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Black and Gold Links: First-round draft picks are plentiful on the Steelers defense

It has been a one-of-a-kind offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. Unable to attend most player pro days and participating in the NFL’s first virtual draft, the Steelers keep pushing forward toward a return to football activities. Just because the NFL has cancelled the 2020 Hall of Fame Game and cut the preseason to an undetermined amount of games doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at the numerous first-round draft picks featured on the Steelers defense.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Will the Steelers first rounders on defense continue to produce in 2020?

Is Steelers’ first-round defense bound to be even better?

By: Grant Gordon, NFL.com

Though offensive standouts such as Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and John Stallworth have found their way to the Hall of Fame and legendary Steelers status, it was the Steel Curtain defense that was the foundation for Pittsburgh’s emergence as a multi-time Super Bowl champion, perennial contender and one of the NFL’s storied franchises in the 1970s.

Thus, as the return of Ben Roethlisberger commands the headlines and quandaries abound regarding the reemergence of James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster following sub-par seasons, it is once more the Steelers defense – rife with burgeoning talent – that kept Pittsburgh in the playoff hunt in 2019 and has it poised to do so once again this upcoming campaign.

Names such as T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush are becoming well-known, but it is the collective talent that could lead the Steelers back to the NFL hierarchy. And it is a collection of a first-round talent currently unprecedented in the NFL.

Among the Steelers’ projected starters, there are seven first-round draft picks – which would be tops in the NFL.

Bush (Steelers, 2019, No. 10 overall pick), Fitzpatrick (Dolphins, 2018, No. 11), Watt (Steelers, 2017, No. 30), Bud Dupree (Steelers, 2015, No. 22), Terrell Edmunds (Steelers, 2018, No. 28), Joe Haden (Browns, 2010, No. 7) and Cameron Heyward (Steelers, 2011, No. 31) are all returning starters from a defense that led the NFL in sacks (54) and takeaways (38) in 2019.

And this Steel seven of first-round picks is very much the chief reason behind Pittsburgh’s status as an AFC North contender. The Steelers relinquished just 18.9 points per game last season (fifth in the NFL) and 304.1 yards (fifth), the first-round-laden defense keeping Pittsburgh in just about every game following a blowout loss to the Patriots to open the season. That was a 33-3 defeat to New England. The Steelers never allowed more than 28 points in a game thereafter.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • Whether it be before or after 2020, several Steelers will need a new deal as soon as the team can pull it off

Which Steelers are next in line for contract?

By: Jeff Hartman, DK Pittsburgh Sports

The Steelers, along with the rest of the NFL, are preparing for the start of the 2020 regular season. When the season starts, and what it will look like, are unknowns at this time. Will fans be in stadiums or will the league take a bath on the usual revenue gained from having fans in attendance?

Regardless of how it looks, teams still are doing work to sign players and get their finances in order prior to the start of the regular season. This is especially true for the Steelers organization, who won’t negotiate any contracts once the season begins.

Before going any further, it is worth noting how much space the team currently has remaining, as it pertains to the 2020 salary cap (all numbers are courtesy of OverTheCap.com):

Team Cap Space: $5,702,794

Some fans might see the above amount and think it is an improvement for the usual cap-strapped Steelers, but this number doesn’t include the amount it will cost to sign their six-player rookie class. How much will that cost?

Rookie Class Cost: $4,872,493

Do the math, and you realized just how close the Steelers are to the cap. But all is not lost, the team has options. They could always restructure contracts to a player such as David DeCastro, but to really create more space would be to give one, or more, players a new contract to decrease their cap hit in 2020.

There are plenty of players who would like to get a new contract prior to the start of next season, but only a few will get an offer from the team before the regular season begins. Here is a list of players who should be in line for a new deal. They are prioritized based on their current salary cap hit, as well as their past performance determining whether they should receive a new deal.

Cam Heyward

Current cap hit: $13,251,250

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • Featured earlier this week, Steelers Henry Mondeaux made an impressive trek

Mondeaux is climbing to new heights

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Over the last four months so many people have tried new things. From cooking, to workouts, to television shows, to learning a musical instrument, people have expanded their horizons.

Henry Mondeaux took it to another level, though. Literally.

Mondeaux, who like the rest of us wanted something different to do while quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, joined a group of five other friends, three guys and two women, to climb Mt. Hood in Oregon.

And let’s set the record straight. This was definitely something new for him as he never has done anything like this before.

“It was definitely one of the more challenging things we have done in one day,” said Mondeaux. “We ended up walking a little over 12 miles. The whole way up there were no breaks. Just uphill the whole time. One of the toughest parts for me and some of the guys was the elevation of that last push. It was slow. A few steps and then catch your breath a little bit. That last part was the toughest part for me and a couple of guys. The two girls we had with us killed us. They set the pace the entire time. We were frustrated because they didn’t seem to be going through the same physical pain we were. It was great to have them there. We weren’t going to turn around and let them go to the top. They were the motivation. We lagged back quite a bit, but we all made it. The elevation was the tougher, scarier part. It took so much longer to catch your breath. You just aren’t used it.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • BTSC articles you may have missed

The best Steelers to wear number 86

James Conner gifts his mother a new house

Alex Highsmith should have a chance to impress in 2020

A look at how the AFC North spends its salary cap money

Steelers rookies will need some time to get going with a limited preseason


  • Social Media Madness

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