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Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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!

Brian Tollini: AK, if there was one question I could ask Tomlin/Khan to help put the draft pieces together, it would be “what do you think of Bryan Bresee?” I ultimately always come back to him @17th and question if he is the guy if available. What are your overall thoughts on him as a Steeler?

Alex: I’ve guessed for awhile now they really like the guy. The size (though lacking in length), athleticism, mental toughness, dealing with all he’s been through. But I am worried about the traits/tools guy that is the face of the class. It’s a lot more risk here than I might be willing to take on. Boom/bust sort of thing that does come with concern. But I can certainly see him being the pick at #17.

Chad Prince: AK,
Let’s assume the details get sorted out with Dupree. At that point do you tell Leal to focus solely on putting on a few pounds and concentrating on the DT position? I almost feel like they’re hurting his development by letting him kinda float around between two very different spots.

Alex: I’ve personally wanted to lean on his versatility. I get the risk of hurting his development but asking him to be something he isn’t, a three-tech in this system, is more harmful. But if they sign Dupree then yeah, you have your EDGE depth and Leal is more likely to bulk back up. Where they play and use him will be something I’ll watch for super closely come training camp.

NickRVA: Hi Alex, I’ll admit, I was very curious who was going to be in TN and MD this week. With it not being Khan or Tomlin do you think that leaves the pick at 17 up to the OT Jones’, or Porter Jr.? Is there anyone else you think is realistic at 17? One of the edges perhaps?

Alex: History says it’ll be someone Tomlin and Khan saw in person. Porter might be the rare exception. So yeah, those two plus Bresee seem like potential leaders in the clubhouse. Once Pro days are officially over, we’ll go through the places they were at and compile a list.

Cory Fisher: I’ve been doing a lot of mocks trying to get a feeling for what might happen, as I’m sure everyone else is. When I trade back a little bit in the first round and pick up another day two pick, it helps to fill in depth at o-line and nose tackle. When doing this, I often can get Nolan Smith and Ringo within the top 3 picks. I know the Steelers like players with unteachable raw athletic ability that can be molded. Any chance you think it plays out this way?

Alex: In terms of what you specifically did, highly doubtful. Never plays out the way you think or hope or could sim. To the general question about them taking the “toolsy” guys? Sure, that’s far more likely. I don’t think it’ll be Nolan Smith but they like Ringo and he’s in contention at 32/49. They want athletes, they want speed at the skill positions.

Dan: Going by Tomlin’s remark regarding “tracking his movements” and the different things that Khan/Weidl have said and done, do you think it’s harder to predict what the Steelers will do this offseason? It feels like their offseason moves have been much less obvious.

Alex: I don’t pay mind to Tomlin’s comments. He doesn’t hide things. He might make you want to think that but they don’t play games. It’ll be a little harder with Khan and Weidl setting the board and/or being part of the picks and there will be things we have to adjust to. That’ll be the tricky part.

BananasFoster: WR and possibly TE are sneaky needs for this team. I assume they sign Zach and a another receiver but do you think one or both of those positions are used in the top 4 picks?

Alex: Hard to say for sure. Tight end I think is less likely. Receiver, I could see it starting in the second round. But it’s always hard to predict and projects rounds. We’ll see how they really feel about Calvin Austin coming out of the draft, that’s for sure. And if they do take a slot, what “type” of slot receiver they covet. The big guy or the small guy.

Ray Istenes: 

What is a reasonable deal in both $$ & years for Bud (if OK thinks he is healthy)?

Do you feel we sign a safety ahead of the draft?

Alex: Two years, $8 million seems reasonable to me. If you can get him for less, good. Still nervous about the age of the defense but I would understand and frankly, am expecting, Dupree to return.

Do they sign a safety? Yeah I think they add someone ahead of Day One. But hey, last year, they added a safety right after the draft ended. That was Damontae Kazee. So they could draft, see what they do (or don’t) get and proceed from there.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex, would you rather trade down from #17 or #32? And how far down would you go? It all depends on the board at the time, but do you have a gut feeling as to which one would be preferable as we sit here today? Do you maybe think there’s a dropoff in talent after one or the other if the board breaks as many anticipate it will?

Alex: I really don’t have a specific preference for the reasons you mentioned. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. They’re made based on the board and offers. #32 is a fun spot to be in with the break between Day One and Day Two to evaluate and discuss than the chaos the draft brings, but I’m not married to one over the other. I do think this team will get a 5th or 6th round pick to bridge that gap between the 4th and the first of their 7th round picks. I don’t see Khan sitting on the sidelines for that long.

Pcw: Alex, do you see Darnell Washington at 32 after bringing back Gentry. I feel he would become such a force for us in all phases.

Alex: I’m not going to say 100% no, that’s a dangerous answer to give for the draft, but I think it’s pretty unlikely. They’ll address other positions.

Jesse Hernandez: Hey Alex when are you going to do the everythrow review on Kenny Mf Pickett and any chance they keep Connor heyward at fb/4th tight and and draft a rookie tight end?

Alex: Gonna have to save it for the dead of the offseason. Just don’t have time right now focusing on the draft and getting as prepared as I can for that. Heyward probably plays more FB next year so yeah, I don’t want to rule out a rookie TE, though I don’t think it’ll be super high. It is a good TE class though.

David Rudin: Hey Alex,
Great coverage of the pre-draft by you, Dave and the rest of the writers! Wondering how likely it is that the Steelers draft a tight end now that they resigned Gentry. Seems a head scratcher since he doesn’t catch passes and he’s meh as a blocker. Especially given how historically deep this TE class is. Also wondering if Connor Heyward takes over Derick Watt’s roster spot at half back and thus the steelers still need another tight end.

Alex: Thanks David! Sorta the same answer as the couple ahead. If they really are going all-in on that run-first identity, then maybe. If it’ll still kinda be the way it has, a base 11 personnel offense, then probably not. I do see Heyward being used in that role this year but he can wear multiple hats too.

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