Ed Bouchette: Welcome to the draft chat. I could be like Kevin Colbert and say you can ask me anything but don't bring up any college prospect's name, but then I won't be giving away any secrets because I don't have any.
Matt_: Could you see the Steelers taking a receiver in Round One?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I could, but I would not expect it. They would not get anyone that good at No. 32, and I think they have much bigger needs for the future at DL, CB and OL.
MikeinNC: Ed, if Percy Harvin falls to the Steelers, would they take him?
Ed Bouchette: He does not seem to be their type of player, off the field. So, I would say no, plus other needs.
Ed: Hi Ed, in you opinion how is it that great players say like James Harrison can be passed over in the draft and not be recognized by a team or scouts for their talent?
Ed Bouchette: Sometimes the talent does not come out until later in their careers, like Harrison. He has said he needed to mature. The Steelers cut him three times so they can't even take credit for recognizing what he would be. He matured, he got a chance to compete and it all came together for him. He gets much of the credit for that. Plus, as Chuck Noll often said, the draft is not a science.
Steeler_Fan_In_Cen_CA: Ed, did Gary Russell upset or anger someone or was this just a move to clear a roster spot for a draft pick?
Ed Bouchette: As I wrote in this morning's post-gazette, Kevin Colbert said he was released for salary cap reasons to make room for QB Charlie Batch. You did see that the Bengals claimed him off waivers. It's not like they lost the next Franco Harris, now.
Matt_: Are any 3-4 ends other than Tyson Jackson worth a first round pick?
Ed Bouchette: There's something I really like about SoCal's Fili Moala.
Steeler6179: Since the Steelers had taken a look at Joey Galloway, why not take a look at Torry Holt before he signed with JAX? Was it mostly due to the want of a returner also?
Ed Bouchette: They felt Galloway still had enough speed but Holt did not and they needed speed there.
menofpaws: Ed - Happy draft week. Hallmark ran out of Draft Day cards so you won't be getting one from me this year. Assuming a player they desire is available, do the Steelers try to dangle Larry Foote at the 20 spot to move up in the draft?
Ed Bouchette: That's rarely happened, offering a player on draft day, at least here. No, I don't think so but I would never rule anything out. A draft card? You mean like Alonzo Jackson?
Taz: Hi Ed! Thanks for this pre-draft chat. Was Gary Russell really a salary cap casualty? If he was, since he was such a reasonably priced player, how do the Steeler expect to find the space for their draft choices?
Ed Bouchette: I believe they released someone to make room under the cap that they probably had no solid plans for.
Taz: Hi Ed. Love the chats. What's the status of Max Starks' contract negotiations?
Ed Bouchette: Do not expect that to go anywhere. As I've mentioned, why would Max Starks sign when he's guaranteed $8.5 million this year and can become free again next year. The Steelers can't afford to give him a long-term deal because of the 30 percent rule and because his signing bonus would have to start at $12 million to $15 million.
Steelahs.com: Ed, what are the chances the Steelers draft someone who wasn't one of the 30 to come in for a visit?
Ed Bouchette: Very high. I believe only one of the 30 last year was drafted by them.
Taz: Hi Ed. If the Steelers has lost in Baltimore, do you think they should whine and complain to the league about how they're being treated unfairly and demand that they not have to play the Ravens in prime time in Baltimore because it makes them look bad?
Ed Bouchette: You want them to act like the Seahawks and Cardinals after the Super Bowl, you mean?
Taz: Kevin Colbert's mandate that he wants to pull three starters out of the 1st 3 rounds of the draft seems awfully ambitious. That says to me that they might be worried about need (youth on the D-line, secondary depth) more than just taking the best available player - a strategy that has treated them well over time. Can you comment?
Ed Bouchette: They've gone for need at times and for best player at others. I think they'll go for the best player who happens to be a DL, OL or CB.
Steel_Curtain_Rising: Hey Ed, here's a 3 parter - Do you buy the answer that Russell was cut for salary cap reasons? If so why him and not, say Cary Davis? Likewise, does this mean bye, bye Larry Foote so we can sign draft picks?
