sports http://nerdstein.net/ en LeVeon Bell and Saquon Barkley http://nerdstein.net/blog/leveon-bell-and-saquon-barkley <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">LeVeon Bell and Saquon Barkley</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">I am a huge fan of both Penn State Football and the Pittsburgh Steelers teams. The Steelers have shown favoritism to early-round Big Ten players (e.g. Shazier, Cam Heyward, Artie Burns) but they don't seem to routinely select Penn State players based on what I believe to be differences in systems and/or philosophies (Jesse James being one recent counter-example to this). Saquon Barkley is a generational talent that all teams should be vying for. The Steelers recently announced they were putting talks on-hold with LeVeon Bell so their staff could focus on the upcoming draft. Is there a chance the Steelers have eyes for Barkley? Let's look at the not-so-far-fetched reality of Barkley to the Steelers.</span></span></p> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Let's start by evaluating the circumstances surrounding LeVeon Bell and the Steelers.</span></span></p> <p> </p> <ul style="margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:3pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">NFL backs in the modern day NFL are not known for their longevity. And, this should be expected based on how physical the position is. This may be Bell’s final contract before he begins his decline, if not moves into a backup or retirement.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">A lot of teams use a running back by committee approach instead of leveraging the workhorse approach the Steelers use with Bell. This is likely based on the money he is paid under the franchise tags, but it also suggests Bell may have more wear and tear than other backs in the league. He was primarily featured at Michigan State as well.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Based on the committee philosophy, very good running back talent has been available in later rounds of the draft. Bell has game-changing, elite talent, but adequate replacements can be found and groomed in the draft. This may suggest the Steelers draft his replacement this year and let him walk after playing out this year on the tag with a committee of the drafted player and James Conner.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">The workhorse philosophy is taking away opportunities for other Steelers players. The Bell-heavy play calling took away potential opportunities for the tight-ends to get in rhythm or the younger running backs and receivers to get the experience they need to mitigate the risk of losing Bell (to injury or otherwise).</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Currently, the Steelers have plenty of offensive talent to absorb a loss of LeVeon Bell. While he has a huge impact on the game, the same can be said for Brown, Roethlisberger, or the up and coming JuJu Smith-Shuster.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Steelers will not over pay regardless of his elite talent. There is no precedence to pay one player as a number one RB and a number two WR. This is akin to putting your eggs in one basket. I believe there is a growing thought within the organization that they will not be able to find a longer-term deal that does not come with potentially jeoparizing the team’s future.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Bell has not proven to stay on the field for both health reasons (knees) and disciplinary issues. Any long term deal would need to be made with some injury protections. And, quite frankly, his drug-related issues may bring into question his leadership abilities. </span><br class="kix-line-break" /><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">  </span></span></p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">The economic undertone of all of these discussions is the Steelers cap issues. I appreciate that the Steelers try to keep and pay the talent they draft, as this helps players know the organization will invest if they work hard and play well. But, let’s be clear on one fact: they don't overpay. A lucrative deal with Bell would be a ton of money tied up in three players and three specific positions. I'd like to see how the team could spread this out more. Specifically, younger players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and TJ Watt (both fan favorites, great personalities, and apparent favorable team rapport) already warrant extensions. The Steelers would need to draft well every year to maintain a constant pipeline of young, affordable talent.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">LeVeon Bell is highly coveted across the league. He very easily could have been the top free agent in this and last year’s market if the Steelers had not tagged him. The Steelers very likely could receive a haul for one year of LeVeon Bell and first dibs at signing him to the contract he feels he is worth in a sign-and-trade type scenario. In the case of Barkley, if the Steelers are able to secure a top-5 pick or Barkley slips a bit, he could be within reach for the Steelers.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:3pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Bell is a known commodity in the NFL. The league does place a high value in draft picks, however, there is no guarantee draft-eligible players translate their game from college to the pros.  </span></span></p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:11pt;margin-bottom:11pt;"> </p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:11pt;margin-bottom:11pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">For the dreamers like me, let’s assume the Steelers consider replacing LeVeon Bell with Saquon Barkley. What are some relevant circumstances here?</span></span></p> <ul style="margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:3pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Drafting Barkley may ensure a smoother transition into the next generation of Steelers offensive leaders. Getting younger at the position ensures a degree of stability longer-term. Older players, like Roethlisberger, Brown, and Pouncey, can more gradually hand the keys over to players like Barkley, Smith-Shuster, and DeCastro.</span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Barkley would be significantly cheaper playing through his rookie contract. This can help stabilize the Steelers finances in order to spread their cap throughout the rest of the team that has uncertainty in their secondary and inside/outside linebacker. This mitigates the risk of drafting well, which has been especially challenging for outside linebacker (Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree, and the late blooming Jason Worilds, who actually retired before really hitting his stride). Based on their cap situation, the Steelers have been handcuffed in signing top-tier free agent talent or doing significant trades because of the hefty contracts they have given out. Trading Bell and getting a return frees up the almost $15 million allotted by the tag and the future for the Steelers to be more aggressive in exploring talent through free agency and trades.  </span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Barkley has already demonstrated similarities to LeVeon Bell. He exhibits the same patient running style as Bell, may actually bring more physicality, and mirrors Bell's ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Drafting Barkley purely based on style may minimize the transition from Bell. </span></span><br class="kix-line-break" /> </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre; margin-left: 17pt;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:3pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">Barkley more closely aligns with the blue collar, hard working, team first attitude the Steelers prefer. Both Brown and Bell are incredibly hard working, but sometimes allow their egos to take over. They are great, highly motivated players that deserve to have some swagger. But, this creates drama and, as a fan, I find it distracting. Shedding some of the attitude by cutting ties with Bell and adding both the talent and level-headed posture Barkley brings may foster a healthier locker room. Barkley has been widely praised for his poise and leadership, which may bring the Steelers the intangible things that has sustained their team culture and position as one of the best franchises in the league. Recall, they have a past history of prioritizing culture over talent (see Santonio Holmes). </span></span></p> </li> </ul> <p> </p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6a7c35ab-68af-baa7-8f79-64b350200b65"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; white-space: pre-wrap;">In conclusion, I don’t believe it is all that far fetched should the Steelers be in the position to draft Barkley and move Bell. I’d be just as happy see Bell sign a deal that allows him to retire a Steeler, if this does not compromise the future of the team and dump dead money in the latter end of a long-term deal. They are in win-now mode, but I sense adding a player like Barkley is equally as complementary to that and may actually be more advantageous for the future.</span></span></p> </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/users/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 03/02/2018 - 12:03</span> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">sports</a></div> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-blog-post field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:03:51 +0000 admin 104 at http://nerdstein.net http://nerdstein.net/blog/leveon-bell-and-saquon-barkley#comments 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions http://nerdstein.net/blog/2016-pittsburgh-pirates-predictions <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">2016 Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The annual winter meetings have passed. A lot of GMs have been aggressive in spending or prioritizing their team's urgent needs. As usual, the Pirates were not big spenders nor would I consider them aggressive. This fits into their typical patient and cost-effective operations. So, what is there to write about? The Pirates made some recent moves and seem to be staging something. Let's predict what.</p> <p> </p> <h2>Offseason moves</h2> <p> </p> <p>This is all about freeing up salary.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Neil Walker</strong> - Pirates fans had to say goodbye to a fan favorite. This ripped off the band-aid from past Pirate teams where we allowed our talent to move on, in efforts to rebuild. This one stings, since the talented Walker grew up in Pittsburgh and was, by all accounts, a model citizen on and off the field. This was salary focused and Walker, reasonably, shouldn't be expected to take a pay cut at the prime of his career to stay with the team. And, the team recognized it already has capable folks of filling the role right now (see: Josh Harrison). Long term, <span data-scayt_word="Alen" data-scaytid="1">Alen</span> Hanson seems to project into the teams starting role.