Monthly Archives: April 2016

Ivan’s Accidental Vacation

by Ivan Cole

It was an accident because not only was it not planned, I was unaware of what was going on until I was in the midst of it.

I haven’t contributed much to this site in weeks. In part this was by design. I serve on the board of an organization that was sponsoring a conference in the beginning of April and there is also a book project related to that, so I knew that a temporary reordering of priorities was necessary. Then I was asked to speak and help lead a retreat at the last minute, so that was an unanticipated diversion of energy as well.

But what began as short term reduction in production became a virtual sabbatical, not only from writing about football but, with the exception of keeping up with one or two big stories, getting away from the game entirely.

In hindsight, I think I needed it.

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The Pick is In—And Momma Approves…

artie-burns-1000Apparently the Bengals’ sick need to stymie the Steelers at every turn has not been assuaged by the suspension of Vontaze Burfict. And as I think about it, why would it? It probably just made them even madder and more determined to get one up on their rival to the east.

And so they took the player everyone was saying the Steelers were totally enamored of, William Jackson III. It makes me wonder just how far the gamesmanship goes. Do the Steelers pick a player that seems to make sense for them and then appear to fall all over themselves in the hopes a rival will pick him up and leave free the guy they really want? Who knows? All I know is, they didn’t bring Artie Burns to Pittsburgh for a visit. (Mind you, they didn’t bring Jackson either. But they did spend a lot of time with him when they went out for his pro day.)

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The Final Word: Momma’s 2016 Mock Draft

Over the course of the past several weeks I’ve carefully considered quite a passel of fine-looking young men. All of them are not only good-looking but have impressive football credentials (at least when you consider where they are likely to be drafted) and are, insofar as one can judge, high-character prospects.

This was all very enjoyable, but now comes the hard part—whittling it down to a single guy per Steelers pick. Some of the guys’ draft stocks have been moving up or down over the course of the last few weeks, but let’s be honest—nobody really knows what’s going to happen. You could even argue, given the two big-time trades for the No. 1 overall and No. 2 overall slots, that nobody knows for sure who the top two teams are going to take. Laremy Tunsil, the pre-trades consensus No. 1 pick, has just been ousted by Carson Wentz, who a few weeks ago was Rob Rang’s “sleeper pick”. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem to me that you can call a guy going in the top five players of the draft a “sleeper pick.”

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5 Smoldering Questions: Draft Day Edition

steelers_draft_needsby Hombre de Acero

The 2016 NFL Draft is here and the Steelers are poised to make their pick at slot number 25. There will be a lot of sound and fury to pass before Roger Goodell names the Steelers pick, and in the meantime, this corner of Steelers Nation must wrestle with these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers draft.

1. The Pittsburgh Steelers top draft needs this year are cornerback, safety and defensive tackle/nose tackle. It’s the Steelers turn to pick. They have a player at each position with an equal grade. Which position gets the pick?

2. If outwards signs are anything to go by, and they may not be, the Steelers don’t seem particularly concerned about their running back depth chart going into the draft. But given that the Steelers have now started into three straight post-season contests having to start their 4th string running back, do you agree with their outward sentiments?

Questions 3 and 4 come with required reading, be forewarned.

3. Last spring, Jim Reineking of rated the five worst  NFL draft classes of the last 25 years. In these drafts, you can see how the Steelers did drafting from the worst drafts here. Given that the drafts span the Cowher-Donahoe, Cowher-Colbert, and Tomlin-Colbert eras, what does the Steelers performance in these supposedly “bad drafts” say to you?

4. Not surprisingly, Reineking also ranked the best draft classes of the last 25 years. The Steelers’ performance in these drafts is interesting, but they arguably did better in the previous groups. How do you explain the difference?

5. One of the more interesting questions for the Steelers heading into the 2016 NFL draft is how the team will address or not address the outside linebacker position. Have you seen enough from Jarvis Jones or do you think that outside linebacker should be a priority?

