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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day three of the draft

The Steelers finished off the draft today by taking six more players, bringing their total to nine in the draft.

Pittsburgh began the day by trading a fourth and sixth round pick to Washington to select nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

Next came Florida RB/WB Chris Rainey, Colorado WR Toney Clemons, Oregon TE David Paulson, Texas A&M CB Terrence Frederick and SMU G Kelvin Beachum Jr.

In the hours following the draft, the team signed 12 rookie free agents. Included in that list were Pitt LB Brandon Lindsey, Duquesne WR Connor Dixon, punter Drew Butler of Georgia, CB Terry Carter of Louisiana Tech, safety Robert Golden of Arizona, defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun of Southern Connecticut, offensive lineman Ryan Lee of Furman, WR Marquis Maze of Alabama, placekicker Grant Ressel of Missouri, LB Adrian Robinson of Temple, OT Desmond Stapleton of Rutgers and DE Jake Stoller of Yale.

I loved the move up to get Ta'amu. He's a big nose tackle who fits right into their defense as a guy who can occupy two interior linemen and keep the inside linebackers clean.

Rainey should also be able to make this team as a PR/KR while also offering competition for a fifth WR spot and change-of-pace running back.

Clemons has an outside shot to make it as well if he proves he can play special teams and be the fifth wideout.

Interesting Day 2

The Steelers had an interesting second day to the draft, starting with the selection of Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams.

I didn't like Adams as a possible first-round pick because of his off-field issues and I just didn't see enough consistency in his play for the Buckeyes.

But as a second-round pick - particularly a late second-round pick - I'm OK with it. In fact, it's reminiscent of when they took Marvel Smith in the second round.

Smith had off-field issues at Arizona State and questions about his toughness. He become a long-time starter after the Steelers took him in the second round.

The Steelers have already laid out some conditions for Adams. He's already getting his second chance with them. There won't be a third. You can bet that they will set him up with former teammate Cameron Heyward as a mentor.

I didn't have Adams on my second-round because I didn't think he would still be available.

As for linebacker Sean Spence, if you've seen Miami play in the past couple of seasons, you know who he is. Spence is a tough, tough linebacker who has a good feel for the game.

Is he undersized at 5-11, 232 pounds? Yes. But the Steelers aren't lining him up outside. He's going to be an inside linebacker in this defense. I viewed Spence as more of a fourth-round prospect, but he'll immediately help on special teams and was one of the best linebackers available.

Now, the Steelers can target a nose tackle in round four.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Draft Day II thread

The NFL draft will resume tonight with the second and third rounds.

Here are some of my targets in no particular order for the Steelers moving forward These are players I think might be available when they pick:

Round 2
NT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington; OT Bobbie Massie, Mississippi; LB Lavonte David, Nebraska; LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State; OT Mitchell Schwartz, California

Round 3
RB Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati; RB LaMichael James, Oregon; LB James Michael Johnson, Nevada; NT Josh Chapman, Alabama; DT Mike Martin, Michigan

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Christmas comes for Steelers

Christmas came early for the Steelers Thursday as the top-rated guard in this year's draft, David DeCastro, dropped right into their laps with the 24th pick.

All night long, I was advocating the Steelers trading up for the former Stanford star if he fell past Cincinnati with the 17th selection.

The Steelers explored that option, but were patient. That's why Kevin Colbert gets paid the big bucks.

Many, including the Steelers didn't see DeCastro dropping that far. In fact, when Colbert said there were seven to 10 players in this draft that were easy evaluations and future stars, DeCastro was one of the players he was talking about.

But a run on pass rushers - Bruce Irvin in the first round? - and the Browns being the Browns - a 28-year-old QB in the first round - allowed DeCastro to fall.

Draft Day blog thread/Day 1

All is quiet here at the Steelers headquarters. Not much going on, though the building is a little more on lockdown than usual.

I haven't changed my thinking a whole lot in regard to how the Steelers will handle this draft. The preference for me is still that they take an offensive lineman - read, guard - in the first round and move on from there.

But I still get the feeling that Dont'a Hightower will be the pick if he is there.

I don't think they will take Dontari Poe. Too much of a question mark for a first-round pick. That would be out of character for Kevin Colbert.

If Luke Kuechly is available in the range of pick 18, they should seriously consider making the move up.

@ The Browns have traded their fourth, fifth and seventh picks to move up one spot in the first round.

Cleveland will be Cleveland.

@ I'm hearing that Andrew Sweat of Ohio State and Trinity High School here in Washington is on the Steelers radar in the seventh round.

ILB for the Buckeyes. Solid special teams player. Good citizen.

