Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. And a happy Opening Day for all you baseball fans out there. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!


Hey Alex,

Has KC ever traded up in the draft prior to the draft? Or has he only done it while the draft was going on?

Alex: Nope. They’ve all occurred during the draft. Which makes the most amount of sense. Don’t trade up until you know how the board looks and you know exactly what you have to do in order to get your guy. Only three first round trade-ups for Troy, Holmes, and Bush. All occurring during the draft.

Vance Mac: Planning to head to Latrobe this year?

Alex: Absolutely. I’ll be wherever camp is at. But I hope and really think it’ll be back in Latrobe now that the NFL’s COVID protocols have gone away. Of course, nothing is done until it’s done so we won’t know for sure for a few months.

Andy N: Hi Alex. Any thoughts on possible outbound trades for extra draft capital?

Alex: What do you mean? Trading down, trading players, something else? I’m generally not opposed to moving down. I like extra picks, extra darts to throw at the board because hitting on picks is sort of a volume game. More picks = more chances to get it right. I’m smart enough to recognize how dumb I am and how hard it is to hit in the draft. You hit in the first round 75% of the time and you’re an all-time great GM. And from there on out, hitting on like, half your other picks is considered pretty good. More picks means more options.

Will the Steelers do it? Not in Round One. From there, we’ll see. It wouldn’t be the worst idea given their lack of Day Three draft capital but it really just depends on the board and the offers. I would not be willing to trade any player in this draft.

CP72: AK,
What do you think realistic expectations are this year for Dan Moore? It’s encouraging he was better as the season went on.

Alex: Basically that he picks up where he left off from last year and builds upon the back half of the season, as you mentioned. I don’t know how to better quantify that in terms of becoming a “top 15 left tackle” or something like that but you’ll want him to just look like – and better – as he did to close out the year. Give Myles Garrett a better fight, work on anchoring and stalling out bull/power rushes, and probably cut the number of sacks allowed from the eight he gave up last year to in that 4-5 range in 2022. That’s a loose expectation.


How much does an offensive coordinator’s scheme impact prospects vs. natural traits? For instance, you and Dave have very different ideas on Corral, where it seems he credits Corral’s successes to the coach and you more to him.

Alex: They are certainly link. And they’re tough to untangle from each other until they’re not together. But sure, a coaches scheme, technique, coaching, etc. has a big impact on a player’s performance. That’s truthfully why a lot of prospects fail. Most guys who get drafted have a ton of talent. They’re in that 0.1% of football players in the NFL, the 260-ish players who get drafted. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. Oftentimes the failures are scheme, coaching and development, or things like injuries that hinder a player’s career.But coaching and performance and pretty much linked at the hip. As a coach, to me, your main job is to put your players in the best positions to succeed. Maximize strengths, minimize weaknesses, get the ball to your best players.

Ethan Fager: Alex, how much are you believing the report from Gerry Dulac about Andy Weidl being the front runner for the steelers GM job?

Alex: It’s really hard to say. They’re not even at second interviews yet, though Weidl is an impressive candidate with Pittsburgh ties so it makes sense. But frontrunner or not, they’ll have to go through much more intense vetting the second time around after the draft. It’s still hard to see that outside hire. Just in my head. This team is really going to (possibly/probably) draft a QB of the future and hope an outside GM hire likes the guy? He better. Sorta stuck with him and the results that come with it. It’s why I was against the wait for a GM hire because it creates this awkwardness. But we’ll see who the finalists are. Probably going to be 3-5 names. I’d expect Hunt, probably Khan, and a couple of those outsiders. Probably one former GM (like Spielman) and 1-2 would-be first-time GMs (like Weidl).

Christian D: Good afternoon Alex!Tons of questions regarding QB this year, how would you feel with Ridder @ 20 if that is how the draft ends up breaking? Do you think they will pull the trigger or address other positional needs?

