Let's get to it:
BILL SOVITSKI FROM ELIZABETH, PA:
I read Jaylen Samuels' measurements as "5114, 225-pounds." What does "5114" mean? Why do they list height this way?
ANSWER: I have no idea why height is listed that way, but what 5114 means is that Jaylen Samuels is 5-foot-11½. I believe this method was instituted some time ago at the NFL Combine. The first number represents feet, and the next one or two numbers represent inches. The final number represents fractions of an inch measured in eighths. As examples, 5111 would represent 5-11 1/8; 5112 would represent 5-11 ¼, etc. Often in publications, the fraction is rounded up or down for simplicity, with ½ being the dividing line. If the fraction is less than ½, it's eliminated, and if it's ½ or more, it's rounded up.
RON HALL FROM BRACKNEY, PA:
You wrote several times in prior Asked and Answereds that you didn't see/expect the Steelers to pick a quarterback in this draft. Being honest, did you at least raise one eyebrow when they spent not a sixth or seventh-round flyer on a quarterback, but a third-round pick? If you "believe" Kevin Colbert's statement that "no position is out of the question to be looked at," what's that say about last year's pick of Josh Dobbs, or this perceived notion that Landry Jones is a "capable backup?"
ANSWER: What caused me to raise an eyebrow was that Mason Rudolph hadn't been picked through the first 10 picks of the third round. When Rudolph was still available at that stage of the draft, and the Steelers already had acquired an extra third-round pick, it became a no-brainer in my mind to pick him if the opportunity presented itself because he clearly was the most talented player at that stage of the proceedings.
One thing fans don't seem to understand is that while they may want to make definitive statements and judgments and then never deviate from them, that's not the way it works in the NFL. When General Manager Kevin Colbert said the Steelers would consider every position during the draft, that's obviously what happened when you look at the players they picked and which positions those players play. The whole thing with the Steelers ending up with a quarterback from this recently concluded draft is that they were presented with an opportunity they couldn't refuse – a first-round talent was sitting there for them in the third round, and they happened to have an extra pick in that round.
I don't believe the Steelers went into this draft looking to pick a quarterback, either a first-round talent in the first round or a fifth-round talent in the fifth round. But when you get a chance to pick a first-round talent in the third round, that's something that cannot be passed up. Landry Jones is a capable backup, because he has a better-than-.500 record as a starter, and that's about as much as can be reasonably expected from a quarterback who is a backup, as opposed to a starter-in-waiting who is temporarily serving as a backup.
CHRISTOPHER WINKLER FROM FRANKLIN, PA:
"News flash: whatever the Steelers got in return for trading Martavis Bryant wouldn't allow them to replace Martavis Bryant. Which would make a trade just plain stupid." Well, they did trade him, for a third-round pick. They took James Washington from Oklahoma State in the second round. It seems like a risk, given they don't have a proven third man at the position. Stupid move?
ANSWER: If I had known a team would be willing to give up a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant, and a third-round pick that was in the top half of the round, I would have had a different view of a potential trade. I firmly believed that no team would be – to use your word – stupid enough to give up a premium draft pick for a receiver entering the final season of his contract who already had served a one-year suspension for violating the league's drug policy and therefore was one failed test away from being banished.
As for your question about James Washington, I don't get your meaning. Because the Steelers don't have a proven third wide receiver, it was a stupid move to draft James Washington? Clearly the Steelers had a need at the position, because of the Bryant trade. Washington is a deep threat and soon will be under contract to the Steelers for four years at a very, very reasonable annual salary. Definitely not a stupid move.
JOBIE ROMINES II FROM ERIE, PA:
When will the rookies get their numbers?
ANSWER: Rookie minicamp will be held on May 11-13 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and so all players attending will be issued jersey numbers for that. But what you should keep in mind is that rookies can change their jersey numbers once the initial 53-man roster is put together, and they often do just that once veterans are cut.
DAVE COSTELLO FROM ROSCOE, IL:
So the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant AND drafted a quarterback. Score two for us idiotic fans. Next thing you know they'll be trading Le'Veon Bell and moving T.J. Watt to tight end.
