Ridiculously Early 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers Projected Roster and Other Goodies (V 1.0)

After an unusually active offseason in signing external free agents and selecting nine players in the NFL Draft, the Steelers’ training-camp roster is mostly set.

Per most of the connected insiders who cover the team full-time (e.g., Ed Bouchette, Jim Wexell, etc.), barring injury the Steelers will likely not be re-signing veteran defensive end Brett Keisel, following their drafting of Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt in the 2nd-round.

Keisel could still aid this team, which only has three defensive linemen on its roster with any real game experience. But belatedly going with a youth movement will hopefully pay off in the long-term.

While the Steelers will likely tinker with their roster leading up to training camp, they appear to have only two other positions where a veteran addition would have a good chance to make the team.

The obvious one is to bring back James Harrison after June 1st on an inexpensive deal to serve as the No. 3 outside linebacker behind Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones.

Pittsburgh did not address its need for depth at outside linebacker in the draft. Free-agent signee Arthur Moats will help, but nearly all of his NFL experience has been on the inside and/or while working in a 4-3 scheme. Fourth-year pro Chris Carter is a below-average NFL player, who has yet to record a sack in 29 career regular-season games.

Further, Worilds has a history of nagging injuries and Jones underwhelmed as a rookie. Harrison wants to return to Pittsburgh and would accept coming off the bench at the end of his career.

Really, there are only three reasons not to sign Harrison. First, the coaches don’t want to put any pressure on Jones to keep his starting job, which would be a ridiculous rationale. Second, the Steelers simply believe Harrison is washed up. And finally they may decide to take a chance that no one else will sign Harrison, thus opting to see how Jones and Moats fare early in camp before possibly opting to bring back Harrison later in the summer.

The one position most likely to see a veteran addition before training camp is tailback. The Steelers may be fine with Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount as a two-headed monster, and Dri Archer as the utility guy. But at the very least, they need another back for training camp with an NFL carry on his resume.

Thus, it would not be surprising to see La’Rod Stephens Howling or Felix Jones brought back on a veteran minimum 1-year deal after June 1st. This also may be a position where the Steelers could add from the waiver wire right before opening game if they are not pleased with their depth.

For now, though, I will hold off on adding Harrison or a free-agent tailback to my projected opening-day roster, although I do not expect Tauren Poole to hold the spot I have below unless he has an outstanding preseason. If the Steelers do not keep a fourth tailback, then expect four tight ends to make the team instead.

 

Projected 53-Man, Opening-Day Roster

** = Roster Lock (95% or better barring major injury or arrest)

* = Roster Near Lock (75-94% barring major injury or arrest)

No stars = Clinging to the 53-man roster at this point 
(These stars assume no more roster additions or season-ending injuries)

OFFENSE

QB Ben Roethlisberger **

QB Bruce Gradkowski **

QB Landry Jones *

RB Le’Veon Bell **

RB LeGarrette Blount **

RB Tauren Poole (or more likely a veteran re-signed like La’Rod Stephens Howling or Felix Jones, or waiver wire pick-up)

RB/WR/RET Dri Archer **

FB Will Johnson **

WR Antonio Brown **

WR Markus Wheaton **

WR Lance Moore **

WR Martavis Bryant *

WR Derek Moye

TE Heath Miller **

TE Matt Spaeth *

TE Michael Palmer 

LT Kelvin Beachum **

LG Ramon Foster **

C Maurkice Pouncey **

RG David DeCastro **

RT Marcus Gilbert **

T Mike Adams *

C/G Cody Wallace **

G/T Guy Whimper

T/G Wesley Johnson

DEFENSE

DE Cameron Heyward **

NT Steve McLendon **

DE Stephon Tuitt **

NT/DE Cam Thomas **

DE Brian Arnfelt

NT Daniel McCullers

OLB Jason Worilds **

OLB Jarvis Jones **

OLB/ILB Arthur Moats *

OLB Chris Carter (or wisely adding James Harrison to roster)

ILB Lawrence Timmons **

ILB Ryan Shazier **

ILB Vince Williams *

ILB/OLB Jordan Zumwalt

ILB Terence Garvin

SS Troy Polamalu **

FS Mike Mitchell **

SS Shamarko Thomas **

FS Will Allen *

FS/CB Robert Golden

CB Ike Taylor **

CB Cortez Allen **

CB William Gay **

CB Brice McCain

CB Antwon Blake

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Shaun Suisham **

P Brad Wing

SN Greg Warren **

 

Opening Game-Day Inactives (7): RB Tauren Poole (or FA signee at RB or 4th TE), WR Derek Moye, OL Guy Whimper, OL Wesley Johnson, NT Daniel McCullers, OLB Chris Carter (or Terence Garvin if James Harrison is re-signed), CB Brice McCain

Practice Squad (8): WR Justin Brown, TE Rob Blanchlower, OG Nick Embernate, OL Chris Hubbard, DE Nick Williams, DE Josh Mauro, OLB Howard Jones, CB Shaq Richardson

Other Players On Roster Not Currently Projected to Make Opening-Day 53-man Roster or 8-Man Practice Squad: QB Brendon Kay, RB Alvester Alexander, RB Miguel Maysonet, WR Danny Coale, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Jasper Collins, WR Kashif Moore, WR Lanear Sampson, TE David Paulson, TE Eric Waters, OT Kaycee Ike, OL Chris Elkins, OG Bryant Browning, OG Will Simmons, C/G David Snow, NT Hebron Fangupo, DE Ethan Hemer, DT Al Lapuaho, DL Roy Philon, OLB Vic So’oto, LB Kion Wilson, ILB Sean Spence, ILB Dan Molls, S Devon Carrington, S Jordan Dangerfield, DB Devin Smith, DB Ross Ventrone, CB Isaiah Green, P Adam Podlesh, SN Bryce Davis

Top Camp Roster Battles:

1. Tauren Poole vs. Alvester Alexander vs. FA Signee/Waiver Pick-up for 0-1 RB spot.

2. Derek Moye vs. Darius Heyward-Bey vs. Justin Brown for 1 WR spot.

3. Michael Palmer vs. David Paulson vs. Rob Blanchflower for 1-2 TE spots.

4. Guy Whimper vs. Wesley Johnson vs. Nick Embernate vs. Chris Hubbard for 2 OL spots.

5. Daniel McCullers vs. Hebron Fangup and Brian Arnfelt vs. Nick Williams, or any duo among those 4 for 2 DL spots.

6. Chris Carter (or James Harrison if re-signed) vs. Jordan Zumwalt vs. Terence Garvin vs. Kion Wilson vs. Sean Spence for 2-3 LB spots.

