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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Welcome back to the Mailbag. The 2018 NFL Draft is somehow just seven days away. A lot to get to – tell me what’s on your mind. We’ll definitely do a Mailbag next Thursday right before the draft and maybe one on Tuesday since there is so much going on right now.

To your questions!

mokhkw: Which if any of this years Draft OLB class could you see the Steelers selecting and moving to ILB like Lawrence Timmons was?

Alex: I’m not sure if there is one name that will make a full-blown conversion. Maybe some Day Three guy I don’t know enough about yet. But even college defenses are getting so multiple that guys play all around. You have the top ILBs guys (Evans, Vander Esch) who have played on the edge, you have guys like Lorenzo Carter that play inside for some of Georgia’s blitz and stunt packages. So it’s difficult to circle on one name, though Carter makes sense, especially when you consider his limited sack production at the college level.

Grant Humphrey: Hey Alex,
I know David Todd has mentioned this idea on the podcast multiple times, but would you be inclined to trade out of Pick 28 for an early 2nd round pick and lets say a 4th round pick?

Alex: Sure, I think there are very few teams who are opposed to trading back. More picks = higher chance to hit. It’s a good idea for nearly every team. Will it happen? Unlikely. They like to stay in the first. But who knows, especially if two of the QBs are there (Rudolph/Jackson) and someone wants to make a move up.

I would want more than just a 4th though if I am giving up a 1st rounder and my 5th round option. I don’t have a trade value chart but I’d want a third and a fourth, at least.

srdan: As for the question, is it me, or did we mess up not getting a safety in last years draft. Seems like deep into the third starting safties were around. I guess what I’m asking is Harrison on Reid this year as good of a prospect as Baker or the kid from NC state last year?

Alex: It’s too hard to say if they messed up and you can’t blame them for the directions they did go in the top two rounds with Watt and JuJu. Some of that was decided by other teams. There was a good run on safeties in the mid-second and I think that if the Packers hadn’t selected NC State Josh Jones, the guy you’re referring to, one pick ahead of Pittsburgh, they would’ve selected him.

The broader point is how infrequent and sucky they’ve been at taking safeties. They’ve only drafted four in the last 11 years and only one – Sean Davis – came within the first three rounds. Sure, they’ve had Troy, Clark, and safety is the one position they’ll go after in FA (Clark, Mitchell, now Burnett), but still, very little attempts at depth. I feel like they’ve been behind the curve on that, especially for a head coach who was a DB coach.

Petherson Silvieira: Alex, Do you think we will draft an OL and a DL? Nobody is talking about this, but Ramon Foster is already 32 years old.

Alex: Offensive line could happen late in the draft but no one is talking about it because it might be the lowest of the needs. Some have about the defensive line. You could see someone a little higher than people think but there isn’t a huge need there either. I just look at Art Rooney II’s comments about needing to improve the run defense and the couple of DL they’ve brought in and think, yeah, they could pull the trigger in the 5th round.

Foster will probably be replaced by Finney so I don’t see the reason to try to find his replacement. Already on the roster.

JamesinNYC: What are your thoughts on Tyquan Lewis? …see a lot of Hubbard but not his teammate. He looks like a good mid round pick.

Alex: I don’t think I could give you a good enough scouting report on him. But they love their Buckeyes so we’ll see.

A.j. Gentile: Alex,
If the Steelers don’t go LB or S in the first round, what player would you want them to pick. Thanks

Alex: So LB means OLB or ILB, right? I still want to make a case for Lorenzo Carter…

But those two positions aside. That’s tough. I still think there’s value in Mike Gesicki. You can get a Year One impact out of him, no doubt in my mind. And that’s what I’m shooting for. TE is a tough position to transition to but his physical skillset alone is going to let him win on a couple plays.

Spencer Krick: Yo Alex,
How has your attitude changed towards the draft from when you started to where you’re at today?

Alex: My attitude? Not really. I feel almost as uncertain then as I do now though. I really don’t have a level of confidence in who the pick will be like I did with Watt last year or Dupree in 2015 (or my wrong confidence with Lawson/Billings in 2016). That does make this year a bit unusual.

CP72: Alex,
Since you have been doing this who was your biggest draft crush that ended up being an NFL failure?

Alex: Hmm, I’m sure there’s been several. I was a huge Nathan Enderle fan, the QB from Idaho who I am positive zero people remember. He never got a fair shake. Drafted by Martz in the 5th round I think, didn’t do anything. He probably would’ve played in the HOF game that year but it was the only game cancelled due to the lockout.

I’ve had a bunch others though. Maxx Williams, the Ravens TE, loved him coming out. Was very high on Andrew Billings which I guess remains to be seen but I doubt he’ll be as good as I thought he was. And I have been sorta wrong on Dupree too looking at his growth and development, or lack of.

Brian Tollini: Not sure if my question came through from earlier…For me, one of the hardest players to figure out in this draft class is
Lorenzo Carter. I want to really like him. His size, his #’s be put up
at the combine. If you watch him, he certainly has some impressive
plays and you can see the massive length and wingspan be major assets,
but something is missing. His production is also very modest. I want
to say he could be in play @28 despite our lack of interest at OLB. Can
I have your thoughts on him and his ceiling/floor?

