Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

One week away from the draft. But the last two weeks have felt just as crazy. For the record, we’ll still do a chat next Thursday, same time, on the day of the draft. I’m also aiming to do a Periscope session tomorrow, though I still barely know how it works. So if you want to watch me be awkward, look for me to post the link on Twitter.

Question of the chat: what is your favorite chip? Lot of good choices, and we’re even going to be generous and allow for options like Cheetos here. I’ve discovered mine. Clancy’s Barbecue chips from Aldi’s. Half the bag is air, but the other half is amazing. So lemme know in the comments and, as always, your Steelers’ questions.

@bocote311: if Christian Hackenberg is still at the 4th round, would you take a flyer on him?

Alex: Personally, no, because I don’t believe in taking a QB after the first two-three rounds. I know it is just a hypothetical but Hackenberg will almost certainly go well before that. Some still believe he’ll go in the first. Don’t think he makes it out of the second. Nature of the position, value is inflated.

falconsaftey43: Hi Alex, Any interest in live tweeting for the record who you’d pick while the Steelers are on the clock? Go 7 rounds and see how your draft turns out in a few years.

Alex: You know I’ll be on Twitter during the draft talking about it, and I’ll definitely to make my best, though likely wrong, guess. Hoping to avoid any people who spoil the pick though. That’s the worst. But I always go back and compare my mocks with the real thing to see how I stack up. For my full, seven rounder (all teams) my goal is to hit 10 picks on the nose and another 10 lining up player with team. Harder than it sounds.

@Alex_Roarty: I know he’s a longshot, and I don’t know if Steelers could create the cap space. But Norman would be worth the $16m p/y, right?

Alex: I honestly don’t think he is. And it’s nothing against Norman. Great player. Not trying to talk him down like others. But CBs just aren’t worth $16 million to the Steelers’ defense. They are the least valuable position. The Steelers’ money goes into its front seven.

Big White: Do you think it would be legitimate for the Steeler organization to disrupt the New England headsets as long as they don’t get caught?

Alex: Not for one second. Don’t stoop to what others to. Steelers have a lot more class and dignity than that. You sleep better at night.

@tgbegreen: How many corners and safeties do you rate as being first round worthy?

Alex: I am going to have my rankings out next week. Couple of players I need to finish up. I’m likely to have four corners and a safety as first round worthy.

Austin Hackett: Went on NFL.Com’s draft site and saw all three writers had Steelers taking Artie Burns at 25. How insane would I be allowed to go?

Alex: I’ll fit you for your straightjacket, Austin. Would be pretty nuts, though hey, I guess nothing is impossible. Maybe they’re hearing something we aren’t. I don’t consider Burns a first rounder. And he’s a true junior, someone the team hasn’t brought in for a visit, and as Dave Bryan pointed out, Colbert has only ever taken senior corners.

@deesh138: Spence R1, Joseph R2, Hargrave R3..this pleases me greatly. Any chance it realistic given Joseph knee and Hargrave competition?

Alex: That’d be quite the lottery win for Pittsburgh. Three guys who fall lower than expected? I dig it. But I don’t find is likely.

Bill Sechrengost: Which [contract] is a sure thing and which one is least likely this year? (Timmons, Bell, Wheaton, Jones, DeCastro, AB)

Alex: Whew, that is a tough one. Think it’s pretty easy to rule out Jarvis and Wheaton. If the Steelers wanted to re-do Timmons, you’d think they would have done it by now. DeCastro is probably the popular answer but Kelechi Osemele’s contract – now that it looks likely he’ll be the Raiders’ LG -makes things tough for DD. Lot more money than we thought/hoped.

If you made me list them…

1. Bell
2. DeCastro
3. Timmons
4. AB
5. Wheaton
6. Jarvis

DirtDawg1964: What do you think the three positions of greatest need are for the Steelers? And what order do you think they will address those needs in the draft?