7. Robert Golden vs. Shaq Richardson vs. Antwon Blake vs. Brice McCain vs. Isaiah Green for 2-3 DB spots.

8. Brad Wing vs. Adam Podlesh for P job.

This entry was posted in Analysis, Defensive Line, Draft, Free Agency, Front Office, Offensive Line, Offseason, Preseason, Wide Recievers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • countertorque

    I love Ike and Troy, but I’m very worried about having half of the starting secondary 33+ years old. This must be the year where some of the younger guys start to take over and the aging superstars become support players. Right? There’s no way those 3 guys are going to perform at a high level for more than a few games in a row.

    • Ted

      Shamarko Thomas may get PT for Troy at SS, but only if Troy is injured. He is not the dynamic player he once was, but is still among the better safeties in the league when healthy, which is why the Steelers extended his contract through 2016.

      As for replacing Ike, I agree, but who? That’s why the Steelers had to use a premium pick on a CB in this draft, which they failed to do. Gay is a 29-year-old journeyman. McCain is in his 6th year and ranked as the worst corner in the NFL last year per Pro Football Focus among those who played enough snaps to qualify.

      The sudden hype over Blake is coach-speak/BS. The guy has played 30 games over the last 2 years for Jax. and Pittsburgh, but his action has almost exclusively been on special teams. When the Steelers had injury problems last year, they had a horrible experience finding a No. 3 corner, shuffling between Curtis Brown, Alex Van Dyke and Isaiah Green, all of whom were terrible. But they never once turned to Blake. But now because Dick LeBeau and Carnell Lake spoke positively about Blake in positive draft press conferences where they tried to rationalize not taking a corner early, Blake is the answer at CB? Give me a break. LeBeau is the loving Grandfather who once gave thanks to Bryant McFadden at his HOF induction. He is going to talk up all of his players, including camp fodder.

      Pittsburgh is not a Super Bowl threat this fall, largely because of its cornerbacks, which is the same reason why a quality draft last weekend can not be given a grade above a B+ right now.

      • Cols714

        Oh please. The Steelers are for sure a Super Bowl threat. They have a young athletic front 7 on defense, two good safeties and 3 decent CBs. One of whom is older but every time we’ve decided Ike was done he’s always turned in a good year.

        And the offense was largely good last year. A team like the Steelers with a franchise QB and good talent around him will always be a Super Bowl threat.

        I get it, I think the Steelers should’ve drafted a CB earlier than the 5th round too. But let’s not let that decision cloud the rest of your judgement. For 2014 the top 3 CBs were probably going to be Taylor, Allen, and Gay regardless of who they drafted.

        • ted

          I hope you are right. If Ben can get into the playoffs, anything is possible with a mobile, franchise QB. But “3 decent CBs”? I surely hope you weren’t serious in making that statement.

          Ike is one of the most under-rated and under-aprpeciated Steelers of this era. However, he has ranked among the worst corners in the NFL over the past 1.5 years through every metric. He will be 35 before opening day. Not many good corners in NFL history at that age.

          I would also contend the Steelers have a lot of questions and a lack of size (unless Bryant is a contributor immediately) at WR and pass-protection concerns at offensive tackle. As good as Ben has been, Pittsburgh is almost never a top-10 offense.

          The defense ranked 21st against the run last year, is now more thin on the d-line and at OLB after the offseason, and you would have a hard time finding any NFL team that would trade their CB roster for the group on the Steelers. They are far from decent.

          Can we please agree that if this team FAILS to make the playoffs for a third straight year (barring serious injury to Roethlisberger) that it is time for major changes in the front office at the very least?

          • Cols714

            The run defense sucked because we were relying on Vince Williams. He was horrible. Woodley was injured again, Jones was a rookie and Ziggy Hood kind of sucked.

            Now we have Shazier, a tremendous upgrade over Williams. I don’t think we can emphasize this enough. Cam Heyward finally started playing like a star and Jones in his 2nd year will probably be a lot better.

            I don’t know how you can look at the defense and not assume it’s going to be better. There is a lot of young talent there. Yes Ike Taylor is old. But Allen should be better, Gay has been extremely solid and isn’t old and we have a shiny new safety to take over for Ryan Clark who was pretty horrible last year (and I loved Ryan Clark).

            I just don’t see how you can look at that collection of talent and decide that just because Ike Taylor may not be as good as he once was that the defense is going to fall apart.

            If the Steelers could win a Super Bowl with Bryant McFadden!! as a CB, they can certainly win with old Ike Taylor.

            I guess I look at the defense and see the arrow pointing up for a lot more players than I see it pointing down. That’s what happens when you have a lot of young athletic people in the defense.
            Heyward – up
            McClendon – same
            Tuitt/Thomas – up over Hood at least
            Worilds – up
            Timmons – same but he could always put in a DPOY season
            Shazier – way up over Williams
            Jones – up
            Allen – up
            Taylor – down
            Gay – same
            Mitchell – up over last year’s Clark at the very least, probably better than this
            Troy – same, but he could also go bananas

          • Ted

            I can respect that list, but it is pretty optimistic. While I love the Tuitt pick, the Tuitt/Thomas is not a 2014 upgrade over Keisel. Worilds will be up if he can stay healthy.

