Let’s get to it:
TONY SILVA FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Is it a fact that Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert focus on “most talented” rather than “needs” during the draft? If so, was that Bill Cowher’s and Chuck Noll’s logic as well?
ANSWER: When it comes to the Steelers, Chuck Noll invented the entire concept of picking the best player available in each round of every draft. Based on the success the Steelers enjoyed during the 1970s under Noll’s tutelage and utilizing this concept, the idea of picking the best player available became the Steelers’ philosophy. If you want to work for the Steelers in either a coaching or player personnel capacity, this is the philosophy that guides the team on draft day.
DONNIE BROWN FROM VAN BUREN, ME: Are you buying the Cleveland Browns hype? I took my mother to a Steelers-Browns Sunday night game in 2003 at Heinz Field, and seems to me the Steelers have only lost one turnpike battle since.
ANSWER: The Browns should be a much more competitive team in 2019, and really, how could they not be. Starting with the 2004 NFL Draft when the Browns bypassed Ben Roethlisberger to pick Kellen Winslow Jr., a tight end no less, that franchise has picked in the top 10 in nine different drafts, in the top five in five of those nine, and first overall in two of those five. The lowest the Browns have picked in any of those 15 drafts has been No. 22 overall in the first round. Getting a chance to pick high in every draft for 15 straight years makes it almost impossible to avoid assembling some legitimate talent. But because the Browns have been so bad for so long, they’re going to have to learn how to win as an organization. How long is that process going to take, and is it going to happen on a steady incline, or will it be more like a roller coaster? Trying to predict that right now is nothing more than a guess, and one guess is as good as another. I do believe that a winning culture is going to have to be established, and I don’t believe that necessarily happens overnight. As for your historical recollection, there have been 31 Steelers-Browns games played since that 2003 edition at Heinz Field, and the Steelers are 27-3-1 in those 31 games.
NICHOLAS MOSES FROM SIMI VALLEY, CA: If, and I acknowledge it's a huge "if", the Steelers felt that LSU inside linebacker Devin White could be for their defense what Troy Polamalu was, do you think they would then consider packaging their No. 1 pick and both No. 3 picks, or their No. 1 pick and their No. 2 pick to get into the top five of the first round of the 2019 draft?
ANSWER: I’m not even going to address the issue of what LSU inside linebacker Devin White might become as an NFL player, but I do not believe for one second that either one of the trade scenarios you propose has any chance of being enough to get the Steelers from No. 20 in the first round to the top five in the first round. My guess is that a team with a pick in the top five would want at least two first-round picks to move down to No. 20 overall.
BURTON HARRIS FROM GREENSBURG, PA: With the Jets wanting to move down in the draft, what do you think if the Steelers would offer their No. 1, No. 2, and a No. 5 to move up into that third overall spot?
ANSWER: I think the Jets would choke on their tongues from laughing so hard. What you should understand in proposing these kinds of trades, the exchange of first-round picks is assumed, and so the Steelers “giving up” their No. 20 overall pick doesn’t really count as part of the bounty the other team is seeking for such a drastic move down in the round. So essentially what you’re proposing is that the Jets move down 17 spots in the first round, and all they get in return is a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick. Hence, the laughter.
GEMETRIUS MCNEIL FROM INDIAN TRAIL, NC: Since Artie Burns appears to be out, would offering him and a sixth or a fifth-round pick be enough to move up in any round, say move up five-to-10 spots in the second round?
ANSWER: I believe Artie Burns is going to get a chance during the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason to show whether he can resurrect himself into the kind of player the Steelers believe they drafted. That’s my guess as to how that situation plays out.
JEFF GILMORE FROM MCCONNELSVILLE, OH: I was wondering why the Steelers didn't show interest in Jordan Howard?
ANSWER: Jordan Howard, 24, who has rushed for 3,370 yards and 24 touchdowns in three seasons with the Bears, is under contract to that team for the 2019 season. As for pursuing a trade for a 24-year old running back with that resume, why would the Steelers spend that kind of capital (and I’m not referring to money) when they have a soon-to-be 24-year-old running back of their own who has two more years on his rookie contract and was voted to the Pro Bowl after last season?
TYLER TUCKER FROM ORLANDO FL: I believe the Steelers have a bigger need in the secondary than at linebacker. I think if either Greedy Williams or Byron Murphy are available, we should take them. What position do you think we should focus on early in the draft?
ANSWER: Once again, the position of defensive playmaker.
CARL MOORE FROM HUNTERSVILLE, NC: Why would the Steelers re-sign Ben Roethlisberger to a possible three-year deal when they have two hopefully good quarterbacks on the roster waiting behind him on the depth chart? If Ben gets a three-year extension, wouldn’t both backups quarterbacks’ contracts be up, and the Steelers could end up losing them without even giving them a fair chance?
ANSWER: The object in the NFL is to win games and contend for championships. It’s not a middle school trip to the amusement park where you make sure everybody gets a chance to ride the merry-go-round. “Two hopefully good quarterbacks?” You want to hasten the departure of a guy who will be enshrined in Canton for “two hopefully good quarterbacks?” If the Steelers sign Ben Roethlisberger to a three-year extension, and he continues to play at the level he’s playing now, or close to it, then he will deserve to be the starter and will remain the starter, regardless of the contract situation of the players behind him on the depth chart. If you’re a fan truly interested in what’s best for the team, then hope that Roethlisberger is still playing at his current level three years from now. I believe that would be a “problem” the Steelers will love to face.
NATE GREENE FROM BOSTON, MA: It's almost 100 percent that the Steelers don't get Devin White or Devin Bush in the draft. How do you feel about sticking with the inside linebacker position and selecting Mack Wilson? Or do you think we have a bigger need at wide receiver and cornerback?
ANSWER: I’ve been asked this question 1,000 times and in 1,000 different ways, and my answer is still the same. You asked me what I think, and what I think can be summed up in two words: defensive playmakers.
BRYAN CLARK FROM BETHLEHEM, PA: So if Devin White and Devin Bush are gone before the Steelers pick in the first round, I don't see another inside linebacker worthy of a No. 20 overall pick. So should I just resign myself to the fact that they're going to guess on another cornerback in the first round? I think some awesome receiver/returners should be there at No. 20 overall, and drafting a cornerback in the second or third round may prove just as effective. Don't you think the most dynamic player needs to be chosen at No. 20, regardless of position?
ANSWER: Yes, the most dynamic defensive playmaker.