Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your Thursday mailbag. As always, we’re here over the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

Daniel Moon: Hey Alex, I don’t understand why the Steelers must draft a QB this year. If the team didn’t believe in Trubisky, maybe they should not have signed him. I think this team will live or die with Trubisky so the Steelers must give him more weapons such as WR Williams, WR Olave, T Penning, etc. I would draft offensive players unless DT Davis / Wyatt is there at pick 20.

Alex: First, I would say the team doesn’t “have” to draft a QB this year. But they recognize, and it’s obvious to everyone, they now need a long-term face at QB. Trubisky isn’t that guy. That isn’t why he was brought in. He’s the more veteran, short-term option because this team does not want to start a rookie out of the gate. Trubisky serves a different purpose than what you think he is.

They’ll want to add weapons but they’re not building this whole thing around him. He’s not the future. He’s not the QB five years from now. That’s why they’re so heavily looking at top options in the draft.

ÄB: Hey Alex,

I think I asked you all my QB questions so far (#TeamMalik). So i’ll switch it up. Is there a chance they’re maybe giving Tre Norwood a chance at starting SS this year and that’s why they haven’t signed anyone yet?

Alex: Eh, I think they’re going to sign someone. Norwood had a good rookie year and has earned a role in 2022 but it’s not as their strong safety. He’s not a guy who will live in the box nearly 1/3 of the time like Edmunds has. Frame is too slight and he isn’t physical enough. They’ll add a SS. Just a matter of who and when.

Dan Blocker: 

Hi Alex! Hope all is well. Why are the Steelers moving so slowly on adding a Strong Safety? 1) Is the position not as important in their scheme? 2) Do they believe they can get Edmunds for their price? 3) A rookie would cost less next to Minkah, and it’s a good safety draft? 4) All or none of these!

What do you think?

Alex: The safety market generally moves slower than other positions. Matheiu is at the top so teams may be waiting to see what he decides to do before the rest of the dominoes fall in line, sorta like what we saw at QB.

I’m sure they can get Edmunds for a cheap price. They certainly can afford him. Rookie might actually cost roughly the same if we’re talking a 1st round pick and there is the unknown of adding him to the risk.

Yeah, I think it’s a good safety draft. Hamilton, Brisker, Cine all first round/borderline first rounders. And then past them I like guys like A&M’s Leon O’Neal, Illinois’ Kerby Joseph, Maryland’s Nick Cross, and Toledo’s Tycen Anderson. There’s solid talent back there.

Steel PAul: Alex.. one of those guessing questions that you love so much lol. What percent chance to you give Trubisky of taking advantage of a new system, new team and becoming a successful starting QB for the Steelers??

Alex: Ha, my favorite…I dunno, how you define him as “successful?” Being the starter and not doing a terrible job? Leading the team to a Wild Card berth? Winning the division? Super Bowl?

He’s a bridge guy. This will probably be a competitive, in-the-hunt team in the playoff race come the final 2-3 weeks. That’s my expectations right now. If Trubisky can do that and get this team to above .500, then I’ll call it successful, provided it’s not like 2019 and the defense is doing all the heavy-lifting, though make no mistake, this defense needs to play at minimum a top ten level this year.

adam benko: Hey Alex, what are your thoughts on Anthony Millers viability as a top 4 contributor to the receiving corp? People seem to forget he is a former second round pick, that had his most productive years with Trubisky as his QB in Chicago.

Alex: Well, I’m looking forward to watching him in camp. And being there with Trubisky certainly doesn’t hurt. But we’ll see what the WR room looks like post-draft. They’re going to add names. Likely more than one. Vet + draft pick(s). Miller struggled to get a hat last year but I understand he came over mid-season and that can be tough. I’m not expecting much from Miller but I’ll keep an open mind about it.

CP72: AK,
I’ll spare you a quarterback This wide receiver room has gotten a quite thin. Did the Steelers make a mistake letting both JuJu and Ray Ray walk? Does going out and finding a veteran like Jarvis Landry become an necessity now?

Alex: Well McCloud got paid more than I would’ve paid him so there’s not much you can do there when the 49ers are offering him $10 million. Can’t pay that for a return guy unless maybe if he’s elite of the elite and McCloud was not.

JuJu’s deal was at least structured in a way the Steelers wouldn’t do, though they could’ve come in with a bigger, more conventional offer. Losing him definitely does sting but I’m still not sure if JuJu really wanted to come back. Mahomes vs Trubisky, Chiefs vs Steelers, I know who I’m taking.

But yes, you’d prefer not to go into the draft without any sort of in-house option. Normally Colbert protects himself with that vet so it would make sense. Landry is similar to JuJu so that definitely fits but I’m not sure what he wants to do or what his market is looking like in terms of team and value. Beyond him, it’s hard to find that slot option, even a low-tier guy like Lance Moore. Struggling to come up with that name, to be honest.


Hey Alex,

Who are some of the WR you like in the 2nd round range?

Alex: Some names who fit here. Georgia’s George Pickens (potential first round option but deep class + injury could drop him), Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson are some of the first ones who come to mind. Certainly didn’t ignore WRs Coach Frisman Jackson working out Clemson’s Justyn Ross too, though his medial scares me.

Noah Ringler: 

Hi Alex,

All signs are pointing to QB in round 1. How would you personally rank the top 5? Very briefly, what excites you and what concerns you about each prospect?