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Charlie Morton</strong> - Under appreciated, but oft injured. When he was healthy, Morton was a ground ball wizard. He never overwhelmed with his stuff, but he consistently delivered 6-7 innings without making huge gaffes. This consistency was often overlooked, because he wasn't blowing teams away. But, this consistency makes him ideal for a back of the rotation starter.</p> <p> </p> <p>Why would the Pirates trade him to the <span data-scayt_word="Phils" data-scaytid="2">Phils</span>? They could get a bounce back candidate on a short term deal for much cheaper and one that would probably stay on the field longer. This gives them time to evaluate Jamison <span data-scayt_word="Taillon" data-scaytid="3">Taillon</span> after Tommy John surgery and get Tyler <span data-scayt_word="Glasnow" data-scaytid="4">Glasnow</span> into the majors this year.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Pedro Alvarez</strong> - The Pirates success has been around solid pitching (starting and relief) and the complementary defense. They lack power, but they do get on base more. Flat out, Pedro is the polar opposite of what the Pirates need. He has power, but has a high strikeout rate and his defense in multiple positions has been atrocious. He was predicted to command a hefty salary for a team that already has Michael Morse and will likely resign the utility man Sean Rodriguez. This doesn't strike fear into opposing teams, but it is likely better than the salary dump. </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Retirements</strong> - The Pirates lost stalwart veterans <span data-scayt_word="AJ" data-scaytid="5">AJ</span> Burnett and <span data-scayt_word="Aramis" data-scaytid="6">Aramis</span> Ramirez to retirement. Burnett had an unexpectedly productive year last year (no doubt motivated by his last hurrah and a fan base that adores him). Ramirez seemed to provide veteran leadership down the stretch. I believe someone like Chris Stewart can become a more established veteran voice in the locker room. The void here is more about grit, experience, and above average production around depth. Kang will be more present at third base and Jon <span data-scayt_word="Niese" data-scaytid="7">Niese</span>, acquired by the Walker trade, should suffice. <span data-scayt_word="Niese" data-scaytid="8">Niese</span> should not be measured from past history, but based on what the Pirates coaching can mold him into. </p> <p> </p> <h2>Predictions</h2> <p> </p> <p>The team still has glaring needs at first base, starting pitching, and relief pitchers.</p> <p> </p> <p>There is a principal reason why salary has been freed up (sitting now around 25 million or so freed after recent transactions). Neil Huntingdon has publicly said this will help the Pirates establish depth. In short, and as predicted, they will not go after the big fish in the sea. This should immediately eliminate Scott <span data-scayt_word="Kazmir" data-scaytid="9">Kazmir</span> and Mike <span data-scayt_word="Leake" data-scaytid="10">Leake</span>, of which are still popular targets among free agents. But, there is enough salary here for the Pirates to make impact.</p> <p> </p> <p>Pirates coaching has demonstrated the ability to rehabilitate the careers of talented pitchers down on their luck. In fact, rumors tie the Pirates to comeback pitchers <strong>Justin Masterson</strong> and <strong>Mat <span data-scayt_word="Latos" data-scaytid="13">Latos</span></strong>. <strong>Cliff Lee</strong> would be an incredible addition at the right price, as he seems to have been written off like Burnett was in Philadelphia. I can't see them getting into a bidding war with <span data-scayt_word="Kazmir" data-scaytid="11">Kazmir</span> or <span data-scayt_word="Leake" data-scaytid="12">Leake</span>, unless their market dies down and the Pirates can establish relatively short term deals that will not block their promising minor league depth. Jeff Locke is no guarantee to hold down a roster spot, but certainly could serve in a long relief role, similar to that of Joe Blanton last year. In short, there will be starting pitching added and the roster will improve, but I highly doubt Pirates fans will get the big names they are drooling over.</p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">Pirates fans want a big splash and first base is the best opportunity for doing so. </span>Pirates coaches have not, however, demonstrated the ability to groom their current roster into salvageable first basemen. They lost two potential fourth slot hitters in Walker and Alvarez and they have had very little consistency in the position (see: <span data-scayt_word="Morneau" data-scaytid="16">Morneau</span>, Ike Davis, Alvarez, Adam <span data-scayt_word="LaRoche" data-scaytid="18">LaRoche</span>, Morse, Rodriguez, Gaby Sanchez, Garrett Jones, etc). They need power, veteran leadership, and they yearn for someone to continue to steer their youth. Don't expect them to go after the likes of Chris Davis who, in my mind, is very similar to Pedro Alvarez. They have already made ineffective, nominal trades to bring in <span data-scayt_word="Morneau" data-scaytid="17">Morneau</span> and Ike Davis. This should rule out the need to make another average investment in free agents like Adam Lind or Steve Pearce, who wouldn't be substantially better than a Morse/Rodriguez platoon.