Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Welcome back to another edition of the mailbag. With the draft less than a month away, let’s jump right into your questions for the next hour.

By the way, quick heads up for next week. We’ll do the Mailbag on Wednesday at 2:30 PM/ET instead of Thursday. Just a one week shuffle.

Jeff Papiernik: If Martavis is reinstated prior to the draft, is WR off the board? If Martavis is not reinstated by then, will one be drafted?

Alex: Reinstated or not – I expect him to – I think WR is in play. If he’s not, and you assume he won’t be for 2017, or you have serious doubts, it’s in play. A lack of a #2 WR obviously hurt this team last year. You all know I still have hope for Coates but the team could definitely burn a 3rd round pick on someone.

Even if he is by then, I am still not against that late round flier. Keep investing in the position you have the highest amount of success with. I wouldn’t be mad about a 6th or 7th round pick at all. A guy who can spend a year on the practice squad.

Barry Foster: Hey Alex !! What round do you see Marcus maye going in?

Alex: Higher than where some places like CBS envision him going. We saw Neal and Joseph have a “rise” at the end of the draft process. I could see early Round 2 for a guy like him though I admit I need to go through his tape. Planning on doing so tonight or tomorrow.

Brian Tollini: Regardless of where they will be drafted and overall talent, your top 5 favorite players in this draft class. I’ll be interested to see if we have any of the same.

Alex: Well, I don’t know if I have a top five but I tweeted out my 5 draft crushes yesterday.

Taylor Moton
Willie Quinn
Rayshawn Jenkins
Ryan Switzer
Damontae Kazee

Chidobe Awuzie and Haason Reddick are other guys I really like, too.

DirtDawg1964: Tomlin said he’s “a little less pissed” at Brown. Aside from Brown, who else would you say you are a little less pissed with now that we’ve had time to reflect on the season.

Alex: I’m a lover, not a fighter, DirtDawg, so I personally was never really “pissed” at anyone. But I was upset at how poorly Keith Butler called the Pats game. I guess I’m over that now. Fences mended.

Rene Gonzalez: Is there a QB in this class that you think has an actual shot at being Ben’s replacement? Ignoring the pick it would take to grab him, just curious.

Alex: I think Mahomes is the guy with the highest ceiling and that’s probably a pretty conventional opinion at this point. I’m against the team taking any QB in this draft but if they take one I would at least *get* it would be him.

They’re going to take Kaaya in the third anyway.

Spencer Krick: At this time of the year when you’ve looked at so many prospects, is it difficult to remember who’s who?

Alex: A little but hey, I watch less than a lot of other guys. I’ll end the year probably watching 120 prospects and writing official reports on 70 of them. Compared to many others, that’s a pretty low number.

I write down all my notes, type them all back up, and then type up the report. So that helps me remember. And if I ever need a refresher, I’ll just go check out my notes/report.

Nicholas Arnhold: I just watched the Joe Mathis sack breakdown. Did he workout at the combine or is he still dealing with the injury? I thought high motor, good hand work, but not great variety of pass rush moves. Where do you think he’ll be drafted now that you’ve seen more pass rushers?

Alex: He didn’t work out at Indy because of injury. I think he has a workout planned before the draft which, obviously, will be huge for him. Part of where he goes depends on where he tests. But I think he’s borderline Day 2. Late three, early four. Still a fluid situation.

Lambert58: Hey Alex, how confident are you that VW is up to the task of being the starter for 16+ games in 2017?

Alex: Lot of confidence. And I think the Steelers do too. Sure, they went after Hightower because he was the prized FA but they’ve had literally zero reported interest of any other ILB. That says a lot of about Williams. The only guys they like more are the very best at the position.

But like I’ve said before, this is the season to aggressively explore a dime/hybrid player. Because the team doesn’t have an answer for these big move tight ends.

PaeperCup: Alex, how many knolls could Chuck Noll chuck if Chuck Noll could chuck knolls?

Alex: I believe the answer to that is 4.

RickM: Can you give me a realistic scenario where the first round pick won’t be an OLB. And if it isn’t an OLB in Round 1, who would be avilable for them to fill that need at 62?

Alex: Sure. CB could definitely be in play. The depth in the class took a hit with the injuries to Sidney Jones and Fabian Moreau. And if the Steelers want that 6’0+, long, outside CB, the earlier they decide to do that, the better. Because every team covets those guys and there are only so few of them out there; good ones, at least. OLB is deeper and less specialized.

If they wait, that’s the part I struggle with. Who will fall? Someone will but it’s really tough to figure out. I think Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson will be there. Tarell Basham makes sense. One of Willis/Watt/Bowser could take a tumble but it’s a dart-throw to say who. Could Lawson have a sudden fall because of injury concerns? Your guess is as good as mine.

