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Steelers

Sights and Sounds from Steelers OTA No. 1

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PITTSBURGH — The first pass of Steelers OTA on Tuesday was from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Of course, that’s not exactly news, given that the 16-year veteran has been the starter since his rookie season. But the amount of time that Roethlisberger spends at organized team activities, which are optional, has not always been consistent.

Roethlisberger said after practice that he’s going to make in a priority to spend more time at OTAs this year than he did last year, in part because the Steelers passing offense will need to replace the 105 catches and 15 touchdowns that Antonio Brown contributed in 2018.

Newcomers Donte Moncrief and Johnny Holton and rookie Diontae Johnson got their first reps with Roethlisberger, while second-year receiver James Washington and slot men Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer began their competition for more targets.

Of course, there’s also never such a thing as too much practice, even for a 16-year veteran. That first pass? Intercepted by Joe Haden.

Check out more in the sights and sounds of Steelers OTA No. 1 from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side:

POST-PRACTICE INTERVIEWS

PHOTO GALLERY

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Saunders: Maurkice Pouncey Building Hall of Fame Credentials

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Is Maurkice Pouncey a future Hall of Famer?

It’s not really fair to judge a player’s career through such a lens until it’s over, but as he enters his 12th season with the Steelers, Pouncey’s career is far closer to its end than its beginning. It’s natural at this stage to wonder what’s left for the decorated leader of Pittsburgh’s offensive line to prove.

Pouncey has made eight Pro Bowls in his 10 years with the Steelers, and five times has been selected as an NFL All-Pro. It’s hard to do much better than that, especially with him missing all but one game of the 2013 season.

Outside of that, Pouncey, has been durable, averaging over 15 starts per season for the remaining nine years of his career.

On Monday, Pouncey was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s, joining Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack.

That honor alone, bestowed upon by a committee organized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shows that Pouncey could be on the doorstep of enshrinement.

Of the 10 offensive linemen named to the 2000s all-decade team, only Alan Faneca and Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz have not made it to the hall, and Faneca has been a five-time finalist that will likely make it eventually.

Three other centers have recently been added to the Hall of Fame’s ranks, with Kevin Mawae inducted in 2019, Vikings legend Mick Tingelhoff getting the call in 2015 and Pouncey’s spiritual Steelers predecessor Dermontti Dawson going to Canton, Ohio in 2012.

Without any real statistics, those voted-upon honorifics are the only tangible things we have to evaluate offensive linemen empirically.

In that way, Pouncey eight Pro Bowls, five All-Pros and all-decade team selection hold up well.

Dawson had seven Pro Bowls, six All-Pros and was on the 1990’s all-decade team. Mawae had eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pros and was on the 2000s all-decade team. Tingelhof had six Pro-Bowls, seven All-Pros. Interestingly, none of those players owns a Super Bowl ring, though Tingelhof won an NFL title with the Vikings in 1969 and played in four Super Bowls.

When considering the fact that Pouncey has more time to add to his legacy — his recently restructured contract runs through the end of the 2021 season — it seems that he should have a fairly good argument when the time for voting comes.

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Steelers

Former Steelers DE Keith Willis Joins Edinboro Coaching Staff

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Edinboro University has hired former Steelers defensive end Keith Willis as their new assistant head coach and defensive line coach.

“Keith’s experience both as a player and a coach will make him a tremendous asset to Edinboro University,” head coach Jake Nulph said in a press release. “He is a great man of character and our young men are going to learn so much from him.”

Willis spent ten years in Pittsburgh, and his 59 sacks as a Steeler are the sixth-most in franchise history and the eighth-most ever by an undrafted free agent. The team won two division titles and reached an AFC Championship Game during his tenure.

Willis has nearly 25 years of coaching experience, most recently having served as the defensive line coach for the Tennessee Titans during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

He has also coached defensive line for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL for three seasons(2013-15), and spent 18 years in the college ranks at North Carolina State (2007-12), Boston College (2001-06), Cincinnati (1999- 00) and Slippery Rock (1995-98).

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NFL Draft

Can the Steelers Find an Impact Player at #49?

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The Steelers first round pick in 2020 is Minkah Fitzpatrick. Kevin Colbert has made that line of thinking canon with his recent remarks on the matter.

So where does that leave the team as they head into the 2020 NFL Draft?

Round number two, pick number 49; that’s when the Steelers will get to work trying to acquire an impact player for this season and beyond.