@ The Steelers re-signed quarterback Byron Leftwich to a one-year deal. That means quarterback is probably off the board for them in this draft. They now have five.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last 17 picks of the mock draft, more news

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said today that he feels there are only seven to 10 sure things in this year's draft, fewer than normal.

To me, that says the Steelers will be working hard to trade back in the first round - or up if one of the players they feel is a difference maker falls within their range.

With that in mind, here are the final 17 picks - I goofed and only picked 15 in the first part - of my mock draft, though I think this draft could have more movement than any in recent memory.

It's without a doubt one of the most unsettled in my mind in recent memory.

16. N.Y. Jets, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - This is a Rex Ryan kind of pick. Lots of flash, but possibly little action. Poe could be great. But he might have the biggest bust potential of any pick. Ryan will take him thinking he's getting the next Haloti Ngata. Maybe.

17. Cincinnati, Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois - The Bengals would have loved for CB Stephen Gilmore to drop to this spot, but take the best pass rusher available instead. He could play end or linebacker.

18. San Diego, Reilly Reiff, OT, Iowa - The Chargers found out in 2011 what happens if you don't protect Philip Rivers well. He turns into Bernie Kosar at the end of his career. Ugly. Then again, Bernie was ugly early in his career, as well. But at least he could play.

19. Chicago, Cordy Glenn, OT/G, Georgia - The Bears have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback than they have. Glenn is solid in pass protection, but not as strong in the running game. He's big, though, and should get better in that aspect.

20. Tennessee, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU - I wouldn't be surprised if Brockers goes much earlier than this. But he won't fall any farther. Philadelphia is a strong possibility at 15.

21. Cincinnati, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama - The Bengals continue to improve their defense after having a strong offensive draft in 2011.

22. Clevleand, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford - The Browns need an upgrade at right tackle. Martin should be OK there, certainly better than what they've had. A receiver such as Baylor's Kendall Wright would also make a lot of sense, but this draft is deep in receivers.

23. Detroit, Courtney Upshaw, DE/LB, Alabama - Upshaw would give the Lions a versatile defender who can line up at end or linebacker and get after the passer.

24. Pittsburgh, Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama - This would be ideal for the Steelers. Hightower could push Larry Foote for a starting spot right away. If he's not available, Jerel Worthy or Kevin Zeitler could be the pick - with a move down a possibility.

25. Denver, Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State - The Broncos need to get better up front.

26. Houston, Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - Wright gets to stay in Houston and line up opposite Andre Johnson.

27. New England, Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse - Jones is athletic and can get after the passer.

28. Green Bay, Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State - A high-motor outside linebacker to line up opposite Clay Matthews

29. Baltimore, Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin - Konz is the best of a weak center group. He can start for a year at guard before taking over in 2013.

30. San Francisco, Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin - The 49ers are building around their defense and running game. As we saw when they played the Ravens on Thanksgiving, their line could use some work, particularly at right guard.

31. New England, Devon Still, DT, Penn State - Another big ugly for Belichick up front.

32. N.Y. Giants, Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame - The addition of Smith would help on the back side as well as stopping the run.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Final mock, picks 1-16

OK, here's the first part of my much-anticipated, highly thought out final mock as we head into the final week before the draft.

1. Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford - No surprises here. He's been the top pick all along and would have been the top pick last year had he come out.

2. Washington (from St. Louis), Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor - Again, no surprises. This is why the Redskins moved up, for the opportunity to take one of the top two QBs.

3. Minnesota, Matt Kalil, OT, USC - There has been talk in recent weeks that the Vikings are considering Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne here. Both would be good fits, but Kalil will be the pick.

4. Cleveland, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama - Mel Kiper said in a conference call that the Browns have the worst skill position players in the league. Tough to argue that. Blackmon would help as well, but Richardson is the clear-cut best player at his position and receivers can be had later in the draft.

5. Tampa Bay, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU - Tampa Bay gets a difference maker in the secondary. Who cares if he didn't test well on the Wonderlic. All he has to know is who to cover.

6. St. Louis, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - Blackmon has been described by Warren Moon as Dez Bryant with a brain. Good enough for me and a team with nobody who can get open down the field.

7. Jacksonville, Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina - Ingram is a solid pass rusher for a team that has been searching for a difference-maker up front for a number of years,

8. Miami, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M - The Dolphins are in serious need of a quarterback and though Tannehill is going to take some time to develop, he's a tremendous athlete.

9. Carolina, Fletcher Cox, DE/DT, Mississippi State - The Panthers could put Cox at defensive tackle or end, it really doesn't matter. He's just a good football player.

10. Buffalo, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame - Floyd has it all, size, talent and skill to be a great NFL player. Buffalo is beefing up its offense in the hopes that it can surround Ryan Fitzpatrick with studs that take him to the next level.

