Welcome back to your weekly Pittsburgh Steelers mailbag. As always, answering whatever is on your mind for the next hour. Thanks for stopping by.
To your questions!
Sonny Saks: Hi Alex
What trade up would you be comfortable with? Player you would want and pick to give up?
Alex: It’s hard to say on the pick. Obviously it probably won’t be cheap. If you’re going up 5+ spots, it’ll probably cost 17 + 49. I’d get a tackle. Paris Johnson (a bigger jump) or Broderick Jones (a smaller jump). Maybe you gotta give up a third for Jones, it’s hard to say. Depends on a lot of factors. But go get a top-end left tackle. I’d love a Christian Gonzalez but this CB class is so deep, getting him – though I wouldn’t be mad – probably just isn’t worth the capital.
jger15: give us the Alex Kozora ideal draft experience. who are your top preferences for the first three round picks regardless of likelihood?
Alex: In terms of names? Or positions? I don’t know if I have an ideal list because the draft is always messy. I mean, if a stud OT could fall to me, awesome, I’m running the card up. That feels ideal. From there, you’re looking at CB and DL in the second round. And third round, probably an EDGE. But I don’t spend a whole lot of time on what’s perfect because I know I’m not going to get what I want.
But if you’re asking me to dream, a Paris Johnson at 17, Tyrique Stevenson at 32 (or Darnell Washington!) followed by Keeanu Benton or Derick Hall at 49 is pretty A+ in my book.
WeWantDaTruth: Hi Alex. Seems like Dotson is on the outside looking in. What could the Steelers get in a trade for him? 5th rounder?
Alex: Yeah, something like that. Just hurts he’s on the last year of his rookie deal. Lack of “team control” makes him feel like a rental and not an especially good one. Not someone who is that key piece you’re looking to add and willing to pay for. But a 5th/6th seems reasonable given the scarcity of offensive linemen and Dotson is a talented guy when it all comes together for him.
Honestly, dealing him in camp might be better. When some other team loses a guy and they’re a little more desperate. I know you were asking value and not so much when but I’d trade him right before final cutdowns once I know that my group is healthy (assuming it is) and some other team is trying to find a guard at the last second. So it might be a 2024 5th rounder and not one in 2023.
Joel Fricker: Hey Alex,
I know the Steelers had interest in reuniting with Bud Dupree, but he ended up signing with Atlanta. Another OLB name that came to mind was Leonard Floyd. 1st rounder several years ago, will turn 31 at the start of the season, had 9 sacks last year. Yet he was let go by the Rams as part of them cutting cap costs. Depending on how the draft shakes out, I think he’d be worth a look as OLB depth. What do you think?
Alex: I hadn’t watched him to see how much he had left in the tank but the numbers suggest he can still play a little bit. I worry about adding some of these high-pedigree guys who get put into backup roles, Melvin Ingram sure didn’t love it, and guys who are on the wrong side of 30. But I get where your head is at and vet depth there would be nice. Need a solid #3 behind Watt and Highsmith. So it’s a worthwhile suggestion though at some point, they just gotta draft someone. They draft well. That’s how they ended up with Highsmith, initially selected to be Bud Dupree’s backup for a year.
JMD: Alex, besides QB and RB, which position would MOST shock you should the Steelers take one at #17?
Alex: Long snapper? I mean, I love Robert Solderholm but I think you can at least wait and get him at #32…
But seriously, I don’t know. The team has been so active and busy that it feels pretty wide open. Of the non-silly answers and stuff you could, on paper argue, I guess if they took a WR? Ended up with a Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison. It’s something they could do, there’s a benefit, but after adding Robinson and showing minimal interest in the position pre-draft, I just don’t see it happening before Day Three, if it happens at all. So I guess that’d be my answer. Maybe a TE if they ended up with a Michael Mayer out of nowhere.
Quick Questions – Would you rather have Allen Robinson at 1 year 5 million or Bud Dupree?
Thank you and the team for all the work leading up to the draft and a busy FA!