            Allen has been inconsistent and constantly banged-up since he’s been in the league. I would bet on same, but hope for up. Mitchell will be an athletic upgrade over Clark, but his experience, knowledge of the scheme and ability to play with Troy makes this likely a draw for 2014, with the upside by the end of the season.

            Hard to predict Troy will be the same. 2013 was his first season to remain fully healthy since 2008, and he was still a step slower than recent years.

            Really the only players who can be much better are Heyward, Worilds, Shazier and Jarvis Jones. If that happens, this defense can be pretty good, so long as the don’t face an accurate QB who has good pass protection and strong WRs. In other words, this CB-deficient team has no chance of beating a healthy Peyton Manning. None. The Seahwaks provided the blueprint to do so, and it includes great CBs.

          • countertorque

            I agree that it’s hard to project Troy as same in 14. If you look at the data, you have to acknowledge that 13 was a mild upswing on an overall downward trend. Troy could regress considerably this year, whether due to injury or decline.

          • Eric

            “so long as the (sic) don’t face an accurate QB who has good pass protection and strong WRs”

            I think this misses the point. Any good QB if afforded time can beat any defense. Period. The question is whether a defense can put pressure on a QB, either through coverage or the front 7. I’d argue that Seattle beating Denver was more of an illustration of a dominant pass rush than coverage. Hard to say since they were good at both but my recollection of the game was Manning under siege.

            The question isn’t whether our secondary is good. It isn’t. The question is whether our front 7 can compensate. I’d further argue that our secondary has never been particularly good but that when the defense was at its best we had a very good front 7. In years past we had Kiesel, Hampton, A.Smith, Harrison, Woodley, Porter, Farrior, etc generating pressure and those defenses was dominant despite the limitations of numerous interchangeable B.McFadden-clones.

          • Terribletoweler

            Eh, Tomlin made a statement that there are two ways to defend receivers and one of them is more likely to create turnovers–getting to the QB. If they can do that, our corners will look a lot better.

  • Intropy

    I can’t disagree with any of the names, but I have to think that the chances of Wheaton or Thomas getting beaten by one of the other contenders at their respective positions are over 1/20.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I think Stevenson Sylvester is also on the roster as of now.

    • ted

      Not per the official roster link above. Sylvester was signed to a 1-year, minimum contract by the Steelers last year after they did not pick up his 4th-year option. It’s unlikely he will be re-signed again since ILB is one position where the Steelers now have plenty of depth and competition for roster spots.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        You are right. I assumed that because his player page is still on the Steelers site (and his Wikipedia page says he’s signed) that he was on the roster. Wikipedia must not have been updated and other guys like Felix Jones also still have pages on the Steelers’ site.

  • David

    Sharing some of Cols’ post-draft/preseason excitement, here is a tidbit:

    40 yard dash times for WRs:

    4.33 Mike Wallace (MIA)
    4.35 DeSean Jackson (WAS)
    4.37 Calvin Johnson (DET)
    4.42 Martavis Bryant (PIT)
    4.47 Antonio Brown (PIT)

    And this doesn’t include RB/KR/PR Archer at 4.26

    Ben is a very happy QB now. I’ll be just as happy as long as he gets protection.

  • David

    Oh, and Bryant set an NCAA record for 22.2 yds per reception.
    And why did he slip to the R4?

    • Cols714

      Because he’s not a good route runner and doesn’t catch the ball all that well.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        Cols, I can’t comment on his route running, but I’m not sure about the idea that he “doesn’t catch the ball all that well.” Based on your suggestion in the previous post’s discussion thread, I checked out Steelers Depot. They did film breakdowns of all of Bryant’s TDs and drops. It seemed like very few of his “drops” were due to his hands and had more to do with poor throws by Boyd or contested plays on tight coverage. He did have one drop on an easy ball, but he was stumbling as he tried to bring the ball in (the writer did make the inevitable Sweed comparison). He seems to be really flexible for a big, fast guy. Other than the one stumbling play, he seems to have very good body control. And he showed good hands on several plays (catching the ball at its high point while he’s being contested, catching a tipped ball and toe-tapping at the back of the end zone).

        Here are the links:
        http://www.steelersdepot.com/2014/05/steelers-film-room-martavis-bryant-2013-touchdown-receptions/
        http://www.steelersdepot.com/2014/05/steelers-film-room-martavis-bryant-2013-dropped-passes/

        As for other reasons Bryant might have dropped: This was supposedly a really deep draft for WRs. He was only a productive starter for one year and came out after his junior year. And he was overshadowed as a prospect by his teammate Watkins.

        • Cols714

          Oh. OK, thanks for looking at that stuff, I guess I was going off of what I thought I had read but apparently I was wrong.

          He’s a good prospect, that’s for sure.

          • Rob D

            I think there is still that old saw about “if it hits your hands, you should catch it”…..I’ve seen WR’s make amazing efforts to even get to a ball and have it go off their fingertips..and people say “he should have caught that!!” lol…In the SB, where San Antonio Holmes (Al Michaels..lol) missed the ball in the left side of the endzone before making his historic catch in the right endzone..how many thought he should have easily caught that one> I didn’t..it was too hot and too high..maybe he catches that without pads on..that’s it. But I’ve had a lot of people tell me that Holmes almost lost the SB for us..I don’t see it even if the famous catch never happens…I’m rambling today…unedited..lol

          • Cols714

            Yeah. I think that passes thrown by NFL QBs have way more velocity on them than we think. We think these receivers are “dropping” balls that are thrown the way we throw the ball around the backyard or in HS football. But NFL guys are really throwing the ball hard. Extremely hard. It’s not that easy to catch.

        • Cols714

          Just watched them. A few were actual drops, but some weren’t. I hate the way most NFL fans count anything that touches a receiver as a drop. It’s insane.

