Poll Question: With the 15th pick in the 2014 NFL player selection meeting, the Pittsburgh Steelers will select:Answer #1: Darqueze Dennard, CB (36%) Answer #2: Justin Gilbert, CB (27%) Answer #3: Kyle Fuller, CB (10%) Answer #4: Odell Beckham, WR (0%) Answer #5: Eric Ebron, TE (0%) Answer #6: None of the above (27%)
Sports Joey: James Franklin has been quite a phenomenon on the recruiting trail. In you were to guess, is Penn State a destination job for him, or could you see him jumping back to the SEC or NFL within a few years?
Jerry Micco: Franklin has been tremendous on the recruiting trail. He's reeled in players the like of which PSU hasn't seen in many years. Very charismatic guy and recruits take a liking to him and his staff right away, it seems. Now, with recruits, you never know how they'll turn out once they start to play. Just a caveat. And Franklin hasn't coached a game yet at PSU, so we'll see how that goes. Can't go to the NFL or back to the SEC (NFL Lite) unless you have some success at PSU if you're Franklin. But I think he genuinely likes being at Penn State.
Gus: Jerry, why do we need umpires anymore? A play right in front of him and the home plate umpire misses the call.
Jerry Micco: Because despite the use of replay, those guys get it right probably 98 percent of the time. At first, I thought Marte was safe, then I thought maybe Posey got him on the arm as he swiped the ball upward. I'm sure the umpire thought that, too. But, replay got it right, so the Pirates get a win. Imagine if it had been in force for the Jerry Meals play in Atlanta a couple of seasons back?
The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a good week. I am sure the draft will take up most of the Chat. I know we are only 5 weeks into the season but it appears that the Pirates have dug themselves a hole to big to get out. Your thoughts.
Jerry Micco: It's always tough to get out of a hole as deep as 8-games back because you then have to win series after series to make it up. The law of averages then catches up with you, and you start to slide again. Problem is, you win 2 out of 3, and you only gain one game. You need sweeps, and I'm not sure this team is built to sweep many 3-game series. The pitching is too spotty.
Dick Haley: I can't see any of the players on the poll being there when the Steelers draft. Colbert has stated as such they are trading down. Who then have they identified to select that we don't know about?
Jerry Micco: I'd bet Cooks, Beckham and Fuller are all there at 15. Possibly Dennard, too. And while Colbert has said they'd "like" to trade down, they have to find a partner that wants to do it. And if they find that partner, will that team then give them what they want? And will the Steelers still believe if they trade with that team, can they get the player they want trading back X number of spaces? You take a big risk when you trade down.
Sports Joey: Stephon Tuitt would be a steal in the second round and if available, should take priority over a tall receiver. Do you think the Steelers agree?
Jerry Micco: They might if he's the best player on their board. They need defensive linemen, and Tuitt is certainly one of the better DEs out there. But if, say, Kelvin Benjamin is still on the board, it might be tough for them to pass on him. You might see them take him over Tuitt in that case.
The Chief: Don't understand all the fuss about Staal's cross check on Sid. What we should be talking about is how none of his fellow team mates stood up and took care of Staal. You know old school hockey.
Jerry Micco: Well, the fuss is it was a cheap shot, so there is that. As for that teammates standing up for him, I think guys are more careful about fights in the playoffs because of possible suspensions. Notice how there is very little to no fighting in the playoffs. The goon type players usually don't play come playoff time.
JamesinNYC: I suddenly feel good about the Pens, why because of Fleury looking in the zone (do people say that anymore haha). Am I right?
Jerry Micco: Fleury has looked very sharp this series and certainly has the past two games. His angles are excellent, and the team has played well in front of him. And it doesn't hurt that the Rangers are not a great offensive team that is pretty worn out. That said, they have some dangerous offensive players and they are going to be desperate tonight. The Penguins need to bring their A game again to get out of NY up 3-1 in the series.
Ray Miller: Is it just me or is Charlie Morton hard to watch? He hit the pitcher Tim Hudson. I can't see him being a consistent winning pitcher.
Jerry Micco: He was effectively wild last night, but it was by far one of his best outings. Actually, he was effective last time, too. He went 4.2 innings of shutout ball before the rain delay cost him. I thought Morton had a chance to win 15 games this year, but he's been inconsistent. I think, despite the wildness last night, you are seeing him pitch better and if he can keep that up, you'll see him get better as the season progresses.
