Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Finally, we can put to bed all the speculation and all the guess work. In a few hours, we’ll know who the newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is. Until then, the mailbag is open.

To your questions!

Lukesaenz: Steelers trade up to get their guy. Name a couple prospects you’d be happy with them doing that for and the draft capital you’d be comfortable with them using in a move up the board.

Alex: It’s a short list. As it should be. I would trade up for Tremaine Edmunds or Harold Landry. I think they trade up for either Edmunds or Leighton Vander Esch. Going up 10-11 spots is probably the max. I know Seattle wants to move out…maybe they can work with them at 17.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex, I give it a 50% chance the pick is Evans and a 50% chance it’s anyone else. This is based who i think will be available and what i think the steelers will target.
Where do you stand on odds of the Alabama LB being the pick at #28?

Alex: Maybe a little less than 50. But it’s all arbitrary so I don’t think my answer matters very much. If we are assuming Vander Esch won’t be there…

Evans: 40%
Reid: 30%
Guice: 15%
Someone Else: 15%

Lambert58: Alex, call your shot: Name 3 players the Steelers will draft this weekend. (any round)

Alex: Ahhh, that’s so tough to do. I mean, you pretty much have to go off the pre-draft visits list, right? Highest chance of success.

1. Jermaine Carter Jr/ILB Maryland
2. Russell Gage/WR LSU
3. Marcus Allen/S Penn State

But really, I don’t have a clue. I do feel weirdly confident about Carter, Brandon Hunt was at his Pro Day and then Carter came in for a visit, which tells me Hunt went to them and said “Colbert/Tomlin, you need to check this guy out,” but in the end, none of us have much of an idea.

Spencer Krick: Do you think the Steelers find a way to get into the 4th round?

Alex: I’m not opposed to them trading out of the 2nd round to get a 3rd and a 4th. Similar to the 2009 trade with Denver that got them Mike Wallace. That’s probably their best path.

James P. Kelly: Hi Alex! It’s shaping up that the top four ILBs could be gone by #28. Touching on a former question, can you see the Steelers as determined enough trade up to get one–either by jumping Dallas [to get LVE] or Tennessee [to get Evans]? If so, what odds as a percentage would you give for that happening and which will they target?

Alex: Yes, I think if they make a move up, it’s for an ILB. The odds are always going to be low but I’ll put it at 20%. This is the year to be aggressive. Big thing holding them back is a lack of picks but if they can trade a 2018 3rd rounder and a 2019 4th rounder to go up 7-10 spots, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

Brian Tollini: How much does not wanting to trade out of the 1st round have to do w/ the 5th year option?

Alex: Colbert was asked about it Monday and I was surprised by the answer. Said he never even considered it. I wouldn’t let it be the driving force behind doing/not doing a trade, five years is an eternity in the NFL, but you’d think it would’ve crossed his mind once or twice.

CP72: Alex,
I thought I had the Steelers wide receiver formula figured out (speed, size). Then they draft JuJu. Is there a certain characteristic that rings true for what the Steelers look for in wide outs?

Alex: We’ll see if it evolves. Have a new WR coach and OC now. JuJu still had similar benchmarks to the others, just not that at that gaudy level. It’s not like he was a terrible athlete, just not an absurd one. And the evaluation can chance when you’re talking about a slot guy, where JuJu was primarily drafted for, and the X/Z wide receiver. It’s not always blanket across the board because the different positions have different requirements. It’s like an outside corner vs a slot. They’re different dudes.

Ben Saluri: Alex, we need somebody in the secondary that can force turnovers. I hope we go playmaker DB in round 1 then say Josey Jewell in round 2…Thoughts?

Alex: Ben, I couldn’t agree more. Check out my recent article talking about the need for a playmaker.

SkoolHouseRoxx: Happy Draft Day, Young Alex! 1st question: With Dupree receiving the 5th year option does that mean we will not draft a OLB high?
2nd question: Wings or Nachos?

Alex: No, I don’t think it means it. The option isn’t guaranteed, isn’t long-term, and no one should be sold on Dupree. Needs elsewhere, a little lack of talent on the edge, that could combine to the team not drafting one high.

I don’t have either at the house tonight (chips and dip for me) but wings all the way. Bone-in, by the way. None of this boneless garbage.

falconsaftey43: Let’s say the 1st round pick is a RB. What’s the minimum number of touches he needs to get year 1 for it to be “worth it?” Assuming Bell is healthy all year.

