan Faneca - LSU, 2) Jeremy Staat - Arizona State, 3) Chris Conrad - Fresno State, 3) Hines Ward - Georgia

Player drafted one spot ahead of Townsend in 1998: Clarence Love - Philadelphia Eagles (Toledo)

Player drafted one spot behind Townsend in 1998: Harry Deligianis - Jacksonville Jaguars (Youngstown State)

9. Terry Long - University of Florida (1984 - 111th overall)

After playing football at Fort Bragg while in the United States Army, Terry Long ended up at East Carolina after first enrolling at a junior college. As an ECU Pirate, Long was a consensus All-American offensive lineman. Chuck Noll then came calling and drafted Terry in the fourth round of the 1984 Draft. As a rookie, No. 74 started seven games for the team that would end up falling in the AFC Championship Game in Miami. In his eight seasons at Three Rivers, the right guard was a very dependable lineman who started 89 games from 1984 to 1991. A day after his testing positive for steroids in ‘91, Long attempted to take his own life by ingesting rat poisoning. The Steelers lineman endured bouts of depression due to CTE and went through legal troubles as well. Tragically, Terry Long committed suicide by ingesting antifreeze at the age of 45.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Long in 1984: 1) Louis Lipps - Southern Mississippi, 2) Chris Kolodziejski - Wyoming, 4) Weegie Thompson - Florida State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Long in 1984: Steve DeOssie - Dallas Cowboys (Boston College)

Player drafted one spot behind Long in 1984: Ron Heller - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Penn State)

8. Thomas Everett - Baylor University (1987 - 94th overall) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Thomas Everett arrived in Pittsburgh via the fourth round from Baylor in Donnie Shell’s final season and continued “The Torpedo’s” legacy of hard hitting. The consensus All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner may have dropped in the draft due to being only 5’9”, but No. 27 played big for the Steelers and was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team in 1987. Everett sat out the first two games of his 1992 campaign and the Steelers dealt the safety to the Dallas Cowboys for a fifth-round pick, where he won two Super Bowls and was elected to his only Pro Bowl. In his five seasons as a Steeler, Everett collected 16 interceptions, forced four fumbles and recovered 7.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Everett in 1987: 1) Rod Woodson - Purdue, 2) Delton Hall - Clemson, 3) Charles Lockett - Long Beach State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Everett in 1987: Byron Evans - Philadelphia Eagles (Arizona)

Player drafted one spot behind Everett in 1987: Kelvin Martin - Dallas Cowboys (Boston College)

7. Earl Holmes - Florida A&M University (1996 - 126th overall) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

When Earl Holmes was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL Draft out of Florida A&M, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year reportedly congratulated Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher for selecting “the best linebacker in the draft”. Holmes mouth didn’t write checks his talent couldn’t cash. He was a leader on defense for six seasons in a Steelers uniform. The inside linebacker had 546 tackles (35 for loss), nine sacks and four fumble recoveries for the Steelers before moving onto Cleveland via free agency. After one remarkable season as a Brown, Holmes spent three seasons as a Lion before retiring. After serving on his alma mater’s coaching staff, Holmes became the head coach for the Rattlers in 2012, but was fired after a 6-16 record. A lawsuit for not honoring the contract was filed by Holmes and is still pending. Known as “Hitman” in Pittsburgh, Holmes allegedly voiced regret for leaving Pittsburgh via free agency all those years ago.

Steelers Players Drafted ahead of Holmes in 1996: 1) Jamain Stephens - North Carolina A&T, 3) Steve Conley - Arkansas, 3) Jon Witman - Penn State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Holmes in 1996: LaCurtis Jones - Miami Dolphins (Baylor)

Player drafted one spot behind Holmes in 1996: Juran Bolden - Atlanta Falcons (Mississippi Delta Community College)

6. Ike Taylor - Louisiana-Lafayette University (2003 - 125th overall) Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

