Post-NFL Combine, where do the Steelers go in round 1 of the draft?
Wide receiver (33.3%)
Outside linebacker (33.3%)
Secondary (CB or S) (22.2)
Running back (11.1)
Inside linebacker (0%)
Offensive line (0%)
James_Pittsburgh: I hate to harp on the same old thing, but the Penguins are not going anywhere in the playoffs unless they can improve their defense.
Jerry Micco: And cut down on penalties. I'm not sure Mark Eaton gives them what they need, either, though he's always been a great shot blocker. My concern is that they aren't all the physical and their most physical guy, Brooks Orpik, looks a bit slower this year. That said, Bylsma wants guy who can move the puck, not guys who can hand out brutish hits. And top D are tough to acquire. There aren't many and teams don't give them away.
James_Pittsburgh: Do the New York Jets end up keeping Mark Sanchez for lack of better options?
Jerry Micco: I think they tied their wagon there 3 years ago and need to try to make him better. Last year may have been an anomaly. I think Sanchez is better than that and maybe the fact that Tebow is gone will help Sanchez.
James_Pittsburgh: Arizona, Cleveland, and New York Jets all need quarterbacks. Who will they turn to? Cleveland may stick with Brandon Weeden for lack of a better option. It will be interesting to see who Bruce Arians goes with at QB.
Jerry Micco: There are a couple of guys in this draft who could play at the next level in Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, but neither will be the prospect Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or even Russell Wilson turned out to be. Buffalo needs a QB, too, and you could see Smith, WVU's multi-dimentional QB, land there. Arizona's not taking Barkley though, as every mock I see has them taking an OL.
James: People are saying Big Ben will restructure ... he is in the drivers seat ... I believe he will ask and Steelers will do a "Brady" like extension ... adding years, etc. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: I think Ben wants to win and he knows that if he restructures now he gets some money up front, and the team can sign the players they need to be competitive. I think he'll want some years at some point, too. The Steelers need that immediate cap help and they can restructure they way to it. But you can get there by cutting veterans, too, which is a tougher thing to do, but I think they need to do it.
James: What do you see Pitt going in the regular season now that the schedule is out. I see 6-6 at best.
Jerry Micco: I think that's about right. Pitt has some good players back on defense and some on offense, but the competition is much stiffer in the ACC. I don't think they are a team that will go 4-8, but I could see anywhere from 7-5 to 5-7. Nevertheless, this is a great move for Pitt football and the FSU opener is a nice jewel in the crown.
James_Pittsburgh: It looks like Bruce Arians will have to make due with John Skelton. That isn't very promising.
Jerry Micco: It takes time to develop as a QB in the NFL, and Skelton will have a good teacher in Arians. But you never know who will be a cap casualty and if a decent No. 2 QB will be out there come mid-March. The Cardinals may be looking that way, or could take a lesser QB deeper into the draft and hope he works out. Been done before, but it's a long shot.
James: What are your thoughts on Harrison, TroyP, and Colon
Jerry Micco: I'm in the minority on Harrison. I'd cut him and draft one of the very good OLBs in the draft, which you could get at No. 17, and play him. Or see if Worilds is the answer there. He showed decent pass rush skills last season, but he's not good vs. the run. Polamalu should stay. Still has some left. Colon is always injured, and I think they can cut him. But if they do, they will have to once again draft high for an OL. Likely in round 2 or 3.
Ken: Mike Florio was all over what is really going on in the Tom Brady contract on PFT yesterday--he actually isn't giving up much--excellent reporting on this show. And their ex jocks intelligently lay it on the line unlike the other two networks.
Jerry Micco: All that, and Tom Brady's wife is a legit billionaire, which few NFL players can brag about their spouses. Brady has always been a team-first guy. He likes those rings. But he will always get his money, and deservedly so.
JamesinNYC: The cap is going to go up in 2014 but it will go up for everyone making resignings more expensive, I think the Steelers need to rethink their plan, they have to have some austerity to get healthy again long term. Do you think they miscalculated the current cap and now they are playing catchup?