</p> <p> </p> <p>Expect the Pirates to make a trade for their first basement. <span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">Impactful moves made by buyers at the trade deadline are often expensive. The Pirates must contend with desperate teams trying to patch injuries and trades can have the potential to disrupt the cadence established by the team throughout the year. My hope is that the Pirates see the benefit of making moves early on.</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"> If I were in their shoes, my trade would be for </span><strong style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Freddie Freeman</strong><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"> of the Braves. Why? He has power, he plays defense, and he is adored by Atlanta fans. Yes, this is a big move, and is likely improbable. But, if they do anything noteworthy, this certainly fits the bill. This is the perfect move the Pirates need to establish consistency, invest back in the franchise, and win back the fans after the recent moves.  The Braves are in all-out </span><span data-scayt_word="firesale" data-scaytid="22" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">firesale</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"> mode. </span><a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10403089/freddie-freeman-atlanta-braves-agree-contract-extension" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">He is locked up long term</a><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"> so the Pirates shouldn't hesitate to throw in some of the depth in the farm system. Throw in a tantalizing prospect like Josh Bell, and it might garner some attention from the Braves. </span></p> <p> </p> <p>Lastly, I expect some contract extensions. Huntingdon would be wise to lock up <strong>Francisco <span data-scayt_word="Cervelli" data-scaytid="32">Cervelli</span></strong> (a growing fan favorite) and make <strong>Andrew <span data-scayt_word="McCutchen" data-scaytid="37">McCutchen</span></strong> a Pirate for life. It would be expensive, but well worth it. <span data-scayt_word="Cervelli" data-scaytid="36">Cervelli</span> provided the spark left by Russell Martin's free agency departure. He was quite a surprise and was overlooked as a member of the Yankees. <span data-scayt_word="McCutchen" data-scaytid="245">McCutchen</span> is the face of the franchise and has outplayed his current contract after consecutive MVP seasons. The Pirates should offer him a raise on the remaining years of his deal to provide the incentive and extend his contract for as many years as possible.</p> </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/users/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 12/14/2015 - 14:58</span> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">sports</a></div> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-blog-post field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> Mon, 14 Dec 2015 19:58:36 +0000 admin 57 at http://nerdstein.net http://nerdstein.net/blog/2016-pittsburgh-pirates-predictions#comments 2015 Steelers Draft Predictions http://nerdstein.net/blog/2015-steelers-draft-predictions <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">2015 Steelers Draft Predictions</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>I'll try to stay focused on the picks in the first two rounds, as it's very difficult for a novice like me to be an expert after that.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Background</strong></p> <p>There are two philosophies the Steelers never deviate from. They certainly will not this year:</p> <ol> <li>They will draft the best player available, not based on need.</li> <li>They only draft "special" secondary players in the first two rounds.</li> </ol> <p>The following picks represent my best guess at where the Steelers will go. I'll also note other players I believe they will consider.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Round 1</strong></p> <p>Nate Orchard - <span data-scayt_word="OLB" data-scaytid="14">OLB</span> from Utah</p> <p>Leadership skills, strong and has decent size. A slight chip on his shoulder coming from a smaller school will prove to be a high motivating factor. Valued highly for his character and not just on-field skills. The Steelers certainly value the individual just as much as outright talent. The pick represents a lesson learned from the Jarvis Jones selection (speed back but seems to struggle to put on the weight needed to compete at the NFL). <br /> </p> <p>Other picks I considered:</p> <ol> <li>Bud <span data-scayt_word="Dupree" data-scaytid="15">Dupree</span> - <span data-scayt_word="OLB" data-scaytid="17">OLB</span> - Kentucky. Shares much of the same strengths as Orchard, but widely regarded as a high-end prospect. He will likely not be available at pick 22.</li> <li>Landon Collins - S - Alabama. There is a definite chance he will be available at pick 22. I gave a slight edge to Orchard since Pittsburgh does not value the secondary like their front 7. I do not believe the Steelers deem him as "special". Former Alabama secondary players have struggled to equate to high end NFL talent (see: Mark Barron, Javier Arenas, <span data-scayt_word="Dre" data-scaytid="58">Dre</span> Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner). It's easier to evaluate a talent when they are not a part of every number one recruiting class.