At Louisiana-Lafayette, Ike Taylor was a running back that asked to switch to corner before his senior season and the move payed off. The man from ‘Swaggin’ was drafted as an athlete and a project in the fourth round of a draft in which the Steelers only made five picks in 2003. In fact he was a tremendous athletic specimen at 6’1’ with blazing speed. But still the pick was deemed to be the worst in team history by critic Mark Madden. By his third season, Ike was named a starter by defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. From 2003 to 2014, the shutdown corner had 134 pass defenses, but only 14 interceptions. Had Taylor possessed better hands, he would have been a perennial Pro Bowler. However, No. 24 came up huge in Super Bowl XL with a key pick late. Nonetheless, Ike was the best corner on his two Lombardi-winning clubs and a major team force. He was also a locker room leader on a dominating defense during his twelve seasons at Heinz Field and was a pall bearer for beloved Steelers chairman Dan Rooney in 2017.

Steelers Players Drafted ahead of Taylor in 2003: 1) Troy Polamalu - USC, 2) Alonzo Jackson - Florida State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Taylor in 2003: Brandon Lloyd - San Francisco 49ers (Illinois)

Player drafted one spot behind Taylor in 2003: Rien Long - Tennessee Titans (Washington State)

5. Gerry Mullins - University of Southern California (1971 - 86th overall)

The man that they called ”Moon” because of a comic strip called Moon Mullins spent his entire NFL career in Pittsburgh. A fourth-round pick in 1971 out of USC where he blocked for O.J. Simpson, Mullins helped protect Terry Bradshaw and open holes for Franco Harris in all four Super Bowls of the 1970s. Mullins’ pull on a sweep helped Harris score in Super Bowl IX and the versatile lineman also recovered an onside kick in Super Bowl X. The first veteran with four rings to get his release, Mullins was offered opportunities with Cleveland and Washington, but opted to retire and stay in Pittsburgh. Gerry Mullins was named to theSteelers 50th Anniversary team in 1982.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Mullins in 1971: 1) Frank Lewis - Grambling, 2) Jack Ham - Penn State, 3) Steve Davis - Delaware State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Mullins in 1971: Mike Potchad - Atlanta Falcons (Pittsburg-KS)

Player drafted one spot behind Mullins in 1971: Cleo Johnson - Denver Broncos (Alcorn A&M)

4. Larry Foote - University of Michigan (2002 - 128th overall) Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Larry Foote, a fourth-round selection out of Michigan in 2002, was a solid performer for the Steelers in two stints with the team, three Super Bowl appearances, and two championship rings. Foote’s breakout year came in his fourth season, the one that culminated in Super Bowl XL and the hoisting of the Lombardi. His interception in the AFC Championship in Denver thwarted a tide-turning drive and helped get the Steelers and Foote back home to Detroit for the big one. After a second championship in 2008 but a reduced role behind Lawrence Timmons, the Michigan native was released and signed on for one season with his hometown Lions. Returning after a year away, Foote resigned with the Steelers for four more years and was released in 2013. He then spent a season with the Cardinals before a transition into coaching. After a four-year stint as the linebackers coach in Arizona, Foote performs that same role currently in Tampa Bay. All in all, Larry Foote was a productive player for eleven total seasons in Pittsburgh.

Steelers Players Drafted ahead of Foote in 2002: 1) Kendall Simmons - Auburn, 2) Antwaan Randle El - Indiana, 3) Chris Hope - Florida State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Foote in 2002: Kevin Curtis - San Francisco 49ers (Texas Tech)

Player drafted one spot behind Foote in 2002: Jamar Martin - Dallas Cowboys (Ohio State)

3. Aaron Smith - Northern Colorado University (1999 - 109th overall) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Aaron Smith, named to the Sports Illustrated 2000s All-Decade Team, spent 13 seasons in the trenches for the Steelers. The Pro Bowler had 453 tackles and 44 quarterback sacks during his career, ranking him 11th on the all-time ledger. Drafted out of Northern Colorado in the fourth round of the 1999 draft, the blue-collar Smith is remembered by Steelers fans as a tough defensive end who personified the true grit of playing in the Steel City. Smith did suffer three major injuries in Pittsburgh, and the neck injury which sidelined Aaron in 2011 after four games led to his retirement in 2012. Aaron Smith is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and had appeared in five AFC Title Games.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of Smith in 1999: 1) Troy Edwards - Louisiana Tech, 2) Scott Shields - Weber State, 2) Warren Bankston - Tulane, 3) Joey Porter - Colorado State, 3) Kris Farris - UCLA, 3) Amos Zeroue - West Virginia

