Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

I said to wait and see what the NFL would spit out at us from Tuesday’s version to today’s. And it gave us a 6’6, 238 pound tight end.

Obviously a lot of excitement over the imminent signing of Ladarius Green. If you missed it this morning, here is my scouting report on him.

Sure there will be a lot of questions about him, the rest of free agency, and the draft in this chat. So fire away and I should be able to get to all of them.

Edward Hunt: With the price of backup quarterbacks on the open market and the relative inexpensiveness of drafting a quarterback, does that change your stance on the issue?

Alex: Not one bit. Backup quarterbacks, when that is their clear role coming in (different from say, Chase Daniel) are still pretty cheap. I need guys who can step in right away. A 4th round rookie can’t do that. And grooming them is a buzzword that rarely works. Like I’ve written, the lost mid-late round QB with any sort of success in Pittsburgh is Cliff Stoudt in 1977. Give me the guy who has played a lot of football, knows how to prepare, and can come in at a moment’s notice. There’s a reason why the Steelers immediately went to Vick instead of starting Landry.

@FlordiaBuckeye8: With the signing of Green, other than a OF Tackle or Guard Falling to them, do the Steelers Go All Defense in the draft ?

Alex: Nah. They’ll go into it with probably 7 picks. Six, at worst. Spread the love around. It’s smart to invest in a tackle or maybe a late round tight end, like the team likes to do. Don’t think the team has ever gone all defense in a draft before. But don’t get me wrong – it will be defense heavy.

@ChadPrince72: I’m nervous about the dline depth. Do you see a free agent added to this position to add quality depth?

Alex: I would like to see that, and I’ve written about it many times. Won’t bore you with the long-winded explanations and justifications. Give me Douzable or Winn. Find someone who can give Heyward and Tuitt a break.

I think this is definitely an area to focus on in the draft. Look for Chris Jones and Jihad Ward to get a lot of love.

AnthVt: so much talk has been made about the steelers signing weddle but it looks like they are looking more for a young bargain free agent… Any names at safety pop out to you?? Tony jefferson maybe?

Alex: It sounds like there is legitimate interest in Weddle. They might be waiting for his decision before moving on. But if Weddle doesn’t happen, I still like David Bruton and Husain Abdullah as possibilites. And I am definitely all for Jefferson. Steelers’ fans were trying to convince him on Twitter. His response.

Good stuff.

 Stas: Do you think we are better off focusing on DT and OLB early in the draft rather than DBs? Lots of DL talent and can’t have too many pass rushers. Seems like we need to add to those areas

Alex: I don’t like to put myself in a box and commit to one position. It’s all on the table for Pittsburgh. I think corner is less likely, and a safety doesn’t jump out in round one, but every position group could be upgraded. None of them are complete. Focus on talent and you have the best chance to succeed.

Wixie: Alex do you think the Steelers could sign Mike Neal as a backup d lineman? Gerry Dulac brought him up on twitter the other day.

Alex: Yeah, I can totally see that. Not sure if he has a true position. Isn’t the same as Cam/Tuitt. But not sure if that matters much anymore.

NWall2: Do you think the game this year in SD (with Steeler Nation in attendance) had any type of influence on Green wanting to playing in the black and yellow?

Alex: It’s an interesting thought and maybe a small part of the Steelers’ pitch process. But it would be wayyyyy down on the list of factors. Play time, money, role, scheme on offense and Green’s involvement in it, coaching staff, city, and a million other things are more important.

Swiss-Steel: Hi Alex, How are the chances the Steelers resign both Beachum and McLendon?

Alex: Both? I imagine they’re pretty low. My guess is McLendon returns, Beachum walks. And I can totally live with that.

Rene Gonzalez: Seeing as Green’s cap charges go significantly up for the other three years of the deal, how hard will it be to keep this offense for a good chunk of years considering they still have to do Decastro, Bell, Brown and Bryant eventually in the next two years?

Alex: Those are some big picture, math-heavy questions I really don’t have the answer to. I don’t know their plan. I don’t have their books. We know the cap will go up. But so will the contracts. It is impossible to keep everyone but the Steelers have shown the ability to work the books to figure it out. It’s not often a super talent leaves Pittsburgh.

And if the Steelers can avoid many (or any) restructures this year, their cap will be better for future years. Not kicking the can down the road you do when you turn that base salary into a signing bonus, lowering the cap hit now but increasing it for all future years.

@MartV278: Look at your crystal ball…think the 3B’s & Pouncey will stay healthy & play together in at least 1 game??

Alex: Sure. Probably, hopefully, Week One. Pouncey and Bell both rehabbing pretty aggressively right now.

