Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to another edition of the Thursday mailbag. Draft is really approaching fast. Basically two weeks away. So let us know what’s on your mind in the comments below. We’ll be here for the next hour.

To your questions!

Brian Tollini: Who are the players in this draft you are most disappointed the Steelers haven’t shown interest in yet?

Alex: I try not to be disappointed by any one player. Especially because we know just because we don’t know if the interest is there, they could still be in the mix. JuJu came out of left field. So did Okorafor last year. But Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, thought they’d be at his Pro Day. Blake Cashman from Minnesota – does he not fit the measurables? Those are two names who jump immediately to mind. I thought the defensive line would be looked at a little more heavily as well.

Anthony Palmerston: How does the NFL decide who to invite to the NFL Combine?

Alex: A lot of projections. I think they rely in part on the national scouting organizations – BLESTO and National.

And I actually just looked it up to give you a better answer and here’s what the NFL says:

“All 32 NFL teams are invited to provide input on draft-eligible players which is used by the Player Selection Committee to select each year’s participants. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent 28 NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft.”

So there ya go.

falconsaftey43: have you thought of adding stats to the “what they look for” criteria?

Alex: I have. But then I look at the work and want to go to sleep for the next 12 hours. Maybe next year. I did take a brief look at running back and they definitely value production and TDs. All the ones they’ve drafted have found the end zone at least 30 times in their college career.


Great stuff on the What the Steelers look For series. I really enjoy reading them.

On to my question:
Are you surprised at the potential price tag Colbert and company seem to be shopping at for a corner? Murphy, Baker, Love, Bunting, Layne, and Ya-Sin all seem to be in the 1st/2nd round range.

Alex: A little bit. But hey, they brought in a ton of ILBs last year and didn’t draft anyone. Now, I do expect them to take a corner but it’s worth saying. Trying to find where is tough though. Could be anywhere from 20 to 122, really. You’ll see where I have a corner – if I have one – in my mock draft Monday.

Bill Sechrengost: Realistically, how far do you think the Steelers would be willing to trade up for Devin Bush and at what price?

Alex: All depends. Five spots makes sense. But the two times they’ve traded up in the past, they went up more than that. 11 spots for Troy, seven for Holmes. Granted, they didn’t have to move up as high so it cost a little less but they’ll be aggressive when need-be. I can’t rule much out.

Rene Gonzalez: I’ve done a lot on mocks and a scenario I struggle with is when Ferrell, Bush, Williams and Murphy are gone. Seems like a “reach” for Winovich or Wilson is a medium possibility, would you agree or do you think this could be the year the Colbert/Tomlin pro day rule doesn’t stand?

Alex: If it does, it’ll be someone who came in for a pre-draft visit. So Murphy or Baker. Which is how it used to go. The 1st round pick used to come in. So throw them and the Pro Day candidates, I think you have a pretty good list. I don’t think things will change too much.

Chris B: 

Hi Alex,

Do you think there is any chance Steelers package a 4th and a couple other late rounders to make 4 day 2 picks?

Alex: Not going to rule anything out. I do think they trade up somewhere and maybe that is to go into Day Two. All depends.

NickSteelerFan: Hey brother, draft is almost here!!! Love following you guys all year long!
When looking to replace the production of AB and Jesse James, would you prefer the Steelers draft to replace them verbatim in the passing game, or gear their plans more towards the run game? Which do you think the Steelers will do? Thanks!

Alex: I don’t look at it one way or the other. Obviously, the focal point is on the passing game. And from more than one guy. You’re not replacing AB with “X.” It’s gotta be X, Y, and Z. You’re looking for that deep threat, the space player. Really whatever it takes. Whoever can be dynamic for you. So add as much offensive firepower as you can. That will mean drafting a WR, RB, and TE, all of which I expect them to do.

Robert Francis: How are you feeling about the terms of the AB trade given the continued drama? I was initially disappointed they did not get more, but now it seems like perhaps we underestimated how much they needed him out of the building. I wonder if Oakland would trade on the same terms now. As an aside, I’ve been frustrated at how the national media seems to be piling on the Steelers organization and culture in light of Bell and AB leaving. I think the org looks better and better with more hindsight. You?