Player drafted one spot ahead of Smith in 1999: Larry Parker - Kansas City Chiefs (USC)

Player drafted one spot behind Smith in 1999: Pierson Prioleau - San Francisco 49ers (Virginia Tech)

2. Dwight White - East Texas State University (1971 - 104th overall) Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

A member of the fabled Steel Curtain, the intense “Mad Dog” was a four-time Super Bowl champ and is the first player to score points for the Steelers in a Super Bowl. Even though he was projected not to play in the game due to being hooked up to an IV in the hospital and losing 20 pounds because of suffering from pneumonia, White recorded a safety by sacking Fran Tarkenton in the end zone in Super Bowl IX. White was also known as the trash talker among the group. L.C. Greenwood once stated that it was hard to hear on the line with Dwight constantly talking. The two-time Pro Bowler spent all of his 10 years in Pittsburgh and recorded 46 sacks. Remembered by Dan Rooney as “one of the greatest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform”, White was named to the Steelers All Time Team in 1982 and again in 2007. He retired after ten seasons after the 1980 season. Dwight White passed away after complications from surgery in 2010.

Steelers Players drafted ahead of White in 1971: 1) Frank Lewis - Grambling, 2) Jack Ham - Penn State, 3) Steve Davis - Delaware State, 4) Gerry Mullins - USC

Player drafted one spot ahead of White in 1971: Adam Mitchell - Dallas Cowboys (Mississippi)

Player drafted one spot behind White in 1971: Tim Kelly - Boston Patriots (Notre Dame)

1. John Stallworth - Alabama A&M University (1974 - 82nd overall)

From the epic Steelers draft class of 1974, John Stallworth was drafted in the fourth round out of Alabama A&M after the Steelers drafted USC’s Lynn Swann in the first round. “Johnny Lee” became Terry Bradshaw’s most reliable go-to-guy in later years. The Hall of Famer was productive later in his career, having his best season with career highs of 80 catches, 1,395 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1984. He ended with 537 receptions, 8,723 yards and 63 scores. Stallworth was also the guy that came up big in the postseason with 57 catches and 12 TDs in 18 career games. His Super Bowl performances were the stuff of legends, but he never won the MVP in four tries. Stallworth was selected to three Pro Bowls, was an All-Pro in 1979 and is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time team.

Steelers Player Drafted ahead of Stallworth in 1974: 1) Lynn Swann - USC, 2) Jack Lambert - Kent State

Player drafted one spot ahead of Stallworth in 1974: Harrison Davis - San Diego Chargers (Virginia)

Player drafted one spot behind Stallworth in 1974: Clint Haselrig - San Francisco 49ers (Michigan)

This is a really solid list of players that the Steelers found in the fourth round. A lot of them weren’t familiar names to Steeler Nation before they were selected.

The Steelers were never going to trade for Sam Darnold with Ben Roethlisberger on the roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers may one day acquire a former high draft pick to be their next quarterback. But it’s not going to be this year or any year in which Ben Roethlisberger is still on the roster.

For the second-straight offseason, the Steelers sat idly by and watched an available quarterback with a tremendous pedigree go to another team—and for a bargain of a price.

Almost a full calendar year after former number-one pick Jameis Winston signed a cheap “prove it” one-year contract to be the Saints backup, it was announced on Monday that the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold, the third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, from the Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

That didn’t seem like a lot of draft capital to give up for a Panthers team that was still searching for its next franchise quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater’s underwhelming one-year audition to replace Cam Newton in that role.

So why couldn’t the Steelers make a similar move to acquire Darnold?

On the surface, that might have seemed like a low-risk transaction, but the Steelers’ situation is a bit different than Carolina’s.

