Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag. One week until the draft and we can finally put all the speculation to bed and we can talk about players who are actually on the team and how they’ll help the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017.

Some reading for you all. Something football, something non-sports related. I linked one section of it yesterday but one of my favorite draft articles is Bob McGinn’s NFL scout poll of the top players at each position group. Great insight. Check out the running backs hereAnd something for any pet owners out there. Topic I really hadn’t thought about before – keeping your cat or dog safe in your care and the companies that are trying to solve that problem. You can read that article at this link. 

To your questions!

Hoof: I keep ending up with Derek Barnett for us R1. Feels good, but similar to Jarvis. How u think they compare?

Alex: Hey Hoof, I was about to answer you on Twitter, ha. I think we have to pump the brakes on comparing every edge guy to Jarvis. I don’t even see how they compare. Barnett is a tremendous athlete with a great burst off the ball, the opposite of Jarvis. Barnett can bend, Jarvis couldn’t.

Don’t look at the Combine numbers. Remember, Barnett was really sick the day he worked out and almost passed it up entirely. The fact he competed earned my respect. Much better athlete than how he tested.

Spencer Krick: 

I have two questions!

1: Is Jabrill Pepper’s best football ahead of him? If he were to be taken by the Steelers, how would he get on the field?

2. name your top five possible first round picks in order of most likely to least likely.

Thanks in advance dude.

Alex: Sure, there’s some upside there. Getting him on the field is easy as that dime defender and a role the team is trying to fill, I think. There’s room for him, no question, as there should be with any draft pick.

In no order, because I don’t want to tip my hand for my next mock.

Jabrill Peppers
TJ Watt
Budda Baker
Marcus Maye
Takk McKinley

Jeff Papiernik: Let’s pretend Steelers draft a CB in the first 3 rounds and let’s say Golson stays healthy this year and looks good in the preseason. Tell me the CBs on the final 53 man roster.

Alex: Hmm…

Artie Burns
Ross Cockrell
Coty Sensabuagh
Draft Pick
Senquez Golson

Gay could definitely be odd man out. But who knows, it’s not like you can’t carry six, depending on how full the rest of the defense is.


Who do you like of between Maye, Josh Jones, Peppers?

And what do you think of Malachi Dupre from LSU? I feel like if he went to a school with an actual QB that he’d be a first round pick. I think he’s super raw, but SO much potential and a guy I haven’t heard much from.

Alex: In order…

Jones, Maye, Peppers. Jones has to be tamed a bit but he’s got the size/speed combo and is the biggest hitter. Maye is good in most places, not great in any, and he needs work in coverage. Peppers is strong athlete and reliable tackler but smaller and didn’t produce impact plays.

Dupre….eh, yeah, he’s raw because LSU’s offense was simplified and didn’t throw the ball that often. So that hurt him. Jumped really well but wish he would’ve ran better.

Robbie: Jabrill Peppers or Obi? Which is more likely/who would u rather have. Also, if a safety loses his job this year, u think it’d be Mitchell or Davis?

Alex: Peppers more likely, give me Melifonwu. I don’t think either loses their job but if you forced me to pick, it’d be Davis, who would move into that dime role. Mitchell has tenure and knows the defense really well. He’s not getting benched. Secondary would be too young, especially at a crucial spot like safety. Can’t afford poor communication.

CP72: If the Steelers draft a hybrid safety. What trait do you think is more important… being able to play in the box (Josh Jones) or someone who can be more of a slot defender (Budda Baker)?

Alex: Well, the problem is that it’s sorta both. Those are traits the position demands or else you’re a bad fit. But think about how the hybrid guy would be used. On 3rd and obvious passing situations. Or late game, two minute drills. So run support isn’t going to be critical.

And they might not always be over the slot either. He’s the 6th DB – you’ll still have your nickel guy on the field. You might get him on a RB motioned out or more likely, the Y tight end. That’s where having a guy with size comes in handy and another reason to be a bit leery of Baker and Peppers.

capehouse: Which one of these Gil Brandt top 150 player rankings shocked you the most?

60) T.J. Watt
77) Carl Lawson
121) Cordrea Tankersley
129) Derek Rivers

Alex: I guess none of them…maybe Watt. But Lawson is dropping in big media, ditto with Rivers, even though I disagree with that low ranking. Tankersely…eh, it’s such a deep class, I get it. I’d put him higher though.


two questions

1. what player in this years nfl draft is getting too much hype in your opinion?
2. which do you pay attention to more Mayock, McShay or Kiper?

Alex: Some of the running backs are a little overblown. McCaffrey a top 10 pick? I don’t know how we got to that point. Good at a lot of things, not great at any. Even Fournette is a little overhyped, even though I like him. What’s the difference between he and Derrick Henry? I mean sure, give me Fourtnette over Henry but a difference of potentially 30 spots? I don’t know if I see that.

Not crazy about Mike Williams. But maybe I’m biased against big receivers. I like guys who can separate. Look at Treadwell last year. Average athlete, can’t get open. If you’re Julio Jones and AJ Green and have both? You’re the top guy, for sure. But if you’re big and an average athlete? I’m sour on it.

EDIT: oh yeah, Mayock for sure.

