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Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Hey everybody. Good to be back for our weekly chat.

Because my life is super super boring, I usually wind up spending in watching stupid videos on Youtube. One series I came across with a weird concept but is really fun to watch. The premise is just Irish People watching or eating American things. Very funny.

To keep it relevant, here’s a clip of Irish people watching American Football.

If you don’t like this series, then you have a much better social life than I. Congratulations.

Anyway, to your Steelers’ questions.

William Weaver: Why draft a nose? Why not just play a 4-2-5 base defense? Adjust who those 4-2-5 players are based on what the teams are attempting to do?

Alex: Because the whole coaching staff has always been around a 3-4. Keith Butler, John Mitchell, Joey Portr, Jerry Olsavsky, that’s what those guys know. You don’t flip your whole scheme and philosophy to address one need. Counter-productive game to play.

HardPunkKore: Who do you think could be a diamond in the rough in this years draft (late rounder or UDFA)?

Alex: Oooh, good question. I hope to have a better answer in the next couple weeks. I’m not saying this because I interviewed them but the two I talked to – Stefan McClure and Kyle Peko – could make noise. McClure put up big numbers at his Pro Day and Peko is one of those guys who barely has college football experience. Raw but with a lot of potential.

I’ve talked up Henry Kreiger-Coble and David Morgan before at TE. I think FB Dan Vitale can carve out a real niche in the league. I have only seen him in passing but that Copich running back out of Illinois State did some nice things on tape when I was watching someone else.

Matt Manzo: Have you found a DE in the draft that you like?

Alex: Sure, there’s lots of them I like. Chris Jones, Jihad Ward, Carl Nassib could play there. I am fine with taking it in the first two rounds. Encourage it, really. Lot of talent there. I don’t put myself in a box over needing to take position “X” in Round “Y.” Too rigid of a process for an open-ended event like the draft.

RickM: I know that you understandably feel that the team should move on from James Harrison. What decisions or moves would you make to ensure we get adequate production from the ROLB position in 2016?

Alex: It’s not that I’m trying to kick James out of Pittsburgh. My worry is the team won’t address the position if he comes back and then next year, the team is going to be really stuck trying to find pass rush talent. Long-term, the options seem thin.

This edge class isn’t great but if I can get someone to fall to me (Spence/Lawson in the first, Calhoun in the 2nd), I’m giving it a lot of thought. I would also rush Jarvis Jones a little more. Yes, he is far from a dominant pass rusher, but when you drop nearly 30% of the time, production is hard to come by. I wonder if it works for an OLB the way it works for a RB. You need to keep getting your chances to hit your groove.

Chad: Hey Alex, what are your thought on steelers Drafting Ragland with their first pick?

Alex: I’m open to it. I really like the kid. He can move around in some sub-package, get some work rushing the passer. I don’t see him being glued to the bench even if Ryan Shazier manages to stay healthy, a big if. With Timmons and Vince in their last year of the deal, it would be proactive to give the position more of a look than the average fan is.

If they take Ragland, I won’t complain.

falconsaftey43: Fans are give 5 years to run the draft. 100 dedicated fans with no NFL experience are given control of the team’s draft board. They set up the board, and come time for the draft, the team must select one of the top 3 remaining players on the board (to allow for not picking all the same position). Would the team be better, worse, or the same?

Alex: Even if it’s a team like Cleveland, they’re going to be worse. Getting 100 people to agree and make smart decisions on anything is basically impossible. The NFL has their dummies, but it’s relative to the really smart people in the NFL. A stupid doctor is still wayyyy smarter than I am. I couldn’t do his job.

Spencer Krick: If Treadwell fell to #25, would you take him?

Alex: Likely. I am warming up to the idea of taking a WR in the first round. Crazy as that may sound.

Rene Gonzalez: From 1 to 10, how would you rate a defensive backfield that has Mitchell, Golden, Gay, Cockrell and Golson? That could end up being the projected starters for week 1.

Alex: I don’t know what I’m comparing it to though. The group from last year? Relative to the rest of the league? How much worse it’d be if they don’t take a CB in the first round?

I am fine with Mitchell and Golden at safety. You’re banking on Cockrell and Golson progressing enough. They’ll progress but to what extent? Depth is an issue though. Why I was hoping they would bring back Blake or sign a low-tier corner.