Umbra Aeternus: Why are the steelers FA not receiving much attention? I was sure Beachum was as good as gone yesterday at 4. Even Cam F. Thomas has gotten more attention than McLendon.
also, is Blake a FA

Alex: Not everyone signs immediately. Some players want to think, take a visit, way options. Let the board get cleared after Day One and see who is still interested. And just because it isn’t public, doesn’t mean there aren’t discussions. Even low-level players get phone calls (I know of one who was in talks with two teams and he’s far from the top free agent on the market).

It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. Even if day one was pretty crazy. Long way to go.

And yes, Blake is a free agent. To the glee of many fans.

@TubeSockDahf: how much money do you think will free up to this years cap if/when Timmons restructures?

Alex: Dave has it laid out better than I ever could. Click here. 

Kevin Gobleck: What are your thoughts on the Safety from WVU Karl Joseph?

Alex: Big hitter. Too bad the knee injury ended his season so quickly in. Need to watch him more. But he’ll pop you like Ryan Clark would. That’s a good place to start.

Zach Bolen: What if any free agent CB (excluding Boykin) would you like to see them pickup.

Alex: I wasn’t crazy about this CB class. Some of the guys I liked were signed (Shareece Wright, Ron Brooks). Jerraud Powers is someone I can get onboard with. But not many I’ve seen that I really care for. Sure there’s someone out there I’m missing.

steeltown: But, do you personally think Coach Daniels can improve Greens blocking ability and mold him in some form or fashion or is he what he is at this point?

Alex: I’m sure he can get better. He isn’t 33. But he isn’t a rookie either and I think people talk about him like he is. Like a lump of clay who has never been coached. The dude is going into his 5th season. He’s average right now and maybe he’ll get slightly above that. But never great. Daniel isn’t a miracle worker. No magic pill hiding under that straw hat.

Justin: Do you like the signing of green for 4yrs/ 20mill?
Do you see the Steelers signing anyone else for more than 3 mil per year?

Alex: I do. And I can. Obviously, Weddle will cost much more than that. And if that doesn’t work out, they could move onto another mid-tier safety. Doesn’t sound like the team is done in free agency yet.

Michael: Alex, how far would Jaylon Smith have to fall in the draft for the Steelers to roll the dice on him.

Alex: Whew, I dunno. Pretty far. Fourth round, maybe? All depends on his medical. About three weeks until his medical rechecks in Indy. Hopefully we hear a little more about the knee then. But I’m not touching him.

Jared Gallagher: With these couple of signings this week, what positions would you draft in first 3 rounds?

Alex: SS, DE, and OLB are still at the top for me. Corner is real close, too. Really hasn’t changed much in terms of what the team needs to address.

@ChupaThingy6173: if Weddle doesn’t pan out do you even give a sniff to Reggie Nelson for 1-2 year deal?

Alex: He probably wants more security than a one or two year deal. The dude is 32. Last chance for a contract.

Phil Brenneman II: Do you think our O linemen deciding to stay has anything to do with Ben?

Alex: Well, according to Foster, that was one of the reasons why he wanted to come back. The line loves Ben. The relationship between quarterback and line is huge. Take the comments for what it’s worth, but Chris Cooley came out and said how the Redskins’ O-line didn’t like RG3. Not because he was a bad quarterback but that he didn’t take accountability for the sacks he created. Ben always defends his guys and there is certainly a level of respect there. So sure, it’s not the deciding factor, but an influencing one.

srdan: What are your thoughts on a QB going off the board at 25?(to us)

Alex: Ehhh, I’m against it. And I mean, that’s easy to say. I’ll stick my neck out and say I would actually rather take one in the first round than the 4th or the 7th. At least you’re getting talent in the first. But no, I don’t want a QB. That guy isn’t helping the Steelers win now. And that’s what I want to do. Win now.

Brian Tollini: Do you see Deiondre’ Hall out of Northern Iowa as strictly a safety in the NFL, and either way do you see him as a fit for the Steelers scheme?

Alex: I like Hall. I think he’ll play safety, especially after his poor 40 time. I don’t have a compelling reason as to why he couldn’t fit the Steelers’ scheme. But it is so rare for them to target FCS players. Only 4 since Colbert got here in 2000.

58Steel: Alex, assuming we sign a vet safety, and McClendon, bigger need in draft, DL or CB?

Alex: Close one because currently at least, depth is minimal in both areas. But DL. Lose Heyward or Tuitt? You’re losing a great player and replacing him with….not much.


That’ll be all for the chat today. Thanks everyone. Awesome questions. Talk to you next week.

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