That’s it. Don’t forget to show your work…

Mocking the Draft: Day Three Odds and Ends

via foxsports—that’s a lotta beef…

More precisely, I’m going to cover defensive tackles and ends. That will be it for this year. All that remains is to publish my final Momma’s Mock Draft tomorrow, and then wait and see whether Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and all have taken my advice or gone off on their own as usual.

Once again this will be a combination of players suggested for the Steelers after my original Rounds 1-3 posts were written, along with Day 3 prospects mocked to the Steelers. After, naturally, they have been subjected to my usual winnowing process. I know you only want to see the best of the best!

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Dancing With the Stars: Is This the End for Antonio?

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.33.06 PMLast week was a huge disappointment for Antonio fans. His dance, a cha cha with switched-up partner Karina, was fun, energetic, exciting, and fell flat with the judges. They criticized his timing, his technique, and the dance itself (which really falls on pro dancer/choreographer Karina). He received the lowest score of the evening, while usual partner Sharna received the highest—the first ten given all season—with temporary partner Nyle.

This week it was back to the drawing board for the reunited AB and Sharna, and let’s hope they have figured out how to make the judges happy again. The audience loves him, of course, and Karina was obviously stunned and upset with the harsh assessment of the judges.

But before we look at this week’s dances, let’s see how Hines Ward did in Week 6, back in 2011.

The answer was, just fine:

It was “Guilty Pleasures” night, and each couple danced to a song that the celebrity is a bit ashamed to admit that they like. (I think that was the point, anyhow.) Hines danced a Viennese Waltz to “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, which he admitted that he likes to belt out in the shower. (He also said that he thinks of the water as his fans – not sure where that’s going.) [Ironically, Wanyá, consistently one of the top male contestants this season, sings with Boyz II Men.]

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Mocking the Draft: Day Three Offense

The Aussie Invasion

It’s time to look at some offensive players.  As usual this will be a combination of players suggested for the Steelers after my original Rounds 1-3 posts were written, along with Day 3 prospects mocked to the Steelers.

After, naturally, they have been subjected to my usual winnowing process. I know you only want to see the best of the best!

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Mocking the Draft: Day Three Linebackers

cory jamesThe draft is fast approaching, which means the draft posts will now come thick and fast. My apologies to those of you who don’t care about the draft. The Sunday music posts will resume next week. For that, I apologize to those of you who don’t like music…

Things get really interesting now. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff from the abundance of Day Three players?

Furthermore, as pundits revise their mock drafts, different players keep showing up for the Steelers in the top three rounds. I added the names of some previously unconsidered players and culled them according to my usual high standards. I will add in the survivors with their position group.

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Mocking the Draft: More Defensive Backs

Here are the players left standing who are mocked to the Steelers in the first three rounds who I have not previously covered. The number preceding the name is the round they were projected in:

1. Reggie Ragland, LB (PFF)
2. T.J. Green, S (cbssports)
2. Karl Joseph, S (Fittipaldo)
2. Kevin Byard, S (PFF Steelers Big Board)
3. Artie Burns, CB
3. Vonn Bell, S (nfl spinzone)
3. Jihad Ward, DE (bleacher report)
3. Jalen Mills, S (fansided)
3. Jonathan Jones, CB (The Point of Pittsburgh)
3. Harlan Miller, S (steelerswire)

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Mocking the Draft: Stabbing in the Dark

Here be dragons…

The draft is fast approaching, which means the draft posts will now come thick and fast. My apologies to those of you who don’t care about the draft…

Things get really interesting now. How does one determine who might be appropriate choices for the Steelers on Day Three?

There can be some unexpected bargains as draft stock falls. But we’ve long ago passed the “sure-fire” prospects and are mainly looking at projects of one kind or another. And as we all know, guys are projects for a reason, and sometimes the reasons don’t add up to a useful player, at least in the timeframe necessary in the era of shortened rookie contracts.

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