Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Hey everyone,

Almost almost done with the offseason. Just one more of these mailbags left and then we’re off to Latrobe. Thanks for your patience and still hanging around Depot during the year’s driest weeks.

Quick layout question for all of you, since the Depot readers basically serve as our quality control. Let me know if you’ve had any issue getting embedded tweets to load properly lately. Have had it hit and miss on my end. It might just be the hamsters not running in my computer. Thanks.

To your questions!

Rosco: Who is the most over rated player on the team right now in your opinion?

Alex: That’s tough. Just like Pete Prisco said, when you make these claims, 90% of the fanbase calls you an idiot. I will say there is no standout overrated player on the team.

Even though I have praised him a lot and remain hopeful, I think some of the expectations for Markus Wheaton have gotten a little out of control. This is a guy who was MIA for the first eight weeks of last season. He still has never put together a complete, consistent year. I like the guy, I’ve said as much, but I don’t see him blowing up so much that he gets $10-12 million on the open market next year.

To another extent, Alejandro Villanueva is a tad overtalked too. The Ranger story is awesome, he’s a real hero and it doesn’t matter where his football career takes him, but too may people focus on his military background and just assume/imagine that training will let him blossom into a franchise left tackle. It’s far from a guarantee.

I liked Ike Evans’ answer of David DeCastro, too. He played just about as well last year as he did in 2014 but people acted like he took a Jolly Green Giant step forward.

You all hate me now? Ok good.

Matt Manzo: Just read the Eric Rowe piece! I was a huge fan of his, coming out! And I believe there’s a place for him on this team. What would you be willing to trade for him?
A 4th and 7th?

Alex: I don’t have anything super specific. I just wanted to throw the name out, examine the connection. I was more interested in if it made sense than the nitty gritty.

I know I wrote it might take a 4th but I was just spitballing. I didn’t want people to focus on that like that was definitely going to be the cost. I’m all for trading a conditional 5th or something. Or maybe, like I commented, dealing Anthony Chickillo and a 7th for Rowe.

Or maybe, and I’m just being really crazy here, sending Xavier Grimble – if he has a good camp – and a 6th for Rowe. Asante Cleveland, with basically no NFL resume, was sent to New England last year, though that was a player-for-player deal. You could argue the same for B.J. Finney. Eagles need to keep beefing up their interior.

Sam Clonch: Is Xavier Grimble officially the most intriguing camp player to watch with the release of Spaeth?

Alex: Well, I’d like to see a snap in person before I make any declaration. And even if he wins the job, we are talking #3 tight end, who really won’t have a role. At least Ayers/Rogers could, winning the #5 job and possibly being in the return game. But yeah, he’s interesting, and that was regardless if Spaeth was going to be on the roster when players report.

Trevor: All else equal, would you rather go into a season with Cody Wallace and Martavis Bryant or with Pouncey and Sammie Coates/Hey-Bey?

Alex: Whew, you guys are making me work today. I think I’d take the Pouncey/Coates. Coates can get improve and become something close – though not exactly like – Bryant. Wallace is maxed out and light years away from a healthy Pouncey. So I’ll roll the dice.

Jeff Papiernik: I like to visit different cities and take in a Steelers game at the same time. So with that, which road game do you think would be worth the price of admission this season (outside of divisional opponents)?

Alex: Bear in mind I am no travel agent. This year, the away slate is kind of blah from a fan perspective. Philadelphia? Ew. Buffalo in December? That’s borderline criminal.

Go to Miami on October 16th. Warm weather, fun city, winnable game for Pittsburgh. Buy me a summer home while you’re at it.

Jeff McNeill: What do you think the the ceiling would be for Bud Dupree? Do you believe he will ever reach his ceiling?

Alex: The stars are still his ceiling. He *could* become a double-digit sack type of player. That’s what I thought when he came out of Kentucky and one year doesn’t change my views.

Will he do it? Dunno. He needs to find his go-to move first. If he can’t do that, then no, he’ll never touch those stars.

