Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 26

Let's get to it:

JARED GIESE FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: I am a recent transplant to the Pittsburgh area and while I am a lifelong Packers fan at heart, I am quickly becoming a fan of the Steelers as well. I figured I am allowed to have both a favorite NFC and AFC team, right? Anyway, my question is regarding Steelers training camp. I understand with the exception of the COVID years the organization stages training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Are regular fans allowed to attend any training camp sessions in Latrobe and if so, how do we go about attending?
ANSWER: At some point before the start of training camp, the Steelers will release a list of dates where practice is open to the public. Not every practice is open to the public, but the vast majority of them are, and the team makes every effort to open the practices that are held during the weekends during the stay at Saint Vincent College to make it as convenient for "regular fans" to be able to clear their schedules to attend. Admission to practice is free, and so is parking. There are no tickets or reservations required. My advice is to stay tuned to Steelers.com for details, and then all you have to do is plan your trip to Saint Vincent College and hope for nice weather.

DENNIS SLEEGER FROM YORK, PA: I see a lot of opinions about what the Steelers will do in the upcoming draft. I saw one suggestion where they trade Chase Claypool and a pick to move up in the first round of the upcoming draft. Do you think something like that can happen, or do you see them standing pat and maybe taking the third best quarterback available?
ANSWER: Why is it always about picking a quarterback? My personal opinion is that I don't see the Steelers giving away draft capital to move up in the first round, and I also believe the team will pick a player other than a quarterback on the first round.

JOSEPH CASSA FROM LANSDALE, PA: I know you don't think much of mock drafts, but I saw one that had Desmond Ridder as Pittsburgh's first-round pick. Looking at his stats, he had a great college career. The negatives are accuracy, but he ran the ball on 38 percent of the offensive snaps and had a 4.4-yard average. How many running backs are that good? What do you think?
ANSWER: There seems to be a lot of recent opinion linking Desmond Ridder to the Steelers, but to try to address your question, I am going to present you with one evaluation of the player and one observation about projecting college quarterbacks to the NFL from General Manager Kevin Colbert. Take note of the highlighted portion of Zierlein's report. First is an evaluation of Ridder that was written by Lance Zierlein for NFL.com: "Four-year starter and four-year winner whose hard work at his craft altered his standing from good college quarterback to early round draft pick. There is nothing special about Ridder's size or arm talent, but his improved confidence and field command has really helped him mature at the position. He plays in rhythm and operates with consistently repeatable footwork and mechanics. He's intelligent and processes quickly, which should help him find where the football needs to go regardless of passing scheme. Getting the ball to NFL targets accurately and safely, however, is not a given. Despite favorable mechanics, his accuracy and ball placement need work and he doesn't have the arm strength or release quickness to consistently survive off-target throws against pro coverage. He can run but is more of a pocket passer who can win with his legs than a true dual-threat quarterback."

Now I offer Colbert's answer to a question posed to him about the quality he values most when evaluating a college quarterback: "I think if you study quarterbacks over history, accuracy at the collegiate level is usually a great indicator of accuracy at the professional level, albeit in a different (style) game. A lot of the college game is leaking into our game so there's more similarities than there have been in recent years, but I think that's the one (important) trait of a quarterback. They're all going to be different sizes, they're all going to have different arm talent, they're all going to have different athletic abilities. But if you ask me the one thing that I think can identify a potentially tough quarterback, it would be accuracy."

And finally, if the Steelers are looking for somebody to run the football, they already have Najee Harris, and in the NFL there's a huge difference between a quarterback having a nice yards-per-carry average on scrambles or broken plays and being able to run the ball when the defense knows you're going to run the ball. Tom Brady averages 1.7 yards per carry, by the way.

