Monthly Archives: April 2018

The annual post-draft analysis of analyses

By Homer J.

“Can’t Act. Can’t Sing. Slightly Balding. Can Dance a Little.”

That’s how the guy who gave Fred Astaire his Hollywood screen test rated the greatest hoofer of all time. The debut performance of Debussy’s timeless “Clair de Lune” was described as “ugly to the ears,” by the most respected Parisian critic of the time.

When George Gershwin’s beloved “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered at Aeolian Hall in New York in 1924, New York Tribune reviewer Lawrence Gilman was less than overwhelmed. “How trite, feeble and conventional the tunes are; how sentimental and vapid the harmonic treatment, under its disguise of fussy and futile counterpoint! … Weep over the lifelessness of the melody and harmony, so derivative, so stale, so inexpressive!”

“Fiddler on the Roof” was described as “nothing special” by the Variety stringer who reviewed its off-Broadway opening.

And Rex Reed and most of the other jerks who review movies panned the greatest movie of all time, “A Christmas Story.” (They just hated producer Bob Clark, because he did those Porky’s movies and Reed would never know what to do with a Red Ryder BB gun, anyway).

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Three Quick Reactions to the Steelers’ First Round Draft Day

photo via

I said yesterday I wasn’t going to write any more about the draft until we came back from our anniversary trip, but we don’t leave until tomorrow, and I just have to take a few minutes out from packing and such to comment on last night.

What a day for Pittsburgh sports! The Penguins beat the Capitals in the first game of the second round, in Washington, but considering that Washington has been their traditional second-round opponent every time they’ve won the cup, perhaps it isn’t surprising. It is a bit more surprising that they did it without Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin, but there you are.

Then comes the news that Jung Ho Gung, the Korean player the Pirates had presumably given up on ever seeing again, finally got a visa. It’s been a year and a half, at least. There are plenty who would say the Pirates should turn their back on him, and there’s no doubt he screwed up royally. Nor does anyone know whether he’s still good at baseball. But I’m hoping this is the chance he needs to turn his life around. How quick we are as a society to turn on celebrities. Perhaps it makes us feel better about ourselves. I’m personally a big fan of second (or in his case, rather more than second) chances. It’s certainly his last one.

And speaking of second (and third) chances, the thing that Kevin Colbert swore wasn’t going to happen happened yesterday—the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders for a third-round pick. I think it is excellent for everyone. The Steelers get a pick back for the fourth-rounder they traded to the 49ers for Vance McDonald, but a much better one—middle of the 3rd round. They can pick up another big receiver, probably in the 2nd or 3rd round, and hopefully everyone is happy. Bryant gets a fresh start and the Steelers get to move on from a question mark.

After all, there are three possible scenarios for this coming season with Bryant on the roster. 1) He has a monster season and then parlays that into a huge contract with another team. Great for 2018, not so great ongoing. 2) He has an up-and-down season like last year and frustrates everyone, including himself, because he stops getting “mines.” Bad for the team, bad for the locker room, I’m guessing. Or the worst scenario—3) he isn’t doing well or getting enough balls, gets depressed, smokes some weed, and bang, he’s out of football, maybe forever. I’m guessing he’ll be a focus of the offense in Oakland, at least unless he proves himself unworthy of it, and he can blossom. Hopefully he won’t do so the week we have to play the Raiders, in Oakland, but that’s the breaks…

And then there was the surprise announcer of the Steelers’ pick. Ryan Shazier walked to the podium with his fiancee to make the pick. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out. It’s front and center on If you can watch it and not tear up, you’re a hard-hearted person, is all I can say.

And of course many are tearing up, in a different sense, over the pick itself. It absolutely came out of nowhere—rather like the Ryan Shazier pick, actually. But even more so. Most don’t have anything against Terrell Edmunds, only that they felt he should have been taken in the third round. The Steelers, obviously, didn’t feel that way, nor, apparently, did they feel comfortable trading down and taking a chance on him being gone. (Or perhaps they couldn’t find any trade partners.)

I’ve read a bit of the analysis, and here’s what stood out to me:

Edmunds is a hybrid safety who can play at the line of scrimmage and can play some man coverage.

He is in the super high character mold of recent drafts. The man he and his brother Trumaine (who was taken by the Bills at Pick 16,) trained with the same guy, and according to Mike Mayock said that the two young men were the politest and nicest young men he’d ever worked with. With any luck this means that Edmunds will say “I’m sorry” when he’s forced to snatch a ball away from an opposing receiver.

