Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 30

Let's get to it:

Nate Orchard led the NCAA in sacks last year as a DE/OLB. I have read that he has visited with the Steelers. What are the chances the Steelers could pick him up in the second or third round? He could be a real bargain in the draft.

According to ESPN's college football statistics, Nate Orchard's 18.5 sacks in 2014 ranked No. 2 in the FBS to Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha's 19, but your point about Orchard being a decent value in the second round is well taken. And Orchard was one of the 29 players the Steelers brought in for a visit, but it's also worth mentioning that Orchard was medically excused from lifting at the Combine because of a left shoulder injury. Often, draft visits are scheduled to clear up any lingering medical questions. Also worth noting is that Kikaha, the player who finished first in sacks in 2014 is another pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker who also is seen as a second/third-round talent. Kikaha, though, has torn the ACL in his left knee twice. Anyway, Orchard would seem to be a good value for the Steelers as a second-round pick, and definitely as a third-round pick, but teams have to make their picks in order. By that, I mean the Steelers can't count on him being available when their turns come on Friday, but if they don't use their No. 1 choice on an outside linebacker, and if Orchard is still available when it's time to make their No. 2 pick, and if they are satisfied his previous shoulder injury is not an issue, maybe.

Do you think the Steelers go defense in the first round? Or will they try to fix the offensive line to protect Ben Roethlisberger?

First, I disagree with your characterization that the Steelers offensive line needs to be "fixed." Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 33 times in 608 attempts, which is the lowest number in any of his seasons with the Steelers in which he started all 16 games. I believe your reference might be to the loss in the Wild Card Round when the Ravens had five sacks, but not having Le'Veon Bell that day as a blocker/receiver in passing situations was a significant factor in the protection issues that night. All this said, if there is a sure-thing stud offensive lineman who somehow slips to No. 22 overall at the same time that the rest of the first-round cornerbacks and outside linebackers have injury or character warts, I would have no problem with picking the sure-thing stud offensive lineman.

Should the Steelers trade up for Trae Waynes?

Waynes generally is regarded as the top cornerback available, and while the Steelers need cornerbacks they also need other things. If Waynes is still there after the 17th pick is made – the team currently holding that slot is San Diego – then I believe it would make sense to assess what it would take to move up to get him. But as I sit here right now typing this, I definitely wouldn't give up anything more than a fourth-round choice to move up, even for Waynes.

With all the analysts throwing in their two cents in the form of mock drafts, do you come up with a mock draft of your own? Will you do one for us fans of Asked and Answered for the April 30 edition? Who do you think will, or would you like to see, be drafted by the Steelers round by round?

No, I will not be doing a mock draft, because I am lacking the depth of knowledge even to come close to producing a respectable product. I have no real understanding of the places where this draft is deep, of which players are mid-round prospects vs. late-round prospects, of what other teams will be doing in the first round, let alone in the second-through-seventh rounds.

Could you imagine Ike Taylor returning to the Steelers as an assistant coach?

Personally, I believe the Steelers already have an outstanding secondary coach in Carnell Lake. He believes in learning the proper techniques and having players work on honing those so that they can call upon them during games. Lake was a Pro Bowl strong safety who was able to move to cornerback and help the Steelers get to two AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. I don't know if Ike Taylor is interested in a career in coaching, and if he is interested, maybe he makes a good one, but the Steelers already have a good one in Carnell Lake.

Top photos of cornerback Ike Taylor.

Do you think Ike Taylor is a Hall of Fame player?

I don't believe Ike Taylor ever would be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not enough gaudy statistics. Never made the Pro Bowl. For Taylor personally, I don't ever think it was about individual accomplishments as much as it was about playing for his teammates and being part of winning championships. I hope having his name on two Lombardi trophies satisfies Taylor, because I cannot ever see him having a bust in Canton.

How underrated, if at all, do you feel Ike Taylor has been by the national media over his career?

If anything, I believe Ike Taylor was more underrated locally than nationally. Or more accurately, he was more underrated by Steelers fans than any other group.

I don't understand the re-signing of Darrius Heyward-Bey. He didn't produce much as a receiver.

Last season, Darrius Heyward-Bey was targeted five times and caught three passes for 33 yards as a part-time fourth receiver for the Steelers. But here's an example of what Heyward-Bey brings to the team: Last Dec. 7, the Steelers were in Cincinnati for a critical game vs. the Bengals. On Cincinnati's opening offensive possession, on a fourth-and-3 from the Pittsburgh 40-yard line, the Bengals attempted a fake punt. Heyward-Bey had paid sufficient attention in meetings that week and studied enough video to diagnose the attempted fake and make a play that helped it fail. The Steelers went on to win that game, but maybe the outcome is different if that fake punt succeeds. Heyward-Bey's salary does not strain the cap in any way, and he's a diligent professional who's team-first all the way. He has a spot on my 53-man roster.

How close were the Steelers to acquiring Dan Marino back in the 1990s after Jimmy Johnson became the Dolphins coach? I have heard several stories, and I'm not sure what is fact. I have often wondered what would have happened if Dan Marino had played for the Steelers.

Jimmy Johnson retired as Dolphins coach after the 1999 season, which ended for the team on Jan. 16, 2000 with a Divisional Round loss in Jacksonville to the Jaguars. Shortly after that season ended, the Dolphins made it clear they weren't going to extend Dan Marino's contract, which was set to expire at the start of the new league year in March 2000. Sometime during that offseason, several teams sent out feelers to Marino to gauge any interest he might have in continuing his career somewhere else. Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and the Steelers had some initial interest in Marino, with Bill Cowher reaching out to him personally to determine if there was any interest. After he announced his retirement, Marino admitted he seriously considered the offer from the Vikings, but he said he turned it down because he wasn't sure that his legs could take another season. So the Steelers never were close to signing Marino for the 2000 season.

Do you think the Steelers will hold open tryouts? I am 43 years old, I run a 6.2 in the 40-yard dash, I weigh 195 pounds, and I can do three reps on the bench press at 220 pounds. I got this at OLB.

Sorry, no open tryouts. But I was just about to forward your measurables to Kevin Colbert when I noticed you did your three reps on the bench press with 220 pounds. The NFL standard for that exercise is 225 pounds. And you were so close.

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