NFL from the Sidelines

Blogs NFL from the Sidelines

O-R Sports reporter Dale Lolley gets you the insider scoop on the NFL.

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard on the Steelers radio network pre-game show prior to every game. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.

Sifting through the combine

March 6, 2017
Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt makes a catch as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The NFL combine has wrapped up and now that the smoke has cleared, we can see a little more clearly how things are rounding into shape for the Steelers.

By far, they were most active with the outside linebacker prospects, visiting with 17.

That list has a number of potential first-round draft picks, including Auburn’s Carl Lawson, UCLA’s Takk McKinley, Temple’s Hasson Reddick, Alabama’s Tim Williams, Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers, Missouri’s Charles Harris and T.J. Watt of Wisconsin.

There’s a better than 50-50 shot that Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick this year will come from that group of players.

And it’s not a bad pool in which to be dipping your line.

Which one they end up with largely depends upon who is selected before the Steelers make their pick at 30. And, of course, the Steelers also covered their butts. They spoke with some top-rated talent at other positions, as well.

Those would include cornerbacks Desmond King of Iowa, TreDavious White of LSU and Cam Sutton of Tennessee, receiver John Ross of Washington, safety Marcus Williams of Utah, Mississippi tight end Evan Engram and quarterbacks DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

Only a few of the players in that second group would be considered possible first-round talents, with most being second- and third-round selections.

The Steelers have said acquiring an edge rusher is their top priority in this draft and it appears they’ll be true to their word.

@ The news flashed across the TV screen and somebody remarked about it, so I took a look.

“Steelers reportedly interested in Terrelle Pryor,” the screen said.

Yeah, right.

I looked up the source of said report and it turned out to be coming out of Cleveland.

An initial report listed several teams, including the Giants and Eagles, to be in the hunt for Pryor when free agency opens later this week.

The Steelers were added into the conversation later.

In other words, it came from Pryor’s agent, trying to drum up interest for his client.

With the Steelers having just spent $19 million on their No. 1 receiver, do you really think it’s likely the team would be interested in adding another receiver who is seeking $12 million per season?

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Or maybe you can.

@ One report I heard over the weekend I will put some stock in is that the Steelers could be in the market for Cincinnati cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

The 6-1, Kirkpatrick has nine career interceptions for the Bengals, including three picks last season.

Signing the 27-year-old also would serve two purposes. First, it would make the Steelers better. Second, it would make the Bengals worse.

That’s a win-win, even if you have to sign him to a, say, 4-year deal worth $24 to $28 million. I don’t know if I’d go above that, though.

And the Titans, one of the other teams reportedly interested in Kirkpatrick, have plenty of cap space.

Then again, Kirkpatrick might want to be on the winning side of the Steelers-Bengals rivalry for a while.

@ A signing of a guy such as Kirkpatrick would likely cost the Steelers any chance of re-signing Lawrence Timmons.

I’m hearing there will be a pretty solid market for Timmons on the open market.

He’s been productive. He’s still a three-down linebacker - for most teams - and he’s still just 30.

@ Don’t be surprised if the Steelers reward left tackle Alejandro Villanueva with a new deal.

Villanueva is an exlclusive rights free agent and can’t go anywhere, but like the Steelers did with James Harrison and Willie Parker when they were still exclusive rights guys, the team would like to compensate Villanueva, their starting left tackle.

It won’t be a monster deal. But paying Villanueva $3 million per season now and keeping him off the open market in a couple of years makes sense.

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