Ed Bouchette: Davis can do more than Russell and I sort of buy the cap room thing. I don't believe Gary did anything wrong, if that's what you mean. Mike Tomlin is on record as saying he wants to keep Foote, but when push comes to cap, something has to give.
Steelahs.com: Ed, you truly are the Dean Of Steelers Scribes (DOSS). Do you see the Steelers trading up in the first round, like they did to get Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes?
Ed Bouchette: I would not do it this year because I don't think there is as much value higher in the first round. However, the Steelers do have a history of going up to get someone they truly want and if they see he might not be there, Kevin Colbert will do it.
GjSteel: Hi Ed ... what are the chances of the Steelers pulling off the trade for Roscoe Parrish of the Bills on draft day?
Ed Bouchette: I'm trying to think why the Bills would want to trade him? And, if they do, the asking price likely would be too high. On the other hand, the Steelers used a third-round pick on Willie Reid because he could return and play WR and then he could not return or play WR and was a washout. If you could get Parrish for a third, I'd do it because at least he's proven he can do it.
Bou-Bird: If Charlie Batch's contract was the issue, did the Steelers ever approach Gary Russell about restructuring his contract? Just seemed odd given how Coach Tomlin seemed to like using him for short yardage situations.
Ed Bouchette: As I said, Gary Russell was no Franco Harris in waiting. In fact, he was no Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. Otherwise, when the top two backs were hurt last year, Russell and not Mewelde Moore would have moved into the starting job.
StillertrappedinOH: Now that #92 is taken care of, who is the next off season priority for contract extension?
Ed Bouchette: I don't know that you will see any. Heath Miller? If there is no CBA next year, he will not be a UFA but a RFA.
Dirt_Winston: Ed- Interesting comments by Ward and Hampton in your article today. Hines sounds like he'll give the hometown discount, Hampton sounds like he hasn't learned his lesson. Do you think he'll be resigned?
Ed Bouchette: I agree that Hines wants to stay and even brought up Jerome Bettis' situation - Bettis took paycuts to stay. What lesson was Casey supposed to learn?
StillertrappedinOH: Has anything the Steelers have down this offseason surprised you?
Ed Bouchette: SOS.
Dirt_Winston: Great quote in your piece this morning from Tomlin about being a "degenerate gambler" when it comes to the draft. I know when Cowher was here he made the final call on draft picks, how about with this regime?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not sure that Bill Cowher made the final call on draft picks. I know when Tom Donahoe was here, he did not. I do believe the coach and the personnel men work together and for the most part they have all those arguments debated over the weeks before the draft and come to a conclusion by then. Who they take on Saturday will be determined before then by their rankings and mock drafts.
PhillyMarty: Steelers rarely trade out of first round, but with characterization of not a deep first round, and our needs, might this be the year?
Ed Bouchette: I could see that. If, for example, you like Fili Moala, you might be able to get him at number 34 or 35 or even later. Plus, all they have to do to trade out of the first round is to move one spot down.
Steeler_Fan_In_Cen_CA: Ed, thanks for the extra draft chat, will the Steelers draft a QB on Sunday to push Batch and Dixon or will they just sign a rookie FA for depth?
Ed Bouchette: I could see them drafting a QB, especially since they have two 7th-rounders. They like the kid from Ball State, Nate Davis. You could draft him and keep him on practice squad for a year until Dixon is ready to become No. 2.
Michael__Jacksonville__FL_: Tyrone Carter not in voluntary workouts? Not a smart move for a marginal player. Everyone else I can understand.
Ed Bouchette: yeah, but we don't know the circumstances yet.
Bou-Bird: How many passes has Limas Sweed dropped already during the first days of OTAs? But really, do you think the Steelers will use a mid-round draft pick on a WR or try to sign one of the lower tiered FAs still out there prior to camp?
Ed Bouchette: I think they will draft a WR somewhere, one who can return kickoffs and/or punts.
Bou-Bird: Given how well the special teams coverage units improved last year, who on the current roster has the ability to return kicks this season?
Ed Bouchette: Nobody. Well, they did sign that kid from the CFL, Stefan Logan. I do think the days of the plodding kickoff return men -- i.e. Najeh Davenport and Gary Russell -- should end. Otherwise, I'm all for putting James Harrison back there and letting him rip.
