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Asked and Answered: March 22

Posted Mar 22, 2016

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

CHRIS KNAPPENBERGER FROM BROOKLYN, NY:
I'm hoping for a great season by Maurkice Pouncey. I feel a lot more than a few Steelers fans have bad-mouthed him for injuries that he could not have prevented from happening. When he is on the field he brings grit, skill, and leadership, which is overlooked by some. How do you feel about Pouncey?

ANSWER: This is what I know about Maurkice Pouncey: He was a first-round draft pick in 2010, and it wasn’t long into his rookie training camp – less than two weeks for sure – before he had established himself as the best offensive lineman at any position on the Steelers’ roster. According to the NFL, he is a six-year veteran, even though one of those six seasons ended eight plays into the opener when a teammate ended his season by diving into his knee and tearing his ACL, and another ended during the preseason when a Packers defender was thrown onto the back of his leg and broke his ankle. He officially is a six-year veteran according to the NFL, but two of those seasons never had a chance to get started, and yet Pouncey has ben voted to four Pro Bowls and twice was named first-team All-Pro. Being first-team All-Pro at center means you’re the best center in the NFL. What I think is that a segment of Steelers fans dislike Pouncey and never will forgive him for some social media missteps some years ago, and that is an irrational method of determining his worth to the Steelers as a football player. If I’m an owner or a coach, Maurkice Pouncey can play on my team, he’s my center, and I’m not moving him to guard.

BRIANT LASLO FROM JOHNSTOWN, PA:
I was looking over the proposed rule changes for the NFL this season, and I saw this one from the competition committee: "Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line." Is this proposing that any kickoff that goes for a touchback would be spotted at the 25 yard line? I'm assuming punts aren't included as they are not "free kicks." I just wasn't sure if your standard kickoff following a score/start of half was considered a free kick.

ANSWER: Yes. All kickoffs are considered “free kicks” because they are executed with no rush from the opposing team.

JOHN CAR FROM KATONAH, NY:
While it's sad to see a number of Steelers free agents leaving, I believe they re-signed the important ones and will find alternatives for those who left.  While it's a year away, I would imagine the Steelers would be receiving a number of compensatory picks in 2017 for their free agent losses given the caliber of players they have lost vs. signed?  Would you put a guess on what those might be if all signings ended today?  This might give them some chips to trade other picks next year for spots this year?

ANSWER: So far, the Steelers have lost five unrestricted free agents – Sean Spence, Steve McLendon, Kelvin Beachum, Jordan Todman, and Antwon Blake – and they signed two – Ryan Harris and Ladarius Green. Remember, it’s more than just sheer numbers signed vs. numbers lost; also taken into consideration are salaries of the players who were signed vs. the salaries of the players who were lost; and then the kind of season all the newcomers had for their new teams. If it ended right now, maybe a couple, three compensatory picks for the Steelers, but those might come in the sixth and/or seventh rounds.

JIM BOGLE FROM DUBOIS, PA:
I was wondering from a fan prospective if it drives you crazy when they decide to go with an empty backfield inside the 2-yard line or on third-and-short situations? I know we have great receivers, but I think the possibility of a run would keep more defenders in the box and open the field up.

ANSWER: I do not disagree, especially when the running back can be a dual threat such as Le’Veon Bell. But what drives me even crazier is when a team gets close to the goal line and sends in a bunch of tight ends and fullbacks and extra blockers and thinks it can just power the ball across the goal line. It’s OK to run it into the end zone, but I believe that’s best done nowadays by spreading the field and handing the ball to Bell and letting him find a crease. That’s what opponents do to the Steelers defense.

DOMINIC ARNOLD FROM CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA:
With all the talk about tweaking the replay process, do you think we will ever see a day that pivotal decisions (like the infamous Thanksgiving Day coin toss error) will be reviewable?

ANSWER: Instant replay for the coin toss? How about this instead: hiring officials who can handle a coin toss correctly the first time?

VINCE  SANSOTTA FROM HOBE SOUND, FL:
Looking at the current quarterback situation and Ben Roethlisberger's age, do you think the Steelers would draft Paxton Lynch at No. 25 in the first round if he was available, especially if the stud cornerbacks are gone? It looks like the better free agent defensive backs are gone except for Brandon Boykin, who has not had any interest. It could be a win-win for Boykin and the Steelers if he re-signed. Do you think it could happen?

ANSWER: There is no realistic scenario in which I would be in favor of the Steelers picking a quarterback in the first round of the 2016 draft. NONE. Boykin could come back to the Steelers, yes, but I don’t see his role changing appreciably from what it was here in 2015.

MITCHEL FALKSTROM DES MOINES, IA:
I think the Steelers should play Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle, move Ryan Harris to right tackle and let Marcus Gilbert compete with David DeCastro and Ramon Foster for one of the offensive guard positions. What is your opinion?

ANSWER: How can I put this nicely … you’re out of your mind.

SCOTT GRISSOM FROM WILMINGTON, NC:
What would the cost be if we went and signed Eric Berry from Kansas City? Although he has the franchise player tag on him, would the cost be worth the major upgrade?

ANSWER: Before we even get into salary, think of the caliber of player you would want for two No. 1 draft picks, because a team losing its franchise-tagged player is due 2 first-round picks as compensation from the team that signed said player. I’m doing that right now, and I want someone who has more than 10 interceptions in 68 career starts in the NFL. To compare, Mike Mitchell has nine interceptions in 55 career NFL starts, and I doubt you would be in favor of trading two No. 1 draft picks for him. For me, the only positions I would consider forfeiting a pair of No. 1 picks for would be a quarterback or a pass rusher.

DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA:
The Steelers have been looking at quarterbacks. If Paxton Lynch fell to No. 25, would the Steelers consider taking him, pass, or trade back with the Broncos?

ANSWER: Your statement: “The Steelers have been looking at quarterbacks” is misleading. This is the pre-draft process. Of course they’re looking at quarterbacks, just as they’re looking at wide receivers and running backs and tight ends and on and on and on, because that’s what teams do at this time of the calendar. Just because the Steelers interview a guy, or share a meal with a guy, or visit a Pro Day, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to pick him or someone else at that position. It’s called due diligence. Would the Steelers trade down from No. 25 in the first round? It’s possible, but you’d also have to tell me which cornerbacks and safeties are still available at that point, and how far back they would have to trade, and whether they thought they still could get a player they liked who would be worthy of the later selection.

BRUCE JOHNSON FROM SEATTLE, WS:
I had to put up with the Seattle media stating the Seahawks defense is the best ever. What is the best answer to this question?

ANSWER: I would suggest laughing out loud. That’s what I would do.

LENTON ALSTON FROM VICTORIA, VA:
The Steelers need a backup quarterback. RGIII?

ANSWER: What? Has some team already signed Tim Tebow?




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