Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 6

Let's get to it:

You mentioned our great 1974 draft that yielded four Hall of Fame players in the first five picks. Who was the other pick and what can you tell us about him?

ANSWER: In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers had five picks over the first five rounds, with choices in Round 1, Round 2, two in Round 4, and one in Round 5. The third-round pick had been traded to Oakland in 1973 for veteran defensive lineman Tom Keating, and the extra pick in the fourth round – the fourth pick of the fourth round – had been acquired in a trade with New England.

In the first round, the Steelers picked Lynn Swann; in the second round they picked Jack Lambert; with that fourth-round pick acquired in the trade with the Patriots, they picked John Stallworth; and in the fifth round they picked Mike Webster. The player selected with their own pick in the fourth round was Jimmy Allen, a cornerback/safety from UCLA.

A 1970 graduate of Los Angeles High School, Allen played college football at Pierce College and then at UCLA. During four seasons with the Steelers (1974-77), Allen appeared in 50 games and started six, with five of those starts coming in 1977 at safety for Glen Edwards. Allen had seven interceptions for the Steelers, with five of those coming in 1977. He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1978. Allen played for four more seasons in Detroit, where he was a full-time starter at safety. He finished his career with 31 interceptions, 24 of those coming with the Lions. Allen was elected to the Pierce College Hall of Fame in 2012.

You had a question in the Jan. 31 installment of Asked and Answered Live about the team's direction going forward with tight ends Jesse James and Vance McDonald. You answered, "You have that in the incorrect order. It should be Vance McDonald and Jesse James." I assume with your answer you think McDonald will beat out James in training camp. Why?

ANSWER: I am not predicting that Vance McDonald will make the team in 2018 and Jesse James will not. My point was that McDonald has more of the qualities a team looks for in its No. 1 tight end, and I believe that if healthy he will fill that role for the Steelers in 2018.

Congratulations to Chris Hubbard for probably earning a nice contract somewhere. Unfortunately, that doesn't look like it will be with the Steelers. I know we have great starters, but how are we fixed for depth on the offensive line at this point?

ANSWER: In addition to the starting five, the Steelers have B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, and Jerald Hawkins as backups along the offensive line. Finney, who entered the league as an undrafted rookie, continues to develop and has made himself a valuable part of the team by being able to play all three interior line positions, and he is the backup center, which is a significant role along the lines of backup quarterback. Hawkins improved significantly from the time training camp opened until the middle of the regular season, and Feiler saw some playing time during the regular season and acquitted himself well. This should not be taken to mean that the Steelers don't need to explore the possibilities of adding competition to this depth during the offseason, and it's also fair to note that Ramon Foster recently turned 32 and is entering the last year of his current contract. But compared to most other NFL teams, the Steelers have better than average depth along the offensive line, even with the presumed loss of Chris Hubbard as an unrestricted free agent.

Could the Steelers possibly trade up in the upcoming NFL using Martavis Bryant as part of the trade?

ANSWER: Anything is possible, but I don't believe the Steelers are interested in that kind of a move, nor would Martavis Bryant be all that attractive to another team in the kind of trade you're proposing. From the Steelers' standpoint, Bryant combines size and speed into the kind of playmaking ability that is an important ingredient to their offense, and they also have him under contract in 2018 for the veteran minimum. From the viewpoint of a team being offered Bryant in a trade, he is a guy who's only under contract at a reasonable rate for one more season. It's possible the Steelers could trade up in the upcoming draft, but I believe they're more likely to be successful doing that if they're offering draft pick(s) in return for moving up.

In your Jan 30 installment, you gave the example of the Steelers using the non-exclusive franchise tag on you and explained the club's options if you signed an offer sheet from another team – they can opt to not match the offer and accept two first-round draft picks as compensation. What happens if the team that signs you to an offer sheet does not have first-round draft picks for the next two years (traded them away already, for example).?

ANSWER: A team has to have the draft picks to give as compensation in order to sign the player to the offer sheet. No No. 1 picks, no offer sheet.

Since Joshua Dobbs has some pretty good running skills, should we use him in running plays more often next year?

ANSWER: My hope is that Joshua Dobbs doesn't play a single regular season snap in 2018, and for that matter, that Landry Jones plays only in the regular season finale after the Steelers have clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs.

Do the Pro Bowl coaches receive the same $64,000 compensation as the players for winning the game?

ANSWER: No. The Pro Bowl coaches are paid, but it's not to the same level as the players.

I know this would require a long tenure, but were there any Steeler players that played for the team under Coach Chuck Noll, Coach Bill Cowher, and Coach Mike Tomlin collectively? I can remember Chad Brown resigning with the Steelers a few years ago for a few games, but I believe Cowher was the coach when he was drafted.

ANSWER: There are no players who have played for Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin.

Should we be worried that the Steelers won't have a full-time quarterbacks coach next season? Ben Roethlisberger may not need one, but Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs do, I'm sure.

ANSWER: This isn't the first time the Steelers went without a quarterbacks coach. Bill Cowher chose not to have a quarterbacks coach for a long time after being hired, with the idea behind it being that he didn't want two voices – offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach – in the starting quarterback's ear. With Ben Roethlisberger going to be 36 years old and entering his 15th NFL season, his need for a quarterbacks coach would be minimal, but I agree that's not necessarily true with Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs. I would imagine that during the offseason program, Randy Fichtner would have plenty of time to spend with Jones and Dobbs, because Roethlisberger is enough of a professional to work at his own pace and get himself prepared for an NFL season, but once the season begins I believe Fichtner will be spending a lot more time coordinating than he will be working with players on their fundamentals.

Reading Vincent Dimascio's remarks from Jan. 30 nearly brought a tear to my eye. Over the years I've re-educated my 15-year-old godson to go from being a Colts' fan to a die-hard Steelers' fan. We had planned to make it to Heinz this past season, but thanks to the quirks of the schedule, we got to see the Steelers here in Indy and then in Cincinnati in consecutive months. He's really learning the game, and often asks me about players from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He watched the Jacksonville game at my house, and I took him home afterward. His Mom told me that when he came in, he was crying. This made me realize that I'm the best Godfather ever.

I know the time spent bonding over the Steelers means a lot to him, but it means the world to me. Trace and I met through pure luck, or perhaps it was divine intervention. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that even as he gets older and eventually goes to college and moves on, we'll always have the Steelers to bond over.

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