Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Hello again everyone,

You know how this works by now. Feel free to ask whatever question you want in the comments and I’ll answer it up here.

Kicking around the idea of joining Periscope. For those who don’t know, it’s sorta like Facetime, where you could see me (and mom’s basement) and basically have a visual version of this. So let me know if that’s something you’d like to see (it’d be done through Twitter, not here), or if that sounds like a really stupid idea. I’m not married to either option.

To your questions.

dwsteelers: Alex is Ricardo Mathews Cam Thomas 2.0?

Alex: God I hope not. I don’t know how good of a player he is, I’m going to start watching him after this mailbag, but Mathews is undeniably more athletic than Thomas. Which is a big reason why Thomas failed. So I think he’s better, though the bar is incredibly low.

Brian Tollini: There is a lot of talk of finding a player that can not only replace Steve McClendon, but can also fill in for Heyward/Tuitt in a rotation. Do you feel this is truly what the Steelers are looking for or is it what we (the fans) are looking for?

Alex: Sure, because that means you’re talking about a really good defensive linemen. One who can hold the POA, has length, and can rush the passer. Who wouldn’t want that? The defensive line has evolved. In a 2-4-5, you have to be able to do it all. Two-gap, one-gap, get after the QB, run hard to the ball. It’s no longer a niche position. So the players you need have to be extremely talented, just like Heyward and Tuitt are. Can’t hide any deficiencies there.

Will they find that guy? No guarantee. But this draft class is an excellent one so you think they’ll come away with somebody that will hopefully pan out.

Eric Hermann: Do you think there’s a chance we sign any other d-lineman before the draft?

Alex: Sure, always a chance, but I doubt it. With how good this class is, I think the Steelers will wait and see who they get.

John Noh: Is Shamarko a candidate for a post June 1 cut much like Cortez Allen is rumored to be?

Alex: Shamarko doesn’t have the kind of salary that makes him a logical June 1st cut like Cortez, where you can spread out the dead money instead of having it hit you all for one season. Shark will be in camp. Seems likely Cortez will, too.

Is Shark a lock to make it out of camp? No, but I figure he will for his special teams value. Though he’s never become the starting SS he was expected to be, he can still have value to this team.

Sonny Saks: Su’a Cravens a selection if you had to guess??

Alex: I am very curious if the Steelers will transition to a faux-LB based defense like several teams have. And what Pittsburgh did in 2013 with Troy. If there’s a year to start it, it’s now, to get ready for 2017 when Timmons and Williams’ contracts are up.

Is that their plan? No idea. But if it is, I can see a guy like Cravens fit.

gjnn: Just saw that Darian Thompson ran a 4.5 in his Pro Day (unofficial). If that time stands up, is he in play at 25? Or is he more of a 2nd round pick in your opinion?

Alex: It isn’t just about the 40 time. Want to see his vert, broad, too, because they were just as poor as his 40. If all that checks out, then I think he is back in the conversation.

For what it’s worth, I clocked Thompson in the 4.54-4.56 range on his runs.

steelmann58: Alex will they still be looking at adding Vet OL Help.

Alex: Wisniewski is still a FA so maybe he circles back around but I doubt it. Pool of players is drying up. Sounds like they’re open to drafting an interior player though.

deesh138: If Steelers end up going Billings-Joseph-Ward first three picks, are they better off than Spence-Thompson-Reader?

Alex: Yes. The latter have a ton of off the field concerns. Spence with Ectasy, Reader with weed. Too much risk in your top three. You have a three man wolf pack and two of them are Alan from The Hangover. Pass.

And I’m big on the talent of Billings, Joseph, and Ward. Much, much better trio.

Aj Gentile: Alex do you know if Steelers had anyone at middle state tennessee university checking out Kevin Byard?

Alex: I do not. I imagine someone is there though. Especially since Byard wasn’t a Combine invite. Need to gets times on these guys.

Donald Tillman: Of the CB’s in the draft who will be there when we pick. Who has the highest ceiling and who has the highest floor?

Alex: Whew, good luck figuring out who will be there. Alexander, Jackson, and Apple could be off before 25. Or they could be there. Impossible to say. In terms of upside, I think Jackson was the most. If you’re asking highest floor , “safest,” that’s a lot more difficult. Safe doesn’t really mean much. Alexander I guess, but I don’t have a great reason for it. Nor do I really think about who has the highest floor with my first round pick.

