Thursday, April 29, 2010

Introducing: N'atCast & N'atTube

Exciting times here at the blog. Ian is just about done with his Masters Degree and will be starting a new job next week. John is still working on his Masters Degree and is wrapping up his semester soon.

Ian took a "Multimedia" class this semester, and for the final project had to design logos, videos, etc for a client. Never one to waste an opportunity, Ian jumped on creating stuff for the blog. As you'll notice, we debuted a new logo at the top of the page. In addition to the standard gold logo, you'll see two other logos popping up from time to time.

We are proud to announce the creation of "N'atCast" our very own podcasts. We haven't uploaded them to iTunes or anything yet, but you can check out the very first N'atCast right here. The inaugural N'atCast features Ian talking about the draft.

We're still working on the whole "embedding MP3s in a post" thing, but for now, you can download the first N'atCast: Download Here

Next up, we are proud to announce the launching of N'atTube, our YouTube channel. Check out our first ever video below!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NFL Draft CoverItLive Blog

Ian's Final Mock Draft

Everyone is doing mock drafts. But you know what they're not doing? Mock Drafts with trades. We all know trades happen. In keeping with my tradition, my final mock draft includes trades. Who cares if I don't get any of them right, it's more realistic. Sorry for the lack of descriptions on this one. I had to throw it together quickly before heading out to class.

Sam Bradford (QB-Oklahoma)

Ndamukong Suh (DT-Nebraska)

Gerald McCoy (DT-Nebraska)

Russell Okung (OT-Oklahoma State)

Eric Berry (S-Tennessee)

Trent Williams (OT-Oklahoma)

TRADE: Cleveland trades the #7 pick to Green Bay

Brian Bulaga (OT-Iowa)

Bruce Campbell (OT-Maryland)

Jimmy Clausen (QB-Notre Dame)

Derrick Morgan (DE-Georgia Tech)

TRADE: Denver trades the #11 pick to New England

Dez Bryant (WR-Oklahoma State)

TRADE: Miami trades the #12 pick to Philadelphia

Earl Thomas (S-Texas)

Joe Haden (CB-Florida)

CJ Spiller (RB-Clemson)

Rolando McClain (LB-Alabama)

Jason Pierre-Paul (DE-South Florida)

Mike Iupati (G-Idaho)

Maurkice Pouncey (C-Florida)

Sean Weatherspoon (LB-Missouri)

Kyle Wilson (CB-Boise State)

Jermaine Gresham (TE-Oklahoma)

TRADE: New England traded with Denver

Dan Williams (NT-Tennessee)

TRADE: Green Bay traded with Cleveland

Jared Odrick (DE-Penn State)

TRADE: Philadelphia traded with Miami

Brandon Graham (LB-Michigan)

Devin McCourty (CB-Rutgers)

Charles Brown (OT-USC)

Anthony Davis (OT-Rutgers)

Ryan Matthews (RB-Fresno State)

Jerry Hughes (LB-TCU)

Kareem Jackson (CB-Alabama)

Brian Price (DT-UCLA)

TRADE: New Orleans trades the #32 pick to Cleveland

Colt McCoy (QB-Texas)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Steelers Draft Preview: Defensive Backs

We conclude our preview of the Steelers draft situation today with a look at the defensive backfield. We'll be hosting a Cover It Live Blog with some other bloggers and fans on Thursday and Friday for the first three rounds of the draft. Feel free to stop by and share your thoughts with us! The great thing about CoverItLive Blogs is that you don't need an account to participate, you can make posts as a guest. We're looking forward to the draft and hope that you'll drop by and chat with us!

