Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag

Hello again everyone,

You know how this works by now. Feel free to ask whatever question you want in the comments and I’ll answer it up here.

Kicking around the idea of joining Periscope. For those who don’t know, it’s sorta like Facetime, where you could see me (and mom’s basement) and basically have a visual version of this. So let me know if that’s something you’d like to see (it’d be done through Twitter, not here), or if that sounds like a really stupid idea. I’m not married to either option.

To your questions.

dwsteelers: Alex is Ricardo Mathews Cam Thomas 2.0?

Alex: God I hope not. I don’t know how good of a player he is, I’m going to start watching him after this mailbag, but Mathews is undeniably more athletic than Thomas. Which is a big reason why Thomas failed. So I think he’s better, though the bar is incredibly low.

Brian Tollini: There is a lot of talk of finding a player that can not only replace Steve McClendon, but can also fill in for Heyward/Tuitt in a rotation. Do you feel this is truly what the Steelers are looking for or is it what we (the fans) are looking for?

Alex: Sure, because that means you’re talking about a really good defensive linemen. One who can hold the POA, has length, and can rush the passer. Who wouldn’t want that? The defensive line has evolved. In a 2-4-5, you have to be able to do it all. Two-gap, one-gap, get after the QB, run hard to the ball. It’s no longer a niche position. So the players you need have to be extremely talented, just like Heyward and Tuitt are. Can’t hide any deficiencies there.

Will they find that guy? No guarantee. But this draft class is an excellent one so you think they’ll come away with somebody that will hopefully pan out.

Eric Hermann: Do you think there’s a chance we sign any other d-lineman before the draft?

Alex: Sure, always a chance, but I doubt it. With how good this class is, I think the Steelers will wait and see who they get.

John Noh: Is Shamarko a candidate for a post June 1 cut much like Cortez Allen is rumored to be?

Alex: Shamarko doesn’t have the kind of salary that makes him a logical June 1st cut like Cortez, where you can spread out the dead money instead of having it hit you all for one season. Shark will be in camp. Seems likely Cortez will, too.

Is Shark a lock to make it out of camp? No, but I figure he will for his special teams value. Though he’s never become the starting SS he was expected to be, he can still have value to this team.

Sonny Saks: Su’a Cravens a selection if you had to guess??

Alex: I am very curious if the Steelers will transition to a faux-LB based defense like several teams have. And what Pittsburgh did in 2013 with Troy. If there’s a year to start it, it’s now, to get ready for 2017 when Timmons and Williams’ contracts are up.

Is that their plan? No idea. But if it is, I can see a guy like Cravens fit.

gjnn: Just saw that Darian Thompson ran a 4.5 in his Pro Day (unofficial). If that time stands up, is he in play at 25? Or is he more of a 2nd round pick in your opinion?

Alex: It isn’t just about the 40 time. Want to see his vert, broad, too, because they were just as poor as his 40. If all that checks out, then I think he is back in the conversation.

For what it’s worth, I clocked Thompson in the 4.54-4.56 range on his runs.

steelmann58: Alex will they still be looking at adding Vet OL Help.

Alex: Wisniewski is still a FA so maybe he circles back around but I doubt it. Pool of players is drying up. Sounds like they’re open to drafting an interior player though.

deesh138: If Steelers end up going Billings-Joseph-Ward first three picks, are they better off than Spence-Thompson-Reader?

Alex: Yes. The latter have a ton of off the field concerns. Spence with Ectasy, Reader with weed. Too much risk in your top three. You have a three man wolf pack and two of them are Alan from The Hangover. Pass.

And I’m big on the talent of Billings, Joseph, and Ward. Much, much better trio.

Aj Gentile: Alex do you know if Steelers had anyone at middle state tennessee university checking out Kevin Byard?

Alex: I do not. I imagine someone is there though. Especially since Byard wasn’t a Combine invite. Need to gets times on these guys.

Donald Tillman: Of the CB’s in the draft who will be there when we pick. Who has the highest ceiling and who has the highest floor?

Alex: Whew, good luck figuring out who will be there. Alexander, Jackson, and Apple could be off before 25. Or they could be there. Impossible to say. In terms of upside, I think Jackson was the most. If you’re asking highest floor , “safest,” that’s a lot more difficult. Safe doesn’t really mean much. Alexander I guess, but I don’t have a great reason for it. Nor do I really think about who has the highest floor with my first round pick.