Tom Jackson: Alex, who are your top 3 safeties in the draft for us besides Karl Jospeph and Vonn Bell? Because those guys seem rather unlikely to last until our 2nd RND pick at this stage.

Alex: I don’t have a list…yet. But names I like.

Darian Thompson, Keanu Neal, Justin Simmons.

@RickLove040870: with the way FA has gone you think it’s pushing more towards a 1st RD CB pick ?

Alex: I don’t think it’s pushed anymore towards one spot. It’s not like they’ve made a splash signing on defense that eliminates a position from first round consideration. I think we’re where we started. Could still go anywhere.

PittsburghSports: If they do follow through with a 96.7% probability of drafting at least 1 offensive player, what’s the most likely position, player, and round?

Alex: I know I can always count on you bringing the heat with the info. Love it my man. If they’re looking somewhere on offense, I think it’s receiver. Steelers could roll into 2017 with just AB and Coates. For a team that loves to restock at WR, this is a time to do it.

I do not completely rule out a Corey Coleman or Josh Doctson at 25. That may sound crazy but I think the possibility is there just because the talent and potential is so immense. Remember, Doctson hits basically every measurable the team looks for. But failing that, somewhere in the third round. A Leonte Carroo, perhaps.

 @Chadprine72: Alex do you feel Ross Cockrell doesn’t get enough respect as a potential long term starter?

Alex: Yes, especially in the nation wide media. The Steelers liked this kid out of college and after playing as well as you can hope for being thrown into the lineup so quickly, without any time to learn, I am excited to see him progress. So yeah, he’s an underrated player.

Spencer Krick: Would you be opposed to double dipping on DLine?

Alex: I am not, though again, there aren’t many things I am opposed to in the draft. Go in with an open-mind. Only way to do it. With how deep this class is, I can totally see it happening.

D.j. Hoy: Let’s just say all of these guys are available to the Steelers for their first pick. Who do you take and why?
Corey Coleman
Andrew Billings
Vernon Hargreaves
William Jackson III

Alex: Well there are no bad options here. Hargreaves falling would certainly be surprising and hard to pass up. Billings is normally my guy on any list but here, I’d take VH3.

SteelPierogie: I don’t understand why there hasn’t been any contract restructuring this year. Seems odd. Any thoughts?

Alex: Because the cap situation was never as bad as you were led to believe. Why Dave is the most trusted Steelers’ cap guy, in my mind.

srdan: In your adjusted opinion, who will have a better season, blake or boykin?

Alex: I won’t pay much attention to either but probably Boykin. Statistically, at least. No one wants to throw at Norman.

JM_3: What is your opinion on taking someone like Karl Joseph over a corner in round one, if Billings is gone?

Alex: A lot would depend on Joseph’s knee. I don’t think I’m crazy about the idea.

Michael James: What do you think of Moritz Boehringer as a late round WR?

Alex: I am, frankly, just hearing about him, and saw his crazy numbers at FAU today. 227 pounder running sub 4.4 with a 39 inch vertical? I’m listening. But I don’t know a ton about his game and don’t know if I will. I just love seeing players from all over the globe get attention. Pretty cool.

Ken: As of now who do you consider the biggest liability as a starter and who might replace him in the draft?

Alex: Oh man, that’s a good question. The starting 22 is pretty solid. No glaring liability. Probably Javis/James at ROLB. And Golson, if you count him as a start (I do) just because he’s a total unknown.

Jeff Papiernik: What are the other D-lineman in the draft (besides Billings) who have the ability to play NT and DE in subpackages to rush the passer AND who the Steelers are showing interest in?

Alex: You had me until “and showing interest in.” Not that many known. John Mitchell was at Javon Hargrave’s Pro Day. Ridgeway from Texas since Joe Greene was there.

Jeff Kotova: Alex, Why don’t they just resign Landry Jones to be the backup QB instead of drafting someone like Cardell.

Alex: Jones is under contract. He is currently the #2 though I imagine they bring in/back some other veteran QB. I don’t think they are comfortable with Jones being the immediate backup.

I do not agree with them drafting a mid-round QB but that’s a whole ‘nother story.


That’s all the time for this week. Same place, same time next week. Take care everyone.

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