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Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Good afternoon and Happy Draft Day, Steelers’ Nation. For fun, I put quickly put together one last first round mock that I’ll post below. Look it over, tell me what you think, and as always, send in your Steelers’ questions.

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@bocote311: for the mailbag: if Darron Lee or Myles Jack are at 25, would you take them?

Alex: If Jack falls all the way to 25, it says that most teams are really scared off by his knee. At that point, you almost have to think he goes into the second round where the risk has slightly lessened. I don’t think he’ll drop that far but he is the wildcard of the first round.

Lee would be interesting as a Shazier clone. I can see the allure but I wouldn’t take him. Too hard to find snaps for him year one. At least with a guy like Ragland, you have the chance to get him some edge work.

CodeNameJerk: Are there any edge rushers in this draft that can bend the edge like Harrison?

Alex: Harrison is pretty much in a league of his own. His size, strength, ability to run through tackles grabbing onto him. So I don’t think there is anyone who really profiles like that. But there are guys who can bend the edge. Noah Spence. Josh Carney posted some great GIFs of Alex McCalister dipping and ripping under.

Spencer Krick: Neal or Apple?

Alex: Personally, I’d take Neal. Indications seem to lean towards Apple though and that’s reflected in my big board from today.

Jeff Papiernik: Better S/DL combo for rounds 1 and 2. Andrew Billings and Darian Thompson or Karl Joseph and Javon Hargrave?

Alex: I get asked this or something similar pretty often. I’m happy with either but if I had to choose, give me Billings and Thompson. Cleaner projections than Joseph’s knee and Hargrave’s level of competition. Billings little better anchor versus the run, too.

Kevin Gobleck: Who are your top 5 favorite players in the draft? Not the best 5 or who you think are most likely to get drafted by the steelers, but your favorite 5

Alex: Whew, lot of players I could list here. In no order: Jakeem Grant, Jonathan Jones, Shilique Calhoun, Kevin Byard, and Jack Allen.

Aj Gentile: Saw a post about teams seeing K Neal as a linebacker and not a safety. Do you think that?

Alex: Not at all. Even in this era of hyrbid guys, Neal is definitely a safety. And will be drafted as such. Higher than people think, too.

taztroy43: Do you think the Steelers would take wr. C.Coleman if he’s there? Or would you prefer S. Shepard in the 2nd?

Alex: I think it’s the one possibility that should be at least entertained but largely ignored. If the board breaks the “wrong” way, and Jackson/Billings/VHIII/Apple/Joseph are all off the board (possible!) who do you go with? That also means a lot of guys are falling and that could be someone like Coleman and Doctson. I have no issue with taking either of those guys. Stick to your board. Get elite talent. That’s what the first round is for.

Juan Nogueira: Apple and Joseph on the board…who do the Steelers take in your opinion?

Alex: Feels pretty neck and neck. Lot of beat guys think it’s Apple. History would tell us it’s Joseph. My gut says Joseph.

The most compelling reason to take Apple, or a CB in general, is that there’s a lot more quality safeties in Round 2-3 than there are corners.

Jared Gallagher: What is with all these things like, Stanley at 3, Floyd in top 10, jack out of 10, they just pre-draft smoke or are the organizations swaying this w

Alex: Welcome to draft season. Craziest time of the year. Part of it though is that we’re so used to seeing the same names, just in a slightly different order, for months. And then as we hit the last weeks and teams are done with evaluations and have made their decisions, everything shifts and we all feel shocked. But it happens every season.

And yes, part of it are smokescreens. Or just bad reporting. Everyone seems to know a friend of a friend, janitor’s third cousin’s kindergarten teacher’s husband.

Jonas: Name a bust that will be picked in Rd1 of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Alex: I could see Leonard Floyd struggle. Great athletes =/= great players. His fit isn’t super defined. Also Conklin. That’s a pretty popular choice.

PaeperCup: Do you see anyone drafted by the Steelers being a day 1 starter? How about a full fledged starter by the end of the season?

Alex: A cornerback could, by jumping Ross Cockrell. Of course, a nose tackle is likely to leap Daniel McCullers. That’s probably the easiest path.

If it’s a safety, I’m not sure if they ever fully pass up Golden. I think you see a lot of sub-package football, going dime on third down, but never to the point where Karl Joseph has buzzed by Golden all the time. Of course, I’ll care more about that once we actually see these guys play. The idea Steelers’ first rounders are designed to sit and wait is going away. Jarvis, Shazier, Dupree all seeing heavy playing time year one.

Darth Blount 47: Who was the last player that you really, really, really, wanted the Steelers to draft, and lo and behold, they did?

Alex: It actually was Dupree. Beyond that, I don’t really even remember or was really informed enough to know who I really did or didn’t want. But Dupree was my guy, and I had said it right before the draft last year, even though I didn’t think he’d fall.

Natty:  My question is, are any of the selections you have mocked to Steelers based heavily on behind the curtains info? Or are you still largely on the outside looking in like us readers?

Alex: It is entirely from the outside. No different than you. I just use the trends we’ve studied, the ones you’ve referenced, to make what I deem the most logical pick. I am not much of an insider like Dulac, who I am sure has connections. He’s not an idiot and I don’t dismiss the things he says, even if he isn’t always right (who is?).

I am occasionally told things and I want to work on building connections and having that inside track, like the Le’Veon Bell news last year. But that’s very much an irregular thing. I’m not in locker rooms. Not talking face-to-face with people. Personal connections is what gives you access. And that is, obviously, limited working from home. My cat does not have any delicate knowledge of the Steelers’ inner-workings.

srdan: What will be your beer of choice tonight?

Alex: I don’t think there will be one. Just water and a $5 Hot and Ready pizza from Little Caesars. I hope the draft choices are better than my dinner ones.

Andrew: Who’s the most likely team to jack the draft up this year?

Alex: Even if he doesn’t have the power like he did in Philadelphia, I can see Chip Kelly finding a way to ruin the 49ers. I look forward to it.

Also Cleveland. Always bet on Cleveland.


That’s all the time for today. You know the whole crew will be buzzing around tonight covering the pick. Enjoy the draft, everyone.

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