Shark Bites

The Steelers selected Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A 3-year starter for the Cowboys, Rudolph finished his college career with a 63.2% completion rate, 9.4 yards per attempt and 92 TDs vs. 26 INTs. He was especially good throwing downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, Rudolph’s 51.1% adjusted completion rate on deep passes last year ranked 5th in this draft class — ahead of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson. Rudolph sports prototypical size at 6’5, 235 pounds and has plenty of arm strength. Opponents will point out that he played in a pass-friendly offense with a pair of future NFLers in (fellow new Steeler) James Washington and Marcel Ateman. But there’s some NFL starting potential here. Rudolph, of course, will sit behind Ben Roethlisberger for now. We’ll see if he can develop into his eventual replacement.

The Steelers nabbed Oklahoma State WR James Washington with the 60th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Washington posted huge numbers in the Cowboys’ pass-friendly offense. He broke out for a 53-1,087-10 line as a sophomore and improved to 71-1,380-10 as a junior. This past year, Washington led the entire country with 1,549 receiving yards and tied for 4th with 13 TDs. He ranked 5th among all draft-eligible players with 3.47 yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus, and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top WR. Washington goes just 5’11, 213 pounds but plays bigger thanks to hand size, arm length and wingspan all in the 62nd percentile or better among WRs. He also boasts some of our favorite tape in this WR class, flashing technique and craftiness that belies a 21-year-old. This isn’t a great landing spot for Washington, though. He’ll sit behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the target totem pole in the short term. In the long term, Pittsburgh needs to find a successor to QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers picked Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. Edmunds posted a 97th percentile SPARQ score in predraft testing and flashed his versatility by playing multiple positions over his 3-year college career. NFL Network's Mike Mayock and David Shaw both called him "physical," while the broadcast touted his ability to cover TEs. There's room for Edmunds to start soon in Pittsburgh.

Multiple outlets report that the Steelers are finalizing a deal with free-agent S Morgan Burnett. An IDP force through much of his Green Bay stint, Burnett heads to a defense that hasn't been overly friendly to safety scoring for a while. Combine that with his injury history -- 14 games lost over the past 5 years -- and he looks like no more than a DB2 for 2018 fantasy football drafts at this early stage. Second-year DB Josh Jones looks like the best current bet to take over Burnett's job with the Packers, though we'll see how the rest of the offseason goes. Jones flashed as a rookie, seeing time in DB and ILB roles.

The Steelers have used their franchise tag on RB Le'Veon Bell for the 2nd straight year. The 2 parties have been discussing a long-term contract but have yet to come to an agreement. They now have until July 16 to do so. Otherwise, Bell will play 2018 on a 1-year deal that will pay him $14.5 million. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported earlier this week that Bell will "likely" skip training camp without a long-term contract. He did that last year and got off to a relatively slow start, totaling 236 yards and 1 TD over his first 3 games.

The Steelers have promoted QB coach Randy Fichtner to OC. He's been with the team since 2010 and reportedly has a good relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. The continuity is good news for Pittsburgh's offense.

The Steelers will not bring back OC Todd Haley, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Haley led the Steelers to top 10 finishes in both total yards and points in each of the past 4 seasons. But he's had a rocky relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. We'll see who Pittsburgh tabs to replace Haley.

11:01am EST 1/14/18

Steelers WR Antonio Brown (calf) is officially active for today's game against the Jaguars. So pregame warmups evidently went well enough. Brown remains a risk/reward fantasy play at less than 100% in a tough matchup.

A source tells ESPN's Adam Schefter that Steelers WR Antonio Brown's calf is "not close to 100%." He'll test it in pregame warmups and is expected to "give it a go" against the Jaguars, the source said. But Brown's effectiveness and ability to make it through the game are now in question. He's a tournament-only play in DFS.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown (calf, illness) participated in Saturday's walkthrough and looked healthy, teammates told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. Brown was sent home sick on Friday. He put in full practices on Wednesday and Thursday, which means the calf shouldn't be a major issue. He's a nice DFS tournament play with what figures to be depressed ownership.

ProFootballTalk.com hears that Steelers WR Antonio Brown (calf, illness) will be a game-time decision for Sunday's Divisional Round meeting with the Jaguars. Brown missed Friday's practice with an illness, but PFT reports the calf "remains an issue." HC Mike Tomlin didn't express much concern on Friday afternoon, saying he didn't “have a lot of reservations about [Brown] from a physical health standpoint.” We'll continue to keep an eye on this situation -- and will get Brown's official status around noon ET on Sunday.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Jaguars -- not with his calf injury, but with an illness. Brown put in full workouts on Wednesday and Thursday, so the calf shouldn't be an issue. The illness kept him out of Friday's practice but shouldn't be a factor come Sunday. We'll keep an eye on him into the weekend, though.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown (calf) was a full-go in Monday's practice, HC Mike Tomlin said. It's confirmation that he'll be ready for his usual role against the Jaguars this weekend. Brown turned 19 targets into a 10-157 line vs. Jacksonville back in October.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that Steelers WR Antonio Brown will be at 100% for Sunday's Divisional Round game against the Jaguars. He'll be 4 weeks removed from the calf strain at that point. Brown posted a 10-157 line on 19 targets vs. Jacksonville's league-best pass defense back in October.

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that WR Antonio Brown's recovery from his calf strain is "going well." Tomlin added that Brown would be questionable if Pittsburgh was playing this weekend. That seemingly puts him on track to be ready for the Divisional Round, but we'll continue to track his progress.

The Steelers made DE Cameron Heyward a healthy scratch for today's regular-season finale against the Browns.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le'Veon Bell are officially inactive for today's game against the Browns. QB Landry Jones draws the start. Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint will handle backfield duties.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirms that QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le'Veon Bell won't play in today's finale against the Browns. QB Landry Jones will draw the start, with Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint handling backfield duties. It's unclear how much WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant will play.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell were held out of Friday's practice for non-injury reasons. It's more evidence that they won't play in this weekend's finale against the Browns. We just removed both guys from the Week 17 rankings. QB Landry Jones figures to start for Pittsburgh, with RBs Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint splitting backfield work.

Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Tim Benz that QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le'Veon Bell won't play against the Browns this weekend. We haven't heard anything from the team or any major media sources, but this wouldn't be a total surprise. The Steelers have at least clinched the AFC's #2 seed and can only climb to #1 if the Patriots lose at home to the Jets. We'll continue to monitor this situation -- and will get the Steelers' inactives by noon ET on Sunday.

 
 
 

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