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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Welcome back to the Thursday mailbag. This time next week, we’ll be just a couple hours away from the 2019 NFL Draft. And if the Steelers could tell me who they’re drafting at #20, that’d be fantastic.

We’ll be here for the next hour. To your questions!

newguy68: Any chance the Steelers go WR in first round?? DK Metcalf per chance …. that is if Bush, White are gone

Alex: Doesn’t look likely. Hard to find a name, this isn’t a top heavy group of receivers, and definitely no one who “fits.” No Tomlin/Colbert at Pro Days of Iowa State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, etc. No pre-draft visits with those guys. Somewhere in the 3rd/4th round feels far more likely.

Jarod Wells: Hey Alex I saw the sleeper MLB profile, (BBK) I agree, I think he is a solid prospect, what round do you think he could be a possibility?

Alex: Realistically, I can see 4th-5th round. I would be willing to take him as high as #83 but like I said, I know you can wait until 122. It’s hard to see them waiting that long to address the position though so unless they’re doing an early double-dip, it’s difficult to find a fit for him in the mock drafts I’ve been scribbling down before I write my final one.

Brian Tollini: 

As always The Depot has done an amazing job pre-draft, well done to all of the writers. I have 2 things….

1. We know your mock for what you think the Steelers will do, I would like to see what you would do.

2. I have 3 players in mind for round one (if Bush/Murphy aren’t there) that I feel are being overlooked, tell me your thoughts…
1. Chase Winovich
2. Julian Love
3. Rashan Gary

Alex: I know we get asked that by a couple people but the “what we would do” mocks just don’t carry the value here. You know who we like, we who don’t like, and you’ll hear our reaction from the picks they do make if we agree/disagree with them. We write enough mocks that I don’t think we need to add ten more to this site anyway.

All three names you mentioned definitely fit. Should probably throw Justin Layne there, too, even if I wouldn’t like the pick. Winovich and Love don’t quite feel like first rounders, especially with Love not being a big playmaker in college. I turned on Gary’s tape last night, reader correctly pointed out we haven’t profiled him and we definitely should, and I don’t see Gary the way I do say, Clelin Ferrell. A little stiffer player, didn’t play with his hand up, didn’t drop the way Ferrell did. And I’m still working through his tape but don’t love his game as much as I do Ferrell. So I’d pass. Know schemes are blurred but I do see him as a 4-3 strong side end.

Jedi Master Fred Biletnikoff: Usually there is a player every year that everyone says is a “camp body”. But, as we saw last year Ola made the roster and could become a contributor in the near future. Any player like that they signed this offseason that you think could surprise and make the roster?
Bonus round: What are the chances the Steelers give up a free kick after a safety for a third time this year? LOL

Alex: Hard to say. Maybe a UDFA will catch my eye. We definitely start hearing about that sleeper in the spring though. Happened with Eli Rogers and Mike Hilton. I’ll throw Herb Waters at ya. Receiver turned corner who the Packers seemed impressed by for a moment. Good athlete from the measurables I saw. He’d be my best candidate right now.

tonyamos7: 

Hey Alex, summer has arrived in England, the golf course was glorious this afternoon!

I’m just finalising my mock draft, please give me a couple of guys to study in the rounds 4-5 region at OLB and WR please?

Alex: Glad you were able to get out on the links before. You know, I’ve never played a round of golf before. But I seriously need a new hobby. So throw some advice my way for a potential beginner.

Those rounds are a little tricky for those spots. David Sills for pick #122 (not lower than that) makes a lot of sense. Hard to go wrong with an Ohio State guy, especially Terry McLaurin for the 4th. Also keep an eye on Darius Slayton, sort of a Sammie Coates clone, but maybe even faster. Then there’s Garry Jennings Jr from WVU and Jazz Ferguson from NW State.

OLB has even less names. Jordan Brailford from Oklahoma State is an obvious name, brought in for a pre-draft visit. Maybe TCU’s Ben Banogu but he’ll probably go late Day Two. Christian Miller from Alabama is a name we should probably discuss more than we have been. Then you’re looking at Andrew Van Ginklel closer to the end of your mock.

Let me know what your final results are!

Matt Manzo: Happy Mailbag, Alex!
I’m starting to feel like the Steelers will have a few options this draft, and don’t appear to be pigeonholed by 1 or 2 players that they “have” to get.
There seems to be depth at ILB, CB and Safety.
Do you feel the same way?

Alex: You’re absolutely right, Matt. And that’s a good thing, done by design. That’s why Colbert made the signings he did and why I said this team needed to be aggressive in free agency. Can’t plug all the holes in just the draft. Just not going to happen. Not enough picks, too many rolls of the dice. We talked about that extensively before free agency. Imagine if they had just one of Moncrief/Barron/Nelson. You going to get year One production from two of those spots in the draft while addressing everything else you need to? Not gonna happen.

Flexibility creates options and options help you avoid reaching for a player at a position you feel you’re obligated to take. So well done, KC.

JamesinNYC: After the Devins who would be your next up ILB, I like Pratt but only area scout was at NC State.

Alex: For the Steelers? Probably looking at David Long Jr from West Virginia. You’re right about Pratt and there’s many fans of Blake Cashman but the interest just doesn’t seem to be there. Cashman lacks length and didn’t play in a big All-Star game. That hurts him, historically, for the Steelers.

And if Mack Wilson is there at 52? That’d be interesting.

NickSteelerFan: Hey Alex, one week away!!! I feel like I remember seeing a lot more reports and pictures of pro day dinners in past years, and the only one we really have confirmed was Michigan. Do you find that odd, or not really reading into it? Thanks!

Alex: I don’t think it’s odd but it’s surely unfortunate. All we know is Winovich. And I’m sure they had a lot more than that.