Alex: Well you know you won’t get him as much playing time as other positions. So it’s really about giving him whatever snaps are left over without Bell (100-150) on the field. And if you’re taking a RB, you understand it’s more a future-driven decision than a short-term. From Year Two to hopefully, Year seven, eight, nine, he’s playing 75%+ of the snaps and getting that amount of touches too.

Phil Brennemann II: Evans & Bates or Reid & Kiser/Jewell?

Alex: I like Reid more than Evans but I like Evans more than Kiser/Jerwell. So give me that first group.

NickSteelerFan: Hey Alex, it’s finally here!!! If/when the Steelers draft a WR and they only take one, should they go height/weight/speed to eventually replace Bryant, or should they go shifty slot receiver/good ST player to protect themselves from Eli’s injury and help with returns or coverage? Thanks!

Alex: I don’t get too caught up in that. I just want talent. Don’t care the shape of the size. Ideally though, someone who can contribute on STs is a plus. But JuJu didn’t do it very often – or very well – last year and he ended up being the guy. So they can train, even if they didn’t do it in college.

Darth Blount 47: I want an ILB. But if the top 4 guys that we all know about are gone before pick 28, and I know I can get a Safety in round 2 (Tarvarius Moore, Terrell Edmunds, maybe Ronnie Harrison) please tell me why I should NOT be pounding the table for an EDGE/OLB? And if Josh Sweat, FSU, is still on the board at 28, a guy whose only real question-mark is medical, and yet put up a REALLY high SPARQ score at the Combine, (98% Wingspan, 86% Arm Length, 79% Hand Size, 98% 40-time, 96% Vert, 91% Broad Jump, 80% Short Shuttle… at 6’5 and 251 pounds) and who without the medical questions, would likely be a top-15 type of guy in any normal year… Why in the ever-loving world would he not be the pick and why isn’t he getting the pub or love, especially around here? Is Darth crazy? Or is the world crazy?

Alex: Woo Hoo!

For Sweat, it’s simple. The Steelers didn’t show enough interest in him. No Colbert/Tomlin at Pro Day. No pre-draft visit. Even if he doesn’t go in the first, I doubt he’ll make it back to them at 60. So I don’t see it happening, even if you or I were to applaud the pick.

JohnB: Here I am with questions about the site again haha…so the new main page is Top is top stories, middle is everything in order…Left side is draft stuff. Will that left side change after draft? Also whats up with the right side links when you were on a page? will those be back?

Alex: Yes, I imagine that sidebar will change. No one wants draft stuff in July. Dave and I will have to talk it out, see how people are liking the layout, and figure it all out. But it won’t stay with the draft stuff. I’ll look into the side links.

Mike Lloyd: Am i crazy Alex, or do all the mocks showing Evans dropping to the Steelers at 28 seem to overlook the fact that he’s a 4 down LB as Colbert called a ‘few guys’?
Wouldn’t that make him even more valuable since there’s only 4 of them? (Per Colbert)

Alex: No, I’m not sure why you think that makes others overlook him. There’s a lot of talented ILBs in this class so Evans could naturally fall. Just because Colbert says it, doesn’t mean the rest of the league agrees, values him/the position the same way. Colbert never commented on if Evans was that kind of guy anyway. He never said how many of those guys were in the class.

Matt Manzo: Happy f’n Draft Day!!!
Is this the closest we’ve been to a possible trade down with the first pick?

Alex: It could go either way but yes, there are compelling reasons to believe it. Picking at 28 means you’ll get teams early in the 2nd looking to move up in that range. They’re less likely to do so if you’re 30-32 because teams want to jump higher than that. And the seven picks is a good reason to trade down and get some more.

stan: A boneless wing is a chicken nugget. There’s no difference.
As I look up and down the depth chart I keep thinking this is the time to draft an offensive lineman. As with every other position, the Steelers have wisely set themselves up with a situation where they’re not desperate to draft at a certain place. That means the draft picks should be made with a combination of BPA, how much value the team can get from the player as a back-up this year, and the player’s place in the future. Hawkins, Feiler and Finney are a decent enough set to provide depth this year, but none of them inspire confidence, and I don’t like the chances of any of them being a starter in the near future (Gilbert, Pouncy and Foster are getting older).


“A boneless wing is a chicken nugget. There’s no difference.”


I only wish I could agree with the rest of what you wrote. This OL is going to be intact for a couple more years. Finney is the heir to Foster, I have confidence in that. Drafting an offensive linemen in the first round should mean he’s playing right away. I ask it not knowing the answer – who was the last one who sat out his rookie year? That opportunity clearly doesn’t exist this year.

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