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First call: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Steelers lowest NFL draft class; Kendrick Green’s focus is already on starting center jobs



Monday’s “First Call” has a negative review of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ performance during the NFL Draft weekend.

A Steelers election already has big goals. The penguins have a chance to pour some salt into the wounds of a hated rival.

And we check in on an ex-pirate as the Bucs get ready to head west.


Tough degrees

ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Steelers a “C +”

; rating in 2021. No team received a lower grade from Kiper than them.

Here’s Kiper’s reasoning.

“I’m a big fan of Najee Harris (24) but am almost always against taking a run back in the first round,” said Kiper. “Round 1 is too valuable, and we’ve seen over the last decade that good running backs can be found in any round – or even as non-appointed free agents. And when I look at this Pittsburgh list, I see bigger holes. Offensive line, corner, edge thruster – could the team have had better value at another position? ”

Kiper went on to say that he thought the Steelers got some help for the coming year or future.

“I just do not see much value in Pittsburgh’s class, and the offensive linemen they took were chosen too highly. I have not even mentioned that the Steelers still do not have a plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger. ”

See, if you’re of the basic belief that no team should ever pick a race back in the first round, you’ll obviously hate the Steelers’ draft because of the Harris pick.

And if you happen to think the Steelers needed to start a succession plan for Roethlisberger in addition to Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins this year, then you’ll hate it too.

I disagree with both beliefs, so of course I disagree with Kipper’s analysis.

The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts also received a “C +” rating.


Big faux pass to Big Ben?

New Steelers offensive lineman Kendrick Green may have come out on the wrong foot with his new quarterback.

The Illinois rookie center got a call from Ben Roethlisberger in the wake of being called up by the Steelers Sunday. And according to the News-Gazette, Green committed a deadly sin while talking to Big Ben.

Green reminded him of his age.

“I answer the phone and he likes, ‘Hey, it’s Ben Roethlisberger,’ and I’m just talking about it to him,” Green told the News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. ” . ‘And he’s like,’ Yeah, way of making me feel old. ‘ “

We all know Roethlisberger loves these references, right? But other than that, Green made it sound like the conversation was going well. And winning over Roethlisberger could go a long way towards getting more playing time. After all, Roethlisberger was really close to former center Maurkice Pouncey and has some familiarity with the recently re-signed BJ Finney.

Either way, Green says he has the starting job in mind.

“I plan to try to take the job right away,” Green said. “I go in and compete. They have some older guys who have been in the league a bit there at that position. Kind of surreal, to be honest, but I’m ready to do it. ”

The other player in the mix is ​​JC Hassenauer, who replaced Pouncey in three starts last year. Green started 29 games on guard and four in the middle while in Illinois.


Kick them while they are down

It’s a good time for the East Division-leading Penguins to get back-to-back games against the hated Philadelphia Flyers.

First of all, the penguins are hot after winning seven of their last eight.

Second, the Flyers stumble toward the end of what started as a promising season. But Philly was removed from the playoffs last week. And they have been bad after the effort also disappeared.

The Flyers in sixth place just lost the last three competitions in a four-game series to the New Jersey Devils, who are currently the seventh team in the East. And they have lost six out of eight overall, giving 3.87 goals against along the way.

With 3.37 goals per. Match, the Penguins have the third highest scoring average in hockey.

Flyers and Buffalo Sabers have allowed 3.50 goals per game this season. That’s the worst thing in the NHL. Philadelphia’s 87.9 percent save is also at the bottom of the league.


Oh no, Joe!

The Pirates are heading out to San Diego for a three-game set against the Padres start Monday night.

They will not meet former teammate Joe Musgrove. He started Sunday and was knocked around. Musgrove took the loss as the Padres suffered a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco Giants.

He allowed six runs on five innings and threw 83 pitches along the way. The Pirates also beat Musgrove 5-1 when they faced him earlier this season.

The Pirates meet Miguel Diaz on Monday, Ryan Weathers on Tuesday and Yu Darvish on Wednesday. They counter with Tyler Anderson, Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be retransmitted. All emails can be published unless otherwise stated.




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