Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Hi everyone, welcome back to the mailbag. Know we’re in sort of a lull right now without a lot of offseason action. But if you have a question, feel free to send it on over. I’ll be here for the next hour.

To your questions!

Brian Tollini: 

Hey Alex!

Going to name a potential target on each side of the ball in free agency
and want to see your thoughts on both as far as a fit schematically and financially

Offense: Donte Moncrief
Defense: Eric Reid

Also, is there a draft guide/author on the market that you have the most faith in?

Alex: Hi Brian! I am going to take this weekend to look over free agent options. And then come out with my own wishlist towards the end of the month.

Moncrief…I get the allure. I just don’t see why he would want to come here as a what, #4 WR? That speed and big play ability meshes with what the Steelers want but unless they plan on dealing Bryant (unlikely) I can’t see a home for him here.

Reid is a much more interesting name as the hybrid player in a dime defense. That makes sense, though I need to go ahead and watch him.

Spencer Krick: I’ve seen some comments stating that this team needs a “true NT.” Do you agree with that statement and where would you put the need at NT with McCullers leaving possibly an empty spot?

Alex: I do not. Partially because it’s an utter nonsense word. What does “true NT” even mean? A big fat plugger like Casey Hampton? That doesn’t work in this era. Hargrave is doing fine.

Backup nose tackle is a need but not a major one, of course. L.T. Walton can function as the backup nose like he did this year. But you’re going to add another piece to the mix. I would sign a FA on a one-year deal if I could, though I don’t have a good name yet.

Steelers12: Alex would it shock you if Steelers traded out of 1st round to gain more picks to help rebuild defense?

Alex: 100% it would. Colbert has never done it. Last time the Steelers didn’t pick in the first round was…1967. So that would be breaking with plenty of history.

Justin Tomlin: Hey Alex!
With the Shazier injury, do you see the team taking Inside linebacker with one of the first 2 or 3 picks? If so, any names stand out to you?

Alex: Yes, I think that is likely, if not a certainty. Lots of names who could fit. Rashaan Evans from Alabama will be a popular choice mocked to Pittsburgh. Maybe Tremaine Edmunds falls, though right now, those odds don’t look great. You have Malik Jefferson from Texas as an option. We’ll be talking about all those guys plenty throughout draft season.


How much do you think is too much to guarantee for a Lev Bell contract?

What player on D, do you expect to take a big step forward next year?

Alex: The guarantee is really hard to answer. I’m not a cap guy. I don’t know exactly what he wants. And it’s contingent on some of the other parts of the deal. The length, the overall value, other bonuses, what is truly guaranteed, etc. Anything where the Steelers feel like they are in big trouble if in Year Four, they want to cut ties, is probably too much. That’s all I can say.

Big step forward…I think Watt can. For as well-adjusted as he was, being a rookie still sucks. I can’t wait to see what he does with an entire year under his belt. Hopefully that’s the guy who can reach ten sacks.

jger15: Hey AK! Is there a consensus amongst the draftniks quite yet on the best positional groups this year (both from a top tier talent standpoint and overall depth) or are we too early out?

Alex: Eh, it’s still sort of fluid. Strong at QB, RB, TE looks pretty good. Secondary is shaping up to be solid. DL/pass rushers maybe a little weak? Pretty poor for the OL. WR is good, not great.

CP72: Alex,
Give me the top three on your hit list of veterans that are likely to be waived. Then give a couple who people already have out the door that may stay.

Alex: We’re talking Steelers, right? Not around the league.

JJ Wilcox – This is a slam dunk. He’s gone.
Coty Sensabaugh – Still could be kept because he’s cheap, vet depth but the dude is pretty buried on the depth chart right now. Wholly replaceable.
William Gay – Though I think they at least carry him throughout camp.

Mike Mitchell, to me, is still a coinflip. Simply no replacement for him right now and I don’t see them cutting ties until they find someone who can be. Five million is not that much, in all honesty.