Jerry Micco: Maybe a bit. I think a lot of teams did. Seems like the cap could now exceed $123 million for this year, which is more than $2 million over what teams thought it could be. That's a good thing for the Steelers. But I think they should unload some of the high-salary veterans. I know, however, if they do that they could have a down season or two. But long-term, if they draft right, they will have success again. They are in as tough a spot as you can be right now.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, if you are the Steelers, what do you do to improve for next year?
Jerry Micco: First thing I'd do is try to sign Keenan Lewis. CBs are hard to find and he's gotten better and better each year. With Ike Taylor going into his 11th year, they need to groom another corner. Then I'd tell LaMarr Woodley that whether he likes it, or agrees with it, some teammates think he let everyone down with his offseason work ethic. I'd rework his deal and then tell him to get to work. He's an All-Pro type player when he's 100 percent committed. Then, I'd figure a way to keep Max Starks. He's been the most consistent OL they've had for 3 years, not Pouncey. And I'd draft a really good pass rushing OLB in round 1 and start him for Harrison. All that may make them 8-8 again, but they are all steps in the right direction.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I also am for cutting James Harrison. You have to get younger. even if it sets you back for a year, the team will be better off in the future by playing a rookie or Worilds. I would also make an offer to Greg Jennings once I cut Harrison and Casey Hampton.
Jerry Micco: I believe Hampton has played his last down, or he should have, for the Steelers. Depending on the legal issues of Alameda Ta'amu, he could get a second bite at the apple for this team. Last I checked, he was on the team as a backup to McLendon. And you can find FA nose tackles out there, but it's not easy. There are also a couple in the draft that could be first-rounders if you want to go that route.
James: btw... I think they ask Harrison to take a paycut... they ask TroyP to take a paycut... and they cut Colon outright.
Jerry Micco: All that could very well happen. Ed Bouchette reported that they'd talk to Harrison about that.
Guest: Is the word "austerity" being tossed around too much these days?
Jerry Micco: I think we need some austerity with our use of the word austerity.
James_Pittsburgh: If I am the Steelers, I draft a pass rusher in the first round, a running back in the second round, and depth in rounds 3-7. I also make a contract offer to Greg Jennings after cutting James Harrison.
Jerry Micco: That second-round pick might have to be an OL if you cut Colon and you do not re-sign Starks. Because you get a bit thin on the line unless you draft a guy or pick up a FA. Ramon Foster, I believe, is an unrestricted FA, too, so they could lose him. They will draft a RB, but my guess it will be on Day 3 of the draft, probably in round 4.
Will: Do you think 1960's era NBA players like Russell, Oscar Roberson and Jerry West could be all star types in today's game? I was watching 1970, game 7, LA-NY the other day--really slow, but guys like Frazier and West were talented.
Jerry Micco: Different game, different athletes. Today's guys do this full-time and work hard in the offseason. I loved that era of the NBA: Russell, Wilt, Robertson, Dave Bing, West, Elgin Baylor, etc. But today's players would swallow these guys up with their speed and strength.
Bill: Should I be optimistic about the Pirates? I mean...it's not like Matt Hague or Ross Ohlendorf are the teams being tossed around. This year, it's Sanchez, Liriano, Ingle....ya know...real MLB players....
Jerry Micco: I'd be optimistic in the sense that they have a real chance to finally break the streak. But I don't think they'll make the playoffs. Too many questions with the bullpen and, to an extent, with the starting pitching. They have a nice core of hitters in McCutchen, Alvarez, Walker and Jones, but guys like Marte, Martin and Travis Snider need to contribute more. But at least they are using as you say, real MLB players.
JamesinNYC: Funny that WR/Secondary and OLB are all exactly staying at 33% ?
Jerry Micco: That's where fans see a need, but I think the Steelers are seeing who they are going to sign and who they will cut. That's why OL is on no one's list, but it's gotten on to mine. Especially if Starks is cut. I don't think I could take another year of Doug Legursky being the super-backup guy. Ugh.
JamesinNYC: I think Hampton and Harrison should be back if the price is right. Hampton will be easier to convince, do you think Harrison would take less or is he too proud?