11. Kansas City, David DeCastro, G, Stanford - Kansas City's two biggest needs - other than quarterback - are interior linemen on both sides of the ball and at inside linebacker. DeCastro is a better player than Luke Kuechly, though Kuech could be the pick.

12. Seattle, Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - There are some character concerns with Coples, but when has that ever bothered Pete Carroll? The Seahawks need to generate a pass rush and Coples could do that.

13. Arizona, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College - Ken Whisenhunt gets a gift in a great, instinctive football player to plug into his 3-4 defense.

14. Dallas, Mark Barron, S, Alabama - Jerry Jones reportedly loves Barron, even though Stephen Gilmore would help his defense more. Nuff said.

15. Philadelphia, Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina - It looks like Asante Samuel has played his last game with the Eagles, so there's a need. The Eagles could use linebacker help as well, so Courtney Upshaw makes some sense.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Steelers draw five prime-time games

Steelers 2012 Preseason Schedule

Date                                   Opponent                                          Time** (TV)
Week 1 (Thurs., Aug. 9)....... at Philadelphia....................7:30 p.m. (KDKA-TV)
Week 2 (Sun., Aug. 19)...... INDIANAPOLIS...................8 p.m. (NBC/WPXI-TV)          
Week 3 (Sat., Aug. 25)........ at Buffalo..............................7 p.m. (KDKA-TV)
Week 4 (Thurs., Aug. 30)... CAROLINA........................  7:30 p.m. (KDKA-TV)

Steelers 2012 Regular-Season Schedule

Date                                   Opponent                                          Time** (TV)
Sunday, Sept. 9................. at Denver..................................8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Sept. 16............... N.Y. Jets..................................4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 23............... at Oakland.................................4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 30............... Bye
Sunday, Oct. 7.................. Philadelphia.............................1 p.m. (FOX)
Thursday, Oct. 11............... at Tennessee.............................8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Oct. 21................. at Cincinnati...............................8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Oct. 28................. Washington.............................1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Nov. 4.................. at N.Y. Giants.............................4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Nov. 12............... Kansas City..............................8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Nov. 18*............... Baltimore.................................8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 25*............... at Cleveland...............................1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 2*................. at Baltimore...............................4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 9*................. San Diego................................1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 16*............... at Dallas.....................................4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 23*............... Cincinnati................................1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 30*............... Cleveland.................................1 p.m. (CBS)

* Times and TV network may change due to flexible scheduling

** All times are Eastern

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Steelers unveil new throwbacks

The Steelers revealed on Tuesday the new throwback uniforms for their 80th anniversary celebration.

The uniforms are from the Steelers 1934 season and will be worn twice this year.

Here's a look at them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Steelers updated visit list

Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams
Miami (Ohio) guard Brandon Brooks
Ole Miss offensive tackle Bobby Massie
Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu
Oregon running back LaMichael James
Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead
Colorado wide receiver Toney Clemons
Florida International wide receiver T.Y. Hilton
Missouri tight end Michael Egnew

Oregon tight end David Paulson

Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green
BYU defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo
Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks
Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson

Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon
Cincinnati defensive end Derek Wolfe

USC defensive linebacker Nick Perry
Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower
Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris
California linebacker Mychal Kendricks
Wayne State defensive back Jeremy Jones
West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy
Stanford long snapper Zach Nolan

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Steelers have busy two days

The Steelers have had a busy couple of days, signing tight end Leonard Pope on Tuesday to a one-year deal and bringing back wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on Wednesday with a two-year deal.

It's a typical Steelers move as they prepare for the draft.

Pittsburgh never likes to go into a draft with obvious needs and tight end and wide receiver were looking like obvious needs with just a couple of weeks remaining before the draft.

They are now not quite so pressing.

Are their other needs? Sure. Another guard or two - or possibly a tackle - would certainly be of some use. So would an inside linebacker and young quarterback to groom as a No. 2 behind Ben Roethlisberger.

But tight end and wide receiver are now way down the list.

© Cotchery signed a two-year deal worth $3 million, a pretty bargain basement price.

It was a prudent move to sign Cotchery for two years.

With Mike Wallace looking like he's not going to sign his tender offer - why would he and lose all of his bargaining power? - and both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders scheduled to be restricted free agents at the end of the 2012 season, having Cotchery locked up for the next two season at least gives the Steelers one veteran under contract for those two seasons.

Do I expect Wallace or Brown to go anywhere? No. But it will be awfully difficult for the Steelers to keep Wallace, Brown and Sanders long term. And signing Cotchery to a two-year deal means the Steelers can bring a young receiver along slowly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mock Draft II

Here's round two of my pre-draft mock. More information is trickling in, and there have also been some free agent signings in the past week that will change things.

