Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: March 7

Let's get to it:

BURTON HARRIS FROM GREENSBURG, PA: Have the Steelers ever selected two offensive linemen with their first two draft picks?
ANSWER: Since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, the Steelers have used both of their first two picks of a particular NFL draft on offensive linemen once, and they came out of that draft with two offensive line starters, even though in a rather unconventional way. That happened in 2012, when they spent the 24th overall pick on Stanford guard David DeCastro and the 56th overall pick on Ohio State tackle Mike Adams. The Steelers then completed their picking in that draft with SMU tackle Kelvin Beachum, the 248th overall selection. DeCastro started 124 games over 9 seasons and was voted first-team All-Pro twice, but it was Beachum who became the other offensive line starter from that draft class. Beachum, who will be 34 in June, has played for four teams during his 11 NFL seasons and still is in the league. For the Steelers, he started 39 games during his four seasons with the team. Adams appeared in 41 games over his three years with the Steelers and has been out of football since the end of the 2016 season.

STEFAN PISOCKI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: A recent question posted in Asked and Answered made mention of the career of nose tackle Casey Hampton. Assuming we agree that Joe Greene and Cam Hayward are the Nos. 1 and 2 defensive linemen ever to play for the Steelers, who would be No. 3?
ANSWER: First of all, we do not agree that Joe Greene and Cam Heyward are the two best defensive linemen in franchise history. While I count myself as a staunch admirer of Heyward as a player and a person, his career is ongoing, and you're also discounting Ernie Stautner and his place in franchise history. Stautner served in the Marine Corps during World War II and after being a second-round pick in the 1950 NFL Draft out of Boston College, he established himself as the Joe Greene of his era. A physically dominant defensive tackle, Stautner's profile was lowered because he did his work for bad teams. He was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee – again, as an interior defensive lineman on a team that finished above .500 four times in his 14 seasons – and the Steelers retired his jersey in November 1964.

JAY SIMMONS FROM DALTON, GA: For player evaluation, how much weight do the drills at the Combine carry vs. film analysis by team scouts. Is the Combine just another excellent marketing activity to keep the NFL in the forefront of sports news 24/7/365?
ANSWER: The NFL Combine has value to teams because it's an efficient way to compile comprehensive medical information on all draft eligible players, plus the coaches and scouts get up-close contact with guys they've been studying on video. It provides accurate heights and weights. The primary purpose of the entire pre-draft process is still about identifying football players, not picking a track-and-field team, so it's unwise to become overly impressed with how players perform in shorts in a controlled environment. But if the Combine can be packaged and promoted and sold to the public by the NFL, that's a side benefit.

KHARI CLEMMONS FROM McALPIN, FL: You've said, on numerous occasions, that you're not a fan of the Steelers retiring jersey numbers, except in really special circumstances. But what's your opinion about unretired jersey numbers that have been "taken out of circulation?" If the numbers won't be worn again, why not officially retire them?
ANSWER: Because there's a distinct difference between "taken out of circulation" and officially retired. Only one is permanent.

ROD BRANDT FROM AUBURN, AL: With the Steelers having the first pick of the second round during this upcoming draft, is there any reason they should consider trying to move up one spot to get the last pick in the first round to get the fifth-year team option on the rookie's contract?
ANSWER: I don't believe that teams drafting late in the first round would be willing to trade down a few spots to lose the chance to pick a player carrying a fifth-year option unless the price was enticing, and I wouldn't be offering what it would cost to make that move for the benefit of a fifth-year option.

ANDREW ROWLEY FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: I have an old helmet from the Steelers with No. 12 on it, although it didn't belong to Terry Bradshaw. Who wore No. 12 prior to Bradshaw?
ANSWER: During the 1963-64 seasons, No. 12 was worn by backup quarterback Terry Nofsinger. A 17th-round pick from Utah in 1961, Nofsinger appeared in 9 games with no starts during his four seasons with the Steelers. He completed 12-of-18 for 159 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.

BRAD LOVELESS FROM ANGIER, NC: Why do outside receivers sometimes point to the sideline before the snap?
ANSWER: In those instances, the player is checking with the official on that side to make sure he is aligned correctly.

