Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag, playoff edition! It’s a great time to be alive, also because I have found my post-McLumina car. Another Lumina! 

And it’s only been sitting for four years, according to the seller. That’s a bargain. Cassette and power steering? Almost too good to be true.

My goal in life is to never own a car built this century. I look forward to owning my 1992 Dodge Spirit in the year 2029.

To your questions!


was a big fan of the Demarcus Ayers selection, So im wondering what are your thoughts on what you have seem from him so far and what are your exceptions on him going forward.

Also i was wondering if Karlos Williams is still under contract to the Steelers

Alex: Well I think you have to be happy with his rookie year. Seeing the field, making a meaningful contribution, all things that were longshots when this year began. Like how he is playing on the outside and he’s someone he has already seen him at all three spots. That’s impressive. Showing nuance as a route runner and the ability to separate vertically and horizontally. Effort as a blocker. So all in all, a good start.

Last I checked, Williams isn’t even listed on the team roster I don’t think. Even if the Steelers still hold rights to him, don’t expect him to ever do anything for this team.

Big White: Alex. With the depleted D-Line and Hargraves/Mathews/Tuitt a little suspect, who would be next in line behind Cashaud Lyons?

Alex: That’s it, that’s the whole group. But the team shouldn’t need to get anywhere past that point anyway.

In any severe situations where they run low on defensive linemen, you’d just play nickel the whole way and get through the game the best you can.

IndianaCarson: Do you think that the Steelers should have put a little more effort in trying to sign free agent Eric Weddle?

Alex: I think they put in effort. Can’t get everyone to your team. Drafting Sean Davis seems to be working out pretty well, too. If you sign Weddle, you’re looking for your Sean Davis in two years anyway. I’m happy.

HardPunkKore: Who are some good pass rushing prospects that fit Butler’s defense I should take a look at ahead of the draft talk?

Alex: Check back in a few weeks, I am just starting my Senior Bowl film review. But I hear this EDGE class is really deep. Good year to be needing the position.

Robbie: Alex lets say (and hope) Cockrell continues playing well during a deep playoff run. What happens this offseason? One year deal is up, yes? Do u think another team throws some money at him and we lose him? Also bonus question. If u could only keep one, r u taking Artie or Ross?

Alex: Cockrell wil lbe a RFA, meaning the team can sign him to a one year tender that will basically ensure he’ll stick around. You can even give him an original round tender, which is the cheapest amount, and it’d cost any team a 5th rounder to sign him (because he was a 5th round selection). So that should keep any interested parties at bay.

Bottom line is, he’ll be back for 2017.

To your other question, give me Burns. More upside. Cockrell will never be the physical player Burns is capable of being.

Adam Pristas: The past few years we have seen Colbert go out and get one position or another in free agency. Mike Mitchell, Ladarius Greene, etc.. With which position do you think he makes the offseason signing?

Alex: It’s a good point Adam and a reminder Colbert isn’t the total tightward we make him out to be. He in’t Ted Thompson.

OLB makes the most sense, double-dipping with free agency and the draft. That’s truly the only position that makes sense if you want to splash. Who that guy would be though, I have no idea. Melvin Ingram? Probably not.

Keith Evans: which Steelers starter would you straight swap (position for position) with a Dolphins starter that would improve our chance of winning on Sunday?

Alex: Cameron Wake. All day. That force off the edge is better than anything the Steelers have. They can have Bud Dupree. For one game, I want Wake.

Wes Lee: What is your opinion on this? Do you think both rookies Burns and Davis will play as well in the playoffs as they have as of late?

Alex: Yeah I mean, I think both have played well lately and will continue to do so. Have to be careful with Burns. Once he’s forced to read and not just react and play to his instincts, he gets in trouble. Not carrying deep, beat on double-moves, good offenses should be picking on him. Steelers are doing everything they can to simplify the scheme for him but can only do so much.

I could see him having a bad game that proves costly.

Peter MacDonald: 

Keep the old McLumina for parts?

Biggest key to victory Sunday vs. Miami? Tendencies the O can exploit

Alex: Ha, I plan on keeping the McLumina around for at least a little while longer. I’m sure now that I’ve said that, it’s been jinxed and has exploded.

Miami played basically one scheme last time. 2 Man. Two deep look, man coverage undeneath. Todd Haley has to shake that, get them out of that coverage. Move AB around. Be more creative. Find ways to get his playmakers the ball. Ladarius Green is a nice matchup down the middle of the field.

Petherson Silveira: Alex, after that mess Hamiton did on Kickoff return last sunday, do you think that Coach Mike Tomlin will let him return a Kickoff next Sunday? And if its up to you, what would do you do?

Alex: All depends on Coats’ health. If he’s healthy, he’s the guy. If not, it’ll be Cobi. And I have zero issues with that. They’re pretty limited with what they can do based on what they like to do. I like Hamilton back there. He’s big. He’s tough. He’s got good hands. He knows how to get vertical. Ball security and good decisions are the biggest things I care about. I like flashy returns but it’s secondary, to be honest.


I’ve been fascinated by the Steelers starting 3 rookies on defense. Have you seen improvements week to week in Artie Burns’ technique, and if so what stands out?

Do you think Senquez Golson will play meaningful snaps next year?

Alex: Sure, and we’ve broken down some of that technique before. But overall, the Steelers have simplified his game. Press coverage, use leverage to limit the WRs route tree, and stop flipping him left and right side. Just right side these days. And as he gets reps, the game slows down, he’s more confident, and he’s playing faster. So that naturally helps.

No, I don’t think Golson does. Gay will still be the nickel corner for one more year, not giving Golson a role.

PaeperCup: Who’s your favorite NFL team? Secondary Question, have you had any chance to check out possible draft prospects?

Alex: Favorite NFL team? The Steelers, lol. Steelers fan long before I got hired here.

I have just started draft work. So check back in a week or something.

stan: Can we assumed from Gilbert’s lack of playing time on Sunday that he’s not in the team’s plans?

Alex: As a return man, probably not. Developmental outside corner. See what he can do in camp next season after time to breath and really wrap his head around this defense.

steeltown: Hey Alex, your thoughts on Vince Williams minimal playing time this season…is it just a matter of Timmons spectacular play of late and if so, uour thoughts on the ILB position next year

Alex: Yeah, it’s no surprise. He was the backup and Timmons/Shazier played great. It’s like being surprised that Landry Jones didn’t play much this season.

Next year is interesting. I love Timmons. Great player, great leader, great career. But you gotta make some tough decisions. You can’t keep everyone. Just not possible.

And if it comes down to keeping young/youngish talent long-term (Bell, Brown, Tuitt, Shazer/Cockrell in two years) as opposed to an aging player like Timmons, give me that first group.

Either way, even if he returns, Timmons is here on a year to year basis. There’s no long-term investment made in him. I could see a two year, $7 million contract which includes a $3 million signing bonus. 2.5 million owed in Year One, 1.5 owed in Year Two.

That’s all for this week, thanks guys!

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