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <p><strong>Round 2</strong></p> <p>Maxx Williams - <span data-scayt_word="TE" data-scaytid="85">TE</span> - Minnesota</p> <p>Arguably the best <span data-scayt_word="TE" data-scaytid="89">TE</span> prospect in the draft, but in a year that the two <span data-scayt_word="TE" data-scaytid="102">TE</span> system of 2014 was not as hyped by the media. The entire motivation of this pick is a first-round talent that slipped to round 2 and can replace the aging Heath Miller. He will not be expected to compete for a starting job this year, but should almost be considered a starter when Miller's contract runs out (I believe is next year). He has the offensive touch to make him a threat, but still needs to work on bulking up to block in the NFL.</p> <p>Other picks I considered:</p> <p> </p> <ol> <li>Byron Jones - CB - <span data-scayt_word="UConn" data-scaytid="192">UConn</span>. Not getting the flash of <span data-scayt_word="Trae" data-scaytid="196">Trae</span> <span data-scayt_word="Waynes" data-scaytid="197">Waynes</span> or Marcus Peters, but a first/second round talent that showed up at the NFL Combine. He has good instincts and size that will evolve into a solid member of the secondary after some grooming.</li> <li>Marcus Peters - CB - Washington. With character red flags, there is a chance he drops this far. I'm not sure the Steelers can turn away with such a glaring need if he drops to them in round 2.</li> <li><span data-scayt_word="Shaq" data-scaytid="255">Shaq</span> Thompson - LB - Washington. Seems to have fallen off of the media radar post-combine. He seems to be able to resemble a front-7 Troy <span data-scayt_word="Polamalu" data-scaytid="277">Polamalu</span>. Major position flexibility and seems to always be around the ball at all times. I highly doubt he will slip this far, but the Steelers would not turn away from the talent.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <p><strong>Later Rounds Watch</strong></p> <p>I think the following late-round players will be on the Steelers watch list. They will be on the look out for longer-term value and ability to groom.</p> <ol> <li><span data-scayt_word="Ifo" data-scaytid="310">Ifo</span> <span data-scayt_word="Ekpre-Olomu" data-scaytid="317">Ekpre-Olomu</span> - CB - Oregon. Knee injury made his draft stock slide. But, an elite talent that should not be expected to contribute in year 1. The Steelers have enough secondary depth to hobble along this year.</li> <li>Danielle Hunter - DE - LSU. Defensive line depth will absolutely be a part of this draft. A little lean for a DE prospect, but a very physical player with the strength to push around offensive linemen. Reminds me of an inexperienced Jason Pierre Paul-type prospect and has the pedigree from one of the nation's top schools.</li> <li>Clayton <span data-scayt_word="Geathers" data-scaytid="359">Geathers</span> - S - Central Florida. A raw talent with strength and exceptional hitter. He has no issue challenging the run, which would complement Mike Mitchell's style of play. His vertical jump rated as a top performer at the combine, giving him the ability to challenge passes. Many question marks at the safety position with the unproven, injury riddled <span data-scayt_word="Shamarko" data-scaytid="385">Shamarko</span> Thomas.</li> </ol> <p> </p> </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/users/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">sports</a></div> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-blog-post field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 15:54:30 +0000 admin 48 at http://nerdstein.net http://nerdstein.net/blog/2015-steelers-draft-predictions#comments Should the Pens trade Orpik? http://nerdstein.net/node/17 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Should the Pens trade Orpik?</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Much focus has been paid to Matt Niskanen or Simon Depres finding new towns. This is the most likely scenario, as Niskanen's youth and recent good play has surely garnered focus. His trade may be more likely, as Depres came to camp over weight. Although young defense talent is a major asset in this league. Letang is locked up, Martin played well (after a rough previous year), and the defensive depth is stacked (see: Maata, Pouliot, Ruopp, and Dumoulin). Further, Engelland provides an adequate substitute/backup.</p> <p>My focus has shifted to Orpik. He's in a contract year, his return is uncertain with the organizational depth. His leadership is unquestioned. But, he plays a very physical style of play and his body has been breaking down on him. </p> <p>He may be expensible, especially for a team lacking a top-tier defenseman. He likely could draw high draft picks and an upgrade to our third or fourth line winger (see: Tanner Glass, Chris Conner, Harry Zolnerwhateverhisnameis). My priority would be to rebuild offensive depth, as we truly lack organizational depth on the wing. I think Orpik could get the draw needed to keep our youth movement sustained for years to come.</p> <p>Where I see it difficult to let him go, I don't think it should be off the table. He's been a fixture in the organization for years and for all the right reasons. It may be a good time to sell while he can add this same value to another organization in the twilight years of his career.</p> </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/users/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 10/22/2013 - 10:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">sports</a></div> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-blog-post field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:54:52 +0000 admin 17 at http://nerdstein.net http://nerdstein.net/node/17#comments