JAKE FIELDS FROM FOLSOM, CA: When Omar Khan is negotiating contracts, does he have guidelines on how much he can offer to a certain player? Does he have to get permission before he approves a contract, or does he get to approve contracts as he sees fit as long as he stays within the salary cap parameters?
ANSWER: The decision on signing players – your own and other teams' free agents – and how much to pay is not made unilaterally. Never. And it's not final until everything is approved by the Team President.

RON CIMBALA FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: This time of the year all we hear is that the Steelers met with this player or that player at the Combine. It would be interesting to know how many players the Steelers "met" with or brought into town in the past couple years who then ended up being drafted by the team.
ANSWER: Over the course of a process that includes college all-star games, the Combine, college pro days, and pre-draft visits, NFL teams can meet with A LOT of the prospects eligible for the draft, and not even all the teams taking advantage of all of those opportunities have even a full complement of picks. The incessant reporting of these "meetings" is the football version of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

ADAM NAKANEZKY FROM REGINA, ALBERTA, CANADA: I know you don't have a say in Hall of Fame voting, but I would love your insight. It seems there is a log jam of wide receivers waiting to get voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Why does it seem harder for them to get inducted?
ANSWER: Because I am not privy to discussions had by the members of the Board of Selectors, I only can surmise that statistics compiled by today's receivers have been watered down by the current rules of the game and how those rules are enforced, and there are just a lot of guys with a lot of stats. During the election process, I suspect that glut of wide receivers ends up cannibalizing each other's support.

WADE AGES FROM DALLAS, TX: I was surprised at the results of the NFL Players Association team-by-team survey on the daily experiences of players and their working conditions, where the Steelers scored relatively poorly. Has Steelers management responded to the survey results? To what extent do these factors matter in trying to win Super Bowls?
ANSWER: I will start with a list of the eight general categories covered in the NFL Players Association survey: Treatment of families; food service/nutrition; weight room; strength coaches; training room; training staff; locker room; and team travel. I have my own personal opinion on many of the issues within these categories, such as providing on-site daycare during games, and the number of seats in first class on the charter flights to road games, and the size and amenities provided in the locker room, but since I am not a player and never have been my opinion doesn't matter. But here is one example of the respective grades achieved by one particular team in the 8 categories listed at the start of this answer: treatment of families B; food service/nutrition D+; weight room C+; strength coaches A-; training room D+; training staff D-; locker room D-; and team travel F, for an overall ranking of 29th of the 32 teams. Those were the grades "earned" in 2022 by the Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl LVII, and the only teams with an overall score worse than that were the Chargers, Arizona, and Washington. As is plain to see, apparently there is little correlation between those grades and winning a Lombardi Trophy.

WILLIAM YOUNG FROM BADEN, PA: Who were the Steelers picks in the third, sixth, and seventh rounds in their historic 1974 draft?
ANSWER: The Steelers' third-round pick in the 1974 NFL Draft had been traded in 1973 to Oakland to acquire veteran defensive tackle Tom Keating, who played that one season for the team as a 31-year-old. That was the only time in his 23 seasons as the Steelers coach that Chuck Noll traded a future draft pick for a veteran player. The Steelers had two picks in both the sixth and seventh rounds in 1974. In the sixth round, they selected defensive tackle Jim Wolf from Prairie View A&M 149th overall and offensive tackle Rick Druschel from North Carolina State 150th overall. Both Wolf and Druschel played just the one season for the Steelers. In the seventh round, they picked North Carolina State offensive tackle Allen Sitterle 165th overall and Eastern Michigan tight end Scott Gaske 179th overall. Neither Sitterle nor Gaske made the roster.

TIM GOLDSMITH FROM ORANGE, NSW, AUSTRALIA: Two questions I hear concerning player contracts at this time of year have to do with the use of the franchise tag and guaranteed money. It got me wondering whether a player under the franchise tag receives guaranteed money for his one-year contract?
ANSWER: If a team places the franchise tag on a player, the total amount is guaranteed as soon as the player signs the tender.