Let's get to it:
FREDERICK FISCHER FROM GLENSHAW, PA: Isaiah Lowdermilk's long-term role with the Steelers is my question. I know he plays defensive line now, but at 240 pounds I think he will be overpowered along the line of scrimmage. Maybe in a 4-3 defensive alignment he has a fit, but in a 3-4 I think size is an issue. If he adds weight, he may lose the speed he needs. Is there any option for him at inside linebacker or outside linebacker?
ANSWER: The confusion here has to do with a mistake on Isaiahh Loudermilk's listed weight on the roster appearing on Steelers.com and some other sites. Listed incorrectly at 240 pounds, Loudermilk actually weighs 293, which makes him a fine fit for a role within the Steelers' defense along the defensive line.
MICHAEL FILAK FROM PLANO, TX: On Sunday's AFC Divisional Round telecast, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels referred to a conversation with Tom Brady where it seemed he may be thinking of retiring this year. If that happens, Brady and Ben Roethlisberger would be eligible for the Hall of Fame at the same time. Let's say this happens. In your opinion, would Ben get in on the first ballot if he's on it with Brady? Also, has the Hall of Fame ever inducted two quarterbacks in the same class?
ANSWER: My personal feeling is that Tom Brady won't retire after the way the 2021 season ended for the Buccaneers, but I'll play along with the scenario you outline. Brady being a first ballot Hall of Fame selection is the ultimate no-brainer, so whether there would be room in that class for Ben Roethlisberger I believe would have more to do with the other players up for election that same year, and how those players' respective careers compare to Roethlisberger's. As for the historical perspective of multiple quarterbacks in the same Hall of Fame class, it has happened eight times, with the three most recent coming in 2005 when Dan Marino, Steve Young, and Benny Friedman were elected; in 2006 when Warren Moon and Troy Aikman were elected; and in 2016 when Brett Favre and Ken Stabler were elected.
TIMOTHY TRATHOWEN FROM SOUTH VIENNA, OH: I am not sure about the front office aspect of football, when does preparing for the draft really start? I know teams have scouts to scout college players during the season, but do they wait until after the season to start their draft board, or is it all season long and constantly changing?
ANSWER: The process of gathering information on the draft eligible players is part of preparing for the draft, arguably the most important part of preparing for the draft. At least in the Steelers' case, the draft preparation begins in August with schedules set for the college scouts to fan out over the country and start the process of on-campus visits and begin the information-gathering. From there, things are done in order. It's a step-by-step process. For example, a draft board isn't assembled until all of the information has been gathered, and right now, before the college all-star games and the NFL Combine, there still is A LOT of information still to be gathered.
FRANK OLMA FROM SHELOCTA, PA: Why would anyone want to be the defensive coordinator with the Steelers? Seems a thankless job. Coach Mike Tomlin calls the defense, so the coordinator doesn't get to do his job.
ANSWER: The following NFL head coaches call either the offensive or defensive plays, despite having coordinators on the staff: Sean McVay, Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Frank Reich, Kevin Stefanski, Arthur Smith, Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor, Nick Sirianni, and Brandon Staley. Add in Mike Tomlin, and that means 41 percent of NFL teams have head coaches who call either the offensive or defensive plays during games despite having salaried coordinators on the staff, so it's hardly a unique arrangement. And with regard to your claim that "the coordinator doesn't get to do his job," the coordinator still cashes every paycheck. Sorry, but I choose to decline your invitation to this particular pity party.
ANTHONY BELLAMY FROM CHICAGO, IL: Can one individual be both a general manager and a head coach in the NFL, or do you foresee Mike Tomlin moving up to the GM position?
ANSWER: Mike Tomlin is a coach, and if and when Kevin Colbert announces his retirement the Steelers will interview candidates to fill Colbert's job. There is no rule prohibiting one individual from doing both jobs, but the jobs and the amount of work necessary to do each one correctly and thoroughly don't allow for one person to handle both.
MIKE YINGLING FROM HARRISBURG, PA: We need a middle linebacker. How do you think this will happen? In a couple of games, you never heard Devin Bush's name until the third quarter, if at all. I know Bush had knee surgery, but he never came back to his previous effectiveness.
ANSWER: The Steelers need Devin Bush to play better than he did in 2021, they need him to return to the level he showed as a rookie in 2019. I believe the team will give him the opportunity to spend an offseason getting himself ready instead of having to rehabilitate a major injury that required surgery during the offseason. The Steelers are too invested in Bush, and he played well enough as a rookie to deserve a chance to get back on track.
GABE GANDARA FROM CHARLOTTE, NC: In my opinion, Josh Dobbs has served as a great sounding board for Ben Roethlisberger and the other quarterbacks. Have you heard his name mentioned as a possible assistant coach?
ANSWER: I don't know whether Joshua Dobbs is interested in a career as an NFL assistant coach. Maybe Dobbs would prefer going to work for NASA once his playing career is over.
SAMY MIKHAIL FROM BETHESDA, MD: One of the many areas the Steelers need to address this offseason is the defensive line. Specifically, the play of their interior linemen was concerning. What are your thoughts about the Steelers possibly drafting Jordan Davis of Georgia?
ANSWER: If Jordan Davis is available when it comes time for the Steelers to make their first-round pick, at this point in the process I definitely could get on board with the team making him its selection.
BRIEN RUST FROM BARTLESVILLE, OK: What is your opinion on re-signing JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason?
ANSWER: If JuJu Smith-Schuster is still interested in returning to the Steelers once free agency begins and the money starts flowing, and if a reasonable contract can be negotiated, I am in favor of that. Despite his chronological age, Smith-Schuster could emerge as the unquestioned leader of the wide receivers in 2022.
SCOTT RANDALL FROM CONWAY, PA: I agree with you that the quarterback situation will be handled when the time comes, but I want your opinion of the center position. With the roster we have now, and the change made late in the season from Kendrick Green to J.C. Hassenauer as the starter, would you stay with that or look elsewhere when the time comes? Also, want to thank Keith Butler for his dedication to the team and to Steelers Nation. Enjoy your hard-earned retirement.
ANSWER: There is no argument that Kendrick Green must improve and get stronger to be an effective starting center in the National Football League, but as I indicated earlier in answering a question about Devin Bush, I believe the Steelers will give him an offseason to work on himself and his game before pulling the plug and looking elsewhere.
ALBERT SMITH FROM MADISON, WI: The Steelers need to use the draft to add offensive linemen to improve the running game, and also use the draft to add defensive backs to improve the pass defense. Do you think this would make us a much better team? Also, I don't hear Joshua Dobbs' name as being in the mix at quarterback. Is he still on the team?
ANSWER: The offensive line and the secondary are two areas the Steelers are likely to target for improvement this offseason but based on the fact they have only six picks in the draft so far (prior to the awarding of compensatory picks) and none in the fourth or fifth rounds, they have to turn to free agency to fortify one of those areas. Because there already are so many young offensive linemen on the roster, I might look to add a veteran there via free agency. As for Joshua Dobbs, he was injured during the summer and placed on the injured reserve list before the roster was cut to 53. He spend the season on IR and will become an unrestricted free agent in March.
SEAN DELANEY FROM UPTON, MA: Which do you find more annoying: fans asking you to predict who the Steelers will draft, or fans asking you about who they think the Steelers should draft?
ANSWER: Without a doubt, what's most annoying are the questions about what's most annoying.