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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 2

Let's get to it:

SHAUN CHALMER FROM MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: With Darnell Washington being drafted and joining a talented group of tight ends, do you envision Conor Heyward being utilized more as a fullback?
ANSWER: Beyond what I envision, offensive coordinator Matt Canada was asked about that in the aftermath of the Steelers using their third-round pick on Darnell Washington. Here's what Canada said: "That's probably (Connor Heyward's) body type, right? What he can do, and we've got him as a tight end, but the things he can do, the way we can move him around, maybe not calling him a fullback, but I think his skill set fits that role."

MARK BIGENHO FROM PLUM, PA: With the Steelers picking tight end Darnell Washington from Georgia in the third round, do you think Connor Heyward's position on the team is in jeopardy, because it seems as though the Steelers like big tight ends.
ANSWER: As you can see from the above answer, offensive coordinator Matt Canada already is hinting that the plan is going to involve coloring outside the lines in terms of a position for Connor Heyward. Taking Canada's inference about Heyward's ability to handle the roles of a Steelers fullback, plus the fact he played 284 special teams snaps during the 2022 season as a rookie, and plus Derek Watt playing only 6 more special teams snaps (290) than Heyward and remains a free agent, it seems Watt's spot might be the one in jeopardy. But that is the situation as it "seems" during the first week of May, which means it's all a guess at this point.

CHRISTIAN MARGRIS FROM ORLÉANS, FRANCE: With Kentucky quarterback Will Levis being the favorite to be the top pick in the second round, and the Steelers having no need for a top-of-the-depth-chart quarterback, why didn't they make a trade for the 32nd overall pick to a quarterback-hungry team?
ANSWER: I'm sure the Steelers listened to offers for the first pick of the second round, which was the first pick on Friday's second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, and as happens most often with things like this the ultimate outcome likely was the combination of several factors. One of the most significant factors probably was the availability of Joey Porter Jr., a player projected to be a first-round talent throughout the run-up to the draft who also played a position where the Steelers had a need (outside cornerback). Porter wasn't a player who was going to last too much longer before some team snapped him up. Sometimes the player is worth more than the extra picks that would come via trade, and I think this was a situation where no team was offering the Steelers enough to entice them to do something other than pick Porter.

WILLIAM MOORE FROM FISHERS, IN: Where can I get a list of the current Hall of Honor members?
ANSWER: Go to, and across the top of the homepage is a navbar. On the navbar, to the right of "Fans" you will see an ellipsis (…). Click on that. That will give you more links, and one of them will be "History." Click on that, and you will be directed to a page where you'll see a Hall of Honor portal on the right. Click on "Learn More," and you'll be taken to a page that contains a lot of information on the Hall of Honor, including a list of all members.

JAMES DANGELO CAMP HILL, PA: The last few days have been dominated by the discussion of who the Steelers should draft. Could you ever see the NFL Draft being held in Pittsburgh?
ANSWER: The Steelers want to host an NFL Draft in Pittsburgh, and President Art Rooney II believes the area could host and support such an event. I agree.

RAYMOND LEHMAN FROM MAGNOLIA, DE: When are the contracts of the drafted players negotiated and signed?
ANSWER: The only real urgency to get draft picks signed has to do with the opening of training camp, because players without contracts cannot report to training camp. Until then, however, the unsigned draft picks are permitted to attend and participate in rookie minicamp, OTAs, and mandatory minicamp. I have absolutely no doubt that the Steelers will have all of their draft picks signed and ready to go by the time training camp opens, likely in late July.

DENNIS STEPHENS FROM CANONSBURG, PA: When the great Chuck Noll's career with the Steelers ended, was it a mutual split? Did animosity exist? Did Noll want to continue coaching elsewhere?
ANSWER: There was no drama like you suggest. Chuck Noll walked out of the Steelers offices on Dec. 26, 1991, and he never was interviewed for another coaching job. Dan Rooney had made arrangements for Noll to have an office at Three Rivers Stadium after Bill Cowher was hired, but Noll never used it because he didn't want to be a distraction. Noll and his wife, Marianne, enjoyed the initial phase of his retirement by sailing around the world.

MIKE CLAPPER FROM BEDFORD, PA: Welcome to the Steelers, Joey Porter Jr. Do you know what jersey number he will wear for the Steelers since No. 9 is currently being worn by Chris Boswell?
ANSWER: Rookie minicamp for the Steelers will begin on Friday, May 12. That will be the first on-field opportunity for the rookies, and so jersey numbers will be issued by then.

MARY FARR FROM LACEYVILLE, PA: Do you think Kendrick Greene will be on the Steelers roster for the opening week of the regular season?
ANSWER: I just asked my Magic 8 Ball, and it read, "Reply hazy, try again." Check back with me in late August.

SHAWN O'BRIEN FROM AUSTIN, TX: The Steelers are widely considered to have had a pretty good draft this year, but as always, time will tell. Do you have any references for how the 1974 Steelers draft was regarded in its immediate aftermath, before any of those future greats ever took the field?
ANSWER: This story is something I have used many, many times, primarily as a cautionary tale for fans and media who allow themselves to go off the deep end when it comes to an instant evaluation of a team's draft class. The 1974 NFL Draft was held on Jan. 29-30, with the first 5 rounds on Jan. 29, and the final 12 rounds on Jan. 30. The following passage appeared in the Jan. 30, 1974, editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a critique of the first 5 rounds, during which the Steelers picked 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."

DAN MELCHIOR FROM SAN DIEGO, CA: How much consideration is given to drafting players from the same school? As examples, Wisconsin where the Steelers had success with T.J. Watt and Georgia where they had success with George Pickens. Winning players from winning programs. Are those factors considered or is it just a case of wherever the best players are?
ANSWER: That question was posed to Coach Mike Tomlin at the end-of-draft news conference, and he answered it this way:

"You know, Georgia obviously, they've won back-to-back National Championships, and you don't do that without quality players, so we're not the only ones fishing in that pond. Philadelphia, I think is doing a pretty good job of that. Sometimes a place like Wisconsin is a stylistic match. Always had a lot of respect for Jim Leonhard, their former (defensive) coordinator, and they do a lot of similar things (on defense) that we do. So, it makes it an easy evaluation. There's less speculation in terms of what (their players) might be able to do in our system of football."

BOB MCKISSICK FROM N. FT. MYERS, FL: Following the draft, 7 undrafted rookies were signed. How are these players selected and signed by the Steelers?
ANSWER: The Steelers scout, evaluate, and grade hundreds of prospects, and not all of them end up being drafted. When it comes time to sign undrafted rookies, the team compiles a list from their graded prospects and then phone calls are made to get deals done.

JOHN WASHINSKY FROM CLEMMONS, NC: What would happen if a player was unhappy about which team drafted him and he then decided not to show up at training camp? Has that ever happened to the Steelers?
ANSWER: This is a reminder that the Steelers franchise has participated in every draft in NFL history, and the one that was recently completed was the 88th in that series. Also, remember that there were many decades when professional football was not a glamorous business, and during those decades teams would draft players who decided they could make a better living and provide their family with a better lifestyle by eschewing football and getting a "real job." In fact, the first draft pick in franchise history – Bill Shakespeare from Notre Dame in 1936 – never played a down of professional football. In today's NFL, if a drafted player decided not to show up for training camp for whatever reason, he would not be able to play for any other team in 2023.