Alex: Well, he’s my #5 QB and I put a third round grade on him. So I wouldn’t love it. But it’s possible and I get the allure. The mobility, the leadership, a pretty good football IQ. Will they take a QB? The tea leaves all say they will. But nothing is guaranteed. Still, QB is the biggest need of them all and will remain so until it’s addressed.

FreeFood: Hey Alex, thanks for your work!
I have been thinking recently that I would rather have the 3 way competition at QB that is currently on the roster instead of using the 1st round pick on a QB or especially instead of trading up. What are your thoughts? I personally feel like all 3 of them, even Mason have potential to be pretty good or at least good enough to manage what hopefully will be strong running game and, again HOPEFULLY, a rebounding, great defense. Have a great day

Alex: Eh, I’m not crazy about it. That’s “throwing it all on the wall and hope something sticks.” And you’re throwing like, butter on the wall. It’s not going to stick. Now, if you don’t love a QB or you can’t get one, I get it. Try again next year. But I won’t talk myself into Trubisky being a long-term future of this offense or organization. They might be able to manage the game in best-case scenarios with all the “hopefullys” of the rest of the roster being amazing but even then, you’re a Wild Card-ish team who won’t win a Super Bowl. No thanks.


Hey Alex,

I know the last time the Steelers used their first pick on someone without having either Colbert or Tomlin at their Pro Day was Ziggy Hood in 09. Since I’ve started paying attention to this, it feels like every recent first pick has had *both* Tomlin and Colbert at their Pro Day. When was the last time they used their first rounder on someone who only had Tomlin OR Colbert there instead of both?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Alex: That’s a good question. I’m not sure. My quick pullup of the Pro Day tracker dating back to 2017 has Tomlin/Colbert there every year. Generally, they do travel together and only go separate when there is a Pro Day scheduling conflict, like two marquee Pro Days in the same day. Or the owners meeting conflict that happened this year. I would have to do more digging but yes, generally, both are in attendance for their first round pick.

MAK Lives Free: Great article on how you are the QBs. It seems from your write-up, in terms of what Canada wants to do, he may prefer Corral. Am I off?

Alex: If I had to guess, and you get what you pay for here, yes, I would think Canada likes Corral the best. The best scheme and system fit. The mobility. The playction usage. The accuracy short/middle for RAC throws. His toughness and leadership. But I don’t think any of these top QBs are bad fits for his offense. Pickett certainly fits it pretty well, too.


Great discussion on the QB class!

Greg Cosell’s recent comments on Rich Eisen have me spooked on Willis and frankly the entire class. In light of the amount of projection/inherent uncertainty, is there a point where you’d deem it irresponsible for the future of the franchise/new GM for a trade-up scenario this year? Or are you of the mind “go get your guy” even if it takes every first rounder for the next five years (hyperoble obv but curious on your threshold)?

Alex: Thanks! I really enjoyed it too.

I haven’t heard his comments yet. Will need to go back and listen. You’re right there will eventually be a line. You can’t trade every draft pick you have for the next ten years (you’re also only allowed to trade first round picks up to three years in advance, but I understand your hypothetical) just to get a QB who may or may not work out.

So there is a point where you can’t do it. But it’s a high bar. I don’t know exactly what that line is but it would have to be a lot if I truly thought that QB was *the guy*. Nobody knows/cares/remembers what the Chiefs traded to go up and get Patrick Mahomes or the Bills to snag Josh Allen.

Bill Sechrengost: i Alex. If Malik Willis is taken early, do you expect the Steelers to still draft a QB at 20 or go a different direction? If you think it will still be a QB, which one would it be? I know, tough question without knowing who they like and how much.

Alex: I would put QB as the favorite. Not that it’d be locked in stone but the Steelers’ homework on the position is fire, not smoke. Who do I think it’d be? Really tough question. Mentioned on a recent podcast I’ve battled between Howell and Corral. But all of them make sense. My gut has sat on Howell for awhile now but I think Corral is a fit and checks the hearts/smarts they covet.

falconsaftey43: What type of WR do you expect them to target? Tall outside guy, big slot, shifty slot, pure speed?

