Welcome back to your weekly mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour answering whatever is on your mind.
To your questions!
Tasso222222: Take any 3 non-qb players not on Steelers roster (no cap considerations) from any team and insert them into Steelers lineup for 2022.
Alex: Man, I’m the worst at these Tasso, lots-of-2s. I suck at answering the broad, hypothetical questions. Give me a question about the most minutiae, boring details and then I’m your guy. There’s probably no right or wrong answers here but here’s my first thoughts, not spending a lot of time agonizing over it.
Jamarr Chase/WR Bengals – Get a true burner on this offense to really have a vertical attack. All while making the Bengals a lot weaker without Joe Burrow’s favorite guy. “Tyler Boyd is down there somewhere” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Rashawn Slater/OT Chargers – Stud of a second-year tackle who will be on the blindside for the next 10+ years. He isn’t the best tackle – yet – but odds are he will be someday soon. And he’s already a top 5-type of guy. Easy choice here.
Jalen Ramsey/CB Rams – If we’re dreaming here, I’ll go Ramsey. Top-end cover corner to matchup and lock down against #1 receivers. Those guys don’t grow on trees.
David Rudin: Hey Alex, hope you are doing well and looking forward to training camp in Latrobe again! At this point in the process what position/position group are you most concerned about. I’m wondering if the Steelers did enough on Offensive Tackles.
Alex: Doing well and I’m equally excited about camp back at SVC!
OT is a fair concern. I would just say o-line across the board. It’s better and more experienced but still a question mark as a collective five, starting with who lines up where. But the interior line is helped big-time by James Daniels. The tackles have more question marks so I think I’m with you here. Optimistic about Moore and Okorafor, at least you know what you’re getting, but he won’t/shouldn’t be the guy 2-3 years from now.
Dante: Who do you have more confidence in for the 2022 season; Chase Claypool or Devin Bush? Both guys desperately need a bounce back campaign and the Steelers need them both to bounce back.
Alex: Well it’s hard to be super confident in either guy. I’d lean Claypool though. Stronger-armed QB and his highs have been higher than Bush’s so far. Claypool has all the traits and that’s pretty much undeniable. Just needs a little more consistency. So I’ll go with him but you’re right, critical seasons for both. Make-or-break, honestly.
How would you rate the arm strength from strongest to weakest between Mac, tua, Pickett, burrow?
Alex: I don’t have an exact grading scale or anything so I’m sort of eyeballing and trying to think about it in my head. I’d say roughly: Jones, Burrow, Pickett, Tua. Jones’ deep ball is underrated, June Jones called him one of the best long ball throwers he’s seen, and Burrow improved a lot in 2021, though having Chase to throw to helps. Pickett isn’t far behind Burrow, they’re pretty comparable, and Tua is probably a tier below all those guys.
Who do you think will turn out to be the best Draft pick for 2022?
Alex: Well I sure hope it’s Pickett. Otherwise, the answer really isn’t going to matter. But George Pickens was first-round talent at #52. If he keeps his head on straight, he’ll be the best player of the group.
Sensayshunn: With the seemingly affordable cap hit coupled with the other deals they were able to make, is there a specific on-the-field reason the Bears didn’t hang onto Daniels or is that just an example of a bad GM doing bad GM things?
Alex: Good question. I don’t have a good answer. It may not be a bad GM more as it is a new GM. New regime in Chicago with Ryan Pace being hired earlier this offseason. Obviously didn’t draft Daniels, had no real ties to him, and so it makes more sense that he would hit free agency.
Brian Tollini: Alex Highsmith, Kevin Dotson, or Chase Claypool? Which 3rd year player has the most to prove in 2022 and who do you see delivering?
Alex: Certainly Dotson and Claypool have the most to prove, more than Highsmith, given their fits and starts to their career. Both had good rookie years and faded their sophomore seasons. Highsmith is on the more natural and steady upward climb, though this will be a big year for him too.
But I’ll say Claypool. To prove he translate the talent into consistent production. To grow up, mature, be a good target for whoever is under center. And to build his value and get paid. If he has a big year, he could earn an extension next summer.
steelers58: Hey Alex,
As a football fan , what rule or rules drive u crazy?
For me it’s the offsides rule. I wish they would change it
Alex: What would you like to see them change about it?
I will say I hate how quick the refs blow whistles on offsides. The NFL’s free play is the best (so long as your team is benefitting from it). When you know the QB is going to rear back and heave the ball 50 yards downfield into double-coverage on the off-chance his receiver makes a play (or more likely, draws a flag).
I think teams should stop doing that on the free plays. It’s smarter to look over the middle of the field for the 20 yard gain than the 50 yard attempt that almost certainly won’t be caught because everyone is expecting the deep ball. You’re making a low-risk throw to pick up five yards. Go for the 20 yard play with a better chance to hit it. That just makes more sense to me.
As for rules I hate, I don’t know, there aren’t a lot of them. I wish everything was reviewable. It should be. If we’re team “get the call right,” and I am, then everything should be looked at.
I wish DPI wouldn’t be called as often. Being a cornerback is such a hard job. Covering the 0.1%’s best athletes and if you touch the guy, you get called for it. But I know why they do it. NFL loves offense and points. Leads to big ratings.
Henning: Hey Alex, what would be the one thing you want the new GM to approach differently and what is the one thing you fear the most the new guy maybe won’t bring to the table like Colbert? After all Colbert had kind of an oldschool approach but I really think his resumee is pretty strong.
Alex: Hi Henning! Was asked something similar last week. It’s a bit difficult to say not knowing all their inner-workings but I certainly expect the new GM, even if it’s internal with Hunt/Khan, to embrace analytics more than Colbert has (which is very little). That’s the way teams are going and Colbert has basically admitted he knows he doesn’t focus in on it much and the next guy will use them more.
The thing I fear. That could go in a couple different ways. The great relationship Colbert and Tomlin had was pretty special. It was rare and why the two worked so well together. So I hope the next guy can have something similar to that. And the fear of just the unknown. Of probably new scouts, new faces, a new model. Some of that change can be good but you’re never quite sure how these things work out. And like you said, the team’s overall track record, especially in the draft, is good.