Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your weekly Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

Fasterwilly: If you could clone one player on offense (besides James Daniels) who would it be? The clone is on a 2 yr vet min deal

Alex: Gotta go Diontae Johnson. Two twitchy YAC threats who are tough to defend 1v1. Some teams have a #1 corner to match a guy like him. Most teams don’t have two. You’d have two quality, hard-working, and exciting receivers. That’d make Mitch Trubisky a happy man and would be practical in the offense. Two Najee Harris would be nice but the second one isn’t going to bring as much value from a snap count/involvement standpoint.

Billjump: How soon do you think the steelers could have an elite OL? I assume it won’t be this year, but is next year realistic?

Alex: Man, that’s really anyone’s guess. I just want it to get to average first. There’s still plenty of projection about growth and development and how the five play together under yet another new offensive line coach. So I really don’t know. If everyone reaches their potential, sure, you could maybe talk about it this time next year. But I have no idea. I’m just taking it year-by-year because this line still has a ton of questions, even down to who is starting and lining up where.


Hey Alex -rank these scenarios in order you see most likely happening to not

Trading up into top 6 to get Malik Willis
Trading up to top 10 to get Desmond Ridder
Staying put at 20 to get any QB they went to see & brought in for a visit

Alex: I struggle with these questions because I think it’s all possible. There’s not a lot telling me that something can’t happen or won’t happen or is less likely to happen than something else. Of course, it’s probably “safer” to project they stay at 20 as opposed to working out a trade which comes with more variables and an extra projection of it all.

I could see all three of those things happening along with a half-dozen other scenarios. So I don’t know how to best rank things. Maybe staying put, then Willis, then Ridder, but I really don’t base that off a lot beyond my gut.

falconsaftey43: Outside of the QBs, any thoughts on who could end up as their first round pick that everyone will be screaming “Reach!” like Burns or Edmunds, but who checks all the boxes for Steelers first round picks? I’m not sure I see that guy this year.

Alex: My list of top-seven possibilities are the five QBs and the two safeties, Dax Hill and Lewis Cine. If we want to think a little more outside the box, maybe one of the Georgia LBs. Nakobe Dean or Quay Walker. Maybe Coby Bryant from Cincinnati if you really want to start thinking unconventional? But that’s really stretching it.

You’re right I don’t think I see that guy as clearly as other years. But of course, all the QBs are hotly debated and someone will think it’s a bad pick/bad value no matter who they take. Sam Howell would piss a lot of people off.

knoxly: Hey Alex, which QB in this class best embodies the sentiment of this quote? When you see a successful individual, a champion, a “winner,” you can be
very sure that you are looking at an individual who pays great attention
to the perfection of minor details. – John Wooden

Alex: That might be tougher for me not knowing these guys personally. Not hearing them in the interview room, their thought process on plays. Desmond Ridder certainly was a “winner” who totally turned around that Bearcats’ program. So you could argue it’s him. He seems like a leader and quality person. But he isn’t clean mechanically either and his game feels “messier” than it should be for a four-year starter with so much experience.

I can’t help but love Corral’s toughness and competitive nature and fire. Maybe I’m drinking that Kool-Aid too much but I love that about him and it’s a big reason I’m high on him. I think it’s so crucial for the QB position. You gotta be tough. You gotta be a leader. You gotta have the intangibles. He has them, as far as I can tell.

James Cowan: 

Hi Alex,

I’ve always enjoyed the SD draft content – the years with the debates on Bush, Harris and Dave Tee were always among my favourite SD content. But this year with the roundtables I think you’ve got even better. Really great content and I think debating a flawed QB class will do that. And the contributors you’ve added are all fantastic and if possible I think you should get them on more through the season.

I am interested in how Willis is spoken about. You all agree he needs to sit a year to learn a pro style offence. It sounds like his negatives are accuracy, pocket presence and taking a lot of sacks, offensive system and he doesn’t throw MOF. What gives you personally the confidence that he will overcome them in the NFL? To me it sounds like you’ll discuss the negatives of the other QBs but rarely discuss the negatives of Willis past “well he needs a year”.

Alex: Thanks James! The roundtables are excellent and I can’t wait for the post-draft ones after we actually know who the team has picked.

I wouldn’t be that harsh on all of Willis’ negatives. I think it’s really just cleaning up his lower body mechanics and learning the pro-style system (like most of these QBs have to do). I think his game will always bring some level of negativity just given his style, live by the sword and die by it too, but the highs are exciting. You want to be able to make those elite-elite plays, to bail your offense out of bad situations, to be a threat with your legs (which drastically changes how defenses can play/prepare for you).

It’s hard to win with a QB who doesn’t bring those highs. At least at a Super Bowl level. It’s why the Rams went big on ditching Goff for Stafford. It’s why the Vikings are in “ok, not great’ with Kirk Cousins. You get kinda stuck. I think you have to bet big and bet on traits at QB and Willis has the most of them.

Dan Blocker: Hi Alex – Regarding Matt Canada’s offense. Is it possible they feel the offense has the weapons it needs now in a basic sense, meaning QB, RB, TE, TE2, WR1, WR2 (even FB)… which is why no skill position FAs have been added, and draft picks or bargain signings will essentially just be plug in-depth? Will the packages around what they have, and WR depth won’t play as much of a role? Like I don’t remember Pitt Panthers sub players having much in the way of stats in Canada’s one year there, mainly because the starters stayed healthy. I hope this makes sense? Thanks as always!

Alex: The only skill position they really were going to add this offseason were QB and WR. They did QB. WR didn’t have a lot of talent, especially for the slot-type of guy. And the draft class is super deep so I’m sure the Steelers’ calculation was they know they can find talent there Rounds 1-3.

I think WR depth is always important just as the way it is for CBs. So they’ll add there and we’ll see if they sign a free agent too.



Do you see the Steelers resigning Edmunds.

If not FA or Draft for a Strong Safety?


Alex: We’ll see. Currently appears to be the team’s fallback option if Mathieu doesn’t come. But even if they sign him, they could draft as well on Day One or Day Two. Remember they signed veteran Morgan Burnett (who got over $4 million per year, about the deal Edmunds probably gets) and then went ahead and drafted Edmunds in the first round. Burnett was older but the veteran/draft pick combo is very much in Colbert’s wheelhouse.

Raymond Istenes: 

Hey Alex, do you see the team possibly double dipping on WR during the draft?

Or are do they draft one and have one of the PS guys be the WR4?

Alex: It’s certainly possible. There’s a need to do it. But the team has more limited draft capital to work with. If they have 9-10 picks, definitely, they could and probably should do it. But when you have seven picks and a potential move-up for a QB looming, it’s harder to do and address other areas of the team.

So we’ll see. Often times depends on the board too. If a player still on your board in the 4th or 6th round is so much higher than everyone else it compels you to take him, even if you’ve already addressed the position. Sometimes that’s the driving reason beyond just looking at your depth chart.

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