Alex: Ah, good question. Who is healthier lol? That’s going to determine a lot. Which is in better shape – Robinson’s foot or Dupree’s knee? I was never crazy about the idea of Dupree. I got it, obviously it “fit” and made sense, but it wasn’t something I was crazy about happening. Older, injury-plagued, an area this team could and should draft. So I guess Robinson, though that move was totally out of left field. Never expected it.
It seems imperative to me to get one of the “big six” OTs in the first round as CB is such a deep class and OTs drop so precipitously after the kids from OSU, UT, and Oklahoma.
I can also see edge at 17, OT at 32 if it looks like one will remain, and CB at 49.
Alex: Yeah I get that. The value and premium of an OT coupled with a deep CB class. That all makes a lot of sense to me. Though I don’t see EDGE at 17. I’m saying either OT or CB. I’ve been banging the drum for EDGE depth but at #17 for them to rotate behind Watt and Highsmith short and probably long-term, it’s just not worth it.
Banastre Tarleton: Hi again, Alex.
I am a huge fan of Garrett Williams (Syracuse alum here) and am high on Tyrique Stevenson as well. I have seen them both mocked anywhere from late first or early second all the way to fourth or fifth round.
Can you make sense of where they may be picked?
I love Williams’ ball hawk mentality and physicality even if not the biggest dude. Personally, I think he would be a steal at 49, even though Steelers nation would be in a tizzy over drafting a player who would need a redshirt season.
Alex: Stevenson could be a top 50 guy. I could see him being the pick at #32, honestly. A CB class has the chance to push him down but I don’t know how far. I don’t see 4th/5th round, not even close. Williams is just tough since he’s coming off the ACL. Where he’s at medically, which teams are comfortable with him, I couldn’t tell you. So he could be that 4th round type where a team is more open to the risk/unknown and takes a flier on. 4th round kind of feels like the “ACL” round. I remember that’s where Marcus Lattimore went years back, a move that didn’t work out but if you miss on your 4th rounder, it’s more easily forgiven and forgotten.
Hi Alex, just wanted to say I really enjoyed your “Walk the Mock” yesterday. I couldn’t participate in real time, which I hope to next time, but I listened to / watched the whole thing on YouTube last night, and it was great. You were really able to keep up the enthusiasm and made it enjoyable, and it was nice to get a sense not just of what decisions the Steelers might be facing at each pick but how the board might fall overall, even if it was just the computer picking for the other teams.
Anyway, one takeaway for me was that while there’s a tendency to want to stockpile picks (like how the Patriots always tend to trade back ad infinitum), draft pick especially from about the fourth round onwards tend to be overvalued. How many of those guys ever really make it? We ourselves, as Steelers fans, have gotten excited about various 4th-round picks only to end up disappointed pretty quickly. And so while I know there’s a desire, including with you and Dave, for the Steelers to secure an extra pick or two on Day 3 to bridge the long gap, what is really the point of that? If they can unload Dotson for a fifth or something, fine. But if it’s just trading back, as you did yesterday, I’m not sure I see the value. Better to trade up and even give up a later-round pick or just to stand pat where they are. Even with Pick 32, I think I’d only want them to trade back if they were able to get an additional third, not if it meant extra late-round picks. Thoughts on this?
Alex: Thanks so much! I have one more coming Saturday night if you can make it! That one should be more fun and not against the CPU.
Yeah it’s a fair point. I kinda felt that in my trade back last night and then got to the 5th/6th round and went “ehhh, there isn’t much here.” I just like having as many darts to throw at the board as possible. A lot of guys don’t work out. But some do. And the more capital you give yourself, the better the odds. Still have to have a good process and make smart picks, teams have had 10+ pick classes before with little to show for it, but I just think in Omar Khan’s first year as GM, he’s not going to sit on his hands and wait around. It may not be a crazy trade, it may be a small move down to pick up a 5th 0r a 6th, but I could see something happening. And not that anyone drafts for need that late but this team has a lot of stuff to address. To add depth and competition.