I think people keep pushing DHB out the door. But he could still wind up staying. Only 3 WRs on the roster right now who are locks to make it (AB, Bryant, JuJu, assuming Bryant isn’t dealt). Let’s assume they draft a fourth that will make it. DHB still the #5 guy. Who else is beating him out? Still hasn’t lost speed or his special teams value.

Micah Walker: 

Rather have?

RD1 R.Evans
RD2 J.Reid


RD1 R.Harrison
RD2 L.Vander Esch

Alex: I lean the Evans/Reid pairing but I can probably give you a better answer in like a month, to be honest.

Darth Blount 47: Hey, Alex! Today, I’d kinda like to look back at the 2017 NFL Draft, since we are approaching the 2018 one. Honest reflection time, seeing as how we did NOT win the Super Bowl in 2017. Was it worth it or wise to draft Conner, Dobbs, Sutton, or Allen, when and where they did? We got VERY limited production out of 4 draft picks, all who came in our 3-5 rounds. And we ignored not only superior players, ultimately, but also didn’t address depth at more pressing areas… like ILB, OLB, or Safety. Thoughts?

Alex: Sure, you can always look back and see where it could’ve been better. But I’m not a fan of that game. Hindsight is 20/20. Who knows what happens if they go another direction. I didn’t love the Conner pick because of value but taking a RB was a pretty clear move at the time. There was no backup. Sutton, no one counted on him getting hurt. Still a lot of potential there.

With Allen, I’m not sure who you’re taking that is going to be a better selection at that point in the draft. Sure, you can give me a name that played well but again, we’re talking hindsight and someone in a different system/coach, different opportunity, and a hundred other variables that would change.

Dobbs is the one I’ll give you. Thought it was mostly a waste of a pick then. Still think it is.

Generic Steelers Fan: 

What are the inner working of Depot like? Are different writers assigned to different topics? Like maybe you’re the “breakdown guy” , Matt is the “opinion guy” , etc

I’m just impressed by how good Depot is especially compared to other Steelers sites that try to give you a glimpse Behind The Curtain, if you will

Alex: It’s not that intricate, I promise, haha. We’re not really assigned to any topics. I mean, when it comes to something like the cap, Dave is usually going to handle that because I’ll make a mess of myself if I take a swing at it. But I’ll do breakdowns. I’ll do opinion. Matthew does the same, you guys see our articles.

We just try to communicate it well and make sure we’re not writing about the same thing. With a pretty small team, it’s usually not a problem. Our goal is just to jump on the news as soon as we see it and provide a constant flow of content every day. That’s key. There’s one site I like to check out, a Pirates’ analysis site (I’m the lone fan excited for the season) and the content is pretty good. But they’ve been writing only 1 or 2 articles a day. Which is a bummer because I know once I read the article in the morning, I’m done there for the day. So our goal is to keep the content throughout the day.

FROM DAVE: The beauty about guys like Alex and MM is that they can work without direction. I don’t have time to figure out what thy need to write about as I’m trying to make sure I find my own things. Josh, Daniel and others are pretty much the same thing. we consider MM the basic core of the site as people wake up to his work daily. Alex and I and the others pretty much handle the morning and on. It really works quite well with the way we do things.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What up, Young Alex! Is there a top 15 talent that could ultimately fall to us in the draft?

Alex: Whew those are questions that are tough to answer. If I knew a name, it probably wouldn’t be a top 15 guy in the first place. Sometimes, that happens with guys with poor workouts, questionable character, and/or injury concerns. That’s a better question to ask post-combine where you have a guy with Top 15 tape but not Top 15 everything else, ya know? And really, it’s hard to predict anyway.

Phil Brenneman II: 

Alex rank the following in the order you like them regardless of projected round:

Malik Jefferson, Fred Warner, Micah Kiser, Leighton Vander Esch?

My personal favorite is Kiser. I think he is the best pure football player with the fewest flaws in his game. There is of course the problem with athleticism.

Alex: I have not seen really any of LVE yet. So I’ll leave him out. I think I’d go…


Completely disagree on Kiser. Good tackler, productive, can play the run, but a total non-athlete. Just can’t thrive in the NFL. He’s below Matakevich on the athleticism chart.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for stopping by everyone.

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