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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 9

Let's get to it:

RICHARD BOWMAN FROM SHELBY, NC: Are there any plans with the new offensive scheme to utilize Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren in the backfield similar to the way Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were utilized?
ANSWER: Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith may have plans to utilize running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on the field at the same time, but I doubt it will be a repeat of the way Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were utilized. That's because Franco Harris and Bleier operated out of a split-backfield, which required one to block for the other. From what we have seen from Najee Harris and Warren is that neither one of them is capable of filling the Bleier role on a consistent basis.

DAVID PACY FROM SHERMAN, NY: Can you give us a rundown by position of Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I was wondering which positions were the most and least represented.
ANSWER: I will list the Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and group them by their positions/categories:

• CONTRIBUTOR: Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, Bill Nunn
• HALFBACKS, TAILBACKS, FULLBACKS, RUNNING BACKS: Bill Dudley, John "Blood" McNally, John Henry Johnson, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis
• OFFENSIVE LINE: Walt Kiesling, Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca
• QUARTERBACK: Bobby Layne, Terry Bradshaw
• DEFENSIVE LINE: Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene
• LINEBACKER: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Kevin Greene
• DEFENSIVE BACK: Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell
• COACH: Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher
• WIDE RECEIVER: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth

LOGAN SMITH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA Have the Steelers officially announced what position Troy Fautanu will play this year?
ANSWER: The following is from the news conference held shortly after the Steelers spent the 20th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft on Troy Fautanu:

Q. Is he sticking at left tackle or will you try him on the right side?
MIKE TOMLIN: Right now he's a tackle. Maybe we'll have a little bit more detail for you in the morning.

Q. Is he center capable?
MIKE TOMLIN: No, we're not concerned about that. We legitimately see him as a tackle.

JAMIE EWEN FROM BOURNE, UK: Which of the undrafted rookie free agents that we have signed are you most excited about? Why?
ANSWER: If I had to pick one, it would be cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr., who played his college football at West Virginia. The reason would be that the Steelers have a need for the position that Bishop plays, which should give him a better chance to end up with a spot on the 53-man roster and potentially help the team this season.

JOHN M. WASHINSKY FROM CLEMMONS, NC: For those players invited to attend rookie minicamp but had not signed contracts, are they given the same opportunity as those who were signed?
ANSWER: There currently are 87 players listed on the roster that appears on, and there is a 90-man roster limit during an NFL offseason. Following this weekend's rookie minicamp, it's possible the Steelers could select three of the tryout players and sign them to contracts, or it's possible the Steelers could look elsewhere to fill those three open roster spots. But tryout players who are not offered contracts after rookie minicamp will not be participating in any more of the offseason program with the Steelers unless they are signed to a contract at a later date.

PHILIP TURNER FROM WARNER ROBINS, GA: In a previous Asked and Answered you mentioned that there were a total of 6 Hall of Fame inductees who came from the draft of 1974. Are there any other drafts that were as productive as the 1974 Draft when it comes to Hall of Fame inductees?
ANSWER: The 1964 NFL Draft is the one that produced the most Hall of Fame players, with 11. That was a 20-round draft, and the 11 Hall of Fame players were selected in the following order: offensive tackle Bob Brown, wide receiver Charley Taylor, defensive end Carl Eller, wide receiver Paul Warfield, cornerback Mel Renfro, safety Paul Krause, defensive end Dave Wilcox, wide receiver Bob Hayes, offensive tackle Bill Parcells (who was elected to the Hall of Fame as a coach), running back Leroy Kelly, and quarterback Roger Staubach.