Jerry Micco: He'll take less to stay here, I think. And I think if he wants to stay here, he'll have to take less. Maybe now that he's not injured he can contribute as he once did, but he'd have to prove that to me. I just think there are good OLBs in this draft and the Steelers could snag one at 17. And Harrison is 35.
Bill: If Grilli totally blows up, who is in line to close for the Bucs?
Jerry Micco: A committee of guys, none of which is really a closer. I'd imagine they'd look at Jared Hughes.
Phil: Ravens are too smart to give a ridiculous contract to Flacco, right? I've heard Drew Brees's contract basically strangles the Saints. Isn't 100 million/15 per enough anyway?
Jerry Micco: I'd say more than enough. Flacco earned his money in the playoffs this past season. But as teams are finding out, while you want to pay a franchise QB, you have to be careful not to have one great player and mediocre guys around him. Obviously, these are also guys who you ask to restructure deals all the time. I'd think $15 million/year is more than enough for Joe Flacco.
James: well... the other word thrown around a lot in pittsburgh media is "alarming"...
Jerry Micco: I'm alarmed to hear that.
JamesinNYC: I believe in best player available, I have read some interesting mathmatical proofs, have you ever read them? (QB has to be out of equation though)
Jerry Micco: I've never done math as part of my draft prep. I look at need first and always, unless the guy you need all of a sudden isn't a fit for that round or that draft spot. Meaning, if the Steelers decided to go RB in round 1, I'd try to trade down 8 or so spots and pick up a RB. So you have to put together need and draft position when making a selection.
Bill: sorry for the errors...lol Inge and guys, not teams
James_Pittsburgh: I predict that Brandon Inge doesn't make the team. If so, who makes the team out of spring training?
Jerry Micco: Inge is going to battle with a guy like Josh Harrison for that infield spot. Well, I figure 12 pitchers make it, so there are 13 spots available: Martin, McHenry, Jones, Walker, Barmes, Alvarez, Marte, McCutchen, Snider, Sanchez are in my mind all locks. That leaves 3 more. I'd think Tabata makes it as one extra outfielder. So you could keep Harrison as a backup for Barmes, and Inge to pinch-hit and play IF or OF to rest a guy. Leaves out Pressley and Jerry Sands.
Guest: Do you think there would be a great demand for Harrison if he were to be cut? Age, recent injuries and cost, say there might not be many (I know it only takes 1 team to be interested)
Jerry Micco: I think there will be some interest in him, yes. Team looking for a guy who can still play pretty well, but not with the same impact as he once did would gladly take him. However, I think the Steelers are going to keep him. Seems that's the conventional thinking.
Ken: I'm a little apprehensive about all this willingness to maginalize, even get rid of Harrison. I think he has another great year in him and you can't replace intimidation factor.
Jerry Micco: You may be right, but at what cost? I think he only stays if he restructures. He's not worth a $6.6 million hit anymore. And maybe he has one more good year left in him. Joey Porter did, too. But after that, it was a train ride downhill.
Bill: In response to James, I really can't say QB has to be out. Ben's not getting any younger and another injury leaves us with what,(current roster is Leftwich and Batch), which means relying on a defense again. Don't you have to at least look at a project at QB?
Jerry Micco: Leftwich is a free agent, and won't be resigned. You are left with Batch at 37. I'd not be surprised to see the Steelers take a QB on Day 3, maybe in round 5 or 6. Have to develop someone and you can move Batch to No. 2. Or, scour the FA market for a backup. But they will need a QB.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I would call Josh Harrison about a lock. You don't have a roster without a backup SS. I don't think there is much chance of Jordy Mercer beating out Harrison.
Jerry Micco: That's what will keep Harrison on the roster, the fact that he can play SS and Inge can't. And yes, he's much better than Jordy Mercer. Inge brings a bat off the bench, which the Pirates have desperately needed.
Guest: How soon before we see Cole in the big leagues?
