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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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One more time before tonight’s draft, welcome back to my weekly mailbag. Answering all your last-second draft questions for the next hour. Thanks for being here and hope you stick with us the rest of tonight and through the weekend.

To your questions!

ÄB:

Hey Alex,

Did you see Gerry Dulac’s tweet about Najae and potentially a QB if they fell, and using Heinz “Fields”. I don’t think Fields would EVER fall to 24, but if he fell just enough for them to trade up, would they?

Alex: I did. Wrote about it on the site a little bit ago. I still don’t think they would trade up for him unless the cost was really low. Like, one of their fourth rounders to go up 1-2 spots. But if he’s there, he’s awfully hard to pass up. You’re not getting that caliber of QB falling like that too often. Really only happening because of the extreme strength of the class. So I’d be all for it.

CP72: Alex,
it’s draft day!! Since you covered it to death tell me your favorite draft pick of all time.

Alex: I don’t know if I have a personal favorite from a pure “draft day” standpoint. I’ll give you the lame answer of Joe Greene. Drafting him signaled a near era in Pittsburgh. That was step number one in turning around a franchise who knew nothing except losing and failure. So that’s pretty special. And I think people forget he was drafted in 1969 and it still took the team a couple years to get going. They had losing seasons in ’69, ’70, and ’71, before things clicked in ’72.

jger15: Thoughts on Dulac’s recent tweets re: Najee, QB + Freirmuth potential in round 1 in lieu of going with OL?

Alex: Talked about the Harris/QB stuff above. It’s at the point where it’s info overload and you don’t know what’s leaking, what’s a smokescreen, etc. We know they really like Freiermuth. Painfully obvious. I know we view him as a second-round guy but that was the same with Edmunds. And they took him in the first. If they don’t think he’ll be there at 55, and I don’t think he will be, then they may take him. I would prefer to trade back in that scenario, but easier said than done.

The Chin: What is your level of comfort at the CB position if they don’t address it relatively early this weekend? Any chance you think they’ll add someone from the street post-draft?

Alex: It’s not great. But I would want/need to see James Pierre and Justin Layne in training camp. A second year for Pierre. Hopefully a much fuller offseason. And Layne in make-or-break status. Could they add someone post-draft? Maybe. I’m not sure who though. Keep an eye on Trevor Williams. Signed really late last year after Haden got COVID. Williams has talent and had NFL success. Injuries have derailed his career.

JohnB: Forgive me if youve answered something like this recently or if its not really draft related but do you see Watt staying on the left in 2021?

Alex: Left outside linebacker? Yes I do. I don’t see a compelling reason to move him. Seems to be doing pretty well at LOLB. And he plays the run so well, I’ll keep him on the run-minded side of offenses.

hdogg 48: 

Alex….

Who is your 2021 Draft Day Sleeper?

Ie. Bang for the buck in a later round.

Alex: Couple guys I like.

1. Liam Eichenberg/OT Notre Dame – He’s athletic enough for me. Really technical player. Great Day 2 value. Maybe he sneaks into the late first still?

2. Payton Turner/EDGE Houston – Big, long, great hand use, sets the edge in the run game, surprising bend for his size, runs extremely hard to the football. What’s not to love?

3. Tommy Doyle/OT Miami (OH) – For all the reasons I mocked him in my Steelers’ draft.

4. Tay Gowan/CB UCF – One-year guy with plus ball skills and good fluidity. Late Day 2/Day 3 value.

5. Trevon Grimes/WR Florida – Jump-ball machine. Would be a great James Washington replacement a year from now.

6. James Hudson/OT Cincinnati – Another quality tackle in a deep class. Just tested really poorly at his Pro Day.

Nik Draft: Are the Steelers more likely to target a left tackle or a right tackle this weekend if they address the position?

Alex: I think they’re just trying to focus on getting a good tackle period. But preference would be left tackle. Banner more likely to be on the right side and Okorafor entering the last year of his rookie deal. LTs always have more value, too, in the sense of what they’re worth/what they get paid. So locking that guy up on a rookie deal for a couple seasons is a great value.

Steel City: 

Alex,

Thanks to Steelers Depot for all the great draft coverage, so let me ask a non-draft question!