1. Indianapolis - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Washington - Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
3. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
4. Clevland - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
5. Tampa Bay - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
6. St. Louis - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
7. Jacksonville - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
8. Miami - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
9. Carolina - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
10. Buffalo - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
11.  Kansas City - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
12. Seattle - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
13. Arizona - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
14. Dallas - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
15. Philadelphia - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
16. N.Y. Jets  - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
17. Cincinnati - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
18. San Diego - Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
19. Chicago - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
20. Tennessee - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
21. Cincinnati - Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
22. Clevleand - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
23. Detroit - Nick Perry, DE, USC
24. Pittsburgh - Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
25. Denver - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
26. Houston - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
27. New England - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
28. Green Bay - Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
29. Baltimore - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
30. San Francisco - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
31. New England - Chandler Jones, DE/LB, Syracuse
32. N.Y. Giants - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Fleener might have been on the Steelers' radar but on Tuesday, they signed free agent tight end Leonard Pope, who gives them a solid backup to Heath Miller.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Steelers visits thus far

Here's a list of players who have visited the Steelers thus far. Obviously, the team has 30 total players it can bring in, so this list is incomplete at this point. But there are still more than two weeks remaining before the draft.

Some of the visits will be to check on medical status, such as receiver T.Y. Hilton. Some will be smokescreens - in my opinion Mike Adams falls into this category. Others still will be players in which the Steelers have actual interest, such as Isaiah Pead.

Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams
Ole Miss offensive tackle Bobby Massie 
Miami (Ohio) guard Brandon Brooks
Colorado receiver Toney Clemons
Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris
Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks
Cincinnati defensive end Derek Wolfe
Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson
West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy 
Florida International receiver T.Y. Hilton
Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead 
Stanford long snapper Zach Nolan

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

First mock draft

Now that April is finally here, it's time to start doing some mock drafts. Here's the first of what will be at least three that I do before the draft.
1.       Indianapolis - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2.       Washington (from St. Louis) - Robert Griffin, Baylor
3.       Minnesota - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
4.       Cleveland - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
5.       Tampa Bay -  Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
6.       St. Louis (from Washington) – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
7.       Jacksonville – Quinton Couples, DE, North Carolina
8.       Miami – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
9.       Carolina - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
10.   Buffalo - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
11.   Kansas City – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
12.   Seattle - David Decastro, G, Stanford
13.   Arizona – Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina
14.   Dallas – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
15.   Philadelphia – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
16.   N.Y. Jets – Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
17.   Cincinnati  (from Oakland) – Cordy Glenn, OT/G, Georgia
18.   San Diego – Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State
19.   Chicago – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
20.   Tennessee – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
21.   Cincinnati – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
22.   Cleveland (from Atlanta)  – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
23.   Detroit – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
24.   Pittsburgh - Donta’ Hightower, LB, Alabama
25.   Denver – Devon Still, DT, Penn State
26.   Houston – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
27.   New England (from New Orleans) – Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
28.   Green Bay – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
29.   Baltimore – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
30.   San Francisco – Pete Konz, C, Wisconsin
31.   New England - Kendall Reyes, DE, Connecticut
32.   N.Y. Giants – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

Steelers announce 80th anniversary details

The Pittsburgh Steelers unveiled plans today for events to celebrate the team’s 80th season, “The Year of the Fan,” as well as a logo commemorating the 80 seasons (1933-2012).
This is the beginning of a broad range of events and festivities that will celebrate the legacy of the team, its players and its fans throughout the 80th season.
The Steelers Fan Image Season Ticket Design Contest gives fans a chance to be on the face of Steelers’ tickets for the 2012 season. From Monday, April 2 through Friday, April 20, Steelers’ fans can submit a 15-second video on with their three words about, “My Steelers Experience."
On Monday, April 23, 80 finalists will be announced. The ten grand prize winners will be revealed at the 2012 Steelers Fan Blitz at Heinz Field on Saturday, April 28. Along with their image on the tickets, the 10 winners will also receive four tickets to a game, pregame hospitality, on-field pregame field passes, a $100 Steelers gift card and participation in the Terrible Towel twirl on the sidelines before kickoff.
At the 2012 Steelers Fan Blitz presented by Xfinity on Saturday, April 28 at Heinz Field,
fans will be able to purchase 80th season merchandise at all Steelers Sideline stores and will have a chance to win prizes every half hour, including 80th season items. In addition, the Pittsburgh Steelers and PNC will provide fans with various opportunities during the 80th season to experience Steelers football up close and personal throughout the entire 2012 season, engaging Steelers Nation through an extensive social media campaign.
© The NFL unveiled its new Nike uniforms for each team. The Steelers' uniform appears on this page. There's not any massive changes.
© In other news, the Steelers hosted running back Isaiah Pead of Cincinnti on Tuesday.
Pead is considered a mid-round prospect.