NFL front offices are, for the most part, excellent at evaluating and identifying talent coming out of college. By the time the Steelers draft, roughly half of the NFL franchises will get not one, but two cracks at finding “their” player. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin in the meantime will just have to wait to see which remaining players on the board fulfill their team’s needs.

So, what kind of player will be available when Colbert and company finally make their selection? Pro Football Reference keeps track of each pick’s value as it relates to trading and impact. The first pick in any draft is worth 3000. The final pick of the first round is worth 590. For the Steelers at #49, the pick is worth 410.

Yes, there will be good players available, but they’re going to have to have the magic touch if they want someone who can step in in year one.

Here are the last 10 years of draft picks from #44-#54, a +/- spread of five from the Steelers’ first pick.

PickTeamNamePositionAgeDraft YearAll-ProPro BowlStarterCareer AVGames
44GNBElgton JenkinsC232019001716
45NWEJoejuan WilliamsCB21201900019
46CLEGreedy WilliamsCB212019001412
47SEAMarquise BlairS222019000214
48NORErik McCoyC222019001716
49INDBen BanoguLB232019000116
50MINIrv Smith Jr.TE212019000316
51TENA.J. BrownWR2220190011016
52CINDrew SampleTE23201900009
53PHIMiles SandersRB222019001916
54HOULonnie JohnsonCB222019000314
44SFODante PettisWR222018000423
45GNBJosh JacksonCB222018001530
46KANBreeland SpeaksDE222018000316
47ARIChristian KirkWR2120180011125
48LACUchenna NwosuOLB212018000632
49PHIDallas GoedertTE232018002831
50DALConnor WilliamsT212018002924
51CHIAnthony MillerWR232018000931
52INDKemoko TurayOLB232018000318
53TAMM.J. StewartCB222018000321
54CINJessie BatesS2120180021132
44LARGerald EverettTE232017000945
45CHIAdam ShaheenTE222017000227
46INDQuincy WilsonCB212017000529
47BALTyus BowserOLB222017000647
48CINJoe MixonRB2120170022444
49WASRyan AndersonOLB232017000543
50TAMJustin EvansS222017002724
51DENDeMarcus WalkerDE222017000423
52CLEDeShone KizerQB212017001618
53DETTeez TaborCB212017000322
54MIARaekwon McMillanLB2120170021129
44OAKJihad WardDE222016001941
45TENDerrick HenryRB2220160122762
46DETA'Shawn RobinsonDT2120160012058
47NORMichael ThomasWR2320162345463
48GNBJason SpriggsT222016000836
49SEAJarran ReedDT2320160032256
50HOUNick MartinG2320160032046
51NYJChristian HackenbergQB212016000
52ATLDeion JonesOLB2120160132753
53WASSu'a CravensOLB212016000316
54MINMackensie AlexanderCB222016000755
44NORHau'oli KikahaOLB232015001527
45MINEric KendricksILB2320151154274
46SFOJaquiski TarttS2320150021659
47PHIEric RoweCB2220150011053
48SDGDenzel PerrymanILB2220150042156
49KANMitch MorseG2320150042865
50BUFRonald DarbyCB2120150042057
51CLENate OrchardDE2220150011043
52MIAJordan PhillipsNT2220150032176
53CINJake FisherT222015000648
54DETAmeer AbdullahRB2220150021258
44BUFCyrus KouandjioT212014000730
45SEAPaul RichardsonWR2220140011464
46PITStephon TuittDE2120140043076
47WASTrent MurphyLB2320140042976
48BALTimmy JerniganDT2120140042571
49NYJJace AmaroTE222014000417
50SDGJeremiah AttaochuLB2120140011261
51CHIEgo FergusonDT222014000220
52ARITroy NiklasTE212014001141
53GNBDavante AdamsWR2120140364186
54TENBishop SankeyRB212014001629
44CARKawann ShortDT2420130244096
45ARIKevin MinterLB2220130022591
46BUFKiko AlonsoLB2320130043286
47DALGavin EscobarTE222013000264
48PITLe'Veon BellRB2120132355977
49NYGJohnathan HankinsDT2120130063998
50CHIJonathan BosticLB2220130052586
51WASDavid AmersonDB2120130042174
52NWEJamie CollinsLB2320130165596
53CINMargus HuntDE2620130011791
54MIAJamar TaylorDB2220130021590
44KANJeff AllenT2220120042584
45CHIAlshon JefferyWR22201201749102
46PHIMychal KendricksLB21201200738103
47SEABobby WagnerLB22201256895119
48NWETavon WilsonDB22201200318110
49SDGKendall ReyesDT2220120032276
50STLIsaiah PeadRB222012000130
51GNBJerel WorthyDT222012000440
52TENZach BrownLB22201201540100
53CINDevon StillDT232012000333
54DETRyan BroylesWR242012000321
44DETTitus YoungWR222011002826
45DENRahim MooreDB2120110032064
46DENOrlando FranklinT2320110064090
47STLLance KendricksTE23201100716137
48OAKStefen WisniewskiC22201100641134
49INDBen IjalanaT222011001734
50SDGMarcus GilchristDB22201100632126
51TAMDa'Quan BowersDE212011000753
52NYGMarvin AustinDT222011000226
53CHIStephen PaeaDT2320110032283
54PHIJaiquawn JarrettDB212011000547
44OAKLamarr HoustonDE23201000432100
45DENZane BeadlesG23201001751137
46NYGLinval JosephDT21201002962141
47ARIDaryl WashingtonLB2320100143659
48CARJimmy ClausenQB222010001322
49SFOTaylor MaysDB222010000980
50KANJavier ArenasDB222010001869
51MINToby GerhartRB2320100001682
52PITJason WorildsDE2220100012173
53NWEJermaine CunninghamLB222010001838
54CINCarlos DunlapDE21201002761148

