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MX News Update 2024

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Asked and Answered: May 9

DAVID PACY FROM SHERMAN, NY: Can you give us an overview of the Steelers’ standing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I wondered which positions were most and least represented.
ANSWER: I will list the Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and group them by their positions/categories:

• CONTRIBUTORS: Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, Bill Nunn
• HALFBACKS, TAILBACKS, FULLBACKS, RUNNING BACKS: Bill Dudley, John “Blood” McNally, John Henry Johnson, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis
• OFFENSIVE LINE: Walt Kiesling, Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca
• QUARTERLY: Bobby Layne, Terry Bradshaw
• DEFENSIVE LINE: Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene
•LINEBACKER: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Kevin Greene
• DEFENSIVE BACK: Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell
• COACH: Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher
• WIDE RECEIVER: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth

LOGAN SMITH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA Have the Steelers officially announced what position Troy Fautanu will play this year?
ANSWER: The following is from the press conference held shortly after the Steelers spent the 20th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft on Troy Fautanu:

Q. Does he stay at left tackle or do you try him on the right side?
MIKE TOMLIN: Right now he’s a tackle. We may have some more details for you tomorrow morning.

Q. Is he center competent?
MIKE TOMLIN: No, we’re not worried about that. We rightly see him as a tackle.

JAMIE EWEN FROM BOURNE, UK: Which of the undrafted rookie free agents we’ve signed are you most excited about? Why?
ANSWER: If I had to pick one, it would be cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr. who played his college football at West Virginia. The reason would be that the Steelers have a need for the position Bishop plays, which should give him a better chance to earn a spot on the 53-man roster and possibly help the team this season.

JOHN M. WASHINSKY FROM CLEMMONS, NC: Will the players who were invited to rookie minicamp but did not sign a contract get the same opportunity as those who did sign a contract?
ANSWER: There are currently 87 players listed on the roster that appears on Steelers.com, and there is a 90-man roster limit during an NFL offseason. After this weekend’s rookie minicamp, it’s possible the Steelers could select three of the tryout players and sign them to contracts, or the Steelers could look elsewhere to fill those three open spots. But tryouts who are not offered a contract after rookie minicamp will not participate in the Steelers’ offseason program unless they are signed at a later date.

PHILIP TURNER OF WARNER ROBINS, GA: In an earlier Q&A you said there were a total of six Hall of Fame inductees that came from the 1974 draft. Are there other drafts that were as productive as the 1974 draft when it comes to Hall of Fame inductees?
ANSWER: The 1964 NFL Draft is the one that produced the most Hall of Fame players, with 11. That was a 20-round draft, and the 11 Hall of Fame players were selected in the following order: offensive tackle Bob Brown, wide receiver Charley Taylor, defensive end Carl Eller, wide receiver Paul Warfield, cornerback Mel Renfro, safety Paul Krause, defensive end Dave Wilcox, wide receiver Bob Hayes, offensive tackle Bill Parcells (who was elected to the Hall of Fame as coach), running back Leroy Kelly and quarterback Roger Staubach.