Alex: Consider me a fan. You’re right the production is concerning but Colbert admitted they look to hard at production when they drafted Jarvis. Carter can bend the edge and he’s so much better of an athlete than Jarvis could’ve ever hoped to be. He dropped, he moved around, played against top competition. I wouldn’t be mad about picking him at 28. And I think he’s one name people aren’t discussing enough.

Brian Miller: The FO has to draft another RB this year dont they? I’m not suggesting round 1, but with Conner’s health in question and the obvious grey area regarding #26, I just dont see the future longterm starter if 26 moves on next season. What would be your ideal player/round? Balladge/5th? Williams/7th?

Alex: I mean, they don’t *have* to. Next year, assuming Bell is gone, sure. But you can get away with it this year. It’s not like your 5th round pick would be expected to assume the workhorse position next season. Yeah, look for the bigger back types, that’s what they go after. Ballage, Josh Adams, guys like that.

NickSteelerFan: I know most people would like Daniel McCullers challenged enough to be moved off the 53. With the top 5 being Heyward, Tuitt, Hargrave, Alualu and Walton, Who would you like to see ideally round out the depth. A typical 0T/1T (6’2″, 320lbs), 5T (6’5″, 295lbs) or 4-3 Big End (275lbs)?

Alex: I know you’re just trying to frame the question better but we’re getting to the point where those “types” don’t matter as much Defensive linemen have to be able to do everything, align everywhere. Heyward and Tuitt go from 5T (more often 4 tech or 4i) to three tech, to shaded over center. Nose tackles will play over center and the three. They’ll run stunt and contain the edge. So it’s a guy who has the versatility, which usually means movement ability, to play up and down the line.

To answer it a little more specifically though the way you posed it, you gotta get McCullers off the roster. So I do want someone capable of playing NT but they also have to be a good enough athlete to take on some pass rush snaps in the event of injury.

Lukesaenz: Alex – can we take a peak behind the curtain here. What are your music tastes? Do you have a few favorite albums you’d like to share?

Alex: I have a pretty boring answer for that. I listen to pretty much everything. I don’t have a “type.” I guess if I had to choose a favorite genre, it’d be more classic rock. But I’m cool with whatever is on. Here’s some songs from my playlist.

Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
She Makes Me Feel – The Struts
Highway Tune – Greta Van Fleet
Beautiful Mess – Diamond Rio
The Black Keys – (Several Songs)
Ain’t Messin’ Around – Gary Clark Jr
Is It Any Wonder – Keane
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
Congregation – Foo Fighters
Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Snapback – Old Dominion

And I have another country song playing right now. But my music choice is pretty much across the board. I’m also one of those people who will listen to a song over and over and then get tired of it forever like the idiot I am.

Jeff Papiernik: If LVE is there at 28, do you see there being anyway that they don’t pick him? Who would have to be there for them to pass on him?

Alex: He’s probably the guy. The only case where he wouldn’t is if they truly have Guice as their top rated player and are devoted to following that. But you’re right, hard to imagine a scenario where they don’t take him.

JamesinNYC: Who if you have evaluated them would be your best special teams guy, specifically returner either or?

Alex: Dante Pettis from Washington would be a great one as a returner. I think they have interest in Quadree Henderson – watch out for him if they can snag him in the 5th round. And they have brought in some other special teamers like LSU WR Russell Gage, who would be a cover guy, not a return one.

jger15: Are there any first round candidates that have been tied to the team you would be bummed if they selected?

Alex: Mostly just the ones I have mentioned. Mason Rudolph specifically for reasons I won’t repeat. I’m not sold on Jessie Bates being first round worthy either but I could see him being the pick if the board falls that way. But I know it’s wide open this year and there’s no one that screams “gotta take him” so there aren’t many players who just wouldn’t make a lick of sense unless it’s like, a corner.

Darth Blount 47: -If the Steelers had the number 1 pick in the draft, who is GM Kozora taking?
-And I want you to tell me which set of our current “backup-depth” guys, cause you the most concern right now, after the respective starters? I think this will give people a sense of looking and focusing where we should, when trying to determine where we are weakest as a whole, instead of just focusing on the starters at each position. Thanks!

Alex: Ah, #1 is a tough one to figure out. My first thought was Bradley Chubb. Try to get that elite pass rusher. I’d still probably go with him over Barkley. Chubb just has to drop a little weight but they’ve done that with plenty of others (Chick, Bud).

WR depth obviously is worse than it has been right now. Ditto OLB. And safety, I’m still wondering who the dime player might be. There’s options but I’d still like to get a third in there.

Trevor: Hey Alex,
I’m currently at NC State and when I’m looking at the guys they have in the draft, BJ Hill and both RBs (Jaylen Samuels, Nyheim Hines) seem like legitimate options to fill some of the holes that the Steelers have in the mid rounds, do you like any of those guys in particular to the Steelers?

Alex: I think they all make sense. Hill as the beefy interior guy but he and his teammate Justin Jones moved a lot better than their frame suggests. And they brought him in for a visit so there’s obviously some level of interest there. Hines could be an elite return guy and Samuels checked every box in our RB study. Hill you’d have to get Day Two, and I don’t think I’d love that, but on a talent standpoint, they all make sense.


That’s all for this week. Thanks guys!

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