BILL RUSSELL FROM JOHNSBURG, NY: What do you think of using a draft pick, say in the fourth round or the sixth round, for that amazing punter out of San Diego St.?
ANSWER: I think it would be football malpractice to spend a draft pick – especially in the fourth round, or even in the sixth round on Matt Araiza, a player you describe as "that amazing punter out of San Diego St." Beyond the fact the Steelers just picked punter Pressley Harvin III in the seventh round with the 254th pick in a draft that contained 259 picks, here's one statistic I guarantee you that NFL special teams coordinators will describe as the opposite of "amazing:" 31.3 percent of Araiza's pooch punts turned into touchbacks. One of the things about punters that used to drive Bill Cowher crazy – and remember, after his playing career Cowher got his start in the NFL as a special teams coach – was when punters kicked the ball into the end zone for touchbacks. By comparison, Harvin's touchback percentage in 2021 was 4.2 percent. I believe the Steelers plan to work with Harvin to improve as opposed to drafting punters in back-to-back offseasons.

ANTHONY PELLONI FROM PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: I was really glad to see that Terrell Edmunds was re-signed by the Steelers over the weekend. Assuming he starts again, what kind of season do you think he would need to have to get a contract extension? He has always been a reliable starter for us, and I would love to see him stay with the team.
ANSWER: It's way too early to be thinking about whether Terrell Edmunds has a future with the Steelers – or even if he wants a future with the Steelers – beyond the terms of the reported one-year contract he will sign with the team. But in terms of whether Edmunds is with the team beyond the 2022 season, I believe it will come down to what these kinds of things always come down to, which is what the player sees as his value in terms of salary vs. what the team sees as his value in terms of salary.

BILL BRIGGS FROM GROVE CITY, PA: I think I must have missed something this spring, because I know Joe Haden was an unrestricted free agent, but I don't recall what happened with him. Was he released, re-signed or still in limbo?
ANSWER: Joe Haden became an unrestricted free agent on March 16, and he remains available on the open market.

ROBERTA CAMPBELL FROM PORTAGE, IN: Since the Steelers have been good at identifying and developing wide receivers, do you think they should try to trade Diontae Johnson and maybe get an extra draft pick or two? I believe Johnson is good but not great. It's the one position where I think the Steelers can reload quickly.
ANSWER: If you perceive Diontae Johnson as "good but not great," what do you think another NFL team would be willing to trade for a "good but not great" wide receiver who can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2023?

RICHARD EGYUD FROM YORKTOWN, VA: I was 10 years old when the Immaculate Reception occurred, but I don't think I saw it on live television though. Was that game broadcast live in the Pittsburgh area? Were the local "blackout" rules different then?
ANSWER: The Divisional Round playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 23, 1972, was blacked out in the Pittsburgh television market, because unlike today there was no provision for home games to be televised in a team's local market. I remember stories about Steelers fans making treks north to Erie, Pa. and west into Ohio to be able to watch the game live on television.

EDUARDO VEGA FROM CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO: There are a lot of mock drafts out there, and some have the Steelers drafting a quarterback on the first round. How do the college careers of Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, or other top quarterback prospects in the 2022 draft compare to the college careers of Mitch Trubisky or Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: Here are some college statistics: NOTE: Comp% = completion percentage
Mason Rudolph: 42 games; 63.2 Comp%; 13,618 yards; 92 TDs; 26 INTs
Mitch Trubisky: 31 games; 67.5 Comp%; 4,762 yards; 41 TDs; 10 INTs
Kenny Pickett: 52 games; 62.4 Comp%; 12,303 yards; 81 TDs; 32 INTs
Malik Willis: 35 games; 62.8 Comp%; 5,176 yards; 48 TDs; 18 INTs
Matt Corral: 37 games; 67.3 Comp%; 8,287 yards; 57 TDs; 23 INTs
Sam Howell: 37 games; 63.8 Comp%; 10,283 yards; 92 TDs; 23 INTs
Desmond Ridder: 50 games; 62.1 Comp%; 10,239 yards; 87 TDs; 28 INTs

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