Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

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Good afternoon, Steelers’ Nation! I hope you all had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Let’s dive right into things.

To your questions!

Spencer Krick: 

Who’s the favorite to take Green’s roster spot?

How many DBs do you think the team carries?

Alex: Grimble, I guess. It’s the logical answer. He literally is the next man up. Pretty confident they keep ten. What they normally do, I think. More of a question of 6 CBs vs 4 S or 5 and 5. Likely going to be the former but adding Stafford is keeping things interesting.

Jesse Hernandez: Hey Alex, if martavis exceeds expectations and puts up the same yards and more tds than antonio brown the next two years. Are you making him the highest paid reciever after 2018?

Alex: No, that’s almost certainly not going to happen. Not by Pittsburgh at least. I am a tad more optimistic than Dave Bryan is about a chance for Bryant to re-sign with the team but it won’t be the top-line money. Just too much risk and it probably isn’t a great message to send to the locker room.

Any chance for Bryant to come back has to be on a hometown discount, which I think is possible if the team keeps winning and Bryant is a changed guy, realizing the second (and third) chances the Steelers gave him. Pittsburgh won’t, and financially, probably wouldn’t be able to, give Bryant top dollar.

Bryant Eng: 

If I recall, Golden was pretty disastrous as a dime back last year (forcing Timmons to stay on the field on 3rd down). Neither he nor Dangerfield have shown they are capable dime backs – does Stafford’s experience as a dime back in Lebeau’s defense make him a favorite to make the team over Dangerfield and Golden? At 6’1″ he has better size against TEs then either of those two as well.

Looks like the roster will shake out as follows: 10 DBS: Gay, Burns, Cockrell, Sutton, Sensabaugh, Golson, Davis, Mitchell, Golden w/ Allen on PS. Thoughts on all of the above?

Alex: No, I don’t think it makes him a favorite. He is, after all, a guy who was on the market until nearly June. It’s rare for someone like that to join a group and be a favorite. His experience as a starter and the potential for that dime role is interesting but he’s got to learn the defense and prove himself. Golden and Dangerfield already have. It’s not impossible they keep five safeties either.

I really don’t want to say how the roster will shake out. It’s very fluid, just like WR. Don’t want to go into camp with a preconceived notion about its layout.

Doogie: So all that said, how does Sammy do this year? Got ya..

Alex: Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball but I still have confidence in Coates. We forget how well he played the first five weeks. Leading the league in YPC and he got better with the detail things, too. He needs a strong camp, of course, everyone not named AB does, but if he can do that, he’ll make the team.

His role on the field is tougher because I assume Bryant is fully reinstated and becomes the Z receiver. But Coates will add great depth. And don’t forget about getting him on the field for some 4 WR sets. AB/Bryant/Coates/JuJu? Plus Bell out of the backfield? Good luck, defenses.

steeelrs12: Do u expect to see more 4 wr sets and do you find the steelers cover 2 defense to conservative

Alex: Yes, I think you’ll see some of it but I caution fans not to get drunk on the idea. They’re not going to be the Jets, a team whose base is practically four wide.

Cover 2 is a good defense for the young guys. And the Steelers’ secondary was pretty youthful last year with Burns and Davis. Easiest coverage for them to learn. Lets them play fast. Spot dropping in general can get picked apart by great QBs, as the Steelers found out, so you can’t run it all the time.

But if you vary your looks, disguise the coverages some (rolling S up, bailing on snap), and hopefully have some variations of it (like their Palms coverage) it can work. It’s all about what you surround it with. And your ability to self-scout to find when you become predictable. That’s crucial.

Jeff McNeill: How many of this years draft picks do you think will make a meaningful impact on the team this year and what would a meaningful impact look like to you for those players this year?

Alex: It could be similar to last year. Watt will make an impact. You know my thoughts on Smith-Schuster, someone who could take over in the slot early on. Sutton…he may be a special teamer if he keeps working on the outside. But his presence will be felt.

Dobbs will obviously sit. Allen is another special teams candidate. Holba obviously will be the long snapper. And Adams has potential to unseat Moats and be a hair-on-fire special teamer. So yeah, I think it will be a meaningful impact, meaning, they will positively help the team win.

Phil Brenneman II: Alex if you had to pick one player from the 2014 draft onward (2014-2017) which one would you put money on being the next huge Steelers name when it is all said and done? (up there with the likes of a Polamalu, Bettis, Roethlisberger etc). You can also pick none.

Alex: Hm, I’d say Shazier has the best shot. That elite guy everyone knows about. He’s gotten so much better since his rookie year and really rounded out his game. I don’t know if he’ll do it but he has the best shot as the All-Pro. I’d go with a guy like Tuitt but in the Steelers’ 3-4, I don’t think he’ll have the gaudy numbers to become that huge “name.”

CP72: Alex,
Over/Under on 43 sacks as a defense this year?

Alex: I’ll take the over. They got to 48 two years ago. Give me a healthy Dupree, Heyward, and adding Watt. This team ended last year with 38 (granted, they were awful to start the year and playing the Browns helped boost their numbers). Getting another five with those guys is easy. I want this team to touch 50 sacks.

Matt Correll: Who do you think poses a bigger threat in the division this year– Baltimore or Cincinnati? They both had pretty interesting drafts- do you think either of them have improved their roster considerably? Do you see more than one team making the playoffs out of the division this year?

Alex: Hmm…that’s a tough one. I dunno, I think I am going to go with Baltimore, even if their offense is worse. They just always play the Steelers tough. Even tougher than the Bengals. At the least, even if Baltimore doesn’t win the North, I can see them playing spoiler to Pittsburgh. And that Baltimore secondary is really good. Can play lockdown man coverage and make life tough on Ben.

falconsaftey43: Does Knile Davis make the 53? His rushing stats are poor, and all his stats (KR included) were worse than Fitz last year.

Alex: Yes, I think he does. He wasn’t brought in to be a running back but a kick returner. I know the numbers last year but the body of work is just as important. And that’s an area the team is clearly trying to upgrade. There isn’t enough KRs on the roster to challenge him. Won’t be Ayers, won’t be Rogers.

John Noh: Looking back at last year’s draft – between Burns and WJ3 – I’m willing to say now that the Steelers made the right call with Artie. I know Jackson hasn’t played a down so there’s incomplete data. But what do you say in hindsight?

Alex: Well it’s still too early to tell. One year doesn’t give us enough hindsight. And we’ll see what Jackson does when he gets on the field. But yes, you can understand why the team took Burns.

That’s all for this week. Talk to you guys soon!

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