Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

Welcome back to your weekly mailbag. We’re finally in April, the draft just a couple weeks away. And we’re here for the next hour to answer anything weighing on your mind.

To your questions!

MoreRingsThanYourTeam: What’s your opinion on Edmunds? Do you think that he has the tools to make a third year leap? I personally wouldn’t mind picking up an Eric Reid or someone along those lines. Stay healthy and stay safe!

Alex: Well he’s definitely not a bust the way say, Burns and Jarvis Jones were. Edmunds has been a competent, if underwhelming player. It’s all about trying to coax some splash plays out of him. You kinda find out right away if you’re a playmaker or not and it’s obvious – he isn’t. But he has to offer more than the nothing he’s giving you now in that department. Two takeaways in two seasons. Historically bad numbers, as we wrote about earlier in the offseason. 

I’m all for veteran depth. Not so much to push Edmunds’ job, I don’t see that being their mindset, but they definitely need something behind him and Minkah Fitzpatrick. There’s nothing there.

Matt Meyer: Hey Alex hope you are staying safe. Do you see the team signing any other low tier free agents at this point? If so are there any names out there you are keeping an eye on?

Alex: Hi Matt. I am. Hope you – all of you – are. I think they’re pretty much tapped out. Not a lot of money to work with and Colbert said they’re currently on “pause.” Anyone else they may bring in will be super low-level and probably won’t happen for a bit. Maybe after the draft. Not really any names out there at this point. I’d suggest a safety but the market is all chewed up.

Spencer Krick: 

Hey Alex,

What position if drafted has the greatest chance of seeing the most snaps?Cheers.

Alex: It still might be nose tackle, given Colbert’s (predictable) omission that Chris Wormley is playing DE in base. The position has a ceiling on its snaps, sure, but it’s still higher than a lot of other spots. Safety and OLB could have massive doors open if there’s an injury. One snap away from that happening.

falconsaftey43: Not necessarily the best player, but who in this class so far has been the most fun to scout? For me it’s been Laviska Shenault Jr.

Alex: Good question. I had a lot of fun watching OT Ezra Cleveland. He really surprised me. I really liked watching OG Kevin Dotson (elite run blocker), RB Anthony McFarland (twitchy, shifty back in space) and DL Javon Kinlaw (it helps he’s one of the best players in the class). I’ve raved about RB/WR Antonio Gibson for his versatility too.

NickSteelerFan: Hey Alex! Do you think a Barron or Chickillo will be brought back on smaller deals?

Alex: I’m not expecting it, no, but I suppose the team can and will evaluate their roster after the draft and see what holes remain. With only six draft picks, they may not be totally content.

MattSteelCurtain91: Bit of a weird question but the zombie apocalypse has happened youve survived along with 3 current or former Steelers players in there prime. Which 3 are with you as survivors to survive together?

Alex: Given the times, that feels like a perfectly normal question. Neat!

Here’s my Top 3.

Jack Lambert – If there’s someone I need on my side, it’s Lambert. He’ll throw those zombies down Cliff Harris style.

Cam Heyward – For similar reasons as Lambert.

James Washington – A surprise pick but the dude grew up on a farm and in an apocalypse, I doubt my local Walmart is going to be open (Waffle House, though, will remain). So someone’s gonna have to show me how to grow some food.

Pycho Steeler: Hey Alex, if there is no season what happens with the contracts? Do the players still get paid and does the year still count? God bless and stay safe.

Alex: An important question but I honestly have no idea. I know the NBA and MLB are trying to figure that out now. That’ll be up to the league to decide closer to that point. As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing codified into the CBA that mentions that plan for the season not occurring aside from a lockout, when players willingly acknowledge they won’t get paid until that lockout ends. Obviously, this is much different and out of everyone’s control. That will be something for the NFL and the union to work out.

Johnny Panic: Do you think my drinking will temper after quarantine or should I just embrace alcoholism?

Alex: Ha, you do you, Johnny. There are no wrong answers in a global pandemic. Steelers Depot is a judgment free zone.

SteelDodo: Are you nervous that 3 out of 4 of our OTs only have one year left on their contracts? Do you think any of AV, Banner, or Feiler will get extended before the season starts?
On a related note, if the Steelers only used one draft pick on the OL this year, would you rather it be OT or iOL?

Alex: A little, if I’m being honest. Not sure who will get extended. Banner won’t, he’s betting on himself. Villanueva is a possibility but he will probably increase the team’s cap hit while Feiler may also want to bet on himself with another season as a starter, whether that’s at guard or tackle. But I hope one of those two gets done. I’ll sleep a bit easier.

Talking about the OT situation the past few days, I’m more open to a tackle, but I’m still leaning towards interior offensive line. I don’t see Wisniewski as that long-term solution. Most FAs brought in have been in-and-out in one season (Burnett, Bostic, Moncrief, Barron). So we can’t assume Wisniewski will be here next season, even if his 2021 contract is super cheap.

Whoever they take needs to show some versatility. Can’t just play one spot.


Excluding starters, are you more concerned about our current depth at ILB or OLB?

I had a debate with someone a while back about why I thought OLB was more concerning (mostly because Gilbert has another 3 years on his contract and the defense can run sub-packages with only one ILB, but our D always requires 2 OLBs). With Dirty Red leaving, I’m not so sure which way I lean now.

p.s. thanks for doing these! In light of recent events, SD has been especially appreciated!

Alex: OLB. I’m with you. I’m high on UG3 and I think the team is as well. He showed last year, in camp, preseason, and what he did on special teams, that he has the traits/talent to play on defense. It’s a small sample size, I know, and it’s still a projection, but I think he can be the #3. I’m more confident in him in that role than Adeniyi/Skipper.

I guess the argument against is that it’ll be easier for the team to manufacture pressure than it would be coverage ability if say, Devin Bush went down. But from a talent/personnel standpoint, I like Gilbert. Losing Matakevich sucks but Spillane excelled there and UG3 coming back will be a boost. Plus, Derek Watt (even if he’s replacing Nix).

You’re welcome. Thanks for being here!

Scott A Cragle: Hey Alex, what do you make of BackCAST grading Johnathan Taylor higher than Saquan Barkley? I know it’s metrics slanted, but obviously people see chinks in his game, otherwise he’d be a sure 1st-rounder, yes?

Alex: I don’t pay much attention to those comparisons. I think Barkley was the better/freakier prospect. I think he played to that level of athleticism on tape moreso than Taylor. I think Dave and I are going to have a great discussion about Taylor during tomorrow’s podcast. So stay tuned for that.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for being here and stay safe!

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