Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag. We’re back on schedule with our Thursday afternoon chat.

One thing I gotta say. I am not an experienced flyer and really have only flown for my three Senior Bowl trips. To be honest, getting through TSA is not that bad. In Pittsburgh at least. Half hour and you’re on your way for the rest of the trip. Maybe it’s worse in other, bigger/busier airports, though I’m pretty sure Pittsburgh has gotten much busier over the past four years. I don’t get all the complaints. Let me know your thoughts/experiences in the comments below.

And as always, to your questions!

Lambert58: Hey Alex – If Tremaine Edmunds (OLB), Rashaan Evans (ILB) and Derwin James (S) all somehow fell to #28, who you taking?

Alex: I’ve only spent time on Evans so far. Edmunds has some great range and it’s insane he is only going to be 19 years old on draft day. Steelers have shown a lot of comfort drafting young players with top picks. But I won’t be able to give you a more concrete answer until later in the process.

NickSteelerFan: Hey alex!
I’ve heard a lot of people say not to pay Bell because there’s needs elsewhere that we can spend the money on. If we did that and drafted a shiftier RB to pair with Connor, doesn’t the problem then become that we are far more predictable depending on who’s on the field?

Alex: I wouldn’t even think that far into it. The problem is that you go from the best back in the league to a pair of virtual unknowns, trying to replace a guy who can do it all and play 91% of the snaps. That adjustment is not going to be easy and has a low probability to actually work. And if one gets hurt, then you lose that compliment.

The Steelers can address their needs without letting Bell, which only creates another need in the process. Not good logic.


Alex, multiple questions here. If I was in charge of the Browns draft this year I’d take Saquon Barkley #1 and get whatever QB that I rated highest at #4. Might also consider using the 4th pick in a trade to get the number #2/3 pick, if possible.

What do you think the Browns will do in this years draft?

If you had sole control over the Browns draft what would you do?

Alex: You could probably reverse that. Take the QB at one, where you can get your guy and not worry about someone else taking him or a trade up, and still get Barkley at four. You may be able to even trade back to 7-8 and still get Barkley.

That’s basically what I would do. QB at 1 (Rosen?) and then get Barkley with my next pick, ideally, after trading back a few spots.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex, the same folks that graded Sean Davis as one of the worst safeties in 2017 (Bleacher Report NFL 1000), graded Bud Dupree as the 8th best 3-4 OLB. He landed one spot ahead of T.J. Watt. How much or how little do you buy into the rankings of various sports news outlets on these subjects?

Alex: To be clear, it’s the same outlet, not the same folks. For Bleacher Report’s NFL 1000, they’re different people dedicated to a certain position. The same guy who grades the OL isn’t the same one who does SS.

With Dupree, I dunno, I’d have to have a conversation with that person. Maybe it’s partly because of the high volume of snaps he played that naturally showed more good because of the opportunity. Maybe it was having fewer options than safety.

I don’t take anything as gospel. But they’re opinions are like mine. We’re all just going off what we see. And generally, it’s a smart group of people doing those reports who put in a ton of work, which I absolutely respect.

Craig: Alex, if you were the GM of the Steelers what would you do with Bell and his contract situation? Would that money be better off being used for defensive improvements?

Alex: Bell is going to be retained under my management. I’m not letting him walk. I would do a long-term deal for the right price but I can’t give out so much guaranteed money that I’m on the hook that if after three years, I need to move on. That’s the tricky part. But I’m giving him the tag and working sincerely to try to come to a long-term deal. I would have my number and not budge. If Bell is gone after 2018, so be it. But he isn’t testing the market this year. No way.

Spencer Krick: What position could be selected in the first round that nobody is talking about?

Alex: I don’t think there’s going to be a surprise. If it is, it’ll strictly be because of how the draft board unfolds. We’ve talked about the likely positions. FS, ILB, I think EDGE is still possible. The needs are clear and broad enough that I’m not expecting to be shocked.

Phil Brenneman II: 

Alex I want you to clear up some Vince Williams stuff for me that I am uncertain about.

1. How much responsibility did he have or did you perceive him having as far as communication and such after Shazier went out?

2. Did you notice a dip in his play and if so would you say it was more that he needs a Shazier type to let him play more free and to cover for him or would you say it was more Vince taking on too much and trying to cover for Spence?

3. How would you grade Williams season on the whole both on its own and versus your expectations coming in?

Alex: I am not positive but yes, I think he became one of the key communicators. I guess I should go back and see if he had the green dot on the back of his helmet. Even if he didn’t, he was looked towards as the leader of the ILB group.

I didn’t notice a dip in his play. And I graded him highly for the season. Can anyone think of any disastrous plays in coverage he made? I can’t. He has some limitations but he’s proven he can be an above average starter. That was in-line with my preseason prediction.

Nolrog: Considering the current state of the defense (probably better and deeper on the line than at LB) as well as the defensive schemes they play (OLBs dropping into coverage, pressure coming more from the DL as evidenced by sack totals), do you think the Steelers look to switch to a 4-3 defense, which may suit their situation better?

Alex: That’s the worst thing this defense could do. That’s like having bad brakes on your car and instead of just fixing the brakes, you junk the thing and buy another. They’re not suited to play a 4-3 and wouldn’t be for a couple years. It’s not like they have the financial flexibility to make big splashes in FA to bring those pieces in. An adjustment would take time to build through the draft. Time this team doesn’t have.

The issue is not 4-3 vs 3-4. It’s just about having the right personnel. Upgrade those pieces, not the whole scheme. Running a 4-3 doesn’t solve the issue of this secondary blowing 24 coverages a game, anyway.

The Tony: Vegeta or Goku

Alex: Not even close. Goku all the way.

Best villain? Majin Buu.

T3xassteelers: When do y’all start doing the draft profiles on players? Sorry if you’ve said this somewhere, been really busy with school and can’t keep up with everything 🙁

Alex: We already have! Here are links to them.

Sam Darnold
Garret Dooley
Calvin Ridley
Fred Warner

Thanks for the chat guys. Talk again next week!

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