Recent News

Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-Draft Visitor Rice Cornerback Phillip Gaines

April 17th, 2014 at 10:18 PM
By Mark Mihalko

The Pittsburgh Steelers added three more names to their list of pre-draft visitors. Of the three, Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines is an intriguing prospect that could pay dividends for the defense.

'Marines at NFL Draft 2012' photo (c) 2012, MarineCorps NewYork - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Gaines is an experienced cornerback with the size (6-0, 193-pounds) and speed (4.38 40-yard dash) to make an impact in the NFL. He is solid in coverage, showing enough athleticism, fluidity, and footwork to develop into a strong man-corner.

Not a complete cornerback, as he adds minimal value you in run support and lacks the field awareness to take proper angles to the ball carrier. He has the size to develop that part of his game; but that remain a question mark. Gaines also has some durability questions that must be answered during a medical check, something that may have taken place during his visit to the Steelers’ facility on Thursday.

While he does have 45 career starts, the majority came at a lower level of competition, leaving Gaines with a potential learning curve moving into the league. That may also impact his value on the big board. In the end, if the Steelers decide to go wide receiver or defensive line in the first round, Gaines could be an interesting selection in the second.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-Draft Visitor UCLA Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt

April 15th, 2014 at 10:20 PM
By Mark Mihalko

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to add some young talent to their roster in this draft. More importantly, the addition of some versatile defenders could go a long way at improving depth at multiple positions. One such player could be UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt.

'USC vs. UCLA Football 2012' photo (c) 2012, Neon Tommy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Zumwalt is an experienced linebacker (30 starts) who has seen time at multiple positions in the 3-4 scheme, with the majority of his starts coming at inside linebacker. A downhill player, the 6-4, 245-pounder has a non-stop motor and is adept blitzing and in coverage. While he is not a great athlete, he plays with an edge and is a student of game, which allows him to understand how to use his instincts and vision to consistently make plays. Adequate speed (4.76 40-yard dash), he could use more time in the weight room to fill out his lanky build.

At this point, Zumwalt appears to be a mid-round prospect that could come in and add depth both inside and outside in the Steelers 3-4 schemes. There is no doubt that the team will add a linebacker at some point in the draft, the only question is when they will pull the trigger.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Pittsburgh Steelers Add Veteran Punter Adam Podlesh to the Roster

April 15th, 2014 at 9:44 PM
By Mark Mihalko

Just when it appeared that the Pittsburgh Steelers were singularly focused on the NFL Draft, the franchise quietly made a roster move aimed at potentially improving their special teams. On Tuesday, the team finally inked a veteran punter to a one-year contract.

'The Chicago Bears Pre-Season Home Game 8/18/2012' photo (c) 2012, vxla - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
With only former undrafted rookie free agent Brad Wing on the roster, the addition of former Chicago Bears punter Adam Podlesh could be a move that flies under the RADAR heading into 2014. Yes, he is coming off a rough 2013 campaign that eventually cost him his job, but he is a proven commodity that has experience in bad weather.

Prior to this rough season, the Bears thought enough about the former fourth round selection (Jacksonville) to sign him to a five-year $10 million ($3.5 million guaranteed) in July 2011. However, his $1.825 million cap hit in 2014 all but sealed his fate. In all, the seven-year veteran averaged 40.6 yards per punt (37.9-yard net).

The addition of Podlesh (likely on a veteran minimum deal) virtually wipes out what little money the Steelers had left under the 2014 salary cap. The team will receive some cap relief in June when the $8 million cap hit for linebacker LaMarr Woodley comes off the books, but it will still limit their moves having t sign their draft class and fill out their roster with some remaining veteran street free agents.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-Draft Visitor Boston College Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis

April 14th, 2014 at 10:15 PM
By Mark Mihalko

One of the intriguing trends that developed over the past few weeks is the amount of linebackers that have made their way to Pittsburgh as pre-draft visitors. On one hand, there is already a lot of money tied up in that position making it hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers attacking that position early, yet on the other, there is always room for improvement, thus making anything possible.

'NFL Draft 2010 ESPN Set' photo (c) 2010, Marianne O'Leary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
While there has been a solid cross-section of linebackers to make their way to the facility, Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis may be the hardest to project. Smaller (6-1, 232-pounds) than the prototypical linebacker, he may project better as an in-the-box safety than linebacker in the NFL. More importantly, he has the speed (4.51 40-yard dash) to make that transition.

A four-year starter in college, Pierre-Louis is an athletic linebacker with the ability to make plays in space. A football junkie, he also boasts an innate feel for the game that allows him to make plays at multiple positions across the linebacker corps and on special teams. At this point, his size is his most striking limiting factor, as the opposition in the run game can engulf him. On top of that, there are some injury concerns, as he has missed time with multiple nagging injuries.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-Draft Visitor Washington State Safety Deone Bucannon

April 13th, 2014 at 10:16 PM
By Mark Mihalko

After attacking the safety position early in free agency with the signing of free safety Mike Mitchell, the Pittsburgh Steelers have opened some eyes over the past weeks by hosting multiple potential early-round safety prospects. While that could be a sign of being thorough, it could also be a sign that the team is keeping all options open as they retool their roster.

'Marines at NFL Draft 2012' photo (c) 2012, MarineCorps NewYork - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Of those that have made the trip and sit as one of the teams pre-draft visitors, Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon may be rising the fastest. A physical presence, the 6-1, 211-pound senior appears to be most comfortable in the box and is a weapon against the opponents rushing attack.

An imposing hitter, he also shows the ability to win with technique causing fumbles both with explosive hits, as well as with hand placement on strips. He has also improved his coverage skills throughout his career, leading to a career-high six in 2013. Although he did have a good week at practice during the Senior Bowl, he has a way to go in coverage. Stiff and uneven, he can struggle with double moves against the pass and quick-twitch backs in the run game.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...