Tom Jackson: Alex, who are your top 3 safeties in the draft for us besides Karl Jospeph and Vonn Bell? Because those guys seem rather unlikely to last until our 2nd RND pick at this stage.

Alex: I don’t have a list…yet. But names I like.

Darian Thompson, Keanu Neal, Justin Simmons.

@RickLove040870: with the way FA has gone you think it’s pushing more towards a 1st RD CB pick ?

Alex: I don’t think it’s pushed anymore towards one spot. It’s not like they’ve made a splash signing on defense that eliminates a position from first round consideration. I think we’re where we started. Could still go anywhere.

PittsburghSports: If they do follow through with a 96.7% probability of drafting at least 1 offensive player, what’s the most likely position, player, and round?

Alex: I know I can always count on you bringing the heat with the info. Love it my man. If they’re looking somewhere on offense, I think it’s receiver. Steelers could roll into 2017 with just AB and Coates. For a team that loves to restock at WR, this is a time to do it.

I do not completely rule out a Corey Coleman or Josh Doctson at 25. That may sound crazy but I think the possibility is there just because the talent and potential is so immense. Remember, Doctson hits basically every measurable the team looks for. But failing that, somewhere in the third round. A Leonte Carroo, perhaps.

 @Chadprine72: Alex do you feel Ross Cockrell doesn’t get enough respect as a potential long term starter?

Alex: Yes, especially in the nation wide media. The Steelers liked this kid out of college and after playing as well as you can hope for being thrown into the lineup so quickly, without any time to learn, I am excited to see him progress. So yeah, he’s an underrated player.

Spencer Krick: Would you be opposed to double dipping on DLine?

Alex: I am not, though again, there aren’t many things I am opposed to in the draft. Go in with an open-mind. Only way to do it. With how deep this class is, I can totally see it happening.

D.j. Hoy: Let’s just say all of these guys are available to the Steelers for their first pick. Who do you take and why?
Corey Coleman
Andrew Billings
Vernon Hargreaves
William Jackson III

Alex: Well there are no bad options here. Hargreaves falling would certainly be surprising and hard to pass up. Billings is normally my guy on any list but here, I’d take VH3.

SteelPierogie: I don’t understand why there hasn’t been any contract restructuring this year. Seems odd. Any thoughts?

Alex: Because the cap situation was never as bad as you were led to believe. Why Dave is the most trusted Steelers’ cap guy, in my mind.

srdan: In your adjusted opinion, who will have a better season, blake or boykin?

Alex: I won’t pay much attention to either but probably Boykin. Statistically, at least. No one wants to throw at Norman.

JM_3: What is your opinion on taking someone like Karl Joseph over a corner in round one, if Billings is gone?

Alex: A lot would depend on Joseph’s knee. I don’t think I’m crazy about the idea.

Michael James: What do you think of Moritz Boehringer as a late round WR?

Alex: I am, frankly, just hearing about him, and saw his crazy numbers at FAU today. 227 pounder running sub 4.4 with a 39 inch vertical? I’m listening. But I don’t know a ton about his game and don’t know if I will. I just love seeing players from all over the globe get attention. Pretty cool.

Ken: As of now who do you consider the biggest liability as a starter and who might replace him in the draft?

Alex: Oh man, that’s a good question. The starting 22 is pretty solid. No glaring liability. Probably Javis/James at ROLB. And Golson, if you count him as a start (I do) just because he’s a total unknown.

Jeff Papiernik: What are the other D-lineman in the draft (besides Billings) who have the ability to play NT and DE in subpackages to rush the passer AND who the Steelers are showing interest in?

Alex: You had me until “and showing interest in.” Not that many known. John Mitchell was at Javon Hargrave’s Pro Day. Ridgeway from Texas since Joe Greene was there.

Jeff Kotova: Alex, Why don’t they just resign Landry Jones to be the backup QB instead of drafting someone like Cardell.

Alex: Jones is under contract. He is currently the #2 though I imagine they bring in/back some other veteran QB. I don’t think they are comfortable with Jones being the immediate backup.