NFL Insider: Jerry, my contacts in the Steelers organization say the Steelers will be trading down and selecting Marquis Lee.
Jerry Micco: The trade down part of Colbert's talk has gotten a lot of attention and it is in the area of 22-23 where the Steelers may find a partner. Philly and KC are in those spots, respectively, and both are looking to move up. And the Steelers might be able to get guys they like in those spots. I think the draft is deeper in WRs than CBs, so I'd try to get a CB earlier, but Marquis Lee is a very good receiver, and would be good value at 22 or 23. So would Kyle Fuller, the CB from Va. Tech.
Sports Joey: Have the Penguins turned a corner with the way they've played the past few games, or is it just a function of the Rangers being a somewhat soft, fatigued group?
Jerry Micco: I think the Penguins are playing better, and I think they have had two very good matchups thus far in the playoffs. Avoiding Philadelphia in both rounds was such a break for them. And should they knock off the Rangers, which I think they'll do in 6 games, and the Canadiens take care of Boston, you could see the Pens back in the Cup final.
Guest: Johnny Manziel looks like a High School QB to me, no way he can withstand NFL punishment. Why do NFL teams reach on QB's? Wouldn't they be better served to find an experienced QB who's been in the game a few years, ala Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Alex Smith.
Jerry Micco: Because guys like Manziel have an X factor to them, such as leadership and winning. Would I take him in the top 5 of the draft? No, because I don't think he could take the pounding the NFL dishes out to QBs. If I were Jacksonville and looking to put fannies in the seats, and I wanted to market someone would I draft him? Yes, because he'll do that and he might win some games for you, too. But if he slides past Oakland at No. 5, he may drop like a stone on Thursday night.
The Chief: Your thoughts on Buster Olney's comment the MLB should look at shortening the game to 7 innings to more align itself to current trends and possibly save pitcher's arms?
Jerry Micco: If the concern is pitchers' arms, increase rosters to 28 and go to 6- or 7-man rotations. Owners will hate it, but that reduces pitchers to once-a-week players. They play 7 innings in high school. This is the big leagues. Play nine, come on.
Sports Joey: Speaking of hard to watch, it's clear that Rob Scuderi has become a liability out there. Will Bylsma do the right thing and sit him down once Orpik is ready?
Jerry Micco: I think Scuderi has done OK the past few games. He's certainly not the guy he was 3 or 4 years ago, and not the guy who is deserving of $4 million a year, but he's not become a liability. When Orpik returns, they'll probably send Bortuzzo back to the bench, which is unfortunate as he's played very well in Orpik's absence.
JeanPronovost: Jerry, Give that the Rangers' Staal is the brother of former Pen Jordan Staal, should we infer that there is/was some bad blood between the Staal clan and Crosby, perhaps due to the fact Crosby got most of the attention, and Jordan less of it, while Jordan was in Pgh? that the woodlacing
Jerry Micco: I think that's a pretty big leap, and I'd not go there. Sid Crosby gets more attention than anyone in the NHL. I just think Staal is a tremendous competitor and his frustrations got the most of him. I think it was a cheap shot, but if the Penguins are smart, they won't spend their time trying to go after Staal, but worry themselves playing tough defense and keeping the pressure on the Rangers to get an early lead.
JeanPronovost: Jerry, I hope you and your team will do a live chat during the draft. Are those your plans? If so, who will join you and when will it begin?
Jerry Micco: I will do live chats on Thursday and Friday. We are up in the air about Saturday, though someone will be doing a live chat. Dan Gigler will be there some as will Ray Fittipaldo. Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac will have the main coverage and will do videos at the end of the day. So we'll have plenty of coverage in print and online from the Post-Gazette. We'll be active on Twitter, too.
Ralph The Plumber: Jerry, According to Bill Pollian Eric Ebron can't block. Taking a TE would make no sense to me. And a CB is a gamble. WR needs to be the pick in a pass happy league.
Jerry Micco: Polian is right, Ebron is not much of a blocker. But he could be a flex TE and in a pass-happy league, he could be a weapon down the middle of the field much like Gronk in New England. WRs have a long learning curve in the NFL. Very few have great rookie years. CBs, if you can get good ones, are tough to find. I think there are some good ones with this draft. If you can snag one on round 1, you take one.