Banastre Tarleton: Alex, Give us one name that mockers have going to us in the first round that would have you throwing your shoe at the TV set on draft night. Why?

Alex: There isn’t one name that makes me go crazy. It’s a mock so I don’t care very much. I’ll say this though. I get the idea of a cornerback, and am not opposed to it (especially after the team only brought back Gay), but the outside world thinks it’s the most critical, only position of need. Lot of other directions to go. And if the Steelers don’t take a corner in the first, a lot of people will be dumbfounded. They shouldn’t. So that bugs me.

Ivanho: With the no more chop block rule coming into effect this year, do you feel that the Steelers blocking scheme will be changed significantly, and do you feel that there are some members of the offensive line that will be hurt more than others in their ability to adapt.

Alex: That’s a good question. I don’t think there will be any major changes. Have to coach things up a little different. Have to make sure that the frontside player on a zone block has released before the backside lineman reaches and cuts him. I wonder how much leeway will be given there by the officials. So that’ll be interesting to see.

I don’t think anyone will be adversely affected. It’s a technique correction.

blackandgoldbullion: Since the draft is so deep, and Colbert is notorious for drafting the strong positions later, could you give me your favorite D Linemen after the 3rd round? CB after round 3

Alex: The two I mentioned in my study are late round guys that I want to take a good look at. Joel Heath and Ufomba Kamalu. They fit what the team looks for really well.

I would take a Jonathan Jones or Tavon Young in the 3rd but most think they’ll go later. Big fan of both. I haven’t mentioned him much lately but I have been in Kevin Peterson’s camp for awhile now. Taveze Calhoun is a dude who can pop you.

SkoolHouseRoxx: Hey, Alex! Who’s you like better as a prospect Senquez Golson or Johnathan Jones? Why?

Alex: Jones. Easily. I was pretty down on the Golson pick.

58Steel: Alex, I put my thoughts on Killebrew on the LB thread. Thoughts on if the Steelers would be open to drafting a hybrid type?

Alex: I’ve kicked around the idea in my head before. Don’t know where I come in on the subject. I don’t know which ILB you’re taking off the field on a regular basis. Timmons or Shazier, neither seems like a good choice. The team did, of course, play dime personnel in 3rd and long the last quarter of the year, but is that enough to justify taking a player like that? Eh, I don’t know.

Could the Steelers let Timmons and Williams go after next year and find a hybrid guy? A Mark Barron type of player? That is an out-of-the-box idea but hey, isn’t impossible, I guess.

JM_3: Do you think Hue will be able to turn around RG3?

Alex; I dunno but if there’s a guy who can, it’s Hue Jackson. Made that Bengals’ offense hum and McCarron made a pretty seamless transition. Jackson is one of the best and most innovative playcallers in the league. RG3 will be in a much better environment in Cleveland than Washington and that is really saying something. “Cleveland is better” are words we don’t often speak.

T3assteelers: Who would you compare Andrew Billings to?

Alex: I’m not great at comparisons nor do I care about them too often. Dontari Poe is an easy name to give but I don’t think Billings is quite on that ridiculous athleticism chart like Poe. A rich man’s Jay Ratliff? I dunno.

natty: Conducting an interview of a prospect, what do you specifically what to hear & see? And if it’s just a general sense you get by the end of the session, how does that factor into overall evaluation?

Alex: Well, keep in mind I’ve never done a formal team interview (obviously). Done a couple of one-on-ones like you’ve all seen but that’s pretty different.

You’re looking to find out a player’s character. His background, his home life, his family. If he sounds coached or sincere. And then when you get into football, you want him to be able to break down what his unit did. The calls, the schemes, stuff he should be able to recall immediately, even if he hasn’t had to carry it out in 3-4 months. Shows memory.

Then you might get into some of the things you do as a team. Your calls. Let’s take an offensive linemen. You might ask him about their basic protection schemes. What they were and what they were called. Then you might tell him what you run and those names. 10 minutes later, you might bring it back up and see if he can draw it up and recall it. How he handles new info on the fly. That’s big.

PaeperCup: From what you’ve witnessed, do you think Antonio Brown can bring home the Dancing With the Stars title?

Alex: Haha. I’m the least qualified to answer that. But I mean, he’s the best athlete there, right? It isn’t Doug Flutie. Brown finishes in the top three, at worst. Needs to show off those quick feet a little more. Get a little looser.

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That’s all for this week. Great chat, as always. See you next week.

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