For starters, Pittsburgh still has its franchise quarterback for 2021, after working out a reasonable one-year deal with veteran Ben Roethlisberger.

The Panthers have reportedly granted Bridgewater permission to seek a trade. If a suitable deal isn’t worked out between Carolina and another team, Bridgewater will likely be released or asked to take a sizable pay-cut and be the backup just one year after signing a rather-lucrative contract.

Also, as per various reports, the Panthers have decided to pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option, which guarantees the young quarterback nearly $19 million in 2022.

This all makes sense. The Panthers are giving Darnold two more years to reach his full potential as an NFL quarterback. Darnold has been a starter in the NFL since his rookie season. While the results haven’t been what you’d want from the third-overall pick in the draft, it would make no sense to suddenly park Darnold on the bench for his fourth season and have him miss a year of development.

And this is why Darnold to Pittsburgh became a moot point the moment the Steelers and Roethlisberger worked things out for 2021.

Darnold is owed $4.7 million in 2021, which wouldn’t have been a horrible financial pill for even the cap-compromised Steelers to swallow if it meant they got Roethlisberger’s heir apparent. But what about nearly $19 million in 2022? Had the Steelers traded for Darnold, they likely would have picked up his fifth-year option, even if he rode the bench behind Roethlisberger in 2021. After all, it seems inconceivable to pay a young quarterback nearly $5 million to sit on the bench if you don’t have bigger plans for him the next season.

So, yes, hypothetically speaking, the Steelers likely would have picked up Darnold’s fifth-year option. And that could have been a risky move. Think about, Darnold would have headed into 2022 with three lukewarm years and a totally cold one under his belt before taking over as Pittsburgh’s starter.

$19 million may be well-below the going rate for franchise quarterbacks, these days, but it sure does seem like a lot to pay one who is largely unproven.

Speaking of the going rate for modern franchise quarterbacks, let’s say, under my hypothetical scenario, Darnold has a decent showing in 2022—say, 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. If you’re the Steelers, would you franchise tag Darnold for 2023? Would you fully commit to giving him a new contract?

I’m guessing either transaction would include a $30 million base salary, which may be a bridge too far for a Steelers team that has committed a ton of financial resources to the quarterback position over the past decade-plus.

No, it wouldn’t be a lot if Darnold was the real deal, but would anyone know for sure by 2023?

That would be the dilemma.

Yes, it’s also a risk for the Panthers to commit to Darnold past 2021, but at least they’ll have two years of hard data to make a decision on him when the time comes and not just one.

Finally, one of these years, the Steelers may trade for or sign a former high draft pick to be their next quarterback.

But it’s never going to be a year when Ben Roethlisberger is still on the roster.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 5:45pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the black-and-gold!

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

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

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

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

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. Player selected at the top of the NFL draft are generally locks for the roster their rookie season while those drafted at the bottom have to fight their way onto the 53. In what round do you believe a player who was just drafted is not a lock to make the roster?

2. What is your favorite Steelers game of all time and why?

3. How would you feel if any Steelers changed their number if the NFL adopts the rule to allow other positions to wear single-digit uniforms?

4. Name one position, other than special teams, you feel the Steelers will NOT draft in 2021.

5. Speaking of the draft, how into the lead up are you? Are you someone that loves to speculate and read the mock drafts, or is it too much of a hypothetical and you just skip over it until the Steelers make their picks?

6. Give me one line from a movie (remembering community guidelines) where you instantly know what movie is being referenced (It doesn’t have to be your favorite line).

Stay safe out there!

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Steelers add a defensive lineman to their offseason roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 3:19pm
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Kentucky Wildcat T.J. Carter has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to build the roster ahead of the 2021 NFL draft later this month. In their latest move, the Steelers have signed defensive end T.J. Carter.

We have signed DE T.J. Carter. @BordasLaw https://t.co/BdZl4dkEBw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 9, 2021

Carter went undrafted in the 2020 NFL draft and was signed by the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, when teams were forced to cut their rosters down to 80 players due to the COVID-19 pandemic instead of the typical 90 during training camp, Carter was released by Arizona. Carter also spent some time with the New Orleans Saints during training camp, but ultimately did not make the roster or practice squad.

