PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mike Tomlin doesn’t speak for a quarterback like a coach in the market.
Also unknown with Ben Roethlisberger’s status beyond its upcoming 18th season. Also with backup Mason Rudolph in the last year of his contract. Also with Josh Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins on one-year contracts.
After General Manager Kevin Colbert said Monday the Steelers could “absolutely” add another young face to the mix during this week’s NFL draft, Tomlin sounded like a coach who believes the Steelers have already picked one.
“From a coaching standpoint, it’s exciting when one of these guys (in the quarterback room) is a 22-year-old guy like Dwayne Haskins, who was recently recognized around the world as a first-round talent,” said Tomlin. “We look forward to working with him, seeing what his skills are and helping him too.”
The Steelers picked up Haskins in Washington in January after a spectacular flameout. With the 15th overall win in 2019, Haskins lasted less than two seasons in the country’s capital. Washington cut him off last December after an uneven game on the field and an uncertain verdict.
He’ll get the chance to start over with Pittsburgh, though the Steelers insist they are in no rush to start over at quarterback. The 39-year-old Roethlisberger restructured his contract in March to compensate for a salary cap of nearly $ 42 million. This was commended by Colbert for his selflessness as he followed an example for veterans like linebackers Vince Williams, Tyson Alualu, and JuJu Was Smith-Shoemaker. Williams returned after being cut as part of a salary adjustment, while Alualu and Smith-Schuster both chose to come back instead of leaving after they hit the open market.
The decisions reaffirmed the idea that the Steelers will remain in win-now mode, which means the draft will likely meet their most pressing needs – especially along the offensive line – near the top of the draft rather than begin the search for Roethlisberger’s eventual replacement.
Colbert called the class for centers “unusually deep,” a good thing because Pittsburgh is in the market after perennial pro bowler Maurkice Pouncey retired in February, finishing last in the NFL in yards rushing and yards per carry – is a priority, although Tomlin pointed out that adding talent isn’t the only possible solution.
“We are able to perform better than us, apart from the players,” said Tomlin. “Schematics, formations, and the things we do to give ourselves a strategic advantage need to be improved, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Pittsburgh let offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s contract expire and promoted quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to the position. Canada has had some success in generating an effective floor game in previous stops, particularly on the other side of the building the Steelers share with the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers were an average of 225 meters on the ground during Canada’s year-long stay in Pittsburgh in 2016.
Better on-site production is crucial if the Steelers want to take some of the pressure off Roethlisberger. Having a back that makes a difference would help. They haven’t had one – at least not consistently – since Le’Veon Bell decided to sit out in a contract dispute in 2018.
Bell was a second round election in 2013. The Steelers haven’t been more behind than in the third round since then. There’s an opportunity that changes this time.
“I think if you look at the Hall of Fame runners, most of these guys were ridden in high laps,” said Colbert.
Just don’t expect the Steelers to trade from their 24th overall win to secure a running back or anyone else. Pittsburgh has five picks in the top 140. Giving up a pair to improve a few spots in the first isn’t optimal for a club that needs immediate contributors.
One thing the Steelers won’t do after 100+ videoconferencing with prospects is immersing themselves in what lies ahead. Colbert called bogus designs “a complete waste of time”.
Instead, the Steelers will spend most of Wednesday building a list of 24 players who might be available if they pick the 24th. The odds are those that will still be available when on the watch that will take them, regardless of location.
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