  • Cols714

    Maybe the site should be renamed “Ted talks Steelers”

  • Randy Steele

    It may be early, but it’s tough to argue with Mr. Kian’s line-up. One nitpick: I’d guess Heyward-Bey might have an edge over Moye. Both suffer from too many dropped passes, but Bey is much much faster. And if Bryant is on the 53-man roster, he’d take over the role as the big red-zone target, so Moye’s height won’t save him this year.

    • ted

      I gave Heyward-Bey the edge over Moye before the draft, but not now. Heyward-Bey is a one-skill player- speed. But with Archer and Bryant now in the fold, speed at the end of the WR roster is no longer a concern.

      In contrast, Moye adds a bigger WR with sure hands who can catch the ball in traffic. Bryant is big, but has lousy hands and doesn’t do well with contact. Other players are tough (like Moore and Brown), but small.

      It should be a 3-man battle for the final WR spot, but right now I’d rank Justin Brown slightly behind Moye and just ahead of Heyward-Bey for that spot. Our draft was bad news for Heyward-Bey. I’d love to see him have a strong camp and make the team, but the book is seemingly mostly done on his career.

    • Cols714

      I don’t see how a defensive backfield that has Troy, a new fast safety, Cortez Allen in his 3rd year, and William Gay is pathetic. Ike Taylor may be old and not nearly as good as he was in 2012, but one bad player does not damn the entire unit.

      It may not be a great secondary, but I think there is still enough talent back there to be average at worst.

      • ted

        Troy is likely to decline further in 2014 and miss time due to injuries. He also will not be playing the rover role as much (where he is at his best), because the FO was dumb enough to take Shazier over a CB in the 1st round, but the coaches won’t be stupid enough to remove Shazier on third downs in favor of a third safety, who is not as good in pass coverage or fast, in general.

        Allen is actually in his 4th year, has been nagged by injuries and inconsistency, and continues to be benched at times in favor of Gay…

        who defines NFL journeyman CB. He can hold up as a nickel at times, but as shown by his experiences in Pittsburgh and Arizona, is not a starter.

        Mitchell will be faster than Clark and was the right move at this time. But right now he does not know the system yet (which will slow down his play initially, which is the norm for new players in LeBeau’s complex schemes), has to work with Troy (who is not a traditional safety even if assigned that role), and no is claiming he is as smart a football player or anywhere near as good a tackler as Clark. Still the right move and does makes this team faster.

        This was the unit that gave up 610 yards of offense to Tom Brady last year, including 252 yards to mediocre receivers Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola, who I seem to recall people on this board laughing about before last season.

        You simply are not a Super Bowl contender in a 2014 AFC with Manning and Brady if you do not have a No. 1 CB. Heck, at least 2/3 of NFL teams wouldn’t trade their their No. 2 corner for any on the Steelers’ roster and some wouldn’t trade their No. 3.

        The situation is simply that bleak. To think otherwise, is optimistic but not grounded in reality. This team has a fair chance of sneaking into the playoffs with 9-10 wins, but the pass defense will keep it from being a legit Super Bowl contender. A return to the playoffs would equate to a successful season after two years without a winning record.

        No playoffs, though, and the people that created this roster need to be replaced, just like the Pens finally made the right decision to get rid of their brain trust.

        Further, none of Shero’s decisions were as dumb as matching the E. Sanders offer instead of saving cap room and getting a 3rd-rounder, trading a future 3rd-rounder for S. Thomas while waiting 4 picks to waste a pick on L. Jones, and restructuring the contracts of Colon and Woodley with fully guaranteed money and thus creating cap help for two guys after they had either missed or performed poorly for a second consecutive season due to injuries.

        No Pittsburgh fans should be happy right now. Again, this team has been mismanaged terribly when it fails to post a winning record in two consecutive seasons while having a franchise QB playing his absolute in his prime and staying mostly healthy in the process despite never having good pass protection at offensive tackle, just another area where the FO has failed regularly. I assure you no one would be happier if you throw this post in my face in Jan. than me, but all my criticisms last year were spot-on.

        • Intropy

          You are being too hard on Gay. We saw what he looked like as a starter, and it wasn’t pretty. But that memory lingers and clouds judgment. As a nickelback he is somewhere between very good and great. Admittedly your number 3 corner isn’t a lot for a CB corp to hang its hat on, but let’s not lose sight of the trees for the forest.

          • EasyLikeSundayMorning

            I agree. I don’t want to see Gay on the outside much, but he’s a good slot guy and 3rd corner. Ike has lost his ability to shut down #1s all the time, but he can still tackle well and is hopefully ok as a second CB. I was a Cortez skeptic before this year, but I thought he was very good down the stretch once he was healthy; he has the size and speed to play against most big receivers and will hopefully supplant Ike as our #1 CB. And Mitchell’s speed should help reduce the unusual number of long plays we gave up last year (both on long passes and short passes that went for long gains).

            I am very concerned about our secondary in 2015, so I did want us to take a corner early in the draft. But I’m only somewhat concerned about it in 2014. I think our pass D will be ok this year if our our front 7 gets enough pressure on QBs. With all the speed and versatility we now have, LeBeau should have lots of options to create weird looks and blitz mismatches.

            I’m pretty bullish on our overall talent level of our front 7. My concern is that it is very young and therefore likely to be inconsistent. Looking at last year, even guys who took a leap and at times played great, like Heyward and Worilds, weren’t dominant all year like Harrison, Woodley, Snack, Smith, etc. have been for most of the past decade. I don’t have Super Bowl aspirations for this year unless more things suddenly gel than usually do in one season.

          • Cols714

            True enough. But at some point a young exciting team gets it and has a monster year. Heyward, Worilds, Timmons, Allen, all looked pretty great in the 2nd half of last year. Since they are young, I think that will continue into this year.