Current Players:
Ike Taylor
Willie Gay
Joe Burnett
Keenan Lewis
Anthony Madison
Trae Williams
David Pitman
Tuff Harris

The Steelers secondary was one of the weakest parts of the team last year, which we documented in one of our Mid-Week Analytic Posts last year (A Look at the Steelers Secondary). There are two positions where you will hear no complaints from us should the Steelers choose to address them in the draft: offensive line and defensive back. There are two candidates at corner for the Steelers to look at in the first round: Joe Haden (Florida) and Kyle Wilson (Boise St). Of the two, we really like Kyle Wilson's toughness and feel he would be a great fit for the Steelers defensive system. Wilson also has experience with returning kicks, so that is an added bonus. Beyond the top two, we really like Chris Cook (Virginia, 6'2" 212) in the second round. The guy is built like a linebacker and plays the corner position very physically. In later rounds, guys like Amari Spivey (Iowa) or Javier Arenas (Alabama) could step in right away as nickel corners. Arenas has great ball skills, but he gets burned on double moves a lot.

Potential Draft Picks:
Joe Haden (Florida) - 1st (Trade Up)
Kyle Wilson (Boise St) - 1st
Patrick Robinson (Florida St) - 2nd
Chris Cook (Virginia) - 2nd
Brandon Ghee (Wake Forest) - 2nd/3rd
Amari Spivey (Iowa) - 3rd
Javier Arenas (Alabama) - 3rd-5th

Current Players:
Troy Polamalu (SS)
Ryan Clark (FS)
Ryan Mundy (FS)
Will Allen (S)

We love Eric Berry. However, without trading into the top 10 (likely the top 5), there is no way the Steelers have a shot at him. As we saw last year, the lack of a ball-hawk in the secondary hurt our defense's ability to create turnovers. Ryan Clark is more focused on laying someone out than intercepting the ball. Adding a guy like Earl Thomas (Texas) to the secondary would be a huge upgrade. Thomas has the coverage skills to cover the slot receiver in the nickel package along with the ball skills to play "centerfield" as a free safety. If there is one guy in this whole draft class we do not want to see the Steelers pick, it's Taylor Mays (USC). He can't cover, can't tackle, and doesn't have good ball skills. Enough said. The guy we really like for a mid-round sleeper here is Myron Rolle (Florida State). He took a year off from football to study at Oxford under a Rhodes Scholarship. He has trained with Ike Taylor and Willie Gay in the offseason. He's a guy with exceptionally high moral character and we would love to see him in black and gold next year.

Potential Draft Picks:
Earl Thomas (Texas) - 1st
Nate Allen (South Florida) -2nd
Morgan Burnett (Georgia Tech) - Late 2nd/3rd
Myron Rolle (Florida State) - 3rd/4th
Darrell Stuckey (Kansas) - Late 3rd/4th

Steelers Draft Preview: Linebackers

We continue our preview of the Steelers draft situation today with a look at the linebackers. We'll be hosting a Cover It Live Blog with some other bloggers and fans on Thursday and Friday for the first three rounds of the draft. Feel free to stop by and share your thoughts with us! The great thing about CoverItLive Blogs is that you don't need an account to participate, you can make posts as a guest. We're looking forward to the draft and hope that you'll drop by and chat with us!

Outside Linebackers
Current Players:
James Harrison
LaMarr Woodley
Andre Frazier
Patrick Bailey

No one is going to dispute the fact that we have the best OLB tandem in the league. Harrison and Woodley are beasts at their positions. Period. Frazier and Bailey are indispensable parts of the special teams. While the coverage units were a bit of a sore spot last year, you can't doubt the effort of these two. Bailey is always the first guy down the field and Frazier is consistently good. What the Steelers truly lack here is pass-rushing depth behind Harrison and Woodley. Timmons is talented enough to step in at OLB should one of them go down, but we lack any real depth behind them. The Steelers have spent draft picks, including a 3rd rounder on Bruce Davis three years ago, to try to add depth, but Davis showed little in the preseason and was cut. With the other needs the team has, I don't think going after a "Tweener" (DE/OLB) player in the first round is a good idea, but targeting one in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft would really help the depth of the team, particularly since Harrison is starting to edge up there in years. One guy to keep an eye out for is O'Brien Schofield who was the defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, but then tore his ACL while practicing for the Senior Bowl. He could be a steal in the later rounds of the draft if his ACL has healed.