But as you’re alluding to, you don’t trade back just for the sake of it. It has to be a deal and situation that makes sense.
Chad Prince: Alex,
What’s a realistic expectation for Cole Holcomb? We’ve all seemed to move on from ILB being a tip tier need. For that to be true Holcomb needs to be a significant upgrade. While I truly believe he is an upgrade, I struggle with the significant part. Roberts probably doesn’t move the needle much.
Alex: If the dude can spend two years in Pittsburgh, I’ll high-five the signing. There’s a lot of “one-and-doners” at that position lately. I agree he isn’t significant. I think he’ll be fine. Better than what they had but it’s not saying much. Same with Roberts. He’s just older Mark Robinson.
These moves sorta felt like rearranging chair son the Titanic. Not stuff I loved, especially at Holcomb’s price. I still want them to draft but that probably won’t happen, if it does at all, until the mid-rounds.
Hiya Alex. It has truly been a pleasure staying in the edge of my seat this offseason while watching The Khan Master Plan in full action!
The Trifecta Team of Omarooneyveidl seems to be in straight up overdrive versus the last decade plus of offseasons eh?
So, with what you have witnessed transpire to this point already: Do you foresee a move up in the 1st Rd for someone in this draft? Or is a move down in the first 2 Rounds (with Dotson thrown into one of those as well), a more likely scenario for my Day 2 Draft capital?
I appreciate you and look forward to your thoughts, and to the 2023 Draft!
Alex: Ha, it’s been a fun offseason. The answer to all of that is…maybe. I still think going up is more likely than going down but it’s all o the table. But as you alluded to, Khan has been aggressive. He’s rounded out the rough edges of the roster. Now he might go make a big splash for a top guy. Still, all depends on the board and the offers. You can try to go up and down and if the offer isn’t there or accepted, then you stay. The Steelers tried to trade up with the Texans last year for Pickett. Offer was on the table. Texans said no. It happens. Trades take two to tango.
Alex, of the guys below that the Steelers brought in or went to pro days that are NOT commonly mocked to the team, which would you like to see with the team the most at 17? The least?
D. Washington TE
M. Smith DL
A. Harrison OT
N. Smith (LB/Edge)
Van Ness (DL/Edge)
Wright (OT) though he’s getting mocked to them more
Alex: Good question. Yeah I’d basically exclude Wright because he’s becoming more and more popular. I don’t know who would be #1 on the list. Maybe Harrison? He’s one of the last guys I want to watch a little more of. But good feet, young, athletic and solid in pass protection. I don’t know if there’s one guy who jumps out the most/best on this list for 17.
The least? Again, not sure if there’s a guy I hate here. Van Ness is sorta awkward and I wouldn’t really love that. Benton at 17 certainly is too high.
I made mention that I’m betting my feeling on whoever they pick at 17, with few exceptions, will be “ok, yeah, I get that. I like it.” Not gonna *love* it. Not gonna *hate* it either.
I’d mention Brian Branch as a box-checker that I don’t see given to Pittsburgh too often.
Brian Tollini: We are on the clock at 32 and taking a CB. Porter, Witherspoon, and Gonzalez are gone. Who ya got?
Alex: Hmm, good question. I’m a big Darius Rush fan from South Carolina, though I know he wouldn’t be the pick there. But I think I came away with the highest grade on him. He’s just gotta stay healthy. But not many wrong answers there. Banks, Stevenson, Brents are all right there. I wouldn’t complain about any of them.
Richard Prezel: With Colbert no longer being the GM do you see the Steelers straying away from the way he set up the draft. Omar has really been doing things different this off season.
Alex: We’ll see, ha. Hindsight is 20/20. There will be some changes. Some we’ll see, some we probably won’t. I would say Colbert was pretty active in FA last year when he had cap space to be more aggressive. Khan has done more but Colbert picked his spots to take some shots. Trading for Minkah was a “wow” moment you didn’t see coming. But sure, there will be some changes. Core will be the same but Khan is his own man.