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, hours before the 2023 NFL Draft kicks off.

To your questions!

Fasterwilly: Give me a snippet of you “best case scenario” piece when we take Darnell Wright. (My favorite article you write every year)

Alex: Oh man, asking a big question early. I’m just waiting for the picks until I think about all that. But something to the fact that Wright grows up, he’s still only 21, and turns into the LT some people don’t think he can be. I don’t want to call him just a RT-only at the NFL level. Maybe he is but best case? He could play left side.

Steelers22: Any chance Depot could do a breakdown of the steelers offensive and defensive schemes later in the offseason? (e.g., general philosophy, most common concepts called, zone vs gap scheme etc)

Alex: Sure, that’s a possibility. We’re always hunting for offseason content. We’ve done an old Football 101 series but maybe we do some new things with it. Thanks for the suggestion.


Hey Alex! Happy draft day! Great coverage this year.

There are always perceived “safe” prospects in the first round, and “projection/upside/project” types. What’s your gut feeling on which “safe” prospect will totally bust, and which “project” will have a HoF career?

Alex: Hey Falcon! Thanks so much. That’s a good question. I’m not sure who that name would be. At this point, I’m not even sure who is called “safe” in this draft. There’s not an Aaron Curry type. I’m probably a little lower on Devon Witherspoon than most.

In terms of the upside, I’d say QB Anthony Richardson. I don’t think he’s as raw as people say he is. And his ceiling is of course massive.

Steelers22: Is Anton Harrison not getting enough discussion as a potential option at 17?

Alex: If you want a left-field sleeper, then yeah, you can point to Harrison. He might go higher than people think given the scarcity of left tackles. But I don’t know if there’s enough teeth there to confidently think he’s the pick. But I like the thought.

BananasFoster: I’m so excited I cant stand it, I’m nervous Wright, Skoronski, Jones, and Johnson are all gone. And Gonzalez, Banks and Witherspoon are as well- if that is the case, is JPJR the guy or could they trade out of 17? Ya hear things about trading out of 32, but why not 17?

Alex: It feels like it would come down to Joey Porter Jr. and Deonte Banks. But Lukas Van Ness or Nolan Smith, I guess you can’t completely discount that either.

You gotta find someone who wants to come up. So it comes down to the QB situation. Do any of the top four fall? Does someone love Hendon Hooker? Those are the questions about trading down to 17.

James Cowan: 

Hi Alex,

Why do you think there’s so much difference in narrative around the draft this year?

All we hear about is Khan is aggressive and it’s a different management. Steelers have been aggressive for some time – Bush trade up, Fitzpatrick trade, big money FA signings last year (the year we had money), regular late round trade for vets (never good).

Seems to me it’s a new voice saying what Tomlin has always said – we’ll trade up if there’s someone we like, we speak to everyone etc etc. And that Colbert was making lots of moves the last 5 years.

Alex: I personally haven’t couched it in comparison to Colbert. I just Khan is looking to be aggressive. But I know you’re talking broadly and not just at me. All those points are valid about Colbert and I’ve made mention at some of them, too. But collectively throughout Colbert’s tenure, he wasn’t as aggressive. More towards the end but I think prior to 2019, the narrative had been set on Colbert. Conservative, play the hand he was dealt, draft, develop, retain. Those FA classes for many years were very, very quiet. And so it’s hard to break that narrative at the tail end of your career after 15 years into the job.

Chad Prince: 

Happy draft day AK!! Thanks to all the Depot crew for the outstanding draft coverage.

How much will you be surprised if the Steelers don’t bring in a challenger through the draft for Zach Gentry? I think he’s little more than a fringe NFL talent at a spot that played over 500 snaps last year.

Alex: Thanks Chad! Eh, it could go either way. Deep TE class but there’s a lot of needs elsewhere and Gentry has a carved out and niche role. They know who he is well-enough. But obviously it’s a cheap one-year deal and his spot isn’t a given. Depends how the board falls. Trying to find the blocking TE with his size and frame is tough to do.

Marcel Chris Chauvet: Alex,
Happy draft day. Can you remember a time in recent history when we’ve been as uncertain about who the Steelers are going to select heading into the draft? I realize some it centers around the uncertainty at the top of the board in general, but we’re heading rumors about trading up, rumors about going OT or CB or even DL (Van Ness)…. And it’s not just day 1. Just yesterday we heard Grady Brown was at Michigan and maybe Turner is in play in the 2nd. We certainly know the positions they’re going to target, but I can’t remember a time where the prospect pool at those spots was so large. Especially if it’s CB in day two. There’s easily a dozen names that come to mind that make sense and can be connected to the team. I feel like we usually have, at most, a handful of names to consider at a position.

Alex: 2019 was pretty uncertain if the team wasn’t going to move up for Devin Bush. We knew we loved him but didn’t know if they would go up – especially since it hadn’t happened in the first round since 2006. I don’t know who they would’ve picked there.

But yeah, this one is really unpredictable. I have no idea what’s going to happen. It feels wide open.

srdan: Who are you taking if Gonzalez, Witherspoon or the top four tackles aren’t there? (and no obvious falls like Carter, Anderson..)

Alex: Comes down to Gonzalez vs Johnson. I would probably lean Johnson but it’s close because I think Gonzalez is the better player, especially with where their games are at right now.

steeltown: Hey Kozora, alot of talks about trading up this year. If they trade up from 17 who would YOU target?

Alex: Paris Johnson or Broderick Jones (smaller trade up for Jones) or CB Christian Gonzalez. That’s it. That’s my list.

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