Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Our last fireside chat before the draft. One non-draft related gripes. Maybe you can relate.

Dear ATM Machine (I’m dumb): please do not loudly beep when I’m trying to put in my PIN number, alerting the entire world that I’m putting in my PIN number.

Zero* BEEP! Zero BEEP! Zero BEEP! Zero BEEP! 

Maybe, ya know, turn the volume down a little bit. Seems a little overkill.

*Not much actual PIN number.

To your questions!

John Hinton: Is Chickillo a forgotten piece at OLB? He’s flashed at times.

Alex: To an extent, yes. He’s still a piece of clay, dinged up last year, and learning how to play OLB. But he’s not someone I don’t think the team envisions as the future of the ROLB spot which is why they’re looking so hard at the position this year. A top backup is probably his upside which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

The Tony: Rank them in order you would want the steelers to draft: Tak, Harris, Tre White, Obi, Jarrad Davis



Davis and Obi are close but I’m more confident in Davis having a successful career than Melinfonwu even if Obi has a higher ceiling.

Matt Correll: With that being said, what could the Steelers realistically do tonight that would be surprising? Are there any specific players that would be really surprising? A trade up? A trade back?

Alex: Maybe anything that’s not an EDGE or Peppers. It’s really hard to peg this team this year. A trade back is more likely than normal but it would still be a major surprise since it hasn’t happened in 50 years. Very little I can “expect” tonight.

Sam Clonch: How do you plan to watch the draft?

Alex: Ha, I plan to watch it how you wish you could. By myself, in my room. It’s quiet, easy to focus, and I’m the world’s biggest introvert. So this is pretty perfect for me.

ilmarca: Alex, would you rather have one pick in each round (1-7) or seven picks in round 3?

Alex: Ha, I dig the question. Give me the seven in round three. Your odds of finding someone who plays like a first rounder are pretty good. And you’re not throwing darts like you are in the 7th. I guess there’s a cap element to think about too but I’m not up for doing the math.

TroymanianDevil: I’m setting the line for 1st round trades at 4.5 ( this is before the Steelers pick ) . You taking over or under? And if you so wish to answer, you eyeing any draft trades not for QBs?

Alex: Taking the over. Think it’s going to be a wild one. Might see seven or eight trades by then. I couldn’t tell you about any non-trades. Or really any trades at all. Only one I am confident in is Cleveland moving up from 12. Probably with Tennessee. Browns go to 5, get a QB (Trubisky?) and the Titans get 12 and like, two seconds or something.

Bryant Eng: Why the love for James Connor (purely because he went to Pitt?). I can assure you Colbert is taking the best prospect over a home town kid (anyone see Revis in Southside?) D’onta Foreman seems like an immensely better prospect than Connor, and may be there in round 4.

Alex: I think I’ve been fair about Connor. He’s not a great talent. He runs too high, speed is only going to be average. And sure, Colbert doesn’t draft from Pitt very often. But it is a position of need and it’s easy to root for him. It’s a guy you don’t have to worry about in terms of his work ethic, how he conducts himself, and how he’ll act in the locker room.

That doesn’t automatically make you a good player or a good pick but when you’re looking at the later rounds, it’s a good place to start. I really don’t see Foreman lasting until Round 4 either, for what it’s worth.

Zach Smith: Say the team trades down, what does that package of picks look like in return based on late first round trades in the past?

Alex: That’s hard to say because it depends how far they move down. Here’s one example from last year when Seattle moved from 26 to 31 with Denver, who moved up to get Paxton Lynch.

Denver got the 26th pick. Seattle got 31 and 94 (3rd round). So on that alone, you can expect the team to get a third rounder if they go down to the top of the second round.

Peter MacDonald: So with all the talk of depth at OLB and the team maybe waiting to get value later are we forgetting what the ARII bat signal was this year? He said corner last year and they took one. Unless there’s a foolish run on those guys I’m still betting OLB

Alex: Sure, there’s still good odds. It is the position they brought in the most. But if Watt is gone, your options are pretty limited. McKinley is the only other guy who makes sense considering they don’t have much interest in Bowser or Willis. So it’s a limited group to choose from. They know EDGE will be there in the second if they have to wait.

Sam Clonch: In 2003 Steelers moved up 11 spots to take Troy. Not talking about what it would cost to move up to #19, but would a player there be markedly better than one they are likely to land at #30?

Alex: No, I don’t think there’s anything compelling to move up. It’s deep at corner, deep at edge, the safeties they like will generally be in that area. With only 8 picks this year, I don’t think they have the ammunition to try to make a power move.

Brian Tollini:  I don’t think the Steelers would have went after Hightower so aggressively if they were really sold on Vince Williams. I can see them going after Jarrad Davis in round 1, and I can see them waiting till day 3 and filling in with a developmental guy. Thoughts?

Alex: I think they considering things if there’s an elite guy there like Hightower would’ve been. I believe they like Williams but even I – as a big VW supporter – know he isn’t *the* best guy out there. So if you can make a serious upgrade, like with Jarrad Davis, I’m all for it. But if it’s negligible, then I wouldn’t bother with the investment. Davis is really the only guy I’d want.

Prefer to find that dime safety anyway and just make Williams a two down linebacker. Make things more niche and give yourself more answers and solutions on defense.

Shane Mitchell: What do you think about Tanoh Kpassagnon as a pass rusher for sub package?

Alex: It’s funny Shane, when Dupree got drafted, the buzzword was “elephant.” But I didn’t really buy into it at the time and no one talks about it anymore. But Kpassagnon could really be that guy, a Peppers type, a Michael Bennett/Bruce Irvin type, though I think we have to pump the breaks on how good of an athlete he is. He’s fine, relative to his size, but Kpass didn’t test that well.

But he’s someone you can play around with. They have done a little bit with Dupree and Chick putting their hand in the grass on third down so maybe that’s something they want to explore. I don’t think I’d be crazy about the move, I’m worried about how tall he is and how easy it’ll be to get into his pads, sorta like McCullers, but I can see the logic. And they’ve expressed interest, obviously.

Jeff Papiernik: What are some of the top corners in the draft (available in the first 2-3 rounds) that you just don’t think fit what we’re trying to do from a scheme perspective?

Alex: Even though the Steelers are gravitating towards top athletes, it’s hard for me to see them interested in Ahkello Witherspoon from Colorado. You still have to have some measure of tackling ability and physicality – Burns wasn’t too far removed from all of that.

Teez Tabor is the other name I’d throw out there. Just too slow. Not going to thrive in a man defense.

Robbie: Obviously it would be wild if it was even considered, but in the event the Steelers made a trade that included a player of their own, give me a guess of what player would get shipped.

Alex: Oh man, I haven’t thought about it. I’ll say Sammie Coates. But not going to happen.

Jesse Hernandez: Assuming you know for sure Conleys statement is true and no charges get filed, he and obi are available pick 30. Who are you taking?

Alex: I mean, there’s no way of knowing that. But I’d take Obi still. Not crazy about Conley, even before the allegation.

NinjaMountie: How bad does it suck to be picking at 30!!?? I’m not talking about the fact that it means we had a good season. I just always get all stressed watching all those good players go off the board and we have to wait to the very end of day 1 almost.

Alex: Amen man. Farther back you go, the messier it all is. As unpredictable as ever.

Kevin Reich: If waiting until the 2nd round for an OLB. Are you scared a run will happen and we miss out on the quality OLBs?

Alex: Sure you always run that risk. But OLB is deeper than most and teams have a generally good idea where these guys will go. If you have multiple guys you are willing to take, it’s worth it.

Great chat everyone! Enjoy the draft.

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