Alex: I think it made everyone, especially in the national media, realize how boxed into a corner the Steelers were. Some of that was their own doing, sure, but bottom line, and we said it before and definitely right after the trade, they had no leverage here. And had to take whatever they could get, even if they got less value than what Brown was worth on the field. I think more people are understanding of why the team got what they got.

Jesse: Would you say the madden curse struck again this year lol? Also I feel as we unappreciated how great of a playmaker Ryan Shazier really was. How close of a comparison would you say Devin White is?

Alex: Ha, it feels like it. How close White is to Shazier is hard to say. I think White can be that three down playmaker like Shazier. Can he play quite at that level? Maybe, maybe not.

Lukesaenz: Hey Alex – I feel like you guys aren’t showing nearly enough love to Andy Isabella. Do you guys not love the fit? Here’s a guy who is a volume catcher with great speed. Reminds me of AB in a lot of ways, and definitely don’t see him pigeon-holed as a slot guy as a lot of folks do. What say you?

Alex: You might be right. He did come in for a visit and the Steelers generally like production. I don’t want to type cast him as a slot guy either. You’re right – he could play outside. Though I don’t look at size as the end-all, do you want a 5’8 receiver at the X? I am worried about him getting beat up there. Steelers have never drafted a WR that short, much less burning a Day Two pick on it.

John Hinton: Which one player (…with a legitimate 1st round grade in your opinion) would draft for the Steelers if you were the GM and you were picking at 1.5?

Alex: Probably would be Devin White. Maybe Nick Bosa if he falls? But I think I’d lane on White. For obvious reasons.

Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt: Hows it going AK ?

Guess i will try a different approach since you and dave won’t bite out of the draft prospects who is your favorite pick in the first 3 rds you would love to see in black and gold? asking for a friend lol

Alex: Ha, I got you. I’ve talked a lot about how I’m a big fan of Deebo Samuel. Lot of the dime guys I like: Savage, Rapp, Hooker. Burr-Kirven if you consider him a late Day Two guy (I do) at inside linebacker. Just some of the names to throw at you.

Spencer Krick:

Hey Alex,

Do you think the Steelers part with a 2020 3rd round pick as part of a trade because they know they’re probably getting a 3rd round compensatory?

Alex: Possible. Or part with a 2019 one. They tend to be more aggressive when they know they’ll have picks next year too. So to answer it big picture, having those comp picks next year, having the two 3rd this year, having ten picks overall, will let them be comfortable with being aggressive.

Matt Manzo: Hey Alex!
Is Ben racist?! Jk!
Is there an OLB that you love this year? With a realistic chance of us drafting him. I can’t find any that I absolutely want on this team.

Alex: Anyone I love? Probably not. I was really impressed by Ferrell. Banogu is interesting. I can see Jordan Brailford as a mid-late round pick. Some other names to keep in mind, not ones I love but ones to keep in the back of your mind: Chase Winovich (Michigan), Christian Miller (Alabama), Justin Hollins (Oregon), Jamal Davis (Akron), and Mathieu Betts (Laval).

Austin Stenger: Hey Alex, I am struggling really heavily with the fact that media parrots all the non-sense of people with thought processes like Mendenhall and AB. They both allude to a “truth” or “higher level of thought” that people just don’t understand as the reasons they get to say so much illogical garbage. Ben’s silence is a great tactic but what do you think as a media writer about NOT covering stories like this? We are seeing lots of sheeple just believing unfounded claims and it almost seems as though the media is damned if you do and damned if you don’t…

Alex: It’s a tough line to walk. It’s not something we love writing about and we try as much as possible not to obsess about it. To be conscious of what we’re writing and making sure that in addition to the “drama,” we’re talking plenty about the draft and offseason, on-field topics. And I think we’ve done a good job of that. Look at any of the writers  and that’s where most of our focus is at.

But these storylines are things people read and comment about, it’s reflected in the numbers, so ignoring it completely is a disservice to our job and the majority of readers. So we do.

That’s all for this week. Thanks guys!

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