TJ Solomon: Who do you think could be a surprise team in the AFC and NFC and why?

Alex: Oh I’m not very good at those predictions. Baltimore will be more competitive than people expect. Oakland and Jacksonville are too trendy to be surprises.

NFC? Tampa Bay, maybe? Winston will be much steadier this season.

WeWantDaTruth: Will we see the Steelers go jumbo on the O-line in certain situations? Put Harris in at OT and move Alex V to TE?

Alex: I doubt it. If anything, they’ll just sub in Hubbard (or Finney) as a tackle eligible. I don’t think they’re going to try a Chinese Fire Drill on the goal line. Just line up and get a push.

Michael James: Assuming we could take a guaranteed future superstar in next years draft, would you take an DT, OLB, ILB, S or CB?

Alex: Outside linebacker. No question. I have no idea who is lining up next to Bud Dupree next season. Already, odds seem high they’ll take a OLB in the first round.

Juan Nogueira: Now that Matt Spaeth has been released, who is the favorite to win the 3rd tight end spot?

Alex: I’d still say it’s open. David Johnson has been my pick and will continue to be. Gotta get a good look at Grimble first and Johnson is almost certain to be the better blocker and more versatile guy. Johnson is someone who can basically be Will Johnson but a more impactful lead blocker. He can be an in-line tight end, off ball, at fullback. Helpful piece when someone gets hurt.

To be clear, David Johnson doesn’t have near the STs value as Will Johnson.

HardPunkKore: Am I too late? – Why is Chidi Iwuoma you’re favorite Steeler?

Alex: The better question is why isn’t Chidi Iwuoma your favorite Steeler?

He was awesome. I love special teams. I lover special teamers. They’re always overlooked but so valuable. And he’d go full sprint every time. First guy downfield. Every time. Teams had to gameplan for him. I was hooked.

Spencer Krick: Who are you looking forward to seeing the most on your upcoming trip to Latrobe?

Alex: All of you, Steelers’ Nation.

I am nothing if not able to pander to my audience.

But seriously, I think I gave a Brian Mihalik answer several weeks ago and most of you didn’t like that. But I like the underdogs. The guys I’ve interviewed, Blakeney, Tucker, Stingily, I’ll be keeping an eye on them. Though I’ll be fair and honest, I’m not here to carry water for anyone.

Of the better known players, yeah, it’s hard not to get caught up in the Grimble hype, even if most of it is manufactured.

Day One, I am super excited to check out where the cornerbacks are lining up. I really have little idea who will be where. Gay in the slot? Golson? Who is the backup? The first two days won’t be in pads, so it’s hard to learn much, making my focus on where guys are playing and on what team. So CB is at the top of my list.

CP72: Alex,
Now that Spaeth is gone, which veteran is the next in line to not make roster?

Alex: Now that Suisham and Spaeth are gone, there isn’t a clear answer to give. Ross Ventrone would seem the most likely. I’ve called him literally the 53rd man on the roster. If the depth isn’t great, he gets a spot. If it’s pretty good, then he’s probably gone.

I think Chris Hubbard would be considered a veteran. I vouched for him recently but his spot isn’t secure. But yeah, that’s about it. The veteran intrigue isn’t as great anymore.


If you had to Start 1, Stash 1, Trade 1: Senquez Golson, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns

What would it be?

Alex: Ha, I like the offshot of that “other” game.

I’d start Cockrell because I believe I can trust him. He showed that last year, thrown into the fire and doing well. Stash Artie Burns. He needs it anyway.

So I guess that means I’m trading away Golson. I can live with that.

@bocote311:  when was the last time the Steelers got a quality starter out of a 5th round?

Alex: I would consider William Gay the last successful 5th round pick back in 2007. Jesse James might be the next, but we’ll see.

Fun fact: 2007 was Mike Tomlin’s first rookie class. It’s a reminder that we are all so very old.

Ok, that’s all for this week. Appreciate you guys sticking around. Happy to see the chat was more lively this week. See ya next Thursday.

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