Because yes, he has ball skills. Not so much last year as in 2016. But it turns out there’s a reason—he was playing with an injured shoulder for the whole season, until he finally had to give up and have the surgery. Kevin Colbert said they were impressed by this, and I assume they are thinking his 2016 tape is more realistic, assuming Edmunds is healthy.

And this also demonstrates his commitment to the team—that he would continue to play, knowing he couldn’t play as well, and that it was going to hurt his draft stock.

And finally, he was responsible for lining up the defense, and apparently was very good at it. His plus communication skills were undoubtedly one of the things that attracted Tomlin and Colbert to him.

Well, there’s no telling whether he will turn out to be a Jarvis Jones or a (hopefully luckier) Ryan Shazier. You could pretty much say that about anybody they took. But hopefully a similar scenario will play out to Shazier’s draft year, in that many thought the Steelers might take Stephon Tuitt in the first round and were outraged at the pick. And instead the Steelers got both men*. I’m hopeful that someone they had highly graded will fall to them in the second round.

We will see. In the meantime, it’s going to be hard to top last night, in terms of sheer Pittsburgh sports drama.

And now I really am shutting this down. Unless, of course, the Steelers’ next three picks all come from my mock drafts. Who knows what I would do then?

*They still have Shazier. He of course will not be able to play this season. And very possibly not ever. Coming back from an injury like that when you’re a player whose game is predicated on blazing speed is extremely difficult, in terms of whether you can ever be the same player. One can’t help but think of Sean Spence. If I were Shazier’s fiancee I would be praying every chance I got that he never walks onto another football field, at least in a uniform. But watching his indomitable spirit is inspiring for everyone, and the Steelers seem determined to involve and utilize him as much as possible.

Momma’s Mocks, Round 7

Hang in there, everyone—just a few more hours before something actually football-related begins! (The picture is a screenshot from, taken right before I posted this. It will be much closer by the time most of you read this.) I’ll finish up with some 7th round possibilities, drawn mainly from the guys the Steelers took an extra look at. Here goes:

One position that hasn’t been addressed at all in my mocks is a development project for the offensive line. I haven’t checked out the rugby player yet, but I’m really hoping he’ll make the cut. My Welsh son-in-law is obsessed with the idea of seeing American football players play rugby, so at least he can see it the other way around. So let’s begin with him:

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Momma’s Mocks, Round 5

E58DFFA7-A947-45EA-8E9D-AF40E2BF9DA4.jpegWould you buy a used car from this man?

Proceeding on the same assumption as yesterday’s mock, I’m going to assume that there are no trades, and that the Steelers drafted my top picks in each round. (That would be the day!) Which means we now have a safety, an OLB, and an ILB. Perhaps not in the order some would have preferred, but that’s the breaks. Given that the biggest and most obvious holes are now fortuitously filled, we can spend some time on special teams aces and perhaps a project running back or wide receiver. The latter would give us the opportunity to see if the Steelers’ recent success was possibly due to having Richard Mann on staff. In fairness, I should point out that Mann didn’t join the Steelers’ staff until early 2013, so he didn’t have a hand in the drafting of guys such as Antonio Brown.

I was originally going to put Rounds 5 and 7 together, but with two picks in each round that’s a lot of guys to look at. So let’s get busy!

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Momma’s Mock Draft, Rounds 2 and 3

img_2692We are getting down to the wire here, and it’s time to make some choices. I gave four for my first round, but this was in large part because I had to cover the two ILBs, which I hadn’t done before. There will be two choices per round for 2 and 3.

In some ways they are interchangeable. There are usually more bargains to be found in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and naturally if any of the first-round choices were to fall to the second round it would be shocking if the Steelers didn’t snap them up, even in the case of the tight end. Another sort of wild card is that Kevin Colbert just stated in the last few days that they aren’t ruling out drafting a quarterback, even with their first pick.

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Momma’s Mock for Real: Round 1

When I have written past editions of my mocks I’ve generally begun at the back end, so to speak, and worked my way up to the first round pick, thus hopefully generating mounting excitement and enthusiasm in my readers. (I actually typed “hopelessly” in the above sentence before correcting it. I think my subconscious is not quite as delusional as my conscious mind…) This year I’m just going to plunge right in.

And yes, I realize I haven’t yet covered Round 7 in my “Steelers interest” series, but I think we can all live with that. I’ll feature all my honorable mentions in that post, which, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, will go up on Thursday.

I will attempt to build the excitement in today’s post by progressing through my also-rans before finally putting up my top pick, so hang in there.

