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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Good afternoon and welcome back to the mailbag. As usual, let me know what’s on your mind in the comments below.

To your questions!

James Hall: Could you see a scenario where the Steelers take guice rd 1 and use him and bell on the field a lot by using bell as a wide receiver especially with the lack of depth at wr. I know it’s not the ideal scenario but it’s a way to get bells replacement and get him on the field.

Alex: The main part of your question is “Can the Steelers take Guice at 28?” And I’m not going to say it’s impossible, given their interest. But I still find it unlikely because you know Bell is going to play this year and play 90% of the snaps. So where does Guice fit in all that? I want my Year One guys in the top two rounds to make an impact immediately. But if he falls, and I’m not sure he will, he’ll probably be one of their highest graded players.

And if they take him, yes, they could try to find ways to get both on the field. But that still means you’re removing one of JuJu/AB/Bryant. So it isn’t that simple. But a bridge to cross if and when we come to it.

Bryant Eng: If Vita Vea is available at 28, do the Steelers jump on an opportunity to upgrade? I know they are happy with Hargrave, but Hargrave could probably rotate in as a pass-rusher on nickle downs too, Keep Cam and Tuitt fresh. Long shot, big time, but figured it was worth asking. Those guys as your top 4 is, well, scary.

Alex: I wouldn’t do it. You can even take out Vea’s name and put in the more likely Da’Ron Payne. It’s the same reason why Andrew Billings fell and why the team jumped on Hargrave. You gotta have high pass rush value at the nose. Vea has it more than Payne but they’re still going to be limited compared to Hargrave/Cam/Tuitt. I don’t see where you get those guys the snaps.

John Noh: OK, a follow-up to my question from last week. In what scenario would you envision the Steelers drafting out of the first round to get an extra (and higher) second round pick and perhaps also a fourth?

Alex: It’d be a surprise if only because it hasn’t happened in 50 years. But the scenario is clear. A team at the top of the 2nd wants to jump back into the first in order to get a QB, whether that’s Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson. So the Steelers will field some phone calls, I’m sure. But that’s how/why they would end up trading out.

Nicholas Arnhold: Hey Alex, what’re your thoughts on the edge rushes in this year’s draft and who do you think are possibilities? Leon Jacobs caught my eye as a later round guy.

Alex: Yeah, you could throw in a lot of names for the mid-late rounds. Colbert has talked about the class but I am having trouble seeing who would fit in the first round. Doubt it’s Josh Sweat, Harold Landry is going to be off the board. Sam Hubbard? Lorenzo Carter is the name I think to circle. The freaky athlete who you hope has better NFL production than he did at Georgia.

Wreckless: Do you think you’ll do some videos kind of recapping some of the younger guys’ seasons? For example, videos on some of the technical aspects that made guys like Hilton and Juju so successful last season and spotlight some issues that lead to guys like Burns and Martavis struggling a bit.

Alex: Yup. I don’t have anything concrete yet but we’ll need to do that sort of stuff to fill the offseason. That June-July window after the draft and before camp when it’s pretty dead news-wise. So we’ll do some more videos. I’ll have my “One Step To Take” series where he isolate one aspect of a players game they need to improve on.

Jefferson_St_Joe: Hypothetical: In a one game situation, you can only have one of either #26 or #84. Who do you want on the field? (Assume that the Steelers have addressed the backup RB position.)

Alex: Whew, that’s tough. I mean, there’s no wrong answer here. But give me Antonio Brown. He can provide that splash play when you need it. He could retire today and be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I can’t say the same about Bell. Brown, to me, is once a generation player. Bell is the best back in the league but he’s not quite on that level.

Intense Camel: If you could trade one steelers starter (assume Bostic and Burnett are starters) for anyone in the league, who would you trade and who would you trade them for?

Alex: So you’re saying I can trade Jon Bostic for…anyone? I can trade him for Luke Kuechly? Because I’d do that in a heartbeat. But really that question is just “add an elite player to your team.”

NickSteelerFan: With all of the talk recently about Rudolph and Jackson, if they did take one of them could you see Dobbs or Landry bringing anything back in a trade? Just trying to justify it if it does actually happen.

Alex: No, I don’t think either are going to command anything. Landry had no market when he tested FA last year. If one of those QBs gets taken, Landry is cut loose. Rudolph/Jackson has to at least be your top backup. So no home for Jones.

CP72: Alex,
When you’re looking at pass rushers what trait do you hang your hat as a must have to be successful?

Alex: Bend. Normally reflected in a player’s three cone. It’s rare for a guy who has bend/tests well in the three cone to have a terrible NFL career. If you can dip the edge, you can rush the QB. And that’s the name of the game. I know you can offer something, even if that doesn’t always translate into an elite player.