In four years at Kentucky, Carter had 6.0 sacks and five passes defensed along with 71 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss.

Carter recently performed at Kentucky’s Pro Day this spring. Players who were unable to participate in their schools Pro Day in 2020 due to cancellations, and are not currently under contract in the NFL, were allowed to participate this offseason.

Carter enters a very crowded defensive line room for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carrying seven players on the active roster in 2020, which was one more than they typically have on the active roster, the Steelers have returned all of their players from last season‘s roster as well as Calvin Taylor and Demarcus Christmas from the 2020 practice squad.

The exact financials of Carter‘s contract are not known at this time, but will most certainly not land him in the top 51 contracts on the team and therefore will not count against the teams current salary cap.

With the addition of T.J. Carter, the Steelers now have 72 players under contract at this time.

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

Could the Steelers be interested in trading up for Justin Fields?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 2:00pm
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It appears the Steelers have a lot of interest in the Ohio State QB.

As we approach the NFL Draft more stories, clips, and inside analysis comes out and better helps in predicting where prospects will go. A couple of those storylines directly tie the Pittsburgh to Ohio State quarterback, Justin Fields. As well as, suggest he is much lower on the teams draft boards than originally expected. To put it simply, there’s both a will and a way.

Jamin Davis. Most mocks I've seen have him as a day 3 guy which is silly. He's borderline late round 1.

As for guys going lower... there are teams way lower on guys like Sewell and Fields than fans/media think. Not all...both could go top ten. Both could also not. https://t.co/kOsLTRcDMd

— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) April 8, 2021

Justin Fields was once thought as the second best quarterback of the class behind Trevor Lawrence but slowly fell down the list as the last college season progressed. The fact of the matter is Fields has a cannon arm, crazy athleticism, and will to win (the rumors of a poor work ethic have also been debunked). His traits suggest he is more than worthy of being a Top 10 draft pick. If he does in fact slip down the board, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are definitely a team to watch to make a move up. This stems from the ‘bromance’ between Fields and Tomlin at Ohio State’s Pro Day earlier this month.

After the pro day was completed, NFL reporters noted the Steelers head coach had a very long conversation with Fields, the duo was also seen dapping each other up throughout the workout. More love between the two made it to the internet in the form of a video of Mike Tomlin telling the quarterback “you know who we came to see”. You can watch the full interaction in the video below (starting at the 1:25 mark)

Less talk, let the tape speak for itself.

: ' starring @justnfields #GoBuckeyes pic.twitter.com/3PTwF0fWTh

— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) April 7, 2021

The Pittsburgh Steelers will shortly need to address the quarterback position and find Ben Roethlisberger’s heir apparent. For a team which, from the outside certainly looks like they are trying to win now, trading assets wouldn't make a ton of sense, but perhaps Kevin Colbert and company want to sure up the future of the organization by having the next quarterback marinating in the system. Adding someone like Fields would also be putting the prospect in the perfect situation as he can sit and learn behind Ben Roethlisberger for a year before taking over a fairly complicated offensive system.

Perhaps it won't be long until we see the image below on the Steelers sideline in real life.

Tomlin and Fields having a long convo ? #PipeDream pic.twitter.com/pajNWETd6p

— JuJu’s Bike ❼ (@JuJusBike_) March 30, 2021

But what do you think? Are the Pittsburgh Steelers a team to watch if Justin Fields slips? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Do the Steelers need more than 8 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Would trading back in the draft to gain additional picks be a good idea for the Steelers, or are they fine with the number of picks they have?

It’s all hypothetical.

Every possible trade. Every mock draft. Every player ranking. All of these things are merely hypotheticals as we inch closer and closer to the 2021 NFL Draft.

Some people don’t like dealing with hypotheticals, and therefore ignore mock drafts and draft talk altogether until new Steelers are selected and then analyze what they bring to the table. I get that. I actually used to be that way before my BTSC days. But now, knowing about the possibilities with the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they could draft is an exciting part of the job which really brings a lot of enjoyment this time of year.