JeanPronovost: Jerry, I keep hearing Dennard is a beter cover corner than Gilbert. Yet Gilbert is significantly faster and Dennard's film indicates he grabs receivers in a manner unacceptable to NFL referees. In my mind, Gilbert is a slam dunk choice at 15 and a good deal better than Dennard. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: Dennard is the more physical player and may fit the Steelers scheme better than Gilbert. True, Gilbert has more speed and has some kick return ability, but isn't as strong as Dennard and is not as good a tackler, I don't think. And if you play CB in the Steelers defense, you had better be able to tackle.
The Chief: Jerry, do any of the prospective Steeler draft picks that are being thrown around have any character issues?
Jerry Micco: Every time I see them connected with Michigan OT Taylor Lewan, bells and whistles go off. He's got some off-field issues that have been chronicled. Other than that, nothing of real note.
Doug Froebel: What's the big difference with the Bucs this year? The magic just doesn't seem there this year. Time to bring up Polanco?
Jerry Micco: I think the biggest difference is the bullpen isn't nearly as strong as it has been the past two seasons. Nor has the starting pitching been as good. The starters are on pace to win something like 25 games this year, which is incredible. To me, the pitching has not been very solid and certainly not consistent and that had been a Pirates strength the past couple of years.
JamesinNYC: Dennard is also a top character guy, my personal pick.
Jerry Micco: He is a high character guy and the Steelers really like him. I think if he's there, no matter who else is on the board, he's going to be the pick. But other teams know this, too, and you are now seeing him going anywhere from 12-15, so we'll see.
Gus: Johnny Manziel playing for the Browns sounds like a disaster in the making. Does Jimmy Haslem make that pick for business?
Jerry Micco: He might, but again, the Browns will look over the landscape to see what else is there. They aren't as desperate as Jacksonville for business. And they have a later pick in round 1 to snag a QB. The Browns could luck into Sammy Watkins, the very talented WR from Clemson at No. 4.
The Chief: What was the reason the Pens/Rangers had to play back to back. Availability of the Garden?
Jerry Micco: Yes. Essentially, they had 3 days to get in 2 games. So they decided to go back to back on Sunday/Monday and take the day off on Tuesday. Part of that is the close travel proximity of Pittsburgh to New York.
Bob Smizik Jr: Will Ed Bouchette tweet out the pick before Goodell announces it?
Jerry Micco: Someone will. Though, ESPN and NFL Network reporters have made an agreement with the league not to do that for the first 2 rounds. And we aren't always made privvy to that pick in the media room at Steelers HQ.
Guest: Your Pens bloggers took a 9 hour train trip to Madison Square Garden? Who in the PG Sports Department approves such travel?
Jerry Micco: I do..
The Chief: Speaking of Bob Smizik, why is he constantly saying Dan Bylsma will be fired. if he doen't reach a certin level in the playoffs? I think has done an outstanding job this season coaching a team that lost 500+ man games
Jerry Micco: You'll have to ask Bob. He has a comments section on his freelance column and he often engages commenters there. I do think Bylsma will have to continue to show his mettle as a coach because of some poor performances of the past. But I think if he passes two rounds this year, he's certainly safe into next season.
The Chief: So the flow of this Draft will be determined if there is a run on QBs or not?
Jerry Micco: I believe so. If the QBs do not go early, teams like the Steelers may see all the guys they want gone by the time they get to 15. At one point, you saw at least three QBs -- Bridgewater, Bortles and Manziel -- in the top 10. Now, maybe one of those guys is guaranteed top 10. That will push more position players into that group. Be interesting to see who moves up into those slots, or if teams like Jacksonville, Cleveland, St. Louis and Minnesota pass on QBs early.
The Chief: OK Jerry, with the 15th pick in the draft the Pittsburgh Steelers take......
Jerry Micco: Darqueze Dennard if he's there. If he's gone and Gilbert is gone, they'll try to trade down 6 or 7 spots and take Kyle Fuller. If they can't trade, then you likely will see a WR like Cooks from Oregon St. or Odell Beckham. Or, maybe they take Fuller anyway. They do like him. But I think they'd like him more at 21 or 22.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to join me today. As always, many terrific questions today. I'll be doing live draft chats Thursday starting at 7:45 p.m. and Friday starting at 6:45 p.m., then back here next Wednesday at noon. Hope to see you at those events! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco