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Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Let’s hop right into this week’s mailbag.

To your questions!

srdan: What team would have to call you to swap their 2017 first round pick for TJ Watt? Can you name 5? I can’t.

Alex: Certainly making it harder after last week, isn’t he? Wow though, you’re right. I went through the 29 picks ahead of Watt and the only name I could come up with is Myles Garrett. That’s not to say Watt is the second best player taken but in terms of scheme/need/talent, I can’t come up with another. Really good point.

RASTA: How many weeks do you think The Outlaw can stick as the #1 TE?

If he keeps playing the way he did Sunday all year, it’ll be his to keep. But bear in mind it was Vance McDonald’s first game and he’s obviously playing catchup mode. He’ll have good games too. Let’s at least get through Week 4 and we can reevaluate those two.

Grant Humphery: What odds do you give the Steelers of knocking off the Patriots this year? Do you feel like we are in a better position than them?

Alex: It’s hard to peg down odds. Too arbitrary. But better? Certainly. This is a better team. Getting Bryant back, a healthy Heyward, knowing Tuitt isn’t out for the year, a defense another year older, another year wiser. It doesn’t hurt. Will they? If they can swing a home game, that’ll be even more helpful.

jger15: How worried should we be about Dupree’s health prospects for the season?

Alex: I dunno, I’m not tuned into his medical situation. I know feeling the need to get a second opinion on that shoulder isn’t comforting. We’ll see how he practices this week. But this on-again, off-again we’ve gone through Dupree, never able to get consistent reps, is only going to stunt his growth. Dude put in work during the offseason. Might not get the fruits of his labor if he’s limited every day in practice.

treeher: Just for fun: AB or LB – one of them has to go, Who do you keep and why?

Alex: Oh man, that’s tough. Sorry Bell, sending you back to Dairy Queen. AB is matchup proof. It’s unbelievable that no matter the chaos around him, or the defense he faces, he can’t be stopped. He’s got a longer shelf life too than Bell.

Darth Blount 47: I’ve seen multiple people and sites pontificate about how this upcoming game is going to be a very difficult game for us. This is a wavelength test… Give me your final score prediction for the Vikings at Steelers.

Alex: I don’t mean to hedge but I haven’t decided yet. Need to watch more of Minnesota. And I’d be spoiling my Sunday prediction article. Where’s the fun in that?

But yeah, really tough game. Steelers have to play much, much better than they did. And I’m not one afraid of picking against them…we’ll see.

Tim Ray: 

Hey Alex!
Can you talk a bit a bit about what being a Depot blogger is like? I’m always curious to know more about what you guys do.

My second question is how do you get a hold of all the playbooks that you guys reference?

Alex: I mean, what you see is what you get. Wake up, write articles during the day, write during the night to prepare stuff for the day, rinse, repeat. Share as many as I can, run the Depot Facebook page too (Go like it here!). I’m not sure what specifics you’re looking for though I’m happy to answer whatever is on your mind.

Some of the playbooks are available online. Some of them come from friends. It just depends. But it’s the Internet; if you want it, it’s usually out there.

Phil Brennemann II: “I know he already signed but lets assume he didn’t for my question. We end the 2017 season and you can only keep one. You signing Stephon Tuitt or Ryan Shazier? And why?”

Alex: You people are killing me. Stop trying to take away my children!

If you forced me to choose, it’s Shazier. The DL will survive with Heyward, Hargrave, and Alualu. You can’t lose Timmons and Shazier in back-to-back seasons. The dropoff is just too deep, even assuming a high draft pick is brought in. The 3-4 is all about flexibility and Shazier lets you do so much. Whether that’s coverage or blitz. I know he’s missed time but hey, so has Tuitt.

falconsaftey43: They are different teams than last year, but is Minnesota really that good?
They averaged 20.4 points last year while Saints gave up 28.3 on average. Seems more likely to me that it’s just the same old Saints defense than a suddenly potent Minnesota offense. Minnesota’s D has been good for awhile though.

Alex: Yes, for a couple reasons.

One, don’t just look at the box score. Bradford was throwing DIMES. The Saints has good coverage. Just better throws/catches. Not like Diggs and company were wide open all game. Bradford had his best game in the NFL.

Bradford also had a full year in the system. Not a guy playing catch up after getting dealt at the last second. That comfort is huge. Their run game also exists. Didn’t have that last year with AP/McKinnon. Cook is the real deal. So they have comfort and dimensions. They are legit.

Charles Mullins: What is Senquez Golson up to? He should be fully healed by now and resurfacing soon.

Alex: One of the beat guys asked him last week. Said he was just getting healthy and waiting on a call. Maybe it’ll happen mid-season. But clearly, there isn’t a line to his door.

D.j. Reynolds: What can we reasonably expect out of Martavis Bryant this year (stat-wise)? I know we saw workout videos that showed otherwise, but to me he has appeared slower in game situations than he used to be. I’m hoping I’m just being paranoid and reaching a conclusion too quickly.

Alex: I think you gotta understand he’s a guy who missed an entire year of football. There’s still an element of working your way back. That doesn’t come right away especially after the league decided to drag their feet in getting him back to practice.

My feeling is unchanged. He can average 16 yards a catch and lead the Steelers in touchdowns this year.

Bryant Eng:Sean Davis has been quiet since training camp – how would you asses his play Sunday, and have the Steelers been using him effectively? I expected more play making from him.

Alex: His tackling looked solid. He needed to be more consistent there but now healthy and with experience, I expected him to be. Think he was the safety who gave up that long near completion in Cover 2. Error that must be corrected. You’re right it’s been quiet but it hasn’t been bad. I just hope he provides some extra splash to this defense. They need it from the SS spot.

Steelers12: do you perfer a 3-4 or 4-3?

Alex: Maybe I’m biased because it’s all I’ve ever known but 3-4 all the way. Love the flexibility and unpredictable nature of where that 4th/5th rusher is going to be. Gives you a lot more options in rush and cover. And that’s a big reason why the Steelers’ defense is successful when they’re at their peak.

Brian Miller: I know it is early, but man there will be some good QBs coming out next year, especially if Darnold comes out. Your early guess on how many teams could possibly take a QB in the first round, and who would you like the Steelers to take? And don’t try and straddle the fence Alex!!! Make a choice brother!

Alex: Haha, I’ll do my best not to hedge. But it’s so early and I don’t delve into draft stuff until after the season. In a strong class, I’m guessing 4-5 or so teams could/would end up taking a QB. That’s all dependent on how this group plays the rest of the year.

I know he’s had rocky games but that Josh Allen kid in Wyoming probably interests the Steelers. For better or worse, he’ll garner Roethlisberger comparisons.


That’s all for this week. Thanks for the questions everybody.

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