Alex: I will have a list soon, hopefully by the start of next month, so I’ll wait to answer that right now. Sorry, Noah. But want to be as complete and accurate as possible. But there certainly are things to be excited about all these guys. Off the top, Willis’ “wow” ability to play out of structure, Howell’s toughness, Corral’s release, Pickett’s demeanor, Ridder’s well-rounded game. Lot for us to talk about.

Tony Pepperoni: Who is an under the radar Steeler that isn’t being talked about right now but will make an impact on the 22-23 season?

Alex: Hmm, that’s a good question. I feel like we talk about all these guys so it’s hard for me to answer that I guess. Norwood, Loudermilk come to mind but we did talk about those guys and their impact as rookies. Anthony Miller, as the earlier reader asked, who knows what happens there. But I feel like we go over these guys so much there aren’t a ton of surprises.

I think fans are sorta forgetting and dismissing Tyson Alualu’s return. Sure, he’s 35 and coming off a broken ankle but this dude has withstood the test of time. And losing him last year was such a critical-hit reason why the run defense went from Top ten to literally historically bad. So I think fans are overlooking his return with the primary focus on will he/won’t he with Tuitt.

Pghomer: Hey Alex…good day.
Your preference on QB this year: [Your decision with info you have]
1-Trade up for “your guy”
2-Stay at #20 if you don’t have “a guy” head and shoulders above the rest.
3-Take a chance that you can do something in rd #2 with QB 4-5 on the board or minor trade up.
It’s more of a strategy approach question. I think I know your answer. [1]

Alex: All good questions. If you’re talking about preference for a particular guy, I don’t know if I have answers to those yet. Haven’t completely finished my QB study. I do think waiting on a guy into the second round is sorta strange in the sense of “you’re our franchise guy but…we decided to pass on you once.”

Just thinking about QBs philosophically, I’m in camps one or two. As you probably expect me to answer, if you have a “guy,” go get your guy. Use the old cheer phase from your high school football team (Go Cavs!). Be aggressive. B-E aggressive. No risk it, no biscuit when it comes to QBs, as far as I’m concerned. Bills traded up for Josh Allen. Chiefs traded up for Patrick Mahomes. Ravens traded up for Lamar Jackson (though they initially took a 26 year TE in Hayden Hurst which was…strange). All those moves paid off for those teams.



Will the Steelers draft a QB this year?

Alex: Don’t like to write these things in stone but yes, I think they will. And do so early, of course.

Jerry Reid: So Ridder is obviously a guy they are seriously considering, but there isn’t a world where he is legitimately a 20th pick talent. However, he also is most likely going to be gone by our 2nd pick. How farfetched do you think it would be for the Steelers to pull a 2018 Ravens for the QB they like? A couple second rounds and third round seems like a more desirable set up for the next gm.

Alex: I can’t rule anything out but I don’t find that to be the most likely scenario in the world. But hey, they did make a minor move-up for Mason Rudolph. But if you like the guy enough to take him at say, 31, you should like him enough to take him at 20 and not risk losing him.

Pwndhearts: Everyone is going to ask you questions about what the team is going to do at QB in the draft so I thought I’d toss you a softball and ask you what direction you like to go with the two seventh rounders the team has when you are running mocks. Have any small school guys that fall that far that peak your interest or are you all aboard the “draft Cam’s little brother” train at that point. Make the tough call… where are you going with those all important 7th round picks!?!

Alex: Ha, I’m not all-in on Heyward, though I do have his player profile coming out tomorrow. I don’t have any great answers for the 7th round. I’ll let the rest of the Pro Days try to guide me. If you want to stick with the family name, there is UCLA safety Quintin Lake. Carnell’s kid. That fits.

ifihadatail007: Alex, rhetorical question: How funny would it be if the 2nd Texas Grand Jury decided to indict Watson, and how loud would the facepalm sound be from the Cleveland FO if that happens?

Alex: It would be a very Cleveland Browns type of outcome.

Gluebucket: Somewhat different question – how does Tomlin keep getting to eat with these QBs the night before the Pro Days? Aren’t all the other teams wanting to take them to dinner as well?

Alex: Because he’s Mike Tomlin. And he’s just that dude. If he wants to go meet somebody, he’s meeting them and everyone else is going to wait. Players know him, love him, and want to meet him. No one is going around saying “Man, how cool was it meeting Matt Rhule?” Tomlin gets to have dinner with these guys. Rhule tries to sneak in a conversation when they’re washing their hands in the bathroom.

Guy Breton: 

Hi Alex. Green is seen as undersized at 305 pounds for the center job in the NFL. Steelers have signed Cole for competing for this starting job. He has started many games as a center in the NFL. But he is listed at 295. Isn’t he a bit small?

Alex: Listed weights can be tricky. At the Combine several years ago, he weighed in at 307 pounds. He’s also about two inches taller as well. Green’s issues are less about his overall size at center from a height/weight/length standpoint and more of a technique issue. I care about lack of size at center less than I would say, lack of size at guard, especially in Pittsburgh.

Jarvis Ragdoll Jones: If Trubisky is being viewed as a placeholder and they still intend to draft somebody this year (which I do not doubt), why sign Trubisky at all? Mason and or Haskins could have been the placeholder.

Alex: Because they wanted a better short-term option and signing Trubisky doesn’t prevent you from making other moves. They still want to win now. They just want to win later, too. Trubisky is more mobile (that’s the theme Tomlin laid out over the past eight months) and a better fit in Canada’s system and he was – in theory, at least – more upside. There’s also solid injury protection if he went down. If it was just Rudolph and he got hurt, then you’re falling back on Haskins, which is a lot dicier. 

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