The good news is that we know all 30 of their pre-draft visitors, I don’t think that’s happened before (not since I’ve been working at the Depot), and were a lot more diligent with our Pro Day tracker. And that’s really important with its predictive power. We have 88 or 89 schools tracked, info you’re not going to find literally anywhere else and I bet something no other person has tracked for another team. Not to that level. So that does help clear a still muddy picture in trying to figure out who they’re going to select.

The Fighting Ingies: How good do you feel about the tackles on the roster? It doesn’t seem like the Steelers are interested in picking one necessarily but ever since Dave Te suggested it, it has given me pause as a real sleeper if guys start to slide to #20

Alex: I’m going to disagree with Dave Te here. Tackle is low down on the list. Okorafor was drafted basically for this. His rookie year was a little less of a redshirt as probably intended but that actually works in his favor for 2019, having that preparation and experience if he wins the RT job. You have him, Feiler (who played well), and Hawkins is still there. I don’t know why you’d draft a tackle when you already have a strong, healthy competition. Maybe on Day Three.

CP72: Alex,
I know that Colbert has never traded back, but does it seem like finding a guy for the 20th pick is tough because there just aren’t 20 “first” round guys? Doesn’t this class seem stronger in the 40 thru 80 range?

Alex: You’re right, it does. Depth is better than the top level talent. But when you have ten picks, four in the top 83, I don’t see the point to move back. You’re probably out of the “top QB still on the board” range too for someone to really want to come up. Who wants to come up when, as you say, the top talent isn’t there? Has to make sense for both sides.

So either they move up or stand pat.

falconsaftey43: Some are throwing Dexter Lawrence out there as an option at 20. Is he anything more than a run stuffer?

Alex: Well he did have 6.5 sacks his freshman year so I’d be interested in going back to see how he racked up that many and why there was a substantial dropoff the next two years. But it’s hard to see him be the fit. How you’re going to play him, get him on the field. They still have trouble getting Hargrave consistent playing time. So I don’t see it as anything more than a remote possibility.

JT: A lot of people don’t seem to be happy following the Colbert/Tomlin Pro Day rule this year. What are the odds that very long streak gets broken by somebody who wasn’t at least a Pre-Draft visitor? Seems pretty unlikely to me.

Alex: Can’t rule anything out, odds are, it’ll be broken at some point, but history strongly says against it. When you have them at 10 Pro Days, when you throw in a couple pre-draft visitors who are candidates for #20 (Murphy/Baker), it’s hard to see them going away from that list after putting all that work in. Straying means you’re drafting a guy you might not know very well. And we know the “hearts and smarts” is a mantra they stick with. You don’t find that stuff out by watching the film. You gotta get to know the guy.

So yes, pretty unlikely.

srdan: Do you expect the Stillers to trade for an active player on draft day?

Alex: No. But largely because that is uncommon, especially the Steelers getting someone. Picks always more likely.

ImMikeD: Hey Alex. Now that the Steelers filled in some “stop gap” players at WR, ILB and CB, which of those do you see them double dipping into during the draft?. I’m not a huge VW fan, so I’m in the mindset of ILB, particularly if they are forced to look for one in the 2nd or 3rd if/when the Devin’s are off the board at 1:20. Is there any player in 4th-7th that you’re particularly in love with to make you’re double dipper happen?

Alex: If they keep all ten picks then you have a good shot at a double-dip. But I don’t know if you go in with that intent. When you’re sitting there Day Three, it’s about finding value, talent. If you’re looking for a certain position, you’re probably in some trouble. Inside linebacker is possible. Bush in the 1st, Burr-Kirven in the 4th/5th?

I’ve kicked around the idea of safety. Depth is really thin there. Have a sleeper name that hopefully I can fit in my mock draft, though I might have him lower than where he’ll probably be selected. But you want that dime guy and then also work on general safety depth too. Especially at FS.

Austin Hackett: Thoughts on Germaine Pratt, Alex? Glad to hear Dave-Te liked him

Alex: Hasn’t really been on my radar with that lack of interest. Interesting background though as a former safety. Same as Mark Barron and Tomlin’s man-crush Thomas Davis.

But you want one name at ILB who used to play safety who fits? Drue Tranquill. He fits pretty well late Day Two, early Day Three.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex, do you think we get a Juju pick this year? Someone fairly high who’s not on our radar at all because of a perceived lack of interest from the Steelers. Who would you like it to be?

Alex: Hard to say, certainly hard to predict. History says no. If I could throw a name though, someone like Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown if he manages to slip to 52. Or one of those Round Two inside linebackers like Pratt or Cashman. But you’re asking a question that’s obviously impossible to answer.

Michael James: 

Scenario: The following players are all gone when the Steelers pick and you don’t find a partner to trade down:

Bosa, J.Allen, Q.Williams, Devin White, Devin Bush, Montez Sweat, Greedy Williams, Ed Oliver, Byron Murphy, TJ Hockenson, Chris Wilkins, Hakeem Butler, AJ Brown, Clellin Ferrell, Brian Burns, Rashan Gary, Noah Fant, Byron Murphy, D.Haskins

Who do you take?

Alex: I don’t want to spoil anything or tip my hand for my final mock draft. But that’s a pretty poor way for the board to break. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

Painisorange: Since the Big Ben extension isn’t worked out, and you are hearing more about Rudolph organizing the team for unofficial workouts, do you think we let this be Ben’s last year as a Steeler ?

Alex: Nah, don’t read that much into it. Ben’s deal will get done before camp. Rudolph is just doing the smart thing. He didn’t get a lot of reps last year. Lot of time to make up.


That’s all for this week. Next week’s chat should be very exciting. Thanks for stopping by.

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