Welcome back to your weekly mailbag. As always, hanging out with you for the next hour to answer anything and everything on your mind.
To your questions!
Hey Alex! What’s your projected starting O-line for next year?
And that might answer my question on whether or not you feel Najee Harris is in serious play to be the 1st round pick.
Alex: It’s really up in the air. It could look a lot of different ways. My guess is…
Okorafor swing guy with Banner as the 6th offensive linemen and another rookie interior guy drafted.
But this thing could do in a ton of different ways. It could look like…
You could come up with a half-dozen different variations of a starting five. Does Feiler come back? Will Pouncey retire? Who gets drafted and where? So I don’t think anyone knows but that tope line is my best guess right now. Feiler gets re-signed, Pouncey comes back for one more season, and they draft a rookie LT early to replace Villanueva.
Matt Manzo: Happy Thursday, Alex!
Just read the article about Tomlin being the 9th most likely coach to be fired this year.
What’s your take on that? And what would Coach have to do to be fired?
For the record, I’d like to see what he can do without Ben.
Alex: I don’t have much of a take because it’s a betting site’s offseason fodder and neither of those things are really in my wheelhouse. It’s fair to be disappointed with Tomlin over the last decade but I don’t think he gets fired. There’s so much other change about to happen. Roethlisberger and Colbert’s looming retirement and the team entering a new chapter. I don’t think the Rooney’s have a desire to show Tomlin the door at the same time. They want a leader to help bridge this gap.
Jake Sas: Ben retires, is cut/traded, etc. are you confident in a room with Mason and Haskins? Would you want to see someone signed cheap (Alex Smith?) or drafted (Mac Jones, Trask, etc?)
Alex: No, I personally wouldn’t be. I may deal with it for one season with Rudolph as the bridge guy but I’m definitely doing everything in my power to draft whatever QBs I feel are franchise guys in the draft. If I can’t get one this year, I sign a vet in the 2022 offseason and try to draft again, probably with a higher pick than the #24 the Steelers have this season. But Rudolph/Haskins aren’t taking you where you want to go as an organization, short or long-term.
Wreckless: From an on-field standpoint, do you want the team to bring Pouncey back or would you rather they move on?
Alex: I’m comfortable enough for bringing him back one more season, provided upgrades/investments are made to other areas of the offensive line. I don’t think Pouncey was great in 2020, the same could be said about the rest of the line, but I didn’t see him as an extreme liability either. But I would want to find his replacement in this draft with the plan to have that guy take over in 2022.
Who’s more irreplaceable in your mind Sutton or Hilton? I think they’ll find a way to bring one of them back, but both would be difficult.
Alex: Both are unique and valuable dudes. But Hilton’s skillset is rarer. Sutton…I can find a versatile DB, even if they aren’t common. But it’s hard to find a guy like Hilton who is so good against the run, so well timing his blitzes, and provides a lot of flexibility for me personnel wise. Though Sutton is the better cover corner with outside CB capability, it’s rarer to find someone who plays the way Hilton does. Skillset is harder to replace. Agreed, I will be happy if one returns. Sutton has better odds of circling back.
So many moving pieces, decisions to be made in order to really see who we can bring back and who will walk. For this conversation let’s say Pouncey retires( fingers crossed) Bud and Conner sign elsewhere. Would you like to have back:
A) JuJu and Feiler
B) Hilton and Sutton
Alex: Oh man, I would really love to mix and match here and go with JuJu and Sutton. Guess I can’t do that though, can I?
If you’re making me choose between A and B, man, I would be tempted to go B. Just because it’s more value/overall talent and the Steelers absolutely suck at drafting DBs (Sutton aside). And I can’t let both of those guys walk. So bring both back, Sutton becomes LCB in 2022 with Haden gone, and that position is set for a couple more years. Then invest in o-line and WR early in the draft, two areas this team drafts much better overall. But ideally, split the Aces and give me JuJu and Sutton.
Good day Alex.
If the Steelers find one of the top QBs in the draft have fallen into the teens, what type of trade scenario can you see working out WITHOUT sacrificing a pick in 2021..or a pick in the first 4 rounds of this draft.
Alex: I’m not sure if one exists. It’s hard to ask a team to move back in the first round and not give them anything, or at least anything good, for this year to make it worth their while. That would probably mean giving up a 1st round pick for 2022 to make the other team bite. Picks in later years have less value than present year selections.
Realistically, if you’re moving up say seven spots from 24 to 17 (just picking random numbers here), you’d have to give up:
Give: #24, #85, #118
So maybe you could do something like: Give up #24 and this year’s 4th + a 2022 2nd for #17.