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Asked and Answered: March 7

Posted Mar 7, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

MIGUEL JIMENEZ FROM CERES, CA:
Now that we re-signed James Harrison, what were his statistics with the Bengals? Also, did he ever sack Ben Roethlisberger?

ANSWER: James Harrison spent the 2013 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, and he was credited with 31 tackles, two sacks, and one interception in 15 regular season games. His sacks came in Buffalo and vs. the New York Jets; and his interception came against the Browns. In two games against the Steelers, Harrison was credited with three tackles. No sacks of Ben Roethlisberger.

RICH LASKOWSKI FROM BAYVILLE, NJ:
I'm watching the Combine and so far, the highest number of reps at 225 pounds on the bench press for linebackers is 27. How many reps do you think James Harrison can do at the ripe young age of 38?

ANSWER: What I think James Harrison would tell you is that as a test of the functional strength of a would-be NFL linebacker, the bench press is not the best one.

RAY CARDONA FROM HARTFORD, CT:
What are the chances the Steelers go after Darrelle Revis in free agency?

ANSWER: Define “go after.” I would imagine the Steelers would do their due diligence on Darrelle Revis, just as they will on every free agent. If by “go after” you mean engage in a bidding war, the chances are zero.

ROBERT RAUCH FROM JOPLIN, MO:
In your humble opinion, all things being equal on a draft board, what does the team need more in a first-round pick? Tight end? Outside linebacker? Cornerback?

ANSWER: In my humble opinion, the Steelers must improve their pass defense, and in general terms a team’s first-round pick should become/develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player. So, in my humble opinion, that’s what the Steelers need from their first-round pick: a Pro Bowl-caliber-to-be player who can help the pass defense. And for your information, there is no such thing as “all things being equal” on the Steelers’ draft board, because even players who might end up with the exact same grade after all the permutations and computations are done, they still rank them based on who they like best.

ED JOHNSON FROM GERMANTOWN, OH:
If the Steelers highest ranked outside linebacker and the highest ranked cornerback were both available in the first round, which one do you think they would take? Which one do you think they should take? I think the cornerback. I like Desmond King from Iowa.

ANSWER: Wow, the draft is still seven-plus weeks away, and so I sure hope y’all start listening to what I’m trying to tell you. That’s not the way they do it. The Steelers draft board is listed best-to-worst, regardless of position. And they pick their board, especially in the first round.

DAVID MORRIS FROM ALEXANDRIA, VA:
Why does the coaching staff still use Antonio Brown on the punt return team? Considering now that he has a multi-million-dollar contract, would the staff take an extra measure to protect their investment?

ANSWER: I have some questions for you: When was the last time a punt returner was injured? Who was it? Did Rod Woodson ever get injured returning punts? Louis Lipps? If you’re going to protect Antonio Brown, then why have him on the field for running plays? For pass plays designed to go to another receiver? Is he allowed to return punts if he made less money? And here’s the most pertinent question: Who do you have who’s better at it?

MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI:
With the defensive reload progressing and hopefully continuing, and with James Harrison re-signing, is edge rusher less of a need? Would you be more inclined to draft defensive backs who can play inside/out, in the box/deep? You can never have enough depth, right?

ANSWER: Thinking that James Harrison can continue to play as many snaps as he has and continue to be productive to the same degree is delusional. And if the Steelers don’t address their pass-rush this offseason, isn’t that implying that it was good enough last year? Do you think it was good enough last year? I don’t.

THOMAS DAVIS FROM DEMING, NM:
Is DeAngelo Williams under contract for the upcoming season, and if not what are the chances we bring him back?

ANSWER: DeAngelo Williams will become an unrestricted free agent on March 9, and I believe that as this offseason roster-building process is about to begin the Steelers want to get younger at backup running back. That’s not closing the door on Williams returning, but that’s definitely putting it on the back burner for now.

MIKE VANTASEEL FROM HUNTSVILLE, AL:
When was the last time the Steelers returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a regular season game? Sure would be nice to have a real threat returning kickoffs.

ANSWER: The last time was on Sept. 19, 2010 when Antonio Brown returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against the Titans in Tennessee. Just so you know, there were seven kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the NFL in 2017. The league is trying its best to do away with kickoff returns.

KENNETH HAGGERTY FROM REYNOLDSBURG, OH:
Do you think the Steelers will trade up to get a player in the draft?

ANSWER: If you’re talking about the first round, and if you mean trading up more than a spot or two, no. Too high of a cost.

MATT HOVEY FROM SARTELL, MN:
In a previous Asked and Answered, you said Rod Woodson was a two-way player at Purdue. Do you see any similarities with Jabrill Peppers from Michigan, another two-way player?

ANSWER: No disrespect to Jabrill Peppers, but he’s not in the same universe as Rod Woodson as a player coming into the NFL. Woodson was a dynamic cornerback who also helped out his college team by playing other positions. What position will Peppers even play in the NFL? Most predict safety, but as a safety Peppers is nowhere close to the caliber of player Woodson was as a cornerback. One statistic: Woodson left Purdue with 11 interceptions, and Peppers leaves Michigan with one.

ETHAN VOSS FROM INDIAN TRAIL, NC:
Any idea why people ask you questions that they could Google?

ANSWER: Nope.

JOE PAPERMAKER FROM CAMAS, WA:
I know that it's not the "Steelers way," but do you see us signing a big-time free agent this year? Sorry in advance if this question has already been asked.

ANSWER: This question is asked every year. And more often than not the questioner answers his own question. No, I don’t see them signing a big-time free agent this year, because it’s not, as you point out, the “Steelers way.”

CRAIG MILES FROM YOUNGSTOWN, OH:
The Steelers have a lot of talented wide receivers, and Sammie Coates is one of them. Do you see any situation where after his fantastic play on special teams Pittsburgh could ask him to consider moving to the defensive backfield? I firmly believe his gifts could be utilized better as a defensive back.

ANSWER: Ah, moving Sammie Coates to defensive back. An oldie, but a goodie.

ALEX GAILEY FROM CRESSON, PA:
Do you think that Trace McSorley could be a good candidate to replace Ben Roethlisberger when he retires?

ANSWER: I would be more in favor of moving Sammie Coates to defensive back.




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