Let’s take a closer look at the players who standout from each year.

2019 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Two skill position guys, Miles Sanders and A.J. Brown and two centers are the clear choices from this grouping. Brown had over 1,000 yards of receiving and Sanders was a threat on the ground (800+ yards) and through the air (50 catches). Other than that, not much there.

Best player taken after pick #54: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle (Rd. 2, Pick 64)

2018 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

2018 was not a great draft for value in this range of picks. Only Dallas Goedert, Connor Williams and Jessie Bates were able to start for their teams both seasons.

Best player taken after pick #54: Orlando Brown, Baltimore (Rd. 3, Pick 83)

2017 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Another bad year for the mid to late 2nd rounders. Joe Mixon and Raekwon McMillan have been the only impact players.

Best player taken after pick #54: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (Rd. 3, Pick 67)

2016 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

The 2016 NFL Draft class was home to the only 2nd round pick in the last ten years to never see the field, Christian Hackenberg. But 2016 also had Michael Thomas, who’s developed into one of the best receivers in the league and Derrick Henry, who finally showed what he can do this past season. Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones also made a Pro Bowl from this group. Center Nick Martin stepped in from day one and been a reliable starter and Jarran Jones has had limited success with the Seahawks.

Best player taken after pick #54: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City (Rd. 5, Pick 165)

2015 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Eric Kendricks come on down, you’re the only star player from the 2015 group! The Minnesota linebacker has one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro team to his name. Center Mitch Morse has been a solid player since being drafted and has started every game since being drafted for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. LA Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman has started a majority of his games since being drafted.

Best player taken after pick #54: Joe Thunney, New England (Rd. 3, Pick 78)

2014 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Steeler Stephon Tuitt is one of two standouts from this grouping along with Green Bay wideout Davante Adams. Timmy Jernigan and Trent Murphy have also had success as well.

Best player taken after pick #54: Telvin Smith, Jacksonville (Rd. 5, Pick 144)

2013 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

A former Steeler you may recognize, Le’Veon Bell joins Jamie Collins in being two highly talented, All-Pro caliber players from 2013’s grouping. A fair amount of other names on the list have had success including Kiko Alonso, Johnathan Hankins, and Kawann Short. Another former Steeler, Jon Bostic has had three consecutive years starting and had one of his best year as a pro in 2019 with the Redskins.

Best player taken after pick #54: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay (Rd. 4, Pick 109)

2012 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Bobby Wagner is the stud selection for this group with 5 All-Pro selections, he’s almost guaranteed a future bust in Canton. Alshon Jeffery, Mychal Kendricks and Zach Brown have also had lots of NFL success.

Best player taken after pick #54: Russell Wilson, Seattle (Rd. 3, Pick 75)

2011 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

New Steeler Stefen Wisniewski leads this list, although none from this group has ever made a Pro Bowl.

Best player taken after pick #54: Richard Sherman, Seattle (Rd. 5, Pick 154)

2010 NFL Draft Class #44-#54

Only two players from 2010 are still in the league, Linval Joseph and Carlos Dunlop. Both have had very good careers with each making the Pro Bowl twice.

Best player taken after pick #54: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (Rd. 6, Pick 195)

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