Alex: A really good question. It could be any of the above because they need it all. Their pre-draft interest has titled more towards the bigger/physical type (Pickens, Ross) but they desperately need some speed on this offense, hence their interest in Danny Gray. I’d love for them to double-dip and get one of each but their limited draft capital makes it tough. It’s something I’ll wrestle with in my mock draft.

BurghInPhilly: I’m horrified that the Steelers will trade up for a QB. After all, they had a Rd.1 grade on Rudolph. Assuming they stay at 20, the options seem pretty limited. Davis will likely be gone as well as the quality LTs. They likely won’t spend a first round pick on a WR (e.g., Williams). Colbert/Tomlin didn’t go see McDuffie (CB Washington). Stingley Jr. just had a great pro day so he’ll be gone. Wyatt is 24 years old. If not QB, my money is on one of these guys: Booth Jr., or D. Hill with an outside chance of Z. Johnson (Senior Bowl), L. Cine, or Q. Walker. Do you agree?

Alex: I wouldn’t let one grade scare you off that much. And if you’re that concerned, you should be worried about any QB they take, trade-up or not.

In terms of the others, yeah, that’s a solid list of names. Guys who are checking the boxes. Would not completely rule out a guy like George Pickens either.

srdan: Who is your favorite defensive prospect that you believe is within reach for Colbert? Porque

Alex: Good question. I don’t know if there’s one head and shoulders above the rest. I’ve been a big Jalen Pitre fan though I don’t know if he’ll be within reach in the sense of being there at #52. Some of the safeties are interesting. Lot of athletic hitters – Hill, Cine, Brisker, even Joey Blount, who I’ll be highlighting in the AM. It’s a really impressive class worth taking a long look at.



How would you approach the upcoming draft?

Going all in on Ben’s replacement? improving the close to
elite D? Getting a WR to replace Juju?

Also do you see more FA signings AFTER the draft?

Alex: I don’t like going in saying you “have to do” something. Because then you panic and reach. But sure, as long as there isn’t a QB of the future on the team, that’s where every conversation starts. Can you fill that void. If you can, do it. In a heartbeat. If not, then move on to other needs.

But it isn’t always either/or. They could sit at 20, get a QB, and then go WR/S the next two rounds.

Could there be signings after the draft? Yeah, probably. Saw it last year with Turner and Ingram (and Arthur Maulet!). To what degree of impact they’d be, that may partially depend on what happens the next few weeks of FA and during the draft.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex,
Everyone seems to agree that Malik Willis has the most upside of all the QBs. A quarterback that everyone on this site seems to like, at least to some degree, is Sam Howell. How high do you see Howell’s upside being? Do you have a comp for his potential upside?

Alex: I don’t know how to best quantify his ceiling beyond, he can be a starting QB in the NFL. He checks those baseline boxes. Arm strength, overall accuracy, mobility, decent mechanics, experience, production, toughness. In terms of the comp, I just had my Jack Locker tag, which sounds harsher than intended. I had sort of compared him to David Garrard as well early on in the draft process but I don’t know if I would call that “ceiling.” But I could see this guy become a solid starter probably in the top 10-12 range, best case scenario.

falconsaftey43: A second if you have time: are people over thinking Howell? Is he just suffering from the fall from perceived 1st overall type talent? I can’t see how he is almost an after thought now. Amazing college production, really good arm, tough.

Alex: Yeah, I think that’s fair. I don’t see any damning weakness in his game and you could argue one for almost any of the other QBs. Howell is just solid. But he’s not spectacular and coming off a “down” 2021 hurt some of the buzz because he was thought of, a year ago, as the potential first QB off the board. Weight of expectations hurt him a bit, I think.

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