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Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Three weeks away from the draft. Unreal. Normally, this is the time for April showers, but if you’re living in the Pittsburgh area, you know there’s snow coming this weekend. Weird world.

Important question for you all. Lasik eye surgery? Worth it or not? I don’t plan on ever actually doing it this year but with the cost of contacts and my allergies, man, I’d love to some day. I know that not everyone is qualified to do it but for those who have had it done or know someone who did, is it worth the cost?

Now that my problems are out of the way, like usual, hit me up with your Steelers’ questions. I’ll be around for the next hour. Looking forward to it.

Jeff Papiernik: Do you think [Kevin Dodd] could be a fit?

Alex: I haven’t watched Dodd that closely and maybe he’s an underrated fit for Pittsburgh. 277 is really on the heavy side of things though for a conversion guy and he’s not the super athlete Dupree was. I’d be surprised if Dodd landed here.

Ask Questions Later: What is your opinion of Deion Jones? Kinda reminds me of a lesser Ryan. In addition, would you draft him?

Alex: I can see the allure but not in a 3-4. 4-3 WILL type of kid. So I wouldn’t draft him.

Phil Brenneman II: Do you think the Steelers interest in QB’s is another Landry-esque swing at Bens replacement or do you think maybe Ben has expressed feelings towards retiring sooner rather than later?

Alex: Definitely more of the former. Colbert himself came out and said he expects to get another 3-4 years out of Ben. It’s been pretty clear they aren’t comfortable with Landry being the #2, especially as the lone guy without much competition. So that’s where the interest stems from. Look back and usually every 3 years or so, the team drafts another QB. There was an exception from the Dixon-Jones picks, a five year span, but that aside, they’re usually grabbing one every third year.

PaeperCup: I don’t know Steelers draft history that much to say, but Realistically what are the chances the Steelers draft a player with no true position, a tweener like Nassib, Kafusi, or even Cravens?

Alex: I think the odds are high. What position? Not sure. But positions are morphing into roles now. The lines have definitely blurred. Generally speaking, I think there is a great chance they take one of those “tweener” guys. I could definitely see Kaufusi coming to the Burgh.

@Blk_YllwReports: Do you think the Steelers will retire #36 in the upcoming years?

Alex: I don’t think so. Even though they might be a little more open to retiring numbers, there are plenty of others I’d start with. Webby, Blount, and Franco, for starters. The Bus is in quite a traffic jam.

Spencer Krick: If the Steelers trade up or down, which round do you think it is most likely to occur? My money is on round 2 to grab a safety they like.

Alex: That’d probably be my best guess too for something that is so difficult to predict. Colbert has been aggressive at moving up for safeties in the draft. Traded up for Troy and Shark. Makes sense.

Bill Sechrengost: Alex, would you expect the Steelers to re-sign anymore of their free agents?

Alex: I guess that pool is drying up, isn’t it? Who do we have left? Thomas, Vick, Stingily, Gradkowski, Legursky, Allen. Think the obvious answer here is Gradkowski, especially with the earlier report they’re waiting for him to get healthy, throw, and then they’ll evaluate. I bet they bring him in after the draft.

I bet Tomlin still has a feeling of bringing back Will Allen for veteran safety depth. But that could be partially dictated by the draft. Who knows, Tomlin could tell Allen to stay in shape during camp/regular season and bring him in if there’s an injury.

John: If the Steelers draft Andrew Billings in the 1st round & one of the top safeties in the 2nd round (Karl Joseph, Keanu Neal, Darian Thompson, Su’a Cravens, Jeremy Cash, Vonn Bell), do you believe there will be a cornerback worth targeting in the 3rd round? If so, who would you have an eye on at that spot?

Alex: I think everyone knows my answer. Jonathan Jones is my dude. So he’s the guy I would target.

Nicholas Allen Cotner: Favorite passing concept?

Alex: Oooh, I miss talking scheme. Been on a Gruden QB camp the last week. For me, I love the spot concept. Curl/corner/flat. Mult-level throw all within the QBs cone of vision, is going through “progressions” but can basically read them all at once. If flat defender widens, throw the spot. If he sits, throw the flat. Versus Cover 2, throw the corner. Simple, effective, efficient. My kind of offense.

Tedium Cha: How high is Chickillos ceiling?

Alex: Oof, that is tough to answer after one season. And it’s not like we can lean on college tape since it was a totally different position/role. I’m just looking for him to make the team, become a consistent impact on special teams. We’ll go from there.

Ken: Do you think Dupree can improve the way Shazier did in one year? Is Shazier a pro bowl linebacker if he stays healthy this year?

Alex: Yes and yes. I expect Dupree to make big leaps. The position was still so new to him last year. To have a dedicated OLB coach like Porter, something he didn’t have in college, is huge. Like any rookie, you have the chance to go through the offseason without your head spinning, really hone your craft.

Big thing for Dupree was that he stayed healthy. Did the dude even miss a practice last year? Those are tons of reps he needed and will benefit greatly from.

@PrimeTimeHeimer: If the Jags pick up the option on Beachum, do you know if that would factor into the comp pick? Or only the $4.5M?

Alex: I’m not positive. If the decision to pick up the option before comp picks are announced, you’d have to think it will be considered. I don’t know the timeline off the top of my head. The comp formula is kept under lock and key.

tequila0341: do you anticipate from Colbert and Tomlin’s comments regarding “getting there with four” that the Steelers are moving towards less blitzing, especially out of the secondary, and thus will put an emphasis on getting front 4 talent, even with a 4-3 hybrid player?

Alex: No, I don’t think that’s what the comment means. Keith Butler rushed 5+ about 1/3 of the time last year. So that obviously means that 66% of the time, you’re sending just four. So it’s imperative that you can trust that four man rush to get home. It isn’t a scheme change. It’s just sheer numbers.

Jared Gallagher: With the 11 defensive backs that the steelers have brought in this week, do you believe they are actually warming up and preparing to draft one in round 1?

Alex: It’s certainly on the table. But if those Jackson/Apple/Alexander are off the board, or if there’s someone else they really like (Billings/Spence), they are well equipped to have a backup plan as we move into Day 2.

Chad: Hey Alex, what do you know about Darron Lee?

Alex: You’re pretty much on the mark with your additional comments, Chad. I see him as a 4-3 guy but if he came here, like Shazier, he’d play inside.

Kenneth Wilt: Alex. I think the Chickillo discussion could be really interesting. I honestly think he could help us as a DE in the 4/3 nickle look we have been throwing out.

Alex: That’s certainly on the table. Steelers did that a very little bit, but did do it, with Dupree last year. Maybe that’s one of the more common wrinkles in 2016.

Brian Miller: How surprised would you be if we took a WR in the 1st round this year, and if you could have any of them, whom would prefer.

Alex: I’d be surprised but not nearly as much as the rest of this fanbase. Coleman and Doctson are at the top of my list. Doctson nearly checks every single box from our criteria. Coleman might too if I had his shuttle numbers.

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That’s all for this week. Thanks for chatting everybody.

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