            Now since Tuitt and Shazier and MItchell and Jones are all still in their 1st or 2nd year, 2014 probably won’t be that year, but the future looks pretty bright. Make the playoffs this year and then 2015 will be the year it all comes together (as long as they find a CB for 2015!!!).
            Of course I’m naturally optimistic about the Steelers and I’ve been wrong before!!!

          • ted

            You are correct that this starting front seven on defense is noticeably better for 2014 after this draft and for that Colbert should be commended. He took the two players most likely to play for the Steelers in the first two rounds. Hard for someone like me who is always espousing BPA to complain about that philosophy in his execution of the overall draft. in which he did well this year based on value in most rounds.

            However,you are right that playoffs this season and SB contender in 2015 is the best realistic outlook. It comes down to in your belief in Dennard, because Shazier has a much higher % chance of being a very good player at ILB than any CB available in any round of this draft. I just believe that you can’t win in 2015 without a legit No. 1 CB, and feel that Dennard was the most sure of any of the three 1st-rounders taken in the draft, although Gilbert and Fuller had better upsides. That will not be a rookie from next year’s class, which is clearly weaker at that spot. The only real hope now is that Allen turns into Kennan Lewis this year and becomes that player. With more cap space available to all teams, signing him early before this season at a team-friendly rate to provide him guaranteed long-term security in the event of a major injury and/or a poor season seems like a win-win for both sides, and worthy of the risk.

        • Cols714

          I guess. It seems to me that you have these hobby horses where the FO did something you didn’t like, like trading a draft pick for Thomas or not drafting Dennard this year and you let that completely cloud your judgement.

          Allen has looked pretty good, Gay has actually been really good since he wasn’t a starter, and I don’t get the Troy is falling off of a cliff stuff. He was good last year and that was with trying to make up for the suckiness that was Vince Williams and unfortunately (because he’s one of my faves) Ryan Clark.

          I see them upgraded at safety with Mitchell, I see Allen continuing to get better, I see Gay being about was he’s been and Taylor declining.

          To me that doesn’t seem like a pathetic or awful secondary.

          As for Denver and NE, of course those guys will put up points. Only the very best defense, Seattle, was able to stop them. Ne put up tons of points on us every year. The key is to hit Tom Brady. Do that and everything else falls into place.

        • Eric

          Holy crap, are you kidding? Shero, who I like, made plenty of terrible decisions that are arguably considerably worse than the ones you cite (Hello Doug Murray, Hello Scuderi!). And if you want to complain about a Pittsburgh teams problems with effective drafting, the Penguins should be on the top of your list.

          I think Cols has a point about you becoming obsessed with moves you didn’t like. Your Dennard fetish is amazing to me. The guy hasn’t played a down in the NFL and you already act as if they passed on Rod Woodson. The corners on the roster are bad but the only way you can make the situation worse is by panicking and drafting a player that doesn’t work out. Then you end up having more holes in your roster because you missed a chance to fix a problem somewhere else.

          However, you are absolutely correct about E. Sanders and Landry. They really botched those.

          • Cols714

            Yes they definitely did botch those moves.

          • Eric
          • David

            Eric, I agreed Ted a week ago, but now am cooling off a bit and am not lamenting our CB situation as much.

            Regarding Shero, he got a SC for us, but for 5 years straight we exited the playoffs earlier than we should have. Something had to be done.

          • Eric

            Well the real problem with the Penguins was that they focused on drafting defense to the exclusion of forwards. So there is/was no depth in the bottom 6. Then they compounded it by trading lots of picks and signing expensive veteran FA defenders and crappy FA forwards. It eventually caught up with them.

            The playoff exits are certainly not all MAFs fault but it sure is hard to win when your goalie is so unreliable.

          • David

            Indeed my friend. I just can’t keep but thinking that we would’ve handled the Habs and played for the Cup. Esp. after being up 3-1. Sucks.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    From 2007-2012, rookies started zero games and were on the field for a total of 1012 snaps for the Steelers defense. In 2013, rookies started 22 games and played 1269 snaps, with Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams having the first and second most starts and snaps by rookies on D since 2007.
    http://blog.triblive.com/steel-mill/2014/05/18/rookie-defensive-players-and-mike-tomlin-just-dont-mix-chart-included/#axzz32884QOfo

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Aaron Schatz at Football Outsiders projects the Steelers to be 9-7 and win the AFCN. As much or more than his prediction about the Steelers, I enjoyed what he said about the Ravens.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10963554/new-england-patriots-denver-broncos-top-early-projected-afc-standings-nfl

    AFC North

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7 (9.2 mean wins; SOS: 30)
    Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7 (8.7 mean wins; SOS: 25)
    Baltimore Ravens: 8-8 (7.6 mean wins; SOS: 26)
    Cleveland Browns: 6-10 (6.3 mean wins; SOS: 28)

    Cincinnati actually comes out slightly better than Pittsburgh in our mean DVOA projections, but that small difference in strength of schedule is enough to predict Pittsburgh as the more likely division champion. The injury assumptions here may be a little off because while Cincinnati had a low number of injuries, they were to very important players such as Leon Halland Geno Atkins. Nonetheless, while Atkins is one of the best defensive tackles in the game, getting Maurkice Pouncey back probably means more to the Steelers than Atkins’ return means to the Bengals, because the Bengals had more depth behind Atkins.

    Baltimore followed up its Super Bowl-winning season by plummeting to 30th in the Football Outsiders offensive ratings, and it would take a lot of rebound for the Ravens to have another winning season.

    Cleveland did very well in this year’s draft, but we likely won’t see immediate results on the field, especially if Josh Gordon gets suspended for the entire season.

    • ted

      I like Aaron. He does a great job, but not on record projections. For example, in his early 2014 predicted team records, he has 29 of the 32 NFL teams finishing within 2 games of .500 in the regular season. In other words, 29 out of 32 teams are going to win between 6-10 games, per Schatz.