Brian Tollini: 

Do you think the Steelers will go after Clive Walford now that he has been released? Would you?

Also, has Dave ever talked about doing a mock draft where all writer’s and chosen commenter’s are each given an NFL team? Thoughts?

Alex: It’s possible. They showed interest when he came out of the U. Would I? I’m indifferent. Really haven’t paid much attention to his career. Know it’s been underwhelming. He got into an ATV accident, that might have messed him up.

The mock draft idea is cool but logistically, it’s sort of a pain. Making sure people show up, get their picks in, hunting down people who flake out, replacing owners who don’t show up. Draft time is a busy season and I don’t know if he or I want to add that onto our plate.

Steel SonofFarmer: Just want to know if all of this player will be available as an undrafted players???

 AUSTIN GOLSON AUBURN OL
 PARRY NICKERSON TULANE CB
 RICHIE JAMES MTSU WR
 GREG SENAT WAGNER COLLEGE OL
 CHRIS WORLEY OHIO SATE IL
 DAVID BRIGHT STANFORD OL
 GREG STROMAN VIRGINIA TECH CB
 DASHAWN HAND ALABAMA OLB
 JOE OSTMAN CENTRAL MICHIGAN DE
 DYLAN CANTRELL TEXAS TECH WR

Alex: I’m sure some will. How many? That’s hard to say. I think Ostman gets drafted after his college production and great Pro Day workout. Senat seemed to draw a lot of eyes. It’s always hard to pin down one name and say he’ll be a UDFA. In the 7th round, some teams are just taking fliers. Guys their scout is banging on the table for. Special teams interest, relative to other positions drafted, it’s all hard to say.

zbluez1: Alex, I believe the Steelers first round strategy will be to take the best graded player that falls to them at ILB OLB DL S or RB with a true 1st round grade, who would you guess thay maybe given those parameters?

Alex: That’s still pretty open. Some options.

Rashaan Evans/ILB
Leighton Vander Esch/ILB
Lorenzo Carter/OLB
Sam Hubbard/OLB
Justin Reid/S
Jessie Bates/S
Derrius Guice/RB

You can take your pick from that group.

Beaver Falls Hosiery: Hi Alex; with all the hoopla about Rashaan Evans not running the 40 at his pro day – does that give Steelers pause or would they be happy that he might fall in their laps – and what about reports of double groin injury?

Alex: That’s probably a good thing for the Steelers. Improve the odds he makes it there. Heath Miller didn’t run a 40 and they drafted him. Neither did Stephon Tuitt. I don’t think it takes Pittsburgh out of the running. There’s plenty more that goes into an evaluation than just 40 time.

Spencer Krick: Is there any incentive to get Ben’s successor before the new CBA gets voted on?

Alex: I don’t have a great answer for that. I don’t think one is tied to the other, at least, not in how Pittsburgh will approach drafting one. I mean, it’s nice to draft that guy before a lockout happens (which almost certainly will occur). But I don’t think the rookie scale is going to change much in whatever new deal gets done.

Bill Sechrengost: Good Afternoon, Alex. I think we all agree that the Steelers need to draft an ILB high in this year’s draft. We know what Colbert has said about the quality of the ILB’s in this year’s draft. So, if the guys they like are not there in round one, then who would you prefer they take in round two? Malik Jefferson, Jerome Baker, Darius Leonard, Dorian O’Donnell, or Uchema Nwosu? Not sure all of those guys would be available in the second round, though.

Alex: I like most of those names there. O’Daniel, I don’t view him as a Day Two players. He’s a tweener, too light for linebacker, even by 2018 standards. But Jefferson, Baker, Nwosu, I like all of them. Nwosu is particularly interesting to me with his versatility and ability to come off the edge.

Coach Cot: If you had to guess….how many balls would a healthy Vance catch in this offense with so many mouths to feed?

Alex: Combined, Vance and Jesse still caught 57 last year. McDonald over a full season? I think he can snag 45-50. Going to hit a lot of checkdowns, playaction is usually run through the tight end. I could see 45 as a realistic target considering what James has been able to do.

Kevin Reich: Why do the Steelers feel the need to Sprint up to turn in their first pick? Why not take a few minutes to take any calls?

Alex: They’re taking calls throughout the draft process. It doesn’t just happen when you’re on the clock. By then, the Steelers know if they’re able to make a move or not. And for the player, they know who it’s going to be. It’s not like Draft Day where you’re still figuring out who you like/don’t like the day of the draft. The board is assembled. You just follow it. Draft day is the easy part.

The Tony: How would you feel about Billy Price in round 2?

Alex: Bad. There’s no point to take an offensive linemen on Day One or Two. I wouldn’t consider one until the sixth. Even losing Hubbard, your group is pretty much set.


That’s all for this week. Appreciate you guys stopping by. Enjoy the weekend.

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