Get to Know the Steelers: Craig Gottschalk From Nice Pick Cowher


One of the few teams we haven’t had a chance to get insight from an outside source yet is the Pittsburgh Steelers, but fansided’s own nicepickcowher answered some questions about the Steelers and the upcoming draft.

1) What are the Steelers biggest needs?

The Steelers’ needs are the same as they have been for the past decade – Cornerback, Offensive Line (specifically tackle), and Defensive Line.  The local buzz around the ‘Burgh is that the Steelers MUST get a CB in the first round.  As I’ve argued numerous times, the Steelers have survived and thrived without having a strong group of corners.  I ask, what’s different about this year then?  What’s the need?  Ike Taylor as a free agent is a large concern, and most people feel if the Steelers don’t get Ike back and don’t draft a CB in the first round, then the Steelers season is in major jeopardy.  But, I strongly feel against the idea that the Steelers would be putting a rookie CB at the #1 or #2 slot in the depth chart.  I think, depending on who’s left when it’s time for the 31st pick, that the Steelers could go with a lineman – offensive first, defensive next in line if no solid OL left.  The postion of lineman is at the core of what the Steelers do – run the ball and great run defense.  They are always in need of building for the future of the franchise at that position.

2) how are the last two draft classes coming along?

Both the 2009 and 2010 classes have worked out fairly well.  The offensive side of the ball has faired a little better with how picks are turning out with their maturing and performance.  Rookie Pro-Bowler Maurkice Pouncey is certainly the biggest acquisition from the draft in the past two years.  Mike Wallace was in 2009’s class and is maturing each season and should continue to be a bigger down field threat as each season progresses.  The only defensive pick worth mentioning is Ziggy Hood.  He’s stepped up as a solid starter on the line.  The three corners the Steelers picked over the two years have been dead ends, which is why there is a strong need at corner still.

3) What’s the ideal player fans want the Steelers to draft in the first round?

So many people are screaming for a corner.  I think the past 5 seasons of getting burned deep down field has finally worn on Steelers Nation.  I guess I can’t blame them – to tout that you have traditionally the BEST defense in the league year in and year out and constantly get burned in the passing game is uber frustrating.  However, In The Front Office We Trust.

4) What are the official visits the Steelers have had?

Texas CB Curtis Brown, Florida State G Rodney Hudson, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, California DE Cameron Jordan, Auburn DT Zach Clayton, Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones.  There may be a couple more in there that are ‘official.’  Not sure

5) Who’s a player that the Steelers seem to want?

As usual the front office is pretty tight lipped about specifically speaking about who/what they are going after.  However, from Kevin Colbert’s brief and sporadic interviews during the off season, it seems that the Steelers are very interested in University of California DE Cameron Jordan, Baylor NG Phil Taylor, Texas’ CB Curtis Brown and CB Aaron Williams, and I THINK (though many disagree) they are interested in Florida OG Mike Pouncey.

6) What are fans thoughts now about Big Ben?

I think it’s still a little mix of good and bad with the fans perception of Ben.  I don’t think anyone in Steeler Nation would argue against him being one of the best quarterbacks in the league today and certainly THE best QB to lead the Steelers.  Terry Bradshaw has even conceded that point, and that’s a big deal for that big lug to admit to that.  I think it will still take some time for most fans to respect him as a person.  Guilty or not guilty of a specific crime – messing with women like that and not being respectful, especially when you are constantly in the spotlight as a star athlete is just a dumb move on his part.  The healing will take time, but I don’t think it will ever be forgotten.

7) How do the Steelers operate on draft day?

I honestly don’t really know.  Up til this year, I didn’t really follow the draft this close from a administrative perspective.  Sorry!  I do know that they are willing to trade up surprisingly to snag someone.

8). Is there a kind of player or philosophy the Steelers seem to follow in the draft?

Class and work ethic.  The Rooney family epitomizes the idea of an organization built on hard work and class.  They hire coaches that are full of class who can transform players into hard working men with class.  I think the front office looks for that most in the players scout.  They go beyond just the stats and test scores players accumulate in college and at the combine.  They watch lots of tape of each player for potential and if their style of play will closely match that of the team.  You would never see them draft someone like a Pacman Jones, no matter how talented they are.  Instead they draft guys like Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncy, and Hines Ward.

9).  Who are some players you think might be underrated or overrated?

Overrated (but not anymore) – Limas Sweed.  Everyone thought he was going to be the answer to the hole in the receiving core.  He seems to have burned his already short wick.  With the emergence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, the ‘overrated spotlight’ burns brightly on his back.

Underrated – Heath Miller.  He is a total fan favorite, but it seems with the pundits he doesn’t get much respect.  In a TE ranking just released by ESPN, Miller was ranked 13th.  He is certainly a top 10 TE, especially because of his versatility.  He is a fantastic run blocker and rarely ever drops a pass thrown his way.  He may not get the stats that some of these more ‘receiver friendly’ TE’s are, but he gets the job done and well.

10) tell us a little bit about the site and why the readers should visit?

The site is going through a bit of a change right now as I just came on as the lead writer back in February.  Myself and the other staff writers are crafting a balance between information and original insight.  We want Steelers fans of all types to be able to come to the site, read up on the latest news, and then view some insight on what is going on with the league and team on a daily basis. We feel that there is much to offer for everyone’s reading pleasure.  We like to be bold in our convictions as well – whether it be posting an opinion on who the Steelers must draft or how one of us feels about Big Ben’s troubles.  Above all else, the most important thing that drives our writing is our passion for this team and proudly being part of Steelers Nation.

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