Let’s get to it:
DARRELL GRANT FROM RICHMOND, VA:
Read a lot of commentary questioning how Jaylen Samuels fits the Steelers offense. Do you have a take on that?
ANSWER: Based on my experience, the way it typically works is that once a determination is made that a player, in this case Jaylen Samuels, shows he deserves a spot on the roster, then things progress from there. Samuels was a fifth-round pick, and he will be joining an established and high-powered offense. It’s not going to be easy for him to make the team. Talk of roles and potential fits within the offense only can take place after he shows he belongs, because doing it the other way could turn out to be a waste of time.
JOSHUA PIROSO FROM CONCORD, NH:
Because Jaylen Samuels, the fifth-round pick, signed a four-year deal, does that mean he will automatically, or most likely, make the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: No. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, all draft picks sign four-year contracts, with players selected on the first round having a fifth-year club option in their deals. Those contracts are not guaranteed, and so if the draft pick is cut before the start of his rookie season, the only money he receives from the contract is the signing bonus. The rest of the contract is voided once he is waived.
DEMETRIUS ROBERTS FROM ERIE, PA:
The Steelers did well mending our team. James Washington won't flop, and we’re set on offense. After these draft picks and free agency, who do we expect to be the starting safeties?
ANSWER: I imagine the two safeties who will open OTAs with the first group would be Sean Davis and Morgan Burnett.
PETER DEWAR FROM MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA:
Currently there are recently released players meeting with various teams around the league. So when a well-known player meets with a team, what does this entail? Is it contract negotiations, workouts, just a chat about the player and the team?
ANSWER: It can be any of that, or all of that depending upon the individual player and why he is without a job, and depending upon the team and what is its level of interest/need in that individual player. If there was an injury involved or surgery performed recently on the player in question, there also could be a physical exam involved in the visit/meeting.
JEFF SCHUHMANN FROM MT SIDNEY VA
Is there a chance the Steelers pick up a veteran linebacker as teams cut rosters? This may save money and add experience.
ANSWER: There’s always that possibility, but I think there first would have to be an injury or two at linebacker. I have to admit, though, I cannot envision a scenario where signing a veteran linebacker would save money.
CARL SELF FROM LANCASTER, CA:
Wouldn't it be safe to say that Landry Jones is the odd man out at quarterback? The Steelers could keep both Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph for what they're paying Landry.
ANSWER: This decision will be made based on what happens on the field – both during training camp and the preseason. It’s reasonable at this stage to believe the competition for the third spot on the depth chart at quarterback will come down to Landry Jones vs. Joshua Dobbs, barring injury. Somebody will either win the job on the field, or lose it on the field. The money isn’t significant enough to be the determining factor.
VINCENT WALKER FROM WICHITA, KS:
During the draft, teams obviously have a certain person in mind to draft. When they don't get that person, some such as the Steelers go for what they refer to as the best player available. What criteria is considered to make that player the best player available?
ANSWER: Over the course of the months that go into draft preparation, teams will look over all of the reports their scouts have filed on the individual players, and then each player is given a grade. Those players then would be arranged on a board based on their grades, from highest to lowest. The grade the team ultimately places on each individual player and where that player would rank based on all of those who might be undrafted at a particular time is what might make him the “best available.”
NICK DEWITT FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
I read an article once about how certain members of a team chose their jersey numbers and what significance those numbers had for them. Have any of the Steelers explained how and why the chose specific numbers? I think it's a fascinating piece of the game's history.
ANSWER: Teresa Varley wrote just such a story, and it debuted on Steelers.com yesterday. The story is headlined, “Davis: ‘I had to grab it.’”
CRAIG BROWN FROM WILLOUGHBY, OH:
I hear you talk about a particular player being a vested veteran. Is there a number of games one has to play or a number of years to be considered a vested veteran?
ANSWER: A player who earns four accrued seasons in the NFL becomes a vested veteran, but to be honest with you, the concept of what constitutes an accrued season always has been confusing to me. More of that Collective Bargaining Agreement legalese.
GENE BOUMA FROM SOUTHLAKE, TX:
Is Mason Rudolph any relation to the 1960s professional golfer with the same name?
**ANSWER: In a story that was published on June 6, 2013 on the website, newsok.com, Berry Tramel wrote:
“High school quarterback Mason Rudolph, who has pledged to Oklahoma State, has a great name. He also has the same name as a golfer from a bygone era. Mason Rudolph was a PGA Tour golfer from the 1960s and 1970s. My cousin Jimmie Tramel, who writes for the Tulsa World, reports that OSU’s Mason Rudolph is not related to that Mason Rudolph but was named after the golfer.
**“Mason Rudolph the golfer died in 2011 at the age of 76. He won five times on the PGA Tour but never won a major championship. His best major finishes were fourth in the 1965 Masters and tied for third in the 1973 PGA. Rudolph played against some of the game’s greats. Among his five PGA Tour victories, he twice won with Jack Nicklaus as the runner-up, both by a stroke, in the 1964 Greater New Orleans Open and the 1966 Thunderbird Classic.”
JASON TOMS FROM EXETER, UK:
This might seem a stupid question, but how do NFL General Managers get the phone numbers for players on draft day? Is there a central list somewhere, or does each front office have to compile their own list? What happens if a later-round draft pick doesn't answer the phone?
ANSWER: At the NFL Combine, players submit telephone numbers as part of the information they provide to the NFL, and then the NFL provides each team with that list. Teams typically will confirm draft-day numbers for every player on that list – in case a number might change or a player might be somewhere else that day – agent’s office, whatever – where a different phone number could be a more efficient way of making contact. As for the guys not invited to the Combine, there are Pro Days to get phone numbers from players, or sometimes agents can provide them. If a team is interested, it will find a way to get a phone number where the player can be reached during the draft.