FRITZ SCHERZ FROM VERONA, NY: Who would be your favorite “the one that got away” in the draft for the Steelers? Dan Marino?
ANSWER: The Steelers passing on Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft is one way to look at the “someone who got away” category, but for the sake of argument, I’m going to present another way to look at “someone who got away.” to watch. It was 1985, a few years after Marino was in the draft pool, and Bill Nunn was still mining the HBCUs for talent who could make a difference. Nunn had been looking for a receiver for a few years from Mississippi Valley State, and he also had a good relationship with coach Archie Cooley. Nicknamed “Gunslinger” because of his passion for the passing game, Cooley spent 19 seasons as a head coach at four HBCUs, going 83-78-5, and his innovative “Satellite Express offense” with Willie “Satellite” Totten at quarterback and Jerry Rice at wide receiver set a number of NCAA records. But the offense, with five wide receivers and operating out of the no-huddle, was not what NFL was. teams at the time were generally comfortable using, and so despite the statistics and records, there wasn’t much enthusiasm at the professional level for it or for the players who made it work. But Nunn looked past that and was confident that Jerry Rice would make a great pro, and by the time the 1985 NFL Draft rolled around, he had convinced Chuck Noll of the same thing. The Steelers had the 20th overall pick in that draft, and when the first-round pick reached the teens, Noll was willing to spend the team’s selection on Rice. After the Cincinnati Bengals selected wide receiver Eddie Brown with the 13th overall pick, it looked like the Steelers were going to get their man, but the San Francisco 49ers, who selected 28th and last in the first round, worked out a trade with New England to move up to the Patriots’ spot at No. 16 overall and take Rice. The Steelers ultimately used their No. 1 pick on Wisconsin defensive lineman Darryl Sims. Since we played the “what could have been” game during this entry, you can imagine how the 1980s would have been different for the Steelers with Marino at quarterback and Rice as one of their receivers.

DENNIS PRZYDZIAL FROM WINTER SPRINGS, FL: Do you believe Broderick Jones played at the level of a first-round draft pick last year?
ANSWER: I absolutely believe Broderick Jones played at the level of a first-round rookie last year, which he was. That’s pretty good and indicates a lot of promise for his future.

ERIC ASH FROM WELLSVILLE, NY: I’ve been watching the UFL a little bit. It’s hard to pass judgment on what’s on TV, and I’m not a professional at judging players. Based on what I’ve seen, it seems to me that a big difference between the NFL and UFL is the quality of play at quarterback, with a few exceptions. There seems to be a lot of overthrown and underthrown balls. That said, it seems like many of the receivers are making exceptional plays with errant passes. Have any UFL players played in the NFL and had an impact in 2023? Do the Steelers and other teams scout the UFL?
ANSWER: I can only speak for the Steelers, and they are exploring everything. They scout all levels of college football, plus the CFL, UFL and last year the XFL. But before you get enamored with the actions of UFL receivers, remember that they are going against the UFL defensive backs. Remember a 6-foot-4, 227-pound wide receiver named Hakeem Butler, who was signed by the Steelers last offseason after making 51 catches for 599 yards (11.7 average) and eight touchdowns for the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL? Once he arrived in Pittsburgh, Butler was nothing if not a man during the offseason program, and that continued into training camp and a preseason, where he was targeted twice and made one catch for 17 yards. Butler was delisted and released from the injured reserve list on August 25.

BRYAN CRAMER FROM FRANKLIN, PA: I’m very excited about everything I’ve heard about Roman Wilson’s attitude, playing style and work ethic. I love his “no block, no rock” attitude. I’m not making comparisons, but what are the chances the Steelers bring in Hines Ward to work with him (and the entire wide receiver room)?
ANSWER: Since Hines Ward is currently serving as the wide receivers coach at Arizona State, I would put those chances at zero.

JOE NEILL PARIS, FRANCE: Several people have asked about former Steelers, and I’m one of them. When I was at Donora High School, one of my coaches was Rudy Andabaker, who apparently once played for the Steelers. Do you have any information about his career?
ANSWER: Rudy Andabaker entered the NFL as a 6-foot-1, 196-pound guard out of the University of Pittsburgh. He played two seasons with the Steelers – 1952 and 1954 – and during those seasons he appeared in 10 games with 5 starts. Each of these Steelers teams finished 5-7.

DICK VOCHEK FROM PORTAGE, PA: Have the Steelers exercised the fifth-year option or used the franchise tag since the Le’Veon Bell situation? If so, who was/were the player(s)? If not, is this a similar internal policy to not negotiating contracts during the regular season?
ANSWER: Le’Veon Bell’s last season with the Steelers was in 2017 and since then they have exercised fifth-year options on the contracts of Minkah Fitzpatrick and TJ Watt, and in 2020 the team used the franchise tag on Bud Dupree.