Taz: If Gary Russell was merely a salary cap casualty, what's the likelihood he's returned to the fold by the season opener?
Ed Bouchette: The Bengals claimed him off waivers.
Daquido_Bazzini: Hi ... In your opinion, how much time do GM's in the NFL base moves on possible comp picks the following year...especially if they look to be 4th round or lower?
Ed Bouchette: None
Questfor7: Easy Ed, All I hear about is o-line, o-line, o-line. Any chance the Steelers move back a few picks and draft someone like Brace (need a young NT) with Hampton being 32 and in the last year of his contract and Hoke getting up in age as well?
Ed Bouchette: I love Brace and yes I think he's on their radar. He could play DE in the 3-4 or NT.
StillertrappedinOH: Easy Ed, What are the chances the Steelers are able to extend Hines contract so he can finish his career in Pittsburgh?
Ed Bouchette: I think that is up to Hines and after talking to him publicly and privately yesterday, I believe he knows the score and will do what he can to retire here, much as Jerome did.
Taz: In the Cowher era, did the Steelers make a conscious effort to host college prospects they had no interest in drafting?
Ed Bouchette: If you hosted only those you were going to draft, that would leave at times 23 visits by those you did not.
CPTMIDNIGHT: Ed, when will the Steelers visit the White House?
Ed Bouchette: That occurred in June, I believe, the last time or late May. They'd like to do it when most of their team is together for OTAs and hold their ring ceremony around the same time. Plus, it's really up to Mr. Obama when it occurs.
noahthechef: Ed, I saw the Steelers had some tight ends in for a visit -- what are our chances of keeping Heath Miller after this year?
Ed Bouchette: I think they are good.
Doug: Any chance we see the Steelers go after Derrick WIlliams? He could be a good slot receiver and the return man we need ...
Ed Bouchette: I liked him in college until his senior season. I think he has untapped potential.
llash: Any chance the Steelers would take Pat White if he's available in the third round?
Ed Bouchette: I do know they like him -- as a quarterback. If they draft him in the third round, they would have to use him elsewhere. I could see him as a Slash type with the Steelers his first few years and also schooling to become a QB, as did Kordell Stewart. So, no, that would not surprise me. Draft him, use him as your No. 4 receiver and No. 4 QB.
noahthechef: Do you feel Eric Wood is better then Alex Mack ?
Ed Bouchette: I rated Mack ahead of him in my rankings, but then I've never seen either play and never seen tape of either. I'm no scout, for those of you who have not figured that out, and do not pretend to be. I try to analyze based on what people in the business are saying about players.
RUCR8V: Draft weekend is finally here! Honestly Ed, with the Steelers re-signing so many of our own free agents, especially special-teamers, how many spots are actually available for draft picks and free agents to make on this Super Bowl squad? Thanks Ed.
Ed Bouchette: They will make room for anyone who shows they should be made room for.
Daquido_Bazzini: Any predictions yet on who the Steelers will pick first?
Ed Bouchette: I don that on Saturday. Can't give it away before then.
StillertrappedinOH: What is the biggest need of the three for the Steelers, OL, DL or CB?
Ed Bouchette: In my opinion, it's DL and then OL and CB.
Google: Ed, Do you think Bruce Arians knows the weaknesses of his planning and will update/change to improve or do you think he will stand on the 'Hey we won the Super Bowl' platform?
Ed Bouchette: Hey, they won the Super Bowl and many believe he's doing a good job, especially with the line he had last year and the injured RBs.
Google: Was offering Leftwich the minimum just to help him out with pushing another team (Tampa) to make a offer ... Surely they didn't think he'd be interested in that amount, despite the lack of interest in the media, at least.
Ed Bouchette: I thought they would do more to try to keep him.
RUCR8V: Hey Ed, do you know who is introducing Rod at the HOF ceremonies?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think Rod Woodson has announced that yet. I'd love to see him pick someone like Dick LeBeau.
Ed Bouchette: Thank you for the passionate questions about the draft. I only wish I had more time to answer them, but I have to go back into the film room to analyze the prospects. See you at the draft.