Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Hey everyone, glad to be chatting with you again.

Favor to ask, need your help. Kicking around an idea for a new idea related to the Steelers and the site but don’t totally have things figured out. Or if people would even be interested. So trying to create some semblance of a focus group to get some feedback. So if you’re willing to help, shoot me an email at: Free month subscription to Steelers Depot if you do.

And if not, fire away your questions below!

@vibetranscender: For Steelers Mailbag: how would you compare LeVeon Bell to a prime Rashard Mendenhall.

Alex: Mendenhall’s prime was very short, if there was ever one to begin with. And I honestly have trouble finding any comparison between the two. Bell is just so far on another level. There’s no comparison.

Zach6432: Does Artie Burns play tonight? If so, what should we watch for?

Alex: Yes, it sounds like he will. I’m just happy to see him out there, ha. But I want to see how he supports the run and how he plays in off coverage. Two things he must do well to comfortably see the field at any point this season.

Steelers12: What is the chances of Karlos Williams being sign

Alex: Hard to gauge. It is difficult to see him being signed immediately. He has several other suitors, ones that would likely give him a better opportunity, and adding another running back to the suspended list just seems like overkill at this point.

Maybe sometime after Week One. I’d be surprised to see it happen before then.

Introphy: Is Heyward-Bey a lock? Does Ayers have enough upside and special teams value to contest the roster spot?

Alex: Yes to the first question. No to the second. They aren’t even in the same conversation. Skillsets are totally different. Someone else can do everything Ayers is good at with the emergence of Eli Rogers.

srdan: Any ideas on TEs we should watch on final cuts?

Alex: Yeah, I’ve kicked around a couple. Levine Toilolo is at the top of my list. Basically Matt Spaeth 2.0. The Cowboys’ John Phillips and the Jaguars Nic Jacobs (just cut) are two other.

Jeff McNeil: who would you say are the best few second year steelers LB’s in that time?

Alex: Our fine friends over at Pro Football Reference can help us with this one. Here are 2nd year DL/LB with more than 4 sacks since 92.

LaMarr Woodley tops the list with 11.5 with Joey Porter close behind, picking up 10.5 in 2000. So those are the two best. Let’s hope Dupree can match that. Sure would be nice.

renoir: Can you see us trading one of our ilbs ( Johnson most likely ) for a cb,s,or big te on someone else’s bubble?

Alex: Not straight up. None of them have that kind of value and if there is a trade, it’d be for someone you probably haven’t heard of. I don’t think any trades happen. If they are, they almost always happen by this point in the season. Better just to wait for cutdowns.

natty: What are chargers fans saying about how mettenberger performed in camp and ota? Yes, he was beat out by a 23 year old udfa rookie, but he was also beat out by 33 year old Kellen clemens.

Alex: I haven’t really heard much or tried to listen. But you answered your own question.He’s here to be the #3 but I don’t expect him to really ever develop past that point. And we won’t find out much this year.

Justin: With Landry Jones showing well enough to perform as a serviceable backup for the next couple years, at what point do the Steelers target Big Ben’s replacement?

Alex: It’s a fair question and one I don’t really have the answer too. It may be an in-the-moment situation where the value in a draft is too good, a prospect they feel is can’t-miss, so they take him earlier than we expect.

But if they’re targeting one early, looking for their next franchise quarterback, it won’t be until they know it’s Ben’s final year or the year after he hangs up his cleats. That’s usually the cycle. As soon as the fall happens, and the team sees serious regression (2002 to 2003), you make a move.

Until then, you’re always in Super Bowl contention, and it’s hard to justify stashing a player who may or may not work out with your first two picks.

Jeff Papiernik: I’ve heard the possibility of us picking up a TE, CB, or S with the roster cuts to upgrade Grimble, Garner, and Dangerfield, respectively. Is it hypothetically possible and/or financially feasible to sign one of each?

Alex: Sure, they can work around it. The contracts for those new players would basically swap the current players, assuming they’re young and any contract being claimed isn’t very expensive. That was part of the reason why Gilbert and Mitchell’s contracts were redone. Clears up space for the final two spots on the 53 and the practice squad.

NinjaMountie: What is the Steelers targeting heavily next year. I’m going OL and OLB high.
Also, because that was way too soon. If J James starts all year, what do you see his stat line being. I’m going 40ish receptions for 550ish yds.

Alex: OLB definitely high…within top two rounds. I think there’s a super high chance they take one in the first. OL is a broad term and I dunno, I think they’ll be good.

On offense, running back could be a mid-round selection, assuming Bell is tagged. Tight end maybe, depending on whatever happens with James and Green the remainder of the season.

And maybe even CB again, focusing on someone to play in the slot. Golson three years in, zero appearances, hard to really put much stock into him being able to help.

stan: How many waiver pick ups do you think the Steelers will make after cut downs (please say cb and te are two of them).

Alex: Two is a safe bet. Bottom end of the roster was pretty rough last year and they ended up bringing in two (Cockrell, Lyons). One will be a DB – maybe a corner, maybe a safety. Can make cases for either. Tight end is possible, yeah. Let’s see how Grimble does tonight. Fight or flight moment.

And heck, maybe they end up bringing in two defensive backs, a corner and safety. Just a wild guess but wouldn’t surprise me.

Beaver Falls Hosiery: Do you see the Steelers trying to get another tackle? Gilbert’s elbow worries me and only having 3 plus Hubbard is disrupting my sleep cycle.

Alex: I don’t. This is what Ryan Harris was brought in for – insurance. If you bail on the plan, you lack structure as a team. Hubbard was always going to be active over Hawkins anyway.

Petherson Silveria: Do you think Steelers will bring a veteran Tight End to fill the void that L. Green left? Or you beleave that the spot will handle to Grimble?

Alex: Glad you made it, man! No, a vet won’t replace Green’s role. That’s Jesse James’ gig. If a vet is brought in, it will be to function as a backup. And probably a big, lengthy, blocker type like the team had in Matt Spaeth.

Grimble could wind up having that #3 role but he has to continue to prove it. Nothing handed to him. Tonight is so critical.

Matt Manzo: Hey Alex! Any word on Mcullers injury? I don’t remember hearing if it was serious or not.

Alex: I haven’t. Going to assume it isn’t that serious – he was on the sidelines last week. But wouldn’t be surprised if he got held out again for the finale.

Ask Questions Later: Do you believe that Javon can supercede “Shade Tree” on the depth chart?

Alex: I do. Maybe not right away but if he can anchor against the run a little more consistently – it’s still an issue – there’s really no reason not to go with him. I mean, as long as he’s fine with the verbiage of the defense and setting the front.

So like I said, McCullers likely your Week One guy. But by say, Week 5? Could be a different story. Excited to find out.

Thanks guys and enjoy the game tonight! Those who responded to my email, look for a response in a little bit. Want to see if more people join before I respond.

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