      Meanwhile, only the Broncos (12-4) and Saints (11-5) are predicted to surpass that range, with only the Raiders (4-12) falling below.

      That would be by far the most parity in NFL history. In fact, this much parity would go against every measurement in NFL history. Since the advent of 16-game schedules in 1978, at least two teams from each conference each year have lost 11 or more. But yet Schatz has only one in either conference doing so in 2014. Historical stats say these record predictions have no basis in reality.

      • Intropy

        All of your complaints are valid, but they don’t actually suggest that the predictions are bad. Predictions about win distribution are independent of one another. To see this replace every game with a coin flip. The best possible prediction is that every team will go 8-8. That’s still extremely unlikely to happen. Further if you were to ask the question “will any team win more than 9 games” then you still predict “yes”. Those may appear contradictory, but they aren’t. All 8-8 is the single most likely outcome. But there are many more possible outcomes where at least one team wins 10. Further, the 8-8 prediction also minimizes the difference against likely actual outcomes. For that reason you should expect that good predictions will be biased towards the mean.

        Put another way, predicting the records does not imply that any other features of the distribution are also predicted. If you wanted to predict how much parity you would see next season you would ask a different question from the one being answered above, and you would not answer the parody question by predicting individual records and observing the properties of the resulting records.

        • ted

          Good response. That is, I presume, how Aaron would respond as well, since he is a statistician and obviously not a very good prognosticator of team records.

          But predictions should include both stepping out on a limb (e.g., not predicting 29 of 32 to finish within 2 games of .500) and to be cognizant of statistical history, which in this case, Aaron was not or at least he chose to ignore the historical fact that every season in modern NFL history goes against his predictions.

          It also fails to take into account that teams get on a roll and many teams quit or at least stop playing as hard. In other words, I put little stock into predicted team records by experts and give no credence to his predictions in this case when examined as a whole.

  • Cols714

    I don’t know how many people read BTSC, but Neal Coolong wrote what I think is a great comment to all of the people still bitching about Keenan Lewis leaving.I’ll try to link to the comment itself, but if not just scroll through the comments and you’ll find it.

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/5/21/5739566/steelers-2011-draft-grade#235519541

    • EasyLikeSunday

      I read Neal’s comment. I think he made some interesting points and like his passion. I didn’t have a position on Kennan Lewis before I read his comment, but I wasn’t convinced by Neal’s take. Three issues:

      1) Based on what I’ve read, I think Neal underplays how well Lewis played in NO last year. And he was good for us in 2012. Assuming Lewis stays healthy and plays the way he has in the last two seasons, having him would pretty clearly upgrade our secondary over the life of his contract (from 2013-2017).
      2) It seems odd that we didn’t even make him an offer.
      3) Lewis’ deal wasn’t super expensive. It is actually very similar to Mike Mitchell’s: Lewis’s is $26.3 over 5 with $6mm guaranteed; Mitchell’s $25mm over 5 years, $5.25mm guaranteed. This is a little bit apples and oranges (or mackintosh apples and Granny Smith apples), as they were signed in different seasons with different cap situations. But it does suggest that we wouldn’t have had to break the bank for Lewis.

      There are reasons why we might not have been able to sign Lewis, including his desire to play at home. But it is a shame we didn’t.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I have an image in my head of LeBeau cooking up a crazy number of new formations, based on the 10 players on the Steelers D who have been reported to be able to play multiple positions:

    -NT/DE: McClendon, Cam Thomas, McCullers; Tuitt can also play DT in a 4-3 look
    -ILB/OLB: Timmons, Shazier, Zumwalt (who actually played all 4 LB positions in college)
    -S/LB: Troy
    -S/CB: Shamarko, Golden

    Each of these has been reported somewhere. Based on my own speculation, I also think Heyward might be able to play DT in a 4-3 and both Jarvis and Worilds might be able to play ILB.

  • Eric
  • Eric

    I don’t know if people are following the steelers draft series but there wasn’t any debate when they were on the clock:

    http://www.steelers.com/video-and-audio/videos/Countdown-Making-the-First-Round-Draft-Selection/34be96b9-4d97-44d8-93b5-0069a6a69c7f

  • Eric
  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    A good read from Jim Wexell: http://pit.scout.com/2/1407065.html I’m expecting our youth on D to create inconsistency, especially early in the year, but it should be a fun D to watch. I hope the phrases “athleticism is taking over,” “running with the bulls in Pamplona” and Mitchell’s “wow moments” reverberate for a while.

    While were at it, Wex has been cranking out some good stuff recently:
    http://pit.scout.com/story/1406695-blount-force-trauma?s=68#/story/1406695-blount-force-trauma?s=68
    http://pit.scout.com/story/1406338-the-law-dawg?s=68#/story/1406338-the-law-dawg?s=68

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Bill Barnwell did his annual analysis of metrics which predict which teams will rise and fall the next season. He thinks that a team’s record in games decided by one TD or less is mostly random, and the Steelers were second-worst in the NFL on this metric. As we can see by the edge of Antonio Brown’s cleat, close games can easily go either way. In 2013, this meant the difference between the postseason and an early vacation. http://grantland.com/features/nfl-stats-predicting-success/

    One thing that surprised me was that we weren’t among the 5 worst teams in terms of turnover differential. It turns out were were only -7 last year. But looking at how those turnovers were distributed does suggest they had a large impact on the team’s record. In games in which we won the turnover battle, we were 3-0. If turnovers and takeaways were even, we were 4-1. If we lost the turnover battle, we were 1-7. A faster defense and a better running game should improve our turnover differential and hopefully also our record.

