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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Good afternoon, Steelers Nation. We’re in the middle of free agency which for Pittsburgh, doesn’t mean much. But there’s plenty of chatter about what the team should do and as usual, lots of draft talk to mix in as well.

To your questions!

Brian Tollini: 

1.) The Browns just released LB/S Jeremy Cash, any interest?

2.) Since Kevin Colbert’s era began in 2000, if my #’s are
correct, I have LSU as #3 overall and Alabama as #6 overall for total players
drafted. The average # of total players
drafted between the 2 schools per NFL team is a little over 6 in that same time
frame. The Steelers have drafted only 1 (Jerald Hawkins) between the 2 teams
and as we all know 0 from Alabama. Why do the Steelers seem to avoid these two
schools in the draft? (Other top
schools with Steeler selections in parentheses Ohio State 115 total, (8) Miami
104 total, (4) Florida 100 total, (5) Florida State 100 total (6) and Georgia
95 total (5).

Alex: Cash, eh, not really. But I haven’t seen him play in the league. Take it or leave it.

That’s a good question about the schools. Hard to give a concrete answer. Some of it is just randomness of the draft. Not the right time, right pick, right need. Some of it could be a fear of how overworked those players are. Maybe they feel the players aren’t developing enough in the NFL. Maybe they’re looking for higher upside players and they think guys who go to Bama are “maxed out” by the time they leave school. I couldn’t really tell you. And I’m banking Colbert won’t either.

Steelers12: 

I gotta ask these 2 qudsquest alex

1. Do u see a mike Wallace/steelers reunion?

2. Could u see steelers releasing Foster and signing Pouncey and converting him to guard?

Alex: A very blunt no and no to you, my man. Wallace has no reason to return, Steelers have no reason to sign a WR who wants to play the number of snaps he will.

Why release Foster? For a guy with bad hips? If you want to piss off the locker room sure, release one of your leaders. But that’s what bad teams do.

Michael James: Can they whip Jack Lambert into decent shape until the new season starts? Might still be better than what they have now as their #2 ILB.

Alex: I bet he can still cover better than Sean Spence…

foremania: Will the Steelers have any legitimate interest in, or inquire on, either S/CB Tyrann Mathieu or even-more-recently released CB Jason McCourty?

Alex: They probably have interest in Mathieu. But that isn’t the problem. Heavy market going after him. Not many 25 year olds with All-Pro on their resume hitting the market. Price tag won’t be cheap, even if he says he isn’t about the money (an easy thing to say until you’re looking at a contract).

McCourty…maybe if there was a need. But they’re good at corner. So that doesn’t help you.

The Tony: Alex,
Did you fill out a March Madness bracket? If so, who’s in your Final Four?

Alex: Ugh. Yes I did, Tony, but I am an idiot.

I do one bracket a year. Joined a group with some people I went to college with. Told myself to make the bracket Tuesday, don’t look at it again until the tourney starts (because I always second guess and make changes). So filled it out. Look at it right after tip-off today…and the bracket wasn’t for my group. It was just the general “make a bracket” that floats in ESPN’s ether.

So before any team lost…my bracket is busted. And I’ve lost all interest in the tourney because I’m a bad sports fan. I don’t want to even look at it now. UNC was my winner. TCU is my darkhorse. Keep Pitt basketball alive, Jamie Dixon.

Bill Sechrengost: Hi Alex. So if the Steelers draft spot comes up and Rashaan Evans, Justin Reid, Jessie Bates, and Leighton Vander Esch are all still available, who would you take?

Alex: In order…

1. Justin Reid. Yes, there’s a projection. But he can offer true, big-play ability. Something this secondary is missing big time.

2. Rashaan Evans. It’s close between he and LVE. Subject to change.

3. LVE. Combine definitely impressed me.

4. Jessie Bates. I like Bates. But is there anything elite about his game? Not seeing that. And his frame worries me.

steelmann58: Alex will the steelers draft a RB like in round 3 or 5?

Alex: I can’t see it in the first or second like so many in the national media believe. You know Bell will be here, you know he’ll play 90% of the snaps. Your top two picks gotta produce Day One. But I think the conversation begins in the third round. Hopefully someone with return value. You don’t have to get the workhorse this year. You can go a little more niche.

Steel Realist PAul: 

My question is around the Steelers 1st round pick. And the more I think about it, the more I believe the pick could very well be QB M. Rudolph. When you consider the Steelers likely don’t finish inside the top 25 picks next year, it’s hard to imagine them getting a better view – should they believe he has the skill set.

Also, considering the ILB and Safety positions don’t appear strong at 28..

Thoughts??

Alex: I think it’s obvious they like Rudolph. They had him specially checked at the Senior Bowl. But the first is a tough sell. Like I said above, you want guys who can produce right away. Super Bowl window is tight. Probably last year of the Killer Bs with Bell. And they’re going to use it on a guy who can’t help them at all?

I think they’re doing homework on him because…

1. They like him.
2. If he takes a crazy draft day tumble (not impossible, look at where Tom Savage was once projected)
3. As Dave Bryan pointed out, Steelers beginning the process of evaluating QBs, seeing where they need to get better, for when they eventually have to replace Big Ben in 3-4 years
4. Having these QBs evaluated in case in several years, one of them becomes available (through trade or FA). Then they have a ton of data/info on who the guy is, who they want to target.

Still not expecting a QB this year at all. And I’ll be upset if they take one.

