The Steelers wrapped up their three-day minicamp on Thursday, so let’s dive into the Steelers Now mailbag and answer some questions about the last football on the menu before training camp.
Steve Borza @BorzaSteve: In your opinion, what if anything, about a player’s performance at mini camp is a predictor of real game performance?
Let’s start here because this is a good question about the competition at minicamp.
There isn’t any.
That might be a bit overly simplistic. But the point of OTAs and minicamp is not for the players to compete with one another for jobs. The point is so that when they get to Latrobe for training camp, when they are actually playing something approaching the game of football, everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and where they’re supposed to go. It’s easier to evaluate physical reps if people aren’t screwing things up all the time.
That doesn’t mean I don’t learn things. It’s illustrative to get players 0n the same field together and see who is really fast with (some) pads on, who takes to coaching quickly and who screws things up a bunch.
For the players I’ve already seen a lot of, like say, Joey Porter Jr., that’s about all there is to learn. Some less-heralded guys probably have a better chance of standing out. I also get the chance to be around the team for a good long while and get a sense for how coaches feel about players, which is not always the same way that I feel about them.
So, it’s not so much about who can do what, but more who can learn what and who can impress who.
Tyler Henley @henrlyt If 6 WRs make the 53 who gets the last two spots behind DJ, Pickens, Robinson and Austin?
Wide receiver is shaping up to be one of the more difficult cuts on the team. Dez Fitzpatrick has looked pretty good so far, Hakeem Butler is a gigantic freak athlete, Anthony Miller was in line to make the roster before his injury last year and Gunner Olszewski and Miles Boykin have valuable special teams role.
I haven’t seen anything yet that would make me want to cut loose Boykin and Olszewski, but we haven’t really gotten into heavy special teams stuff yet. If there’s someone with the ability to upset the established order there, I’d suggest Miller, but he was banged up throughout the spring once again. He’ll need to be healthy for training camp to make the team.
Butler is a guy that I was kind of excited to see, but he definitely struggled with consistency. He has some work to do to make the team. Don’t rule out Fitzpatrick, either. He’s caught a ton of passes.
Andy Ruffalo @AndyRuffalo Who has the inside track to be RB3?
Anthony McFarland is the clear-cut winner here. He was great all spring and is actually the most-experience back in the entire room in terms of NFL seasons. When I asked Eddie Faulkner about the guys that are candidates to be the third running back, McFarland was the only person he named.
There are some other options here, including rookie free agent Alfonzo Graham, who definitely has turned some heads this spring, but I’ve heard they’re not sure about his ability to pass protect. He seems more likely for a practice squad spot.
Thomas Parry @TPYinzer Just how tall is Mt Washington/Agent Zero?
Mount Washington is 367 feet high, according to the City of Pittsburgh. Of course, Mount Washington is not technically a mountain. All of the Greater Pittsburgh area is a dissected plateau.
The heights of Mount Washington are about 1,200 feet above sea level, the same as Troy’s Hill above the Allegheny River, Stanton Heights in the city’s East End, and just about everywhere else with mountain, hill or heights in its name in the area.
In reality, those places that are now heights were the surface of the uplifted Allegheny Plateau, which has been severely eroded by the rivers and streams of the region. So there are no hills, just valleys.
Oh, you meant the tight end? Darnell Washington measured in at 6 foot 6 1/2 at the 2023 NFL Combine, and their measurement is good enough for me. He is a very large man.
Dakota Smith @sdakota22 What do you feel the (weakest) position group is?
I think it’s pretty clearly inside linebacker. I really like Cole Holcomb, and Elandon Roberts is a strong run stopper, but things really fall off fast after that. Mark Robinson has some promise, but he’s also only really useful against the run. Tanner Muse was really only used on special teams in Seattle.
Keanu Neal will play linebacker on some passing downs, but this is a group that could use some depth, for sure.