FRITZ SCHERZ FROM VERONA, NY: Who would be your favorite "the one who got away" in the draft for the Steelers? Dan Marino?
ANSWER: The Steelers passing over Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft is one way of looking at the "one who got away" category, but just to be different I'm going to present another way to view the "one who got away." It was in 1985, a couple of years after Marino was in the draft pool, and Bill Nunn still was mining the HBCUs for difference-making talent. Nunn had been scouting a receiver from Mississippi Valley State for a couple of years, and he also had a good relationship with Coach Archie Cooley. Nicknamed "Gunslinger" for his passion for the passing game, Cooley spent 19 seasons as a head coach at four HBCUs and went 83-78-5, and his innovative "Satellite Express offense" with Willie "Satellite" Totten at quarterback and Jerry Rice at wide receiver set a bunch of NCAA records. But the offense, which featured 5 wide receivers in the formation at a time and operated out of the no-huddle, wasn't what NFL teams typically were comfortable using in that era, and so despite the statistics and records there was not a lot of enthusiasm at the professional level for it or for the players who made it work. But Nunn looked past all of that and was certain Jerry Rice was going to be a great pro, and by the time the 1985 NFL Draft was at hand he had convinced Chuck Noll of the same thing. The Steelers held the 20th overall pick in that draft, and as the picking in the first round moved into the teens, Noll was prepared to spend the team's selection on Rice. After the Cincinnati Bengals used the 13th overall pick on wide receiver Eddie Brown, it seemed as though the Steelers were going to get their man, but the San Francisco 49ers, picking 28th and last in the first round, worked a trade with New England to move up into the Patriots' spot at No. 16 overall and snatch Rice. The Steelers ended up using their No. 1 pick on Wisconsin defensive lineman Darryl Sims. Since we've been playing the "what could have been" game throughout this submission, imagine how the 1980s would've been different for the Steelers with Marino at quarterback and Rice as one of their receivers.

DENNIS PRZYDZIAL FROM WINTER SPRINGS, FL: Do you believe Broderick Jones played last year at the level of a first-round draft pick?
ANSWER: I definitely believe that last year Broderick Jones played to the level of a rookie first-round pick, which is what he was. That's pretty good and indicates a lot of promise for his future.

ERIC ASH FROM WELLSVILLE, NY: I have been watching a little of the UFL. It's hard to make judgments from what is seen on TV, and I am no professional at evaluating players. Based on what I've seen, it seems to me a big difference between the NFL and the UFL is the quality of play at quarterback, with a few exceptions. There seem to be a lot of overthrown and underthrown balls. That said, it appears that a lot of the receivers make some exceptional plays on errant passes. Did any UFL players play in the NFL and have an impact in 2023? Do the Steelers and other teams scout the UFL?
ANSWER: I only can speak for the Steelers, and they scout everything. They scout all levels of college football, plus the CFL, UFL, last year the XFL. But before you become enamored with plays being made by UFL receivers, remember they're going against UFL defensive backs. Do you recall a 6-foot-5, 227-pound wide receiver named Hakeem Butler, who was signed by the Steelers last offseason after making 51 catches for 599 yards (11.7 average) and eight touchdowns for the XFL's St. Louis Battlehawks? Once he got to Pittsburgh, Butler was nothing but a guy during the offseason program, and that continued into training camp and a preseason where he was targeted twice and made one catch for 17 yards. Butler was waived injured and cut loose from the injured reserve list on Aug. 25.

BRYAN CRAMER FROM FRANKLIN, PA: I am really excited about everything I have heard about Roman Wilson's attitude, play style, and work ethic. I love his "no block, no rock" attitude. I am not making any comparisons, but what are the odds of the Steelers bringing in Hines Ward to work with him (and the whole wide receivers' room)?
ANSWER: Since Hines Ward currently is employed as the wide receivers coach at Arizona State, I would put those odds at zero.

JOE NEILL PARIS, FRANCE : Several people have asked about former Steelers, and I am one of them. When at Donora High School, one of my coaches was Rudy Andabaker, who apparently played for the Steelers at some point. Do you have any info on his career?
ANSWER: Rudy Andabaker entered the NFL as a 5-foot-11, 196-pound guard from the University of Pittsburgh. He played two seasons with the Steelers – 1952 and 1954 – and during those seasons he appeared in 10 games with 5 starts. Each of those Steelers teams finished 5-7.

DICK VOCHEK FROM PORTAGE, PA: Have the Steelers exercised the fifth-year option or used the franchise tag since the Le'Veon Bell situation? If so, who was/were the player(s)? If not, is this a similar internal policy to not negotiating any contracts during the regular season?
ANSWER: Le'Veon Bell's final season with the Steelers was in 2017, and since then they have exercised the fifth-year options on the contracts of Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt, and in 2020 the team used the franchise tag on Bud Dupree.