Jerry Micco: I'm going to guess around mid-June, though the Pirates don't seem in a hurry to get him up here. I hear his problem is inconsistency with location, which you can get away with in the minors, but not the bigs. So we'll see how he works out at Indy the first couple of months. The Pirates have a bit of depth on the staff with Locke, McPherson and Karstens. And will get Liriano and Morton back in May/June. So it will give Cole time to work things out. And once he does, he'll be in Pittsburgh.
James_Pittsburgh: Maybe Brad Hawpe will challange Inge for the final spot on the bench?
Jerry Micco: He certainly could, but Inge was an integral player in Oakland's late-season drive last year as a pinch-hitter and fill-in player. I like him a little better than Hawpe.
Bill L: Do you think the team is comfortable with Larry Foote as a starter in 2013. Or with the depth at ILB enough to ignore it in April?
Jerry Micco: I think they are OK with him there for one more year. I'm interested to see how Sean Spence is coming off his terrible knee injury. He was drafted to be a cover ILB for the Steelers. As I said, this is the guy drafted to cover Ray Rice out of the backfield and Gronk when he's in the slot. He was a great speed guy at Miami, but you have to wonder how the knee will respond and how it will affect his speed. Not a great draft for ILBs, but the likely will take one on Day 3.
JamesinNYC: http://people.emich.edu/aross15/math319/player-selection-heuristic-sports-league-draft.pdf Sorry this is pretty tough one, but basically you end up with a lesser team if you pick for need, idea behind it is you miss the pro bowl player fror an OK one based on need....you would never end up with two pro-bowl receivers.
Jerry Micco: Again, I think there's the combo of need and draft position. So is the 5th best OG, which you need, a better pick than the best WR even if you have a good one? Of course not. But that's why teams trade up or down in a draft. Their need doesn't change, but the value of a pick at a certain spot does. Case in point: Steelers move up 7 spots in the draft to take Santonio Holmes. Yes, a need guy, but he was the best WR in a weak WR class. So why not get get a guy who is a need, but not your top need? And it worked.
Guest: How do you think Pitt will do in Big East Tournament?
Jerry Micco: I think they can get a Tuesday bye, but after that all bets are off. Which Pitt team shows up? If the good Pitt team shows up, they can make the semifinals and maybe pull an upset and get into the finals. If the one that lost at home to Notre Dame shows up, they will go out in round 1 (Wednesday). That said, I think they can make the semifinals.
James_Pittsburgh: Other than the bullpen, I see the Opening Day roster as pretty set. I think the rotation will be Burnett, Rodriguez, James Mcdonald, Karstens, and Kyle McPherson until Lirano is ready. And Inge will probably get the final spot on the bench.
Jerry Micco: That will be pretty close to being correct. Unless Jeff Locke beats out McPherson. Right now, they are pretty even, though I like McPherson's stuff more.
James_Pittsburgh: Can the Steelers cut James Harrison anytime or his salary not to count against the cap? Or do they have to cut him by a certain date so his salary doesn't count against the cap?
Jerry Micco: It's complicated, and I won't venture a guess. I think it's more savings if it's after June 5. For some reason, that's a magic date. I'm not that good with the workings of the NFL cap. That's why Omar Kahn should be the Steelers MVP every year. Guy is magic with the cap.
Will: How much are we approx over the cap after a Ben, Timmons restructuring?
Jerry Micco: According to Ed Bouchette's story this morning, those two restructures could save as much as $9 million. But the Steelers are about $12-14 million over the cap. Still have work to do. and by restructuring, they add cap burden in the later years.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, do you think the Pirates would keep Kyle McPherson in the rotation if he has a good April? Then Jeff Karstens can be sent to the bullpen. If McPherson shows he is ready to be a solid Major League starter I see no reason to send him down.
Jerry Micco: I think that's a possibility. The wild card here is Morton. If he's ready to pitch and shows signs of being what he once was, for at least one season, he'd be a viable starting option along with Liriano. Then you may see both Karstens and McPherson go to the pen. A lot of "ifs" right now at the bottom of the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to wrap this up. Thanks for all the terrific questions and for taking the time to talk today. I always appreciate the give and take of the chats. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon for another hour. In the meantime, have a terrific week everybody! Follow me on Twitter @PG_Jerry Micco
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