Let's get to it:
JOHN MATTHEWS FROM PARKER, CO: Rookie Tre Norwood has received some good reviews and may have some staying power. In the Kevin Colbert era, what other seventh-round picks have made significant contributions?
ANSWER: I will give you three players who were seventh-round draft picks during Kevin Colbert's time as the head of the Steelers' personnel department (2000-present) who have crafted what I would refer to as quality careers in the NFL: defensive end Brett Keisel, the 242nd overall selection of the 2002 NFL Draft who should require no additional explanation to Steelers fans; center A.Q. Shipley, the 226th overall selection of the 2009 NFL Draft, who never played for the Steelers but went on to play in 110 NFL regular season games, with 72 starts, over eight years with four different NFL teams; and left tackle Kelvin Beachum, the 248th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, who has 120 regular season starts for four different teams, and counting, including the Steelers.
DAN STEELE FROM TUMWATER, WA: I was reading that T.J. Watt got fined by the NFL for his multiple "haymakers" on Alex Collins in the Week 6 Super Bowl XL rematch against the Seahawks. Even though Watt was clearly trying to strip the ball, let's assume that his actions were "unnecessary roughness." If that's the case, why didn't D.K. Metcalf get a 15-yard penalty (and a fine) for laying at least two full roundhouse swings at Devin Bush on the Seahawks' final offensive play of the game?
ANSWER: T.J. Watt was fined $10,815 for "unnecessary roughness" on the play in question involving Seattle running back Alex Collins. I agree with you that it appeared to me that Watt was trying to punch the ball loose, and while he was rather enthusiastic about it, I'm not sure a penalty and a fine were warranted. But please don't ask me to explain why NFL officials deem one act to be a penalty and another to be acceptable, because I long have referred to the league's officiating as inconsistent and arbitrary. We can chalk this up as another example of that.
KEN MAULDIN FROM CLYDE, TX: I see no hope of you fielding a second Kenny Pickett question, but here goes: I watched the Pitt-Clemson game on television, and I was thinking he looks like the real deal. Then I just now read your comments on him. Is there something about him that makes you think he cannot play in the NFL?
ANSWER: I have absolutely no issue with Kenny Pickett, and in fact I started that response with how I enjoy watching him play on television on Saturdays, but what I objected to then and still object to now is with how Larry Morrison's submission to Asked and Answered went right to comparing him to Dan Marino based on his listed height and weight at Pitt and on the fact his college statistics there are better than Marino's college statistics were there. Do you have any feel at all for how unfair that is to Pickett? College heights and weights regularly are "adjusted" to numbers closer to what NFL teams consider ideal for the particular position and using college statistics alone to project how one player stacks up against another is ridiculous to the point I believed it would be instructional to point out that Alex Van Pelt also finished his college career at Pitt with better statistics than Marino. And again, all due respect to Pickett, but comparing his arm strength to Marino's is ludicrous. I had an NFL personnel executive with Super Bowl rings on his fingers tell me that there were only two players he ever scouted whose ball you could HEAR when he released it: Terry Bradshaw and Dan Marino. I hope Pickett has a nice pro career (unless he ends up with the Ravens), but don't put him in the category of Super Bowl winners and first-ballot Hall of Fame guys before he takes his first NFL snap.
KEITH MILLER FROM WAYNESVILLE, NC: Other than the 1970s "Super Draft," do you think this is the most productive draft we've ever had? The top four are starters, a new punter, Isaiahh Loudermilk contributes, and Quincy Roche probably would have. Six of the eight picks are contributing.