Bryant Eng: Are we over estimating the need of an early round pass rusher? Heyward, Tuitt, Dupree, Hargrave (on the interior), Silverback and a 3rd round pick up (wish list = Rivers, Tarrell Basham or Jordan Willis falling) seems formidable; it’s a sold 6 man rotation there on a 4 man front. CB/NB in rounds 1 and 2 might make more sense if we look at it from that angle?

Alex: No, I don’t think we are. The Steelers have made it pretty clear too the need to win with a four man rush. You have to have depth, you have to have something long-term. ROLB is a glaring need, Deebo, as much as we would hope, can’t be around forever. And you don’t want to feel compelled and obligated to blitz just to generate that, like the team has been at times the last two years. It’s rare for it not to be a need. Always a good reason to add to it.

Darth Blount 47: 

Looks like almost everyone is double-dipping on the questions today. So I don’t mind if I do…

1. Name me your best possible “in the realm of reality” double-dip, at both Edge/OLB and CB. (Note: they don’t have to be selected as though they are happening in the same draft)

2. Christian McCaffrey, Corey Davis, and David Njoku are all still on the board at 30. Colbert leans over and says.. “Pick one and we’ll take ’em.” Who ya got, Assistant to the General Manager?

Alex: I think with needs/wants all over the map, and just eight picks, it is sorta hard to double-dip, especially at OLB. I think CB is more likely, for what it’s worth.

At OLB, something like…

TJ Watt in the first/Tashawn Bower in the 7th…Carl Lawson in the second/Samson Ebukam in the 5th

At corner….

Cordrea Tankersley in the 2nd/Corn Elder in the 4th

Kevin Colbert putting me in charge of the draft would be a very Michael Scott move. I’ll have to do some reading first though to prepare for that role.

*buys Somehow I Manage* 

Tough call between Davis and Njoku but give me Davis. Bigger playmaker and if Green can stay upright, man, that offense would be sick.

Steel SonofFarmer: 

*Who do you think will be available in UDFA among this names???
– Jamal Agnew
-Chris ODom
-Matt Milano
-Brian Allen
-Kai Nacau
-Kevin Snead

*Do you like any of this players??

*And If some reason Reddick fall to 30th will you pick him up??

Alex: I think Sean did a really good job with the Agnew profile. Had me excited. Milano is interested, too. Snead is the fastest man in football but who knows, he’s so raw. Allen, out of Utah? He should get drafted.

Yeah, I’d probably take Reddick.

falconsaftey43: I can think of two possible 1st round picks I’d strongly dislike. Peppers or a QB not named Mahomes. What are the chances I’ll have to face that scenario?

Alex: Peppers seems like there’s a chance. Everyone in their mother is connecting the dots. Either group think is super strong or there’s some serious smoke there. Mahomes…I think you’re safe. Not going to fall past Houston, I don’t believe.

Nick Webb: If you had to choose one player, regardless of which round you took them in, to be your extra chess piece in the secondary, would you go Peppers, Baker, J. Jones, Melifonwu or Maye?
Thanks in advance!

Alex: Melifonwu, for sure. Best athlete, good range, size, productivity. But I don’t think he’ll be there. Jones would be a close second over Maye.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What’s good, Young Alex!? What player, outside of the first round, do you not want to see drafted in our division?

Alex: Hmm…I don’t know if I have a name in mind outside the first. I’ll just say this – these matchup move tight ends scare the heck out of me. And I think Cleveland will draft one at some point. So frustrating with how tough it is to defend. You can see why the Steelers are looking for that dime safety.

So Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, Bucky Hodgers, those guys pose a big problem.

AustinTxStillerFan: Chi ago offers you 2-4 (36), 4-4 (111), & 5-3 (147) for 1-30 (30). Kevin is whispero g in your ear again… what do you do?

Alex: I’m all for trading back, especially in a world where I can do it – because we know Colbert can’t – but I would ask for more. 1st round picks are valuable, especially when we’re talking about getting the 5th year option for these guys. I would need at least a third and then that 5th rounder.

Also, Colbert, stop whispering in my ear. It’s creepy.

Wreckless: Speaking of Reddick, how do you view him? MLB, OLB, or a Jamie Collins style chess piece? I see a lot of off-ball linebacker projections, but I just don’t see it.

Alex: Yeah, I see him as that chess piece. I don’t want to put him in a box and say he can only do “X.” He’s one of the best athletes in the draft and I want to maximize that. He can be off ball, he can be edge, and any smart team should move him around to maximize his skillset.

If you have the world’s fastest computer, you wouldn’t use it just to play Solitaire, even if it can run the game better than anyone else. You do a lot with that.

stan: I see that people are de-emphasizing the RB position more and more in mocks. If DeAngelo is going to retire, I consider it an urgent need. With Le-Veon’s injury in the AFC Championship game, he still hasn’t completed a season.

Alex: Right, I agree, and people shouldn’t forget about it. I still expect the team to draft a back.

Remember, in 2013 when they took Bell, the Steelers brought in only three running backs. And Bell wasn’t one of them.

Bill Sechrengost: It seems like people are calling for QB or RB in the third round. Who would you take in that round for these positions? I don’t see them taking either in the first two rounds. Thanks Alex.

Alex: I think there’s two names to circle – Josh Dobbs and Brad Kaaya. I think Kaaya is slightly more likely but both are in play.

Awesome chat this week, thanks guys! Talk to you right before the draft.

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