Gerry Dulac: Good morning everyone. I'm ready to go when you are, so we can start this a little early...
Larry From Lawrenceville: Gerry, did you see that Eddie Boo in his "Ask Ed" blog wrote: "I'm not a fan of drafting nose tackles in the first round, so nix Nix." That is Pulitzer bait! But he also said Dennard is faster than Gilbert, so Pulitzer demerits on that one. My question: If all the cherished DBs and WRs are gone by the 15th pick, is drafting a TE a realistic possibility? I wouldn't think so, only because Eric Ebron doesn't strike me as being all that special. Your thoughts?
Gerry Dulac: I agree with him about the nose tackle, especially this year because of some other needs, but they know they definitely have to do something there to fix the problem that existed last year. No, Dennard is not faster than Gilbert, but he's probably a better cover corner and a more physical player. The Steelers like him and don't be surprised if he doesn't drop into their lap. And, even though I think Eric Ebron can be special, the Steelers are not going to draft him on the first round.
Swissvale Mike: Do you think Ike taylor is even worth 3.5m a year . I would take a chance on woodley for 3.5m but not Taylor
Gerry Dulac: I think Ike is going to have his $7 million salary cut at least in half and I think he can still be a dependable corner. But for a guy who doesn't play the ball or pick the ball, he is not worth any kind of big money Woodley is not a bad value at $3.5 million, but that's assuming he would agree to that amount, which I don't think he would. He can probably get more than that on the free-agent market..
D from Penn Hills: Both Dennard and Evans are sitting on the board at 15. What do you think the Steelers would do?
Gerry Dulac: I think they would take Dennard. He fits more their style and their need -- a boundary corner who often lined in man coverage in Michigan State's defense. Right now, if Mike Evans wasn't available and Dennard was, I believe the Steelers' first pick would be Dennard.
Larry From Lawrenceville: Gerry, I was at the final game of the season (Browns) and watched Jarvis Jones closely. I came away impressed. He seemed plenty fast enough, didn't appear to be overwhelmed, chased ball carriers everywhere, and did what a guy on defense is supposed to do – make tackles. He didn't have any sacks so of course the critics carped. But 3-4 OLBs need help from the DEs to keep the OLBs clean on the pass rush. Which brings me to Ra'Shed Hegamen who "insiders" claim might be very special. Since Keisel appears to be on his way out, might a DE be a possibility in Round one?
Gerry Dulac: I agree with you about Jarvis Jones, though I will note you also saw his best game of the year. The Steelers think there will be more of that -- lots more -- in his second year. Jones is not straight-line fast, but he is explosive, like Lawrence Timmons. I do not advocate the Steelers take D-lineman on the first round because they bring them in, strip away everything they've been taught and teach them the Steelers way. That process takes 2-3 years to sink in, witness Cam Heyward. The Steelers are better off getting defensive lineman after the second round and molding those players into what they want. But I agrree -- they need help on the defensive line. i just wouldn't do it in round 1.
Larry From Lawrenceville: Gerry, Do players tire of the NFL tinkering with rules seemingly every year? First Goodell fiddles with the very fabric of the game by virtully eliminating kick-off returns. Now he floats the idea of a 48 yard extra-point attempt? He strikes me as one of those people who thinks he could improve the Mona Lisa by putting Christmas lights around it. That's my take. Do you know if the players grumble at all?
Gerry Dulac: Haha....great analogy. I'm sure some players, if not a lot of them, think the same thing. People like the game the way it is -- obviously. Look at the numbers. There is no need to change a lot. I can understand player-safety rules. But don't tinker.
Steeler Dan: Dennard or Gilbert? If both available. I will be very disappointed if Steelers don't draft the best available DB (CB or S) in 1st round.
Gerry Dulac: Gilbert is probably better athlete because he is faster, but Dennard is probably better player. So...Dennard.
Swissvale Mike: When will the Steelers sign some of thier own free agents like Jerico C. and Al Woods?
