Welcome back to your weekly mailbag. There’s been a lot of us to talk about over the past couple days, hasn’t there? As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything on your mind.
To your questions!
Dan Blocker: Hi Alex! I think Josh Carney’s article stole my question to you about Jordan Whitehead, but would you see him as a good fit for our defense, even though he’s giving up some size compared to Edmunds? Your thoughts if he’d be a good fit?
Alex: I do think he’s a good fit. Spoiler alert, he will be part of my wishlist for tomorrow’s defensive side of things. Easy dot-connecting given his age and Pitt/Western PA ties. He’s not as big or built as Edmunds or like a lot of strong safeties, Whitehead has a skinnier lower half and wasn’t quite an every-down player for Tampa Bay, but he’s a physical player and I think a bit better in coverage in terms of angles and ball skills. So it’s a logical thought.
Brian Tollini: A Non-Watson question to start things out, Alex. Will we be regretting not picking up Edmunds 5th year option this time next week? If he leaves, isn’t it an almost certainty that we add both a FA and use a draft pick to replace him?
Alex: I don’t know if regret is the right word. But they will have to find his replacement and it won’t come fro min-house. I don’t see it needing to be both a FA and draft pick, they can re-sign Killebrew (probably happens) and sign a vet (like Whitehead). Or if not, this safety class is actually pretty good. But they will have to spend money or draft capital to fill what would become a very obvious void, yes.
falconsafety43: Hey Alex, it seems like (at least recently) Steelers’ respective position coaches were at most of the Pro-Days of their eventual draft picks. A lot of them even put the player through their workout (i.e. Coach Roberts worked out Freiermuth). Do you think that’s a real trend/indicator, or just recent coincidence?
Alex: Oh no, I think there’s a real, true correlation there. It’s an obvious indication of interest. Positional coaches don’t travel the way area scouts do. They’re going to specific places to see specific people, almost always because there’s a fair level of interest there. That the scouts have good grades, that the team thinks he’s a fit, etc. And that coach needs to get a feel for who the guy is. How he’s coached, his personality, and if the coach is checking that box. Who better to evaluate a guy than the person who would be coaching him if you drafted that player?
So I think as our article showed last year and some of the comments/revisiting you’ve done, there is a pretty clear correlation. Of course, you will always have coaches attend more workouts than you can possibly draft, but we should be paying close attention to the Pro Day circuit this year even beyond Colbert and Tomlin’s travels.
I love the silly season, especially when we need our next QB. Pretty much every single available QB has either been mocked to us or speculated about us going after. I rolled my eyes at the Rodgers speculation, and I’m buying the Watson idea about zero percent.
As we sit here today, if you have to make a bold prediction, what do the Steelers actually do with QB?
My prediction: I think we sign Bridgewater for like $5M and take a stab at a Day 2 or 3 QB. That’s a Steelers type move.
Alex: Ha, it’s a very, silly season. Lot of fun though (and one reason why these answers are slightly delayed – sorry!).
On Watson, I don’t know. It’s hard to take that report as credible. I’ll just say this. It’s a matter of whether or not Pittsburgh would want him. To take on and deal with the baggage. If they’re good with it, then I think Watson would become a Steeler. But it’s a big “if” I’m laying out.
I will stick to what I tweeted out the other day. They’ll either trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or sign Mitch Trubisky. They will look to draft a first round QB but I don’t know if they’ll get one. It will probably require trading up. And those things are always tough to predict.
I know everyone is looking for the big splash FA signing this year. But I’m looking more into the “under the radar “ money wise moves. Don’t know why I’m so into this move, but would love to sign Rashaan Evans to play next to Bush. Thoughts?
Alex: The dot-connecting is there. Reportedly that’s the guy they wanted to drafted in 2018 before the Titans took him. Evans hasn’t been a great player but he’s a pretty well-rounded dude. Tennessee did have him off passing downs, but I suppose you’re still trusting/hoping Bush can get that role back in 2022. You may or may not see Evans’ name on the FA wishlist tomorrow…
What’s the earliest round you see Matt Araiza going in, realistically, and what’s a reasonable range over which he might go (i.e., how far could he potentially slip?
If he’s available as a late-round pick and the Steelers are up, do you think they’d actually consider him? Or do they pass and give PHIII the benefit of the doubt, seeing as how he was just a rookie last year and had his father pass? Harvin’s young and it’d be pretty dog-eat-dog to draft another punter a year later, but it’s not personal. Guys like Araiza just aren’t available often.
Alex: I would say about fourth round for him. 3rd round is not even out of the question. Since 2000, seven specialists have been taken in the top three rounds, though none since 2016. But Mitch Wisnowsky went in the 4th round to the 49ers a few years ago and I think Araiza is a better punter. I don’t see him as a late, 6th/7th round option. He’ll be the first punter off the board by a healthy margin. My guess is early Day Three.
Do I think the Steelers would draft another punter? Probably not. Especially not that early given their other needs and limited draft capital.
David Rudin: Alex,
Last minute question: how in the world do the Steelers fill so many holes with their current draft capital and albeit slightly increased Free Agency cash on hand?
Alex: There’s nothing magical about it. You can sign, trade, and draft. And the Steelers are probably looking at all those options. The good news is, like you said, they have more money. I wouldn’t even call it slightly increases, especially compared to last year’s mess (a once in a lifetime thing, I know). They have significantly more money. So that helps.
But the bottom line is you figure out what positions you value the most, the ones where you feel like you need Grade-A talent and prioritize those spots. You fill in the less valuable positions with more cost-effective guys. The great scheme fit who doesn’t have a lot of talent, maybe roll the dice on a guy who has battled injury, or the hard-worker who will maximize his ability. That’s the plan. But there is no secret. It’s a lot on this team’s plate, especially offensively.