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Fives are Fine—Momma’s Mock Part 4

I noted with interest that Post-Gazette beat writer Ray Fittipaldo’s latest mock draft contained Troy Fumigalli as his honorable mention for the fifth round. Which would obviously be just fine with Momma. This is another way of saying that by the fifth round (and as you all may recall, the Steelers don’t have a fourth-round pick this year, unless they trade for one) there is really no way of saying who is going to be left.

The Steelers have hit on some great players in the fifth round, perhaps never more so than one of their fifth-round picks* in 2010, a little guy from a little school. Antonio Brown has gone on to become the best receiver in the league—or next best, if you’re a Falcons fan, but scarcely anybody is.

*See the mea culpa in the comments...

And while they have also “wasted” a lot of picks in the fifth round, one has already long before reached the point where you are more or less taking a shot in the dark. And after all, if there were some way to make it a sure thing, it would take all the fun out of the draft.

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Visiting the Prospects: Digging into the Third Round (Momma’s Mocks Part 3)

In Part 2 of this series we looked at two players the Steelers took an interest in this spring—S Justin Reid and DB Duke Dawson. My assumption is that they would likely need to be taken in the first and second rounds, respectively, if the Steelers really wanted them. (And I realize that the Steelers are not going to take two defensive backs in a row, and certainly not in the top two rounds. Even if they are pretty dang good-looking.)

So once again I’m referring to Dropthehammer’s post on Behind the Steel Curtain, which lists every player the Steelers are known to have talked to and gives a bit of information about them. Since we have three more rounds (and five more picks) to go, let’s get started. Here are the players the Steelers have spoken to in Round 3 who didn’t already get mentioned in the previous article. (My theory was that the Steelers would likely have to take a player they really want a round before their projection, assuming they grade out near the top of the round.) So of course some of the Round 2 guys might turn out to be available at pick No. 28 in Round 3—you never know.

A year or two ago a guy who was being mocked to various teams in the lower end of Round 1 and the top of Round 2 went undrafted, and as far as I know there was no particular reason, like a felony charge just before the draft or anything.

On the other hand, the Steelers have shown a willingness to “overdraft” someone they like. For many, T.J. Watt was a reach in the first round. I don’t think anybody thinks this is true now.

But I didn’t mean to get into a discussion about the vagarities of the drafting process. Let’s get to it. There are five players left from the Round 3 list (after I bumped a couple of them up to Round 2:

  • ILB Marcus Allen*
  • ILB Dorian O’Daniel
  • S Tre Flowers
  • TE Will Dissly
  • TE Troy Fumagalli

*Allen was presented by Dropthehammer as a possible candidate, despite no apparent interest from the Steelers, as he is local (Penn State) and a meeting may have occurred. He has been mocked to the Steelers by more than one draft guy, so I thought I would go with it. And as it happens he did visit, just a day or so after the BTSC article went up.

On the same day they also hosted S Tarvarius Moore, and since he projects as a Round 2-3 guy I’ll add him here.

Here are the guys who made my initial cuts—Allen, Dissly, Moore, and Fumigalli. Of the four, only Allen and Moore were invited for a visit. Since I can’t really cover all four, I need to do some further pruning. I’ve decided to keep one safety and one TE, and I’m going with Moore and Fumigalli.

TE Troy Fumigalli

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Visiting the Prospects: Momma’s Mock Draft Part 2—Rounds 1-2

In Part 1 I put forward for your consideration three players I haven’t seen mocked to the Steelers in my fairly wide-ranging survey of the most recent mock drafts. These players were judged on a combination of BLA [aka Best Looking Player Available] and potential usefulness to the Steelers.

Before I start my discussion of the players who various draft pundits think the Steelers could use, I thought it might be interesting to look over the players the Steelers themselves appear to be interested in.

Of course, teams play their cards pretty close to the chest, but it’s pretty difficult to obscure the fact that they have taken the time to talk to a given player.

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The Real Issues Facing the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers

By Ivan Cole

I have written previously about the ‘fake news’ that rises this time of the year concerning the Steelers and the rest of the NFL. We are still some distance from clarity as to all the operative narratives that will fully describe the 2018 season, but some of the potentialities are obvious even as the off-season conditioning effort is just commencing, and we are still weeks away from the draft.

Whither Shazier?

Ryan Shazier will not play for the Steelers in 2018, but the trajectory of his life and NFL career may well impact this season and the organization for years to come. If you are young or otherwise not much up on the history of the franchise you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the first time that a player and the organization faced a verdict of ‘may never play again’. Taking a look at the two most notable examples we learn something uplifting and important about the human spirit and how two men and the leadership of the Steelers organization responded to these challenges.

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