    I’m not usually a huge fan of their work, but Bleecher Report was the source for the game-by-game turnovers. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1907049-where-exactly-did-it-go-wrong-for-the-pittsburgh-steelers

    • Rob D

      Interesting stuff, Easy! thanks…I really think the team is going to be much improved this year..probably a slow start due to all the young faces in play but they’ve addressed nearly every position I wanted them to in FA and the draft except CB. And I am not panicking on that front.. better pass rush/speed overall means the CB’s aren’t hung out to dry as much. I also believe this is the year Cortez breaks through

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        No prob, Rob. I’m not super concerned about CB in 2014 if they stay healthy (as long as our pass rush is improved). My biggest area of concern is actually WR other than Brown. We have a bunch of 4th and 5th WRs (at this point in their careers). Moore is a decent 3rd, Heath should be healthier, and Will Johnson is an under-rated receiver. But I’m worried about our number 2 WR. I wasnt impressed with Wheaton’s hands and body control, even before he mangled his finger.

        This makes a good Randy Steele QOTD: biggest area of concern for 2014?

        • Rob D

          Yes, we need Randy back..it’s a long way to Sept. from here..lol AGree about WR..I’m must hoping they know something we don’t.It’s probable that Wheaton is going to have to really show something fast..can he replace Sanders in the short term and be better than Sanders in the long term? I have no idea..Hope the Steelers do. (On the brighter side of things,,,how far have we come on the defensive line…I mean, you have to be smiling about the concept of Tuitt and Heyward being our bookend DE’s for the next era of Steeler football. I think that is going to be fun to watch.)

        • Randy Steele

          That’s easy, Easy. Cornerback.

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY

    Former Steelers’ defensive lineman Ernie Holmes had a son, Roderick “Byron” Holmes, who earned a doctorate in which of the following studies?

    A) theology
    B) education
    C) mathematics
    D) veterinarian medicine

    • Rob D

      I KNEW there’d be a snap quiz! And I didn’t study..doh!
      I will go with A) Theology …

      • Randy Steele

        Among his many careers after he retired from the Steelers, Ernie Holmes became an itinerant Baptist minister, preaching sermons in small churches across Texas. His son, Byron, however, went to college and earned his doctorate as a mathematician. and became an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Texas Southern University. The correct answer is “C”.

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    During Super Bowl XIV, the Steelers faced the Los Angeles Ram and defeated them, 31-19. Of the following four coaches working on the sidelines for the Rams that day, three of them were former coaches for Pittsburgh. Of the men listed below, which one had not coached for the Steelers.

    A) Dan Radakovich
    B) Lionel Taylor
    C) Ray Malavasi
    D) Bud Carson

    • Rob D

      Hmmm..I will say B) Lionel Taylor..

      • Randy Steele

        Sorry, Rob, but Lionel Taylor had been the receivers coach of the Steelers in the 1970s. He left them, in part, to prove he could be a good coach without players as stellar as Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
        The only coach of the four listed above who hadn’t been part of the Steeler Empire was (c) Ray Malavasi, who was the head coach of the Rams at that time.

        • Rob D

          Darn it..I was just going to by name recognition..lol..I knew Bud Carson of course..and Radakovich were definately Steeler people. Remembered Malavasi’s name but not Taylor’s…doh! Of course, now I remember Ray from coaching against the Super Steelers in their last Noll-led SB…that was one team I couldn’t get a good hate up about..who couldn’t like Hacksaw Reynolds and Jack Youngblood? But when they had the lead, I started to hate them just fine..lol..

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    Of the many decorated rookies of the Steeler Empire who made the roster in 1974, only three remained on opening day in 1987, the year of the famous NFL player’s strike. Those three crossed the picket lines. Which one of the following players were not on the Steelers’ roster in 1987?

    A) Mel Blount
    B) John Stallworth
    C) Donnie Shell
    D) Mike Webster

    • Rob D

      Wow….my brain hurts thinking about this…Let’s see..I know Webster was still there since he was my fave Steeler of all times…It’s a tossup between the other 3…I will say Stallworth…

      • Randy Steele

        Mr. Cols is correct. The answer is “A”, Mel Blount, who as did the others listed here, played at least 14 years for the Steelers, but Blount was a rookie in 1970, and retired in 1983.

        • Rob D

          Summer school..here I come….just like old times!! Remedial Steeler history 101..

    • Cols714

      Blount

    • SunilR

      C, Donnie Shell. Might as well go for someone who wasn’t picked yet, since I can’t remember.

  • Eric
    • Rob D

      Very cool..Eric..I hope they’ve found something with this guy..It would sure make the angst over the CB situation ease up a tad..

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    Which one of the following former Steeler players owns a minority interest in the team?

    A) Terry Hanratty
    B) John Stallworth
    C) Franco Harris
    D) Andy Russell

    • Rob D

      Hanratty..seems like a smart ex player type…Stallworth..ditto..Franco is always around and is a beloved icon..Russell ditto…I will say Franco because he’s got a statue in the airport!

      • Randy Steele

        The answer is “B”, John Stallworth. While still playing for the Steelers, Stallworth befriended an engineer and the two men formed a company that sub-contracted military work. Eventually the company, Madison Research Corporation, grew into a major information technology and engineering company that was sold for a reported $69 million in 2006. Two years later, he was asked by Dan Rooney to take a minority interest in the team, which he did.

        • Rob D

          Had no idea ..A lot of ex Steelers seem to have done well in their life’s work..

    • Cols714

      C. Franco

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    His career spanning 17 NFL seasons, Mike Webster played in more than 340 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, more any other center in the team’s history. Counting pre- and post-season, how many games did Webster miss playing for the Steelers?

    A) 26
    B) 19
    C) 13
    D) 4

    • Cols714

      D. 4

      • Randy Steele

        Mr. Cols, once again, you are correct. The answer is four games, and Webster only missed those four because of a dislocated elbow he suffered at the start of the 1986 season.

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    Who among the following players called himself a “one-man Steel Curtain”?