One thing I have been wondering watching the coaching changes is how big a part it appears the ownership play in this as far as timing? It seems that coaches can only be replaced at the end of their contract which if true would have limited the change in 2019. It’s also interesting to me that in 2019 both replacements were brought in. This would be like a “test drive” to me and make sense if my observations are correct.

Alex: You’re very welcome! Glad you enjoyed our coverage.

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Absolutely, Rooney plays a role — probably a big one — in the coaching staff. He’s the dude signing everyone’s checks. No one gets hired/fired/contract not renewed without his blessing. I don’t know quite what you mean about the “test drive” though.

Douglas Prostorog: so, when the team drafts Pat Freiermuth at 24, are you going to be upset of super happy that they finally have taken a TE before day 3?

Alex: Real Monkey’s Paw situation we’ve got brewing here. Careful what you wish for. I like Freiermuth, I want them to invest at the position, but 24 will feel too high. But if he’s their guy, he’s their guy…

hdogg 48: 

It took th Tampa Bay Bucs until the playoffs
to gel and run the table winning the big flag.

They are getting back everybody…which is unprecedented.

Do you envision them repeating?

Alex: Hard to win once. Even harder to do it twice. But Brady has become the exception and they brought that whole team back. Repeating would not be a surprise.

stan: The Rudolph extension news seems to cement the idea that the Steelers are not drafting a QB in this draft (at least not one that they can’t stash on the practice squad). What do you think?

Alex: I don’t think it means they couldn’t/wouldn’t take someone if a Justin Fields fell, as Gerry Dulac seemed to imply. Maybe it takes them out of the mid-round QB situation. God I hope it does.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex, how early could the Steelers go WR and it not surprise you?

Alex: Hard to be too surprised given how often they do it and how strong overall this class is. But anything Day 1/2 would surprise me. Starting fourth round, Day 3, where you’re focusing on talent/value, it would not shock me.

UK/Steeler Fan since 1969: Hey Alex: Thanks for all of you & all the guy’s for the outstanding work!
If we don’t land one of the top 3 rbs, and miss out on Sermon, who do we turn to?

Alex: Sure feels like it’s time to panic know matter what they do. Worst-case scenario. I’m not sure what they would do. Assume that means you’re at earliest, at 55. Stevenson from Oklahoma? Do you go pass catcher and try to have Snell carve out a run-down/situation role? It would be ugly. You probably just build up the O-line the very best you can and hope the RB you do have doesn’t matter as much.

srdan: Does Dickerson have top 15 juice for a center if it weren’t for his injuries?

Alex: I think so. His tape/character are all first round. His knees though might be fourth round. And that’s holding him back, obviously. Less so about the short-term concerns, I think he’ll be ready to play Week 1, but the long-term implications of a 335+ pounder with a lot of weight and stress on those joints.

MattSteelCurtain91: If you had to make choice between Farley n Phillips with there medical risks whom would you choose and why? Also if both Harris and Etienne both gone what would your reaction be to J Williams being pick 24?

Alex: Man I don’t think I’m comfortable with either. Not that I have access to medical records or am a doctor. I guess I’d just choose who I thought is the better player. So Farley? But I don’t know if either are on my board. Corner with a bad back who didn’t play in 2020 and an EDGE who had to medically retire due to concussions post-Ladarius Green saga. Oof.

I’d be ok with Williams. I like him more than Etienne. It would just surprise me and break tradition with the Colbert/Tomlin Pro Day history.

Matt: 

Hey Alex,

In an article about this year’s class, you pointed out the smaller size makes it a shallower class. I took that to imply that, given a fixed # of total non-comp picks and assuming fewer players at all calibers this year, teams will chomp through high-caliber players faster than usual because they a) high-caliber guys already make up a small proportion of all picks and b) there’s going to be fewer of them this year because there are fewer prospects overall.

How do you think it might affect teams’ appetite for and approach to trading picks? Do you see teams being less likely to wanting to drop back because it could mean a larger drop in quality relative to other years?

Alex: Good question. Read some chatter on Twitter about it today. Yes, I think teams will be less willing to trade back, especially Day 3, and they definitely don’t want to give up 2022/future capital. Next year, the draft will be deeper and teams will hopefully have better/more normal information.


That’s all for this week. Thanks guys!

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