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Steelers rookie camp: ‘Best pick of the draft’

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

A few impressions from the Steelers’ rookie camp, Day 1, here on the sunny South Side …

>> The club had a lively, loud practice albeit without pads. No absences, injuries or other surprises. All according to schedule.

>> Jarvis Jones just looks like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Something to be said for that.

>> Le’Veon Bell … first thought you have is how young he looks. Only 21.

>> It was a session that meant almost nothing, but the guy who still leaps out at you is Shamarko Thomas, the fourth-round safety out of Syracuse. He closes like … well, a shark. All over the ball.

Couple of questions I asked the top two picks and videotaped for you …

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. TJ says:


    I remember you were a little harsh on the pick of Bell over the likes of Lacy. But from what I’ve read there are quite a few that were impressed with the numbers he put up at Michigan State with a lousy offensive line. Other than his age how did he look?

    DK: Never came close to harsh. Was skeptical.

    Running plays extremely hard to gauge in no-pads sessions.

  2. Dom says:

    I read that teams are only allowed to sign rookies to a four year deal. If this is true, then IMO it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring in a rookie QB when we have a solid starter. If he does get a chance to prove himself until year three, we really will not be able to deal him away as teams can just sign him at the end of the season and I cannot imagine he would want to stay with us if it means being the backup.

  3. TJ says:

    Ok maybe harsh was a harsh word. I’ll agree with skeptical. Heck I was very skeptical myself.

    Does he still look the same as what we currently have in Dwyer and Redman?

  4. TJ says:

    Dom I agree with you but I would have to see how Jones turns out after 3 years. My point being that perhaps the Steelers had Jones very high on their board and thought he was a steal at that point in the draft. As we’ve seen with guys like Kolb and Flynn that backups that are young and grow in the position become trade chips in the future.

    By no means am I saying that is the reason why the Steelers drafted Jones; I believe he could become the backup as early as next season and then provides the Steelers a young backup that could essentially be handing the keys to the car when his rookie contract is up. If its a 4 year deal Ben will be what… 34-35 by then?

  5. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    DK – Good stuff!
    No question….Jarvis Jones looks like a Steeler LB.
    Both Jones and Bell strike me as guys that mean business at this early stage.

    DK: Glad you liked it, Daq.

  6. Ghost says:

    I see that the two kids passed their first test when DK asked each if they expect to start. Wasn’t quite sure what Jones was going to say because he had already said a number of times that the Steelers made a “great choice” in picking him. But Jones stayed wide and clear of the “start?” question, with stock answers. That’s a good sign. I’m guessing/hoping that the “great choice” and “best choice out of the whole entire draft” remarks were more from a relative lack eloquence and experience speaking to reporters than from arrogance.

    DK: Ha! Hadn’t thought of those questions as a test, but I’ll agree that both Jones and Bell gave mature answers.

  7. Ghost says:

    In Bell we plucked a Le Vian diamond. (Should I go there with “Chocolate diamond?”)

  8. Ghost says:

    As per DK’s tweet, I see that those who wanted to see Jordy Mercer in Pittsburgh are getting their wish. Doesn’t mean the end to Clint Barmes though. Mercer’s filling in for Walker and I imagine will get some of field time at second(??) I tend to agree with Jandy that Barmes has been getting a tad too much grief from fans for his poor offense. Maybe I’ve become inured to Pirate shortstops not hitting well and, no, that’s not a good thing. But there we are. Unlike Ronny Cedeno, Barmes is solid and dependable with the glove, which was all he was advertised to be.

  9. Ghost says:

    Above wasn’t supposed to be inline reply.

  10. Jim S. says:

    I would rather have had another pass-catching TE than a QB with that pick.

  11. Jim S. says:

    I have read some very good things about Bell. The only thing I am hesitant about is that I read somewhere that he fancies himself an “outside” runner, and that some people think he has a tendenc to try to make too much of runs. The Steelers would prefer more Eddie George and less Barry Sanders. I hope he understands that. Otherwise, I have read nothing but good things about him.

    DK: That’s why I asked Bell the question in the video, Jim. I’m not wild about that, either, and was curious if the Steelers’ coaches had already knocked that out of him.

  12. Jim S. says:

    Saying he is not hitting well is a bit of an understatement, don’t you think? This is historically bad offense. I hope Jordy gets to spot him once in awhile at SS, just to see if Jordy can cut it at this level. We know we have good defense/no offense with Clint and mini-clint Old McDonald. Mercer brings something different that we need to see.

    I suggested earlier that I would call Texas and ask if they would give us Profar for either Cole or Taillon. As good as I think those 2 pitchers can be, I’d do it in a second. Maybe Texas would not take that deal, but I would try to find out.

  13. Ghost says:

    What I said about Barmes was that his offense is “poor.” The “not hitting well” part was about Pirate shortstops in general, over these past few years.
    As for trading away Cole or Taillon… Holy smoke — Where is Jandy with her nine-inch wides when we need her?

  14. Ghost says:

    That was just a *joke.*

  15. […] I’m not sure what Kovacevic saw to make him refer to Shamarko Thomas as a “shark,” but I would love that analogy to ring true (Jim Wexell similarly echoed Kovacevic’s praise, albeit with more colorful language). More from Kovacevic’s observations including interviews can be found on his blog. […]

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