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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

It’s February. And somehow, it’s apparently already allergy season in this 65 degree weather. So I’ll do my best to answer your questions after changing my contacts 27 times over the next hour.

To your questions!

Spencer Krick: How would you rate the Edge guys you’ve studied so far? Which one do you think fits the Steeler’s OLB best?

Alex: Oh man, I’m hesitant to even rank them because I haven’t seen them all. I did have this order of the top three I liked a week ago.

1. Carl Lawson
2. Derek Rivers
3. Haason Reddick

I really think by the draft, Rivers will be a realistic pick at 30th overall. But I dig this class as a whole. Stupid amount of talent.

Matt Manzo: How much weight do you put on the “not drafting small school guys in the top rounds”? If you were a GM, would that be a great influence to you?

Alex: I wouldn’t be as hardline as the Steelers. But it’s really a case-by-case thing. I would value the guys who went to an event like the Senior Bowl to see them compete against FBS competition. Guys who haven’t and they don’t have that comparison makes the projection trickier.

Peter MacDonald: I’m all for not doing this at all. However, if we’re drafting Ben’s replacement I’d rather go high than a flyer down the draft board no? You?

Alex: I tend to agree. Of the mindset that either you need a franchise QB and you draft one within the top two rounds or you don’t need one and you don’t take one at all. Middle ground is so hard to pull off. Trying to evaluate, develop (while evaluating) and by the time you might get to see how good a guy is, his contract is up. Then you’re in a tough spot. Do you have Jimmy Garoppolo starter money? Same with Brock Osweiler. Houston made that mistake. It’s too much of a mess.

pittsburghjoe: Alex, let’s say the Steelers draft a TE in the 3rd round. If Jake Butt was there would you take him over the next best fit given he will provide no or minimal help this year.

Alex: Man, you guys are asking the tough questions today. Maybe. I can get on board with the idea, especially if Green struggles to stay healthy again. Can cut bait after 2017 and Butt is the immediate replacement.

But this tight end class is really good and you can fin talent and help right away. There’s a juggling act here. In short, yeah, I would take a guy like Butt. You plan on having him here for at least a four year contract. Hopefully longer. Worth sacrificing one year.

Guillermo Garcia-Gomez: Do you agree that the Steelers should either sign a proven vet in FA or draft a receiver in the first 3 rounds to compete for the no. 2 spot?

Alex: No, I don’t. I know they are concerns but you can reasonably expect Martavis Bryant. And Sammie Coates played really well before his injury turned his fingers into dust. If both come back, you have this massive logjam and no room for a #2. Because when he’s here, Bryant is the #2. There’s no question about it.

Now if Bryant isn’t reinstated…the story could change. And I guess I’m not completely opposed to taking someone like John Ross at pick 30. But I’d prefer not to. Rather take a late round pick I can throw on the practice squad if the room is too crowded (and it probably will be).

Chris: 

With the issues that Martavis Bryant, and Ladarius Green have had seeing consistent playing time do you think the Steelers should pursue another pass catching option in free agency, or through a draft pick in the first three rounds of 2017?

Two: If the Steelers did go sign, or draft, an impact receiving option. Who do you think they should target, and why?

Alex: Like the last question, I could see a tight end because Green is such an unknown, though I see it coming more in the third than the first. Don’t think Jesse James is a slam dunk starter; he’s a borderline #1 long-term. So I’m all for the investment there. WR, probably not.

The tight end class is really loaded this year so plenty of options. A Jordan Leggett, a Jake Butt (as we just talked about), an Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, Adam Shaheen, super long list this season.

CP72: Hey Alex,
Which draft eligible player have you studied on tape that you like more than others?

Alex: Probably Awuzie, who guys like but I am really high on. And Reddick for sure. I still think he can be an edge guy who can play off ball in situational football. Most think he’s strictly an off-ball type guy.

Sam Clonch: Does an edge player taken at #30 overall have a chance to contribute year 1? If not, is the talent gap enough that the Steelers would move up in the draft in order to snag one of the top guys?

Alex: That’s an important question. Because anyone you take, there has to be a plan for how he gets on the field. And absolutely, an EDGE guy has a path.

He would probably, on average over the season, split the ROLB snaps with Harrison 50/50. Harrison can’t play every down like he did down the stretch last year. He needs someone to rotate with, which was the plan all along. So yeah, definitely role to get on there. And all the more reason to draft one within the top two rounds. Because you need someone you’re comfortable with playing that high volume of snaps immediately.

Nolrog: Hypothetical question. The Steelers franchise Bell but someone comes along and signs him. Do you match or take the two #1 picks?

Alex: Well, obviously, it would depend on what the offer is. But yeah, I would most likely match unless I couldn’t make it work under the cap (if the offer was crazy high). I mean, you’re going to have to sign this guy to a long-term sooner or later. Might as well be sooner. And with the offer/match, there’s no negotiation. So that’s a plus.

stan: What are the chances that DeAngelo is back with the Steelers next year? Obviously it would be nice to have him back but I could see another team outbidding us.

Alex: I think it’s low. I just can’t see the incentive of bringing him back when you have this crazy deep draft class of 20-somethings without the mileage and you’re going to have super cheap for the next four years. There’s no upside to bringing Williams back to sit on the sidelines.

falconsaftey43: Everyone has a draft crush. Who is yours? Must be late round guy. Mine is Ironhead Gallon! UDFA but so fun to watch.

Alex: Hmm…I just haven’t seen a lot of late round guys yet, outside of the Senior Bowl. I was impressed with what Jordan Herdman (ILB) did at Mobile. And I don’t think he even got a Combine invite. But I don’t think that qualifies as a crush for me. So I’ll have to get back to you.


That’s all for this week. Talk next Thursday, the day before the Combine!

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