ANSWER: Now, now, before you start polishing your resume to submit it for a job as an NFL general manager, let's clear up a couple of things. What was idiotic was the suggestion the Steelers could trade Martavis Bryant as a way to get up into the upper half of the first round, or pair him with Le'Veon Bell – who as an unsigned player cannot be traded – in a trade to acquire the fourth overall pick. As for drafting a quarterback, I can assure you not one amateur GM ever proposed getting a first-round talent like Mason Rudolph in the top half of the third round by using an extra pick acquired in a trade that was too good to pass up.
SHAWN WEIMER FROM TEMECULA, CA:
With the addition of so many safeties this offseason – draft and free agency – the phrase "defensive sub-packages" has been used a lot in terms of describing some of their abilities. Can you briefly define what that term entails and is that something that is becoming more of a trend in defensive schemes or has it always been around?
ANSWER: Any time a defense goes from its base scheme – in the Steelers' case a 3-4 alignment – and substitutes players to create a different personnel grouping, whether it be five defensive backs, or five linebackers, or three safeties, or whatever, that is a sub-package. The utilization of defensive sub-packages has been going on for the last 40-plus years, but in recent times, it has become more complex and much more prevalent. In the late 1970s, defenses began going to an extra defensive back to counter the offense's utilization of a third wide receiver in passing situations, but nowadays the Steelers play their base defense less than one-third of the time, according to Coach Mike Tomlin. The rest of the time they are utilizing one of their defensive sub-packages based on down-and-distance, time on the clock, place on the field, and other factors.
NEIL KOCHAR FROM VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA:
Do you see Terrell Edmunds and possibly Marcus Allen playing some traditional inside linebacker in certain packages? They are both considered hybrid type players who play safety with linebacker capabilities, almost like Ryan Shazier is a linebacker with safety capabilities.
ANSWER: "Traditional inside linebacker in certain packages" is a contradiction in terms. If it's certain packages, that would be sub-package football by definition. Traditional inside linebacker would be when the Steelers were in their base 3-4 alignment, and in that situation I would expect the inside linebackers to include two of the following: Vince Williams, Jon Bostic, and Tyler Matakevich.
MARIO GUERRERO FROM TORREÓN, COAHUILA, MÉXICO:
I'm going to my first NFL game at Heinz Field on Sept. 30 when we play the Ravens. Is there a chance for Steelers fans to attend any practice during the week? Is there a possibility I can see the players before the game?
ANSWER: Practices are closed to the public during the regular season. As for the pregame, if you're inside the stadium as soon as the gates open – typically 90 minutes before kickoff – and you can get down to the first level railing surrounding the field, you might have a slim chance at some interaction with players, but that's only at the players' prerogative. Sometimes they're in the mood, and sometimes they're not.
TIMOTHY SMITH FROM ERIE, PA
How many times does Kevin Colbert have to prove everyone wrong before the fans start trusting his draft picks? Seems to me people are calling Terrell Edmunds a dumb pick before he even gets his playbook.
ANSWER: Maybe it's because those fans have been putting too much credence into Mel Kiper's analysis of the pick. General Manager Kevin Colbert isn't infallible, but he's been right a whole lot more often than Kiper and others who are referred to as "draft experts," and to prove the point I offer a story written by Jim Weber that appeared on awfulannouncing.com.
"(Mel) Kiper had (Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy) Clausen ranked as the fourth best prospect in the entire 2010 NFL Draft even though most other draft pundits had the QB projected to go in the second round (Clausen was subsequently selected 48th overall by the Carolina Panthers). At the time, people accused Kiper of being biased since he and Clausen shared the same agent, Gary Wichard.
"But Kiper only dug in his heels further, making this infamous proclamation on ESPN: 'If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I'm done. That's it. I'm out.'
"Replied (Todd) McShay: 'What is your time frame, Mel? When do we make that assessment?'
"Kiper: "I want eight years."
"McShay: 'It will only take three years, Mel. We can tell inside three years.'
"Kiper: 'I want eight.'
If Kiper was a man of his word, we shouldn't have been listening to him last weekend, because Clausen has been out of football since 2015, and during his time in the NFL he played in 22 career games, posted a 1-13 record as a starter, completed 54 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 61.9 rating.