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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your Thursday edition of the mailbag. This time next week, we’ll know some big news when it comes to free agency. About to be a busy week on this site so glad you’re here with us. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.

To your questions!

knoxly: Hey Alex, the report that players called the Steelers offense the easiest offense to prepare for in the nfl would you agree with that based on what you saw? And how does an offense get less predictable? I would think motion, under center or pistol, play-action, would be the main weapons to confuse a defense more.

Alex: It’s hard to evaluate that across the league. But sure, there were times where things were too static. Especially as the motion rate decreased. But when you’re an offense that struggles to run the ball and throw vertically, you’re left with a small menu of things that are working. And that makes you easier to defend.

Offenses get less predictable in a lot of ways. By being more balanced and efficient. Not just for the numbers sake but by being capable of running or throwing effectively, the latter to all levels of the field. Self-scouting is also critical. Understanding your tendencies, how often you call things, and being able to use constraint plays and tendency breakers to keep defenses off-balanced. You know opposing coaches are charting everything you do. So if on 2nd and short out of 12 personnel, you’re running “X,” defenses know it. You have to understand your own style and personality and adjust off it every now and then.

That’s what I think about when I think about “predictable” offenses. One with too many tells based on down/distance, personnel grouping, formation, alignment, etc.

Flashback: 

Hey Alex

I know everyone wants something sexy in Free Agency or Draft round 1 or a trade up. What’s your feelings on what I expect to happen:

Joe Haden & Vince Williams Released

Minor FA moves BJ Finney & Matt Breida maybe John Brown.

I put chances of resigning JuJu at 43%

Draft

Round 1 OT/G/C

Possible RB

Round 2 RB
Round 3 WR
Round 4 T/C
Round 4 ILB
Round 5 CB
Round 6 S
Round 7 DL

Sorry I just don’t see QB this year unless someone falls

Alex: Vince may cut. I think Haden stays. Very specific percentage on JuJu.

In the draft, looking at RB and center being the areas of focus. From there, it gets tough to predict.

My free agency guesses are:

– Walk: Dupree, Hilton, Villanueva, JuJu (less sure of this one though), Conner

– Stay: Sutton, Feiler, Alualu, Banner, Berry, Wormley

– In FA: Sign a mid-level center, lower-level tight end + something else (WR, EDGE)

– Draft: Hone in on RB/C in Days 1 & 2.

zbluez: Okay Alex, serious question ❓ Is trade up for Lawrence really worth it under any circumstances this year with all the needs the Steelers have ?

Alex: Is that really a serious question? It’s not going to happen. Even if you really, really wanted to, there’s no incentive for Jacksonville to move back at all, much less to the #24 spot. That’s definitely not happening.

Pghomer: Good afternoon Alex and Happy Clemson pro day…day!
My question is actually about a ND LB/S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. I think he’ll be gone by #24…but if he were still on the board 1-Would you consider drafting him? 2-How do you think he would be used in PS ‘D’? 3-With some modifications could he fill Mike Hilton’s role?
He is such a stud…The last time I felt this way about a prospect was when we passed on ‘Jevon Kearse’ in 1999 to draft WR ‘Troy…….Edwards’.
I’m worried we’ll prioritize perceived/real need and pass on an ‘elite’ player.
BONUS Question: Any draft crushes for you yet this year? Any of the QB’s?

Alex: That’s a good question. He’s in that camp as guys like Zaven Collins. Not your most urgent need but fits the scheme well. I don’t think he could take on a Hilton role. He’s still not going to be running and covering slot receivers all day. These ultra-athletic LBs are awesome to have but they still won’t function as nickel cornerbacks. It’s not a 1:1 comparison.

Still going through the QB list. But you guys know I think Mac Jones is the real deal.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: 

Hey Alex,

How many offensive linemen will the Steelers select in 2021 NFL draft?

Over/Under is 2

Alex: Can I push? I’m going to push. Because I think it will be two. Center early, tackle on Day 3.

Doogie: Have you looked at later round QBs? Anyone at all interesting whether starter or something like the guy on the Saints?? Maybe an ex QB turned WR.. Hines wardish..

Alex: Mostly just Mississippi State’s KJ Costello. In terms of those chess pieces at QB, look at Arkanas Felepie Franks. Just had his Pro Day yesterday and put up some impressive numbers. He could make the switch to TE.

Pghomer: Another if you’re willing:
If you’ve begun to look at OT, what is your order
Jenkins
Mayfield
Cosmi
Eighenburg
Leatherwood
And at ‘C’ who do you feel has higher ceiling Meinerz or Humphrey? Meinerz is my other ‘draft crush’ and I’d take him at #55.

Alex: Don’t have an OT “list” yet. I like Eichenberg a lot. He’s neck and neck with Leatherwood. Jenkins might be the best run blocker of the lot. Cosmi probably last on my list but i haven’t see much on Mayfield yet. He’s a young guy, still growing.

Higher ceiling? Meinerz and Humhrey are similar profiles. So I’m not sure who I’d choose there. Having a tough time figuring out where Meinerz will slot in the draft. Is he the guy at #55? At #88?

Petherson Silveira: Alex, please, tell me what happen to a team that don´t stay under the cap? What is the punishment? Nobody explain this.

Alex: Good question. I was thinking about that the other day too. Maybe there’s something in the CBA about it. Better question for Dave. But they couldn’t go out and sign anyone, their own guys or free agents. The contracts get processed and checked by the league and if you’re over the cap, the agreement is voided. So you would be stuck until you became cap compliant.

Swiss-Steel: Hey Alex, is there a Chance the Steelers release Ebron?

Alex: I don’t see it. Yeah, Ebron wasn’t a good blocker and had drops but you knew that when you signed the guy. He still made big plays in the pass game. Not going to gut your only good TE on the roster while you’re possibly going to lose JuJu as well. He should stay.

DropTheHammer: Assume the doctors say that all of Dickerson’s surgeries went well and should heal completely, but the trainers say his repeated knee and ankle problems will continue because of how he moves. [The knock-kneed thing that posters have pointed out]. At what point is he good value on your draft board? I keep remembering that Biadasz fell to Round 4 on much lesser injury concerns.

Alex: He’s a first round talent in my book. So if you clear him medically and he’s sitting there at 55, I’m good with taking him. He’s exactly what this team needs. Not often I agree with Mel Kiper Jr. but he summed it up well. Dickerson is the perfect Steeler.

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