So let’s talk about and even more hypothetical situation: Draft day trades.

With some trades in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft already being completed, there are still plenty which will occur during the draft. Properly predicting them is almost impossible, but it is fun to speculate.

When it comes to trading in the draft, it’s all about a team’s draft capital, and if they are increasing their number of picks, or decreasing them by getting a higher selection.

In years past, the Pittsburgh Steelers have traded up in the first round of the NFL draft to get a player they desired. Sticking with the most recent example, the Steelers moved up 10 spots in the 2019 draft in order to select Devin Bush. By doing so, the Steelers surrendered a draft selection both in 2019 (second round) and in 2020 (third round).

With the Steelers having eight selections in the 2021 draft, they could attempt to trade up and give away some draft capital both from this year and next year. While going to get a player who they feel is highly coveted isn’t something I’m going to ridicule, there are plenty of fans who feel the Steelers need all their draft picks in order to help build the roster for 2021. In fact, a number of fans feel they need even more than eight picks to get the job done.

Looking at the Steelers current roster, they have 71 players under contract at this time. With a 90-man offseason roster, the Steelers have 19 spots available where they would not have to release a player. Obviously, the Steelers aren’t going to have 19 draft picks. But with the Steelers usually signing anywhere from 10 to 15 undrafted free agents, they are in pretty good shape with the number of draft picks they have simply from a numbers standpoint.

When looking at the Steelers roster, there are a few position groups where the Steelers definitely need to add bodies ahead of training camp. Additionally, there are some positions where the Steelers could really use an upgrade on their current depth chart. Are there enough picks in the 2021 NFL draft to do this? More than likely there are. So the Steelers could gain extra picks, but don’t have to gain extra picks.

With that being said, would there be any value in the Pittsburgh Steelers trading down in the 2021 NFL draft?

First of all, it should be noted that trading back in the first round is not something the Steelers do very often. In fact, the last time was in the 2001 draft where the Steelers traded back three positions with the New York Jets and still drafted Casey Hampton while picking up an additional fourth-round and sixth-round pick.

For me, when it comes to trading back, I would much rather see the Steelers use that capital to then increase their position in a different round. In fact, that’s exactly what the Steelers did in 2001.

By picking up an additional fourth round pick, the Steelers would have had back-to-back selections at the 111th and 112th position. Instead, the Steelers used their own fourth-round pick (the 112th selection) in order to trade up 11 spots in the second round with the New England Patriots in order to draft Kendrell Bell.

In summary, the 2001 Steelers moved back three selections in the first round and moved up 11 selections in the second round while gaining a sixth-round pick, along with technically gaining one spot in the fourth round.

Personally, if the Steelers were to trade back in the first round, I would love to see them use that move in order to gain a higher pick in the second or third round. While they could do it like 2001 and make two separate trades with two different franchises, how about this for a possible trade scenario for the Steelers?

How about the Steelers trade back eight picks in the first round with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then select at the 32nd spot. In return, Tampa sends Pittsburgh their second-round pick at number 64 in exchange for the Steelers 87th pick in round three. So by the Steelers losing eight spots in round one, they then gain 23 spots to move up into the end of round two. This would give the Steelers the 55th and the 64th pick in the second round. In order to make the trade a little more even, the Bucs might even have the throw in their fifth-round pick at selection 176.

Of course, the biggest wild card would be Tampa being interested in doing this deal. But I would much rather see the Steelers gain positions in the second and third round if they are going to lose positions in the first.

My ultimate point is while some Steelers fans feel the team would be better served trading back in order to take potential players at positions of need who may not be worthy of the 24th pick, I would be in favor of this if the Steelers used their added draft capital to then move up in the second day of the draft. The last time the Steelers traded down in 2001, they gave us a great outline of doing so. And while gaining capital and making the selections is great, moving up in the second round, or gaining an additional second-round pick, could possibly be better served for this season, and beyond.

What do you think? Were the Steelers to trade back, would you be happy with simply gaining additional picks to what they already have, or would you much rather see the Steelers improve their drafting position in the second or third rounds? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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