Bill Sechrengost: Are you going to be doing a prospect ranking by position for the draft? Who are your top 3 running backs after Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, and Kamara?

Alex: I will probably do rankings for OLB and CBs, the two groups I’ve seen the most. So it’s hard for me to rank other groups, to be honest. D’Onta Foreman might be my next guy after that. Also like Kareem Hunt a good bit.


How excited are you for the draft?!?

Also, do you think this extra month (for the draft being pushed back a few seasons ago) really makes that big of a difference?

Alex: Very excited. But the bad thing is that once the draft comes, two weeks after, there’s nothing to write about. And that’s not very fun.

I dunno if it makes a difference. The NFL season keeps getting pushed farther and farther back anyway. So it all evens out, I think. This year was weird though with free agency, the combine, and Pro Days all getting scrunched together. Think that makes the process tougher for coaches and scouts. It was weird.

Brian Miller: Alex, who would be your dream TE that the Steelers draft and in what round, and conversely, what does your gut tell you they are going to do at TE in the draft? My draft crush is Leggett and I would love to get him in the 3rd or 4th, but you sold me on Shaheen and the Iowa kid too.

Alex: OJ Howard in the 7th, haha. You said dream.

But I dunno if I have a “dream” tight end like my (misguided) Maxx Williams mancrush a couple years ago. This class is really good and I would love a Howard or Njoku but the price tag temps down that excitement.

I think they have interest in Leggett so that would make sense. I don’t know if I sold anyone on Shaheen and I know Dave talked up Kittle. I’m pretty partial to Gerald Everett myself. Evan Engram will be a stud too.

James P. Kelly: Hey Alex! Do you think the team is interested in Ryan Switzer? Any sign of it?

Alex: I think they met with him at Mobile and they sat down with him at Indy. I’d love to see him in black and gold. We’ll see what happens.

Michael James: It’s time for our first round pick, Goodell comes in and says: “Witch the 30th pick of the 2017 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…Davis Webb, QB, California.”
What’s your reaction?

Alex: Quit the Internet. Run away. Eat McChickens until I run out of money. Solid plan IMO.

Consistent: Does Zach Mettenberger have a shot at being Big Ben’s predecessor?

Alex: About as good a chance as you or me.

srdan: If tim williams was clean as a prospect. Where would you rank him among the OLBs just as a football player?

Alex: Maybe not that much higher. He didn’t test well. Not crazy about him.

Jeff McNeil: If Harris Reddick and Lawson are all available at 30 which would you take and why?

Alex: That’s a tough question I’m almost certain I want have to answer on draft day. Would lean Reddick.


Ben, Eli, and Rivers

how many more years do each play and how many super bowls will they win?


Ben – Three more years

Rivers – Two more years

Manning – Five more years

That second question is really just asking how many Super Bowls Ben wins. I’ll be optimistic and say one.

Darth Blount 47: Alright GM Alex, in a VERY shocking development, it is the 30th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and not a SINGLE CB has yet been selected. You have your pick of the whole litter. Who do you select for the Steelers at 30?

Alex: *Doc Emrick Voice* WHAT CHAOS!

I need to study up on some of the top guys. I’m hearing a lot of good things about Gaeron Conley. He might be my guy. I still like Kevin King a ton too.

Robbie: Sammie Coates, William Gay, Chris Hubbard, Rob Golden. You have to start one and cut one.

Alex: Coates can start in this league. So give me him.

Cut someone? I like all those guys but see ya Hubbard. His versatile skillset isn’t terribly difficult to find.

JohnB: After years of doing this, which position(s) do you personally feel youre best at evaluating and worst at evaluating?

Alex: Hmm…I guess I would have to go back and look at what I got right and wrong. I feel like I do a decent job at WR. I like watching the OL, don’t know how good I am at it. CBs and S are always tough because so much of what they do happens out of screen. It’s just rough in general going from Steelers All-22 tape to college TV tape. Big bummer. RB is tough for me too.

Voice O’ Reason: Which potential 1st round edge rusher is the best run stopper of the bunch, or (in the words of Mayock) the best at “setting a physical edge”?

Alex: I really like Derek Rivers. I thought he did the best job of it at the Senior Bowl. Has length, a good punch, and proper hand placement. Joe Mathis might do that the best of anyone but of course, he’s not a first rounder.

Petherson Silveria: Can we draft two TEs if the second one is too good to pass?

Alex: Two is really pushing it. I don’t see it happening.

That’s all for this week. Have a good week, everyone!

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