    A) Mike Webster
    B) Jim Otto
    C) Gary Dunn
    D) Joe Greene

    • Intropy

      B) Jim Otto

      • Randy Steele

        Having endured 53 knee surgeries, four back surgeries, and the surgical replacement of both shoulders, former Oakland Raiders’ center Jim Otto once ironically joked that he had had so many steel implants that he should be considered “a one-man Steel Curtain.” After his right leg further deteriorated, he finally had to have it amputated in 2007. The correct answer is “B”.

        • Rob D

          Jim was the poster child for years for what playing in the NFL can do for your body. And it wasn’t pretty. And he wasn’t alone, obviously. My mother used to always insist that your health was more valuable than any wealth you accumulated in your lifetime. She was right. I had a minor back problem this year and I was amazed at how even small things became difficult obstacles to overcome.Can’t imagine what its like for the Jim Ottos…much respect for him..

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    After his retirement from professional football, Mike Webster approached Dan Rooney with a business proposition. For which one of the following businesses did Webster seek Rooney as an investor?

    A) financial services company
    B) VW/Audi auto dealership
    C) Planet Fitness franchise
    D) worm farm

    • Cols714

      B.

      • Randy Steele

        Sadly, the correct answer is “D”, a worm farm. The request by Webster, which was sincere, prompted Rooney to wonder about Webster’s mental health, which later proved to be in serious decline.

        • Rob D

          I barely got through the PBS program featuring Webbie’s brain and the wider issue of concussions…VERY hard to watch his son and family.

    • SunilR

      D. I can’t pass up the rare opportunity to provide ‘worm farm’ as an answer.

    • Rob D

      Dang, I want to say D) just for giggles..but I’ll go with C)…

  • Randy Steele

    After the legendary 1974 draft of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the draft picks taken the next few years did not prove themselves to be quite so noteworthy. From 1975 through 1986, how many players who made the Pro Bowl were drafted by the Steelers?

    A) 5
    B) 11
    C) 3
    D) None

    • SunilR

      C, because I think Louis Lipps made it once, and maybe Meriweather (sp?) too, so surely a third got there as well?

      • Randy Steele

        The correct answer is “A”, five.

        After the Steelers finished the 1986 season with a record of 6-10, team president Dan Rooney decided something had to be done. He called his brother, Art Jr., who was head of the scouting department, into his office–and fired him.

        Art, Jr., who was then 51 years old and had had no other real job in his life other than scouting and drafting for the Pittsburgh Steelers was dazed by the decision. His father refused to intervene on Art Jr.’s behalf. Art Jr. later said of his father, “I know he never forgave me for Danny Marino.”

        The Chief badly wanted the Steelers to have drafted Marino with the 16th pick in 1983, but Art Jr. yielded to head coach Chuck Noll, who wanted defensive lineman Gabe Rivera instead. Rivera, as you likely know, was paralyzed in an automobile accident a few months later.

        That decision couldn’t have worked out worse for the Steelers, and eventually, Art Jr.

        • Eric

          Ouch.

    • Cols714

      A. 5

  • Randy Steele

    Commissioner Roger Goodell approached Dan Rooney in 2006 and told him that he must comply with the NFL rule that stipulated each team must have one single owner holding at least 30 percent interest of that team. At that time how much interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers did Dan Rooney own?

    A) 25
    B) 21
    C) 16
    D) 10

    • Cols714

      A. 25

      • Randy Steele

        The correct answer is “C.” Art Rooney Sr. gave 80 percent of the ownership of the Steelers to his five sons, each of whom received 16 percent. The other 20 percent was given to the Rooneys’ cousins, the McGinley family. Even though Dan Rooney was president of the Steelers, he owned no more of the team than any one of his brothers.

    • Rob D

      Seem to remember something in the 20′s..so I’ll go with B) 21..

  • Cols714

    New Pouncey deal. Looks like only 13-15M guaranteed, but 5/44M is a lot for a center who has trouble staying healthy.

    • Rob D

      …and who can’t stop pressure up the middle on too many snaps. Velasco comes in and suddenly Ben can step up to throw with little problem most downs. I know he’s special in terms of mobility and maybe the zone blocking scheme that our OLine coach is implementing will highlight his strengths…but I’m very cool on him and this deal…he’d better have a big year. I know that a lot of STeeler nation knuckleheads with low info HATE Pouncey but there is some legit reasons for believing he is not an irreplaceable member of our offense. This is a gamble that must pay off…

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Neal Coolong wrote another piece about Keenan Lewis. I wrote a long reply in the comments about keeping Lewis over Ike: http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/6/12/5803186/steelers-cornerbacks-depth-chart-keenan-lewis-contract-2013

    • Cols714

      I’m so sick of hearing about Keenan Lewis. To hear certain Steelers fans tell it, losing Lewis was the worst personnel decision ever as he’s a HOF caliber CB.

      The Coolong pieces have been great to put it all in perspective, but I’m really tired of hearing about a good but not anywhere near great CB who had 1 int. and 1 decent year with the Steelers.

  • David

    Brandon Flowers, CB from the Chefs, was released. Hmmm…..nah.

    • Cols714

      Want.

  • Randy Steele

    QUIZ OF THE DAY:

    In 2006 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested to Dan Rooney that he purchase all the shares of the Steelers owned by his brothers because they had interests in various legal gambling enterprises, including Yonkers Raceway in New York. To do this, Rooney had to get the Steelers’ franchise appraised in order to figure out how much money he needed to buy his brothers’ shares. This appraisal, performed by a European bank that was helping to broker the deal, was for $700 million. Rooney’s brothers objected, arguing that the franchise was worth much more and ordered their own appraisal. How much did this appraisal amount to?

    A) $600,000 – $750,000
    B) $750,000 – $1 million
    C) $800,000 – $1.2 million
    D) $1 million – $1.5 million

  • David

    RIP Coach Noll. You brought us back from the depths and won us 4 trophies. You will be missed.

    • Rob D

      WE all know what we’ve lost.