James P. Kelly: Given your druthers and the S profile of the draft class, would you rather Sean Davis played SS and they drafted a FS, or the reverse?

Alex: Yes. I want Davis to stay at SS. Stop moving him around. Let him learn a position. And while bad tackling is hard to hide anywhere, I’m not comfortable putting Davis in all that grass as a last line of defense. Say what you will about Mike Mitchell, dude made open field tackles.

SkoolHouseRoxx: What up, Young Alex! How would you feel about releasing Foster and moving forward with Finney at guard?

Alex: Would feel terrible. Why dump Foster? He’s solid. Then you just have to address depth and find a swing interior OL, spending draft capital on a guy who may or may not work out. The offensive line is great. Don’t mess with a good thing. If it ain’t broke…

MP34: Alex, do the recent roster cuts dictate that the Steelers MUST sign an outside FA to help at safety? Is drafting two safeties more likely at this point?

Alex: It’s difficult to say they “must.” There’s no guarantee. Money has to be right, fit has to be right, character has to be right, the safety has to choose Pittsburgh. But I think it’s an obvious indication they are making a big splash at safety. First you try with free agency, then to the draft. Both are possible.

JohnB: I miss the days when we would draft a DE and convert him to OLB…any prospects fit for the switch in the upcoming draft?

Alex: You’re getting more hybrids now. Guys who stand up, play with their hand down, move around. Defenses have to be multiple to match how varied college offenses are. So the true DE to OLB is a bit out of date. But that’s a good thing! It’s supposed to make the OLB evaluation easier.

Harold Landry, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo two names who come to mind. Okoronkwo turned in a 6.84 three cone at his Pro Day. Fantastic time. He’s a true pass rusher.

stan: I can’t make any sense of the release of Golden. He wasn’t anyone’s favorite starter, but what does Wilcox bring that Golden doesn’t (besides a bigger contract?)

Alex: I’m scratching my head a bit too. I assume the team believes Wilcox can be a starter while Golden can’t. Golden is a pure special teamer/backup at this point. And those guys don’t last forever. They come and go. Look at the Sean Moreys, Chidi Iwuomas, Patrick Baileys, Anthony Madisons of the world. Here and gone. Maybe they bring him back for the minimum in a couple weeks.

T3xassteelers: 

If you were the FO what would you pay Mathieu if we could land him? How about Tre Boston?

Seems all the ILBs are basically all gone… So maybe we can make a splash for safety? What do you think are the odds?

Alex: We’ll see how serious Mathieu is about taking less money to go to a football team. Either way, they’re going to have to be creative with the deal. Maybe a big roster bonus early next year. But I’m guessing at minimum, on a discount, you’re looking at $7 million average yearly value. And it could be as high as $10-11 mil.

Boston is a tougher read. Market doesn’t seem heavy on him. So maybe he is cheaper than originally thought. Maybe you can get him at $5 million over three years.

I couldn’t tell you the odds. Not great but that’s an easy answer to give.

Brian Miller: 

Alex,

Do you think the Steelers are seriously contemplating a trade for an ILB? Philly must get rid of Kendricks by Friday to avoid paying him a bonus, and there are good options available, but I think giving up a 3rd round pick or later for a good starting ILB would be worth it…any possible names you have thought about before that are reasonable?

Alex: I have no idea. Kendricks is a lot of money, even on his base salary for 2018 (nearly $6 million). I’d prefer to have him released and then sign him on my deal, just as the team did with Joe Haden. I wouldn’t give up more than a 5th for him just because I know the Eagles have limited leverage. Not going to overtrade on a guy who is likely to be cut.

Darth Blount 47: 

Hey, Alex… Talk to me about Outside Linebackers. It seems to be the one position that isn’t getting enough pub. We have yet to see a Dupree 5th-year option decision, and our depth at OLB is currently, well…

I see quite a few attractive names on the FA market, who would be good fits in Pittsburgh. And by “attractive,” I mean they are currently breathing and should come cheap enough. Also, let’s discuss the draft scuttlebutt as it pertains to OLB’s. Let’s assume we sign a FA ILB, do you believe that OLB immediately jumps that position as far as need? Same with Safety. Let’s say we sign BOTH a FA Safety and ILB, does OLB become a priority? Should it already BE more of a priority? If we don’t continue to attack it, next year we could be in bad shape.

Alex: I haven’t done much of an exploration on the OLBs. Jeremiah Attaochu arguably the best out there but he isn’t coming here. I think OLB is right up there with safety/ILB when it comes to the draft. Colbert said how strong the class is and that’s usually a hint of where the team plans on going. Not a shock to see them draft an edge in the first and I think there are good odds they do it in the top three rounds.

NickSteelerFan: Alex my man!
What are your thoughts on bulking up a SS like Kyzir White/Ronnie Harrison/Terrell Edmunds/Marcus Allen to play the dime ILB role?

Alex: I’m not opposed to the idea. These guys mostly don’t have to bulk up anyway. Steelers have been searching for that dime defender for awhile now…haven’t found the answer. I think Cam Sutton will be in the mix because you want to get him on the field. Smaller guy, I get that, but Steelers are only in dime on 3rd and 5+. Let ’em try to run it.

And ya know, if this ILB situation gets bad enough, they could do what they did when Larry Foote when down 2013. Where the SS (Troy) became the full-time guy there pretty much. It’s an idea, at least, whether that means moving Davis down or playing that hybrid defense in most situations.


Thank you to everyone who asked a question. Talk to you in a week.

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