Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Steelers Draft Yields Reinforcements and a Reassuring Swagger

They no longer have Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, but they now have options aplenty after what they managed to land in the NFL’s annual three-day talent-grab.

photos by pittsburgh steelers | karl roser


Three days of draft picks and press conferences are destined to generate their share of entertaining sound bites and memorable lines, and in these areas, especially, the Steelers’ draft did not disappoint.

There was president Art Rooney II warning against making a habit of including future selections in trades, in part because “you don’t want to get too Buddy Parker-ish.”

There was General Manager Kevin Colbert maintaining even the Steelers’ third-day selections graded out above “a Mendoza-kinda line.”

There was the running theme that, at times, made the proceedings feel and sound like an infomercial for the Mid-American Conference.

And there was tight ends coach James Daniel acknowledging, at least momentarily, the suggestion that fifth-round tight end Zach Gentry and Heath Miller were somehow comparable.

“They were both quarterbacks,” Daniel allowed before laughing out loud.

Good stuff and then some.

But what really resonated was the clarity with which the Steelers’ re-established their self-proclaimed identity as a Super-Bowl-or-bust organization.

That declaration was made in response to a softball question about 20th overall being a lot higher than the Steelers are normally accustomed to selecting.


Colbert knocked it out of the park.

“Listen, when we’re not 32, any pick’s too high,” he insisted.

“You got that right,” Mike Tomlin added.

It was the type of bravado and rhetoric the Steelers usually spout.

But coming out of the non-playoff season they had just suffered and the emotionally exhausting offseason they had just endured, it should be perceived as reassuring by Steeler Nation that those at the top of the Steelers organization were still spouting it.

The satisfaction with the draft, specifically the decision to do what had to be done to trade up in the first round and get the player they had to have, inside linebacker Devin Bush, no doubt inspired the GM and the head coach to stick their chests out.

That the potential hits kept coming thereafter might eventually prove as satisfying as such a development was timely.

If Diontae Johnson is as good a wide receiver as the Steelers insist, he might do for the offense what Bush has the pedigree to do for the defense. At worst Johnson should help reinvigorate the special teams, and he shouldn’t be the only draft pick that contributes in that capacity.

Justin Layne looks the part of an eventual starter and fixture at cornerback.

Benny Snell is the type of short-yardage, goal-line and seal-the-deal running back who might be particularly impactful.

Sutton Smith could be a sixth-round gem if the Steelers can find a spot on the field from which he can excel as an undersized pass rusher.

Isaiah Buggs at the very least makes the defensive line deeper.

And Ulysees Gilbert, like Smith, appears to have skills if not a defined position.

The possibilities the Steelers are suddenly pondering are seemingly as endless as they are refreshing.

That explains why Tomlin eventually felt compelled to reference a “cleansing” during an interview with ESPN.

Finally, it isn’t all about Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown any longer.

And while we haven’t heard the last of those two in conjunction with the Steelers, the Steelers have most assuredly turned the page and begun the process of living life without them.

Provided they can stay above the Mendoza Line and below becoming too Buddy Parker-ish, they may yet be onto something.

Even if the Gentry-Miller comparisons ultimately begin and end with the positions they have in common.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

July 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

What We're Reading in July: The Pioneers

The Pioneers is historian and Point Breeze native David McCullough’s retelling of the settlement of the wilderness northwest of the Ohio River, which contained the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Perspectives: On Caring to See

A teacher at the University of Pittsburgh learns a lesson about street medicine.

PPG Paints Singin' the Blues for 2020 Color of the Year

Meant to offer relief from the anxieties of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, Chinese Porcelain is a mix of cobalt and ink blue. Here’s why you can expect to see more of it in the coming year.

Watch: The Best of Three Rivers Arts Festival

The 60th Three Rivers Arts Festival is history, but you can still soak in the memories of the music, art and food.

This Brit Fell in Love with Pittsburgh's Dirt

During the Civil War, a British writer was enchanted by Pittsburgh’s dirt and soot.

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

New Dimensions: The Comic Book Store's Surprise Move

Comic-book (store) avengers. How a sprawling comic-book shop moved out of its longtime home — and reopened for business mere hours later.

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM food critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss recent Pittsburgh restaurant openings that have him excited.

One Person's Flip Flop is Another One's Art

Ocean Sole Africa’s mission is to reduce pollution and waste by collecting flip flops from the ocean and making them into art.

All In The (Giaramita) Family: La Tavola Italiana and Pizza Taglio

Family members run two distinct restaurants, one classic and one with a contemporary spin.

DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

The Steelers have emerged from their offseason sessions confident they’re capable of playing better. They also maintain a new atmosphere and culture have been established. But they won’t know for certain until they actually start playing.

Restaurant Review: Masala House in Shadyside

You'll find excellent Indian cuisine in a Shadyside building with a long culinary history.

A Tale of Two Strands: Theaters With the Same Name

In two small towns nearby, old vaudeville stages — which share the same name — have reopened and revitalized their communities.

Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

The community dinner will feature Syrian cuisine, raising awareness of Hello Neighbor's mission and promoting connection and conversation with the region's refugee families.