Gerry Dulac: They can't sign everybody right away. They're trying to get their financial house in order so they can start signing players. I believe both those players will be back and re-signed.
Chris: With the perceived depth at WR, does that mean the Steelers pass on someone like Kelvin Benjamin or Marquis Lee and wait until round 2 or 3?
Gerry Dulac: Anyone who thinks they have depth at WR is kidding themselves. If they wait till the second or third round to draft a tall wide receiver, it's only because they didn't have a first-round grade on someone who was available. But I still believe that will be their first pick, all things being equal.
B Free: Gerry....1 will troy have at least one productive year. 2 what year do you draft a qb to replace ben....3 what is the steelers avg. age vs. the rest of the league. ...thank you
Gerry Dulac: Troy had a good year in 2013, playing every snap for one of the few times in his career, but I don't necessarily think it was a productive one. To think, at age 32, he is going to do much better going forward might be wishful thinking.
Chris: FYI, I meant depth at WR in the draft, not on the Steelers roster.
Gerry Dulac: Oh, ok. Well, then, maybe. But when you have the 15th overall pick in the draft, and you're not accustomed to drafting that high, you try to get a dynamic player if one is available, especially a skill player.
Gary In Cleveland: Gerry, did Omar Khan leave, or is he still with the organization? Also, do you think at some point they will change the "game day experience" in the stadium? We are a traidtional town,so I hope not.
Gerry Dulac: He is still there. And I don't think they are going to add cheerleaders anytime soon, if that's what you fear.
Nick: What happens next offseason if Woodley is cut and Worilds plays out his tender this year?
Gerry Dulac: They didn't put the transition tag on Worilds with the idea of letting him play one season. Their intention is to sign him to a long-term contract.
D from Penn Hills: Since it seemingly takes a couple of years at least for a defensive player to get acclimated to the system, starting rookies really hasn't been the teams preference. Do you think that's something they would be willing to change since they need so much help at multiple levels of the defense? And would that make a difference in their decision to select a defender in round one vs. an offensive player who could make a more immediate impact?
Gerry Dulac: If you noticed last year, they put Jarvis Jones on the field very quickly, so I think it's something they know they have to do. In today's NFL, your No. 1 pick better be able to come in and play right away, especially the 15th overall pick. Otherwise, it's a wasted pick.
Guest: Do you think the Steelers will add any low end free agents this year from outside the organization?
Gerry Dulac: Of course they will. They always do. You might even see more of a high-end free agent be signed this year.
Steelers_Mx: Do you think Toby Gerhart is in Steelers radar with new RB Coach?
Gerry Dulac: No.
SteelByDesign: Is Will Allen our starting FS in 2014?
Gerry Dulac: No, that would be Shamarko Thomas.
David: Are the Steelers monitoring Jarvis Jones to make sure he is bulking up and adding strength in his offseason workouts?
Gerry Dulac: I sure hope so, though I doubt it. At least until OTAs.
Daniel: What is the chance that they move Woodley to DE? He's big enough!
Gerry Dulac: None. It's all about the money.
Ken: From what you saw do you think Al woods would make abetter nose tackle then Steve McLendon
Gerry Dulac: Perhaps. All I know is they think they have to do something at nose tackle to fix their run defense.
D from Penn Hills: What additional information could be gained by attending a player's pro day in addition to meeting/watching them at the combine? Or is it merely just a second look in a different environment type of thing. Would the Steelers go to a pro day if they aren't really considering drafting a player?
Gerry Dulac: That's all, a second look.
Daniel: Do you credit the success of Worilds to the emergence of Cam Heyward?
Gerry Dulac: No, mainly because Cam Heyward was on the right side and Worilds on the left for most of the second half of the season.
Rick: Masters is about a month away. Give me your winning pick and a dark horse.
Gerry Dulac: Winner: Jason Day
Dark horse: Harris English
Gerry Dulac: And with that we will end today's chat. Thanx for all the questions. We will return to our normal Wednesday time next week.