Let's get to it:
ZACHARY BENDER FROM BEDFORD, PA: How do you think the addition of Patrick Peterson will complement a Pittsburgh defense that already has T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick?
ANSWER: With regards to specific schematics, it's all a guess now as to how the Steelers are going to deploy Patrick Peterson, how his addition to the secondary might impact the usage of different coverage schemes, and how his specific skill-set will mesh with the other 10 players on the field. Peterson is a proven NFL starting cornerback, and based on everything he has said since the contract agreement became public indicates he's excited about joining the Steelers. Adding talented, proven players who are committed "volunteers and not hostages" can be nothing but a good thing.
NICK MOSES FROM SIMI VALLEY, CA: So, we lost a good cornerback who was 28, and signed a once great cornerback who is now 32. Did we win or lose in that exchange of cornerbacks?
ANSWER: From the tone of your question, I sense you already have made up your mind. You got the respective ages of Cam Sutton (28) and Patrick Peterson (32) correct, but it's not always about a battle of the birth certificates.
In his last 3 seasons, Peterson has 9 interceptions, and in his 6-year career, Sutton has 8. In his last 3 seasons, Peterson has 28 passes defensed, and in his 6-year career, Sutton has 38. And maybe Peterson is 32, but in his entire 12-year career he has never played fewer than 92 percent of his team's defensive snaps over the course of a season, and in his last 5 years, he has played in 99, 97, 99, 98, and 95 percent, respectively. Clearly, he is reliable and available. Also, Peterson's 2-year contract is paying out less total money and less guaranteed money than Sutton's 3-year deal with the Lions. I like Sutton as a player and always have, but Peterson has a better pedigree and still is playing at a high level. I'd label it a good deal for all involved.
THOMAS WARD FROM LADSON, SC: You quoted Dan Rooney as saying something along the lines of, the object is to win Super Bowls and not the draft. But doesn't it make sense that winning drafts will help you win Super Bowls? Would you say that the 1974 draft and the drafts from 1969 up to 1974 were draft wins that led to 4 Super Bowl wins?
ANSWER: You completely misconstrued what Dan Rooney meant. "Winning the draft" doesn't refer to the process of evaluating the prospects fairly and accurately and then picking the best players regardless of position to build a contending team. "Winning the draft" is the effort to do the popular thing, to make the attention-grabbing moves, such as making multiple trades up or down in rounds, or picking players based more on Combine workouts than game video. When a team tries to "win the draft," that means it's attempting to curry favor with the analysts who hand out instant grades for a job that cannot be evaluated correctly for some years into the future. You mentioned the 1974 draft class, well here is one instant analysis of the team's performance on the first day, which included rounds 1-through-5 and brought the team Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Jimmy Allen, and Mike Webster: "The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn't get a tight end, and the ones remaining are more suspect than prospect. They didn't get a punter, although none of the nation's best collegiate punters went in the first five rounds. They didn't get an offensive tackle who might've shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks." In that critic's assessment, the Steelers failed miserably to "win the draft," even though history now proves that it was the biggest victory in the history of the exercise. Maybe he would've been happier if they had picked a punter.
RON WILLIAMS FROM ASTORIA, NY: The Steelers in my opinion have always had a very smart business outlook when it comes to choosing players, as well as coaches. You have been with the organization for a very long time and have seen a lot of changes throughout the years. My question for you is, do you have a favorite player and who do you think was the best coach?
ANSWER: It surprises me to believe these questions even need to be asked, because of the obviousness of the answers. The best coach is Chuck Noll, and the favorite player is Joe Greene.
JEFFREY DIETZ FROM DANVILLE, PA: With the pending signing of Patrick Peterson in free agency, who was the last veteran signee who turned into a major contributor/Pro Bowl-caliber addition? The only one that I can think of was Kevin Greene.
ANSWER: Since the Steelers never have used free agency as a preferred mechanism to add top-of-the-depth talent to their roster, there aren't a lot of examples of the team adding unrestricted free agents who then go on to make Pro Bowl-caliber contributions. The most recent player who comes to mind is Joe Haden, who was signed before the preseason finale in 2017. But even though Haden played a lot of good football for the Steelers as a starting cornerback and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2019, he signed with the Steelers after being released by the Browns, and so he wasn't technically classified as an unrestricted free agent. Jeff Hartings, signed in 2001, and James Farrior, signed in 2002, both were voted first-team All-Pro after coming to the Steelers.
TAD TUCKER FROM SPRINGFIELD, IL: I'm expecting a left tackle to be drafted with our picks in the first or second rounds, so do you think Dan Moore Jr. can play right tackle or maybe move to left guard?
ANSWER: I see the Steelers using the upcoming draft to add a player capable of playing tackle in the NFL, but I'm not certain in what round that might happen, nor am I sure the rookie will be starting for the regular season opener. It's not realistic to assume/expect 2022's starting tackles – Dan Moore Jr. and Chuks Okorafor – to play 100 percent of the offensive snaps as they did last season, and so having more than two is required. Don't get ahead of yourself. There's a lot of on-field work between today and the 2023 regular season opener. Let the competition unfold, and the starters will reveal themselves.
FRANCIS SURAGE FROM TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA: I read the Bears could possibly try to trade Chase Claypool to another team. My son and I loved Claypool from the moment the Steelers drafted him in 2020, and I was wondering if the team would have any interest in possibly trading to bring him back.
ANSWER: Judging it from afar and as a general rule, I imagine trading a player and then bringing him back via another trade so soon afterward would be of little interest to either side.
TOM RENWICK FROM MONROE, MI: What are the advantages of college players having Pro Days, other than more exposure?
ANSWER: A Pro Day is a workout for the player on his home turf, and there certainly is a level of comfort there. There also are fewer players participating during a college pro day than at the Combine, which allows for a better opportunity for them to shine on the field and get a better chance to make a positive impression on the NFL representatives attending.
WILL JAHN FROM TRAVERSE CITY, MI: I may be missing something, but why is there such interest in mock drafts?
ANSWER: If you are actually trying to tell me you have no interest in a months-long guessing game, all I can say is: Me neither
JAQUAVE VUN FROM ERIE, PA: With the Steelers having the 17th overall pick in the first round and the draft assets to move up, do you think they may move up for a quarterback such as Anthony Richardson, who can learn behind Kenny Pickett?
ANSWER: My first reaction was to assume this was some kind of hoax or prank. But if it's not, and you're actually serious about using premium picks in the upcoming draft to trade up in the first round and select a quarterback one year after using a first-round pick on a quarterback so that one of them could learn behind the other, all I have for you is: Please look both ways before crossing the street.