ANSWER: By mentioning the 1970s "Super Draft," I will assume you are referring to 1974 when the Steelers picked Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster, and then signed Hall of Fame player Donnie Shell as an undrafted rookie. But this is another example of trying to praise someone or something before it has earned that level of praise. The first NFL draft was conducted in 1936, which means the 2021 edition was the 86th in which the Steelers have been participants, and you want me to anoint the 2021 version as the second-most "productive draft we've ever had?" In 1970, the Steelers drafted Hall of Fame players on the first and third rounds – Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount – but if it's quantity that fits your definition of "productive," I will offer you the 1971 Draft that yielded Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, plus Gerry Mullins, Dwight White, Larry Brown, Ernie Holmes, and Mike Wagner. Those six players accounted for 22 combined Super Bowl rings, and White and Holmes were original members of one of the most famous and feared defensive lines in NFL history.
MAURICIO CRUZ FROM CDMX, MEXICO: I have been a staunch Steelers' fan since I saw them win Super Bowl IX. I understand tackling and blocking are the very building blocks of any serious football program, just as spelling and arithmetic are essential in elementary school. Aren't so many missed tackles in the current season indicative something is wrong with the Steelers' coaching?
ANSWER: I do not disagree at all with your assertion that the Steelers did not tackle well in the game vs. Seattle, and there have been other examples of this deficiency showing up as well. As for the reasons behind this, I absolve no one group completely, but my opinion is that these are professionals who should know how to tackle and it starts with the players doing a better job of executing what they have been doing for years, because if they had been poor tacklers from the time they started playing football they wouldn't have advanced to the NFL. The Steelers are one of the few NFL teams, maybe the only NFL team, that incorporates live tackling into each padded practice during training camp, and during individual periods of in-season practices some of the fundamentals of tackling – body positioning, etc. – are gone over. If this aspect was being ignored, I could see placing the brunt of the blame on the coaching staff, but since it's not I believe the players need to be more diligent and fundamental in their approach to tackling. And then execute.
KARL WHITE FROM CRESTLINE, CA: Looking at the Oct. 21 edition of Asked and Answered, I saw another question about former Steelers tight end Jesse James. What is the fascination with a second-tier tight end who has not been on the team for what, three seasons? He seems like a nice kid, nobody wishes him ill, but what did he do while in Pittsburgh to make some fans remember him as the second coming of Kellen Winslow Sr.? Is James even in the league anymore?
ANSWER: James was released by the Detroit Lions and signed with the Chicago Bears in 2021. He has appeared in six of their seven games this season, and he has three catches for 20 yards. James, 27, has earned an estimated $16.2 million as an NFL player, and to that I say, "Good for him."
GREG GRUNZEL FROM FAIRFAX, VA: Still questions about Jesse James? What is this fan base's obsession with this guy? He had one notable catch that wasn't an official catch years ago. I remember him being average at best, which is why he didn't stay with the team. Is it because he immediately replaced Health Miller? Do they just like his name? Steelers Nation, LET. HIM. GO!
ANSWER: Exactly. Still questions about Jesse James.
NICHOLAS PELCHAR FROM PURCELLVILLE, VA: Given the difficulty of successfully kicking field goals and even extra points, and that there are no four-point plays in football, and that legal gambling now exists: What about having field goal from 60-yard or more count for four points? Wouldn't it make games more exciting?
ANSWER: First of all, NFL placekickers never have been more accurate. And because this has no chance ever of happening, how about this for an idea to make games more exciting: At random times during the game, release a half-dozen hungry lions onto the field so that the players not only have to execute their assignments but also find ways to avoid being eaten alive.
TY PAUL FROM DAYTON, OH: During Sunday night's Colts-49ers game, a San Francisco returner kicked the ball prior to securing it and possibly helped it get into the end zone. It was ruled a touchback and the explanation was something along the lines of the kick not "affecting the ball's momentum." Does this mean that if the ball had bounced in a neutral or upfield direction before being deflected into the end zone and possessed by the receiving team, it would have been a safety? Is there a rule for if the deflection appears purposeful?
ANSWER: You obviously have me confused with Gene Steratore.
LOGAN DAVIS FROM GREENSBURG, PA: Legally, could a player play two games for two different teams in the same day/week?
ANSWER: No issues with playing two games in the same week, but no way for two games in the same day.