Alex: You can’t go wrong with anywhere on defense. And you can really put them in any order. But force my hand and I’ll say: OLB, NT/DE, CB

I don’t know of an order. I don’t think one exists. Can’t put yourself into a box and say you’ll draft “X” position in round “Y.” Draft is too unpredictable, too much talent, so many variables. I think in more general terms of trying to secure a position by a certain round. Gives you flexibility.

Jeff Papiernik: Worst case scenario…Rankins, Billings, Jackson III, Apple, Lawson, Spence, Karl Joseph all gone. Who do you take in round 1?

Alex: Trading out makes the most sense here and in general, this is a good year to move down. I don’t like to talk about that very much though because, duh, trading down is always a good idea. In the moment, rarely is it ever fair to criticize a team for moving down and acquiring picks.

But if we assume the team stays, and knowing Colbert’s track record, they will, I would take Vernon Butler. I think Pittsburgh would take Kamalei Correa or Neal.

@Chadprince72: Is there any chance the Steelers pick up the 5th year option on Jarvis Jones? Seems like a no brainer not to.

Alex: Yeah, I don’t see it happening. Like Dave has said, even if you want to get a long-term deal done with Jarvis, it’s easy to negotiate it from his current salary than an $8 million+ option. Increases his value and makes it difficult for you to get a good deal. Plus, obviously, Jarvis isn’t worth that money for a single year. Went down that road with Jason Worilds and his transition tag. I liked Worilds but not for the price it cost.

Tj Solomon: What do you think makes Colbert/Tomlin so good at drafting late round wrs but not so good at drafting dbs?

Alex: That’s a great, and important, question, but none of us have the answer. If Colbert and Tomlin knew it, they wouldn’t be drafting the group they have. I could speculate in a lot of different ways but I don’t have much of a concrete theory. I’m sure every team has their bad track records.

Brian Tollini: Pick one…A or B


Andrew Billings DT (Baylor)
Shilique Calhoun-OLB (Michigan St)
Justin Simmons-S (Boston College)
D.J. White-CB (Georgia Tech)
Mike Thomas-WR (Southern Miss)



Karl Joseph-S (West Virginia)
Javon Hargrave-DT (South Carolina St)
Jonathan Jones-CB (Aurburn)
Pharoh Cooper-WR (South Carolina)
Victor Ochi-OLB (Stony Brook)

Alex: Whew, tough one. Like going to the eye doctor and he asks you if one or two is better. And you’re just like, dude, they’re the same.

Gun to my head, give me A. You’re getting more of an immediate impact and I think Calhoun is a first round talent, so I’m getting insanely good value.

You also made me pass up Jonathan Jones. And that makes me very, very upset.

Matt Manzo: Do you have a favorite late round CB? If Jonathon Jones is our 1st CB taken, in the 3rd or 4th, who would be the 2nd?

Alex: There’s a couple I like. Kevin Peterson is someone who I’ve talked up a ton. Blake Countess is a 7th round moveable piece with experience at corner or safety. Tavon Young, too, I don’t mind. Calhoun from A&M can hit.

JamesinNYC: What is the chance they take 2 D lineman? Do you think some players like Bud Dupree get over hyped because of the combine and then “fall”?

Alex: Sure, it’s possible, if that 2nd DL comes with one of their final two picks. A Joel Heath type of player. Sure, I think the workout numbers play a role. But sometimes, players fall for reasons that aren’t great. Bad fits, poisiotnal value, other good players, someone has to take a tumble.

Nicholas Allen Cotner: Favorite run and pass concept to pair together as RPO?

Alex: The staple Pittsburgh runs. Their inside zone paired with a seam and swing route by the #2 and #3 WRs. Have seen them use all three for big gains, especially down the seam if the LB cheats up on his run key. Heck, I watched Landry Jones bypass all those and hit AB iso on the backside last year. That play is money.


That’s where we’ll stop things for this week. One more go around before we start actually talking about things we know happened. Can’t wait.

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