Potential Draft Picks
Jerry Hughes (TCU) - 1st (Trade down)
Koa Misi (Utah) - Late 2nd/3rd
Ricky Sapp (Clemson) - 3rd
O'Brien Schofield (Wisconsin) - 4th/5th

Inside Linebackers
Current Players:
James Farrior
Lawrence Timmons
Larry Foote
Keyaron Fox

Two years ago, the Steelers rotated their linebackers, with Farrior seeing every down and Timmons and Foote splitting time at the other ILB spot. When Foote left for Detroit, Timmons was promoted to being an every-down LB. Keyaron Fox stepped in brilliantly for Timmons whenever he went down with injury, and we were a bit puzzled why Fox didn't see more time on the field. James Farrior has clearly lost a step, and was exploited in man-to-man pass coverage against running backs multiple times last year. With Foote coming back, we really hope they rotate their linebackers more during games to keep them fresh at the end of games. Farrior is clearly getting up there in years and the Steelers may look for someone to fill his shoes. Whether this be in the first round with a guy like Rolando McClain or in later rounds with someone like Sean Lee (Penn St), Brandon Spikes (Florida), or Jamar Chaney (Mississippi St).

Potential Draft Picks:
Rolando McClain (Alabama) - 1st (Trade Up)
Brandon Spikes (Florida) - 2nd/3rd
Sean Lee (Penn St) - 3rd
Jamar Chaney (Mississippi St) - 3rd
Micah Johnson (Kentucky) - 5th/6th

Other Current Players:
Renauld Williams
Johnny Williams
Derrick Doggett

Honestly, none of these guys are likely to make the team. They're on the roster right now to fill out the roster, and if they perform well, they may end up on the practice squad this year. We really don't see much more upside for any of them than that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Steelers 2010 Schedule

The Steelers 2010 Schedule has been announced. We already knew the opponents, now we know the order.

Sunday, September 12
Heinz Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, September 19
LP Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, September 26
Raymond James Stadium/Warship
1:00 pm

Sunday, October 3
Heinz Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, October 10

Sunday, October 17
Heinz Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, October 24
SunLife Stadium
1:00 pm

Sunday, October 31
8:30 pm

Monday, November 8
Hamilton County Jail
8:30 pm

Sunday, November 14
Heinz Field
8:30 pm

Sunday, November 21
Heinz Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, November 28
Ralph Wilson Stadium
1:00 pm

Sunday, December 5
M&T Bank Stadium
8:30 pm

Sunday, December 12
Heinz Field
1:00 pm

Sunday, December 19
Heinz Field
4:15 pm

Thursday, December 23
Heinz Field
8:30 pm

Sunday, January 2
Cleveland Browns Stadium
1:00 pm

Here's some quick and immediate reaction:
  • The door has definitely been left open for a Winter Classic between the Pens and Caps at Heinz Field. With the last home game being on the 23rd, there would be plenty of time to assemble the rink before the January 1st game and enough time to take it down before a potential first-round playoff game.
  • Three night games in a row in the middle of the season, two of them on the road. Ouch.
  • Five night games total? Wow. That's got to be among the most of any team in the league. The Steelers are getting a lot of air time for a 9-7 team.
  • December is officially Rivalry Month. Maybe we'll call it Hate Month. Not sure yet. Either way, with Baltimore, Cincy, and the Jets, it'll live up to it's billing.
  • Barring Santonio deciding to "wake and bake" again, we'll see him back here on December 19. Can't blame CBS for picking that as one of their 4:15 showcase games.
  • Did the NFL have Ben's suspension in mind when they made the schedule? Notice how all of our prime time games come after the 6th game of the year. Don't read too much into that, but just thought it was interesting that 5 of our last 10 games are in Prime Time.
  • Our secondary will definitely get eased into the season. Atlanta and Tennessee are both run-heavy teams. Tampa's passing game isn't much of a threat. The first test will be in Baltimore against their re-tooled passing attack.
  • The Steelers only have to travel outside the Eastern Time zone twice: to Nashville (vs Tennessee in Week 2) and to New Orleans (on Halloween).
  • Halloween game in New Orleans? Buckle up.