I do not agree with them drafting a mid-round QB but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

————–

That’s all the time for this week. Same place, same time next week. Take care everyone.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • dwsteelers

    Alex is Ricardo Mathews Cam Thomas 2.0?

  • Brian Tollini

    There is a lot of talk of finding a player that can not only replace Steve McClendon, but can also fill in for Heyward/Tuitt in a rotation. Do you feel this is truly what the Steelers are looking for or is it what we (the fans) are looking for?

  • Eric Herrmann

    Do you think there’s a chance we sign any other d-lineman before the draft?

  • John Noh

    Is Shamarko a candidate for a post June 1 cut much like Cortez Allen is rumored to be?

  • Sonny Saks

    Su’a Cravens a selection if you had to guess??

  • gjnn

    Just saw that Darian Thompson ran a 4.5 in his Pro Day (unofficial). If that time stands up, is he in play at 25? Or is he more of a 2nd round pick in your opinion?

  • dwsteelers

    Looking more and more like CB or Safety in the first round?

  • Spencer Krick

    You beat me to it!

  • Aj Gentile

    Alex do you know if Steelers had anyone at middle state tennessee university checking out Kevin Byard?

  • Brian Tollini

    Okay, I am double-dipping.

    Slightly concerned with our backup QB situation as we stand right now. Are you as surprised as I am
    they seem to be content with Landry Jones as our backup QB heading into the season, or do you feel they are waiting for Gradkowski to get the medical green light?

  • Donald Tillman

    Of the CB’s in the draft who will be there when we pick. Who has the highest ceiling and who has the highest floor?

  • Tom Jackson

    Alex, who are your top 3 safeties in the draft for us besides Karl Jospeph and Vonn Bell? Because those guys seem rather unlikely to last until our 2nd RND pick at this stage.

  • PittsburghSports

    In the 90 years the Steelers have taken part in the draft, only twice have their first 3 picks, regardless of round, all been defensive players(2.2%). Only three times has their first 3 picks, regardless of round, not included an offensive player(3.3%). The difference there is that they drafted a punter once in rd 3, I believe.

    My question is this. With so many obvious needs on the defensive side of the ball, do you think this is a year the Steelers will buck an overwhelming trend and draft defenders with their first 3 picks? If they do follow through with a 96.7% probability of drafting at least 1 offensive player, what’s the most likely position, player, and round?

  • Spencer Krick

    Would you be opposed to double dipping on DLine in the draft?

  • D.j. Hoy

    Let’s just say all of these guys are available to the Steelers for their first pick. Who do you take and why?
    Corey Coleman
    Andrew Billings
    Vernon Hargreaves
    William Jackson III

  • PittsburghSports

    And Yes, do periscope.

  • vasteeler

    No not at all, at this point it almost seems like a forgone conclusion, maybe they go starter at DT and depth at DE

  • Brian Tollini

    Good question.

  • SteelPierogie

    I don’t understand why there hasn’t been any contract restructuring this year. Thought maybe FO would go back to that approach in hopes of signing some of these free agent lineman, defense and offense. Seems odd. Any thoughts?

  • CP72

    I couldn’t agree more on Cockrell. That was essentially his rookie year with no training camp. I thought his play was very much above the line considering circumstances.

    I am all in for taking a corner early, but at least with Golson and Cockrell there are couple of young guys already on the roster to get excited about.

  • srdan

    In your adjusted opinion, who will have a better season, blake or boykin?

  • JM_3

    What is your opinion on taking someone like Karl Joseph over a corner in round one, if Billings is gone?

  • srdan

    It only seems odd because that is what tehy always do. But that type of money moving can get you in a position where you get into the Lamarr woodley position. Not a good one. This way you give your cap a break, plus the cap going up sets your team up well to sign people like AB and bell in the future.

  • Michael James

    What do you think of Moritz Boehringer as a late round WR? Dude had Megatron-like numbers at the pro day today and reportedly looked amazing during position drills, too. Only problem is the level of competition he faced in Germany, but you can’t teach his incredible athleticism.

  • Ken

    As of now who do you consider the biggest liability as a starter and who might replace him in the draft?

  • CP72

    I just think safety is more of a 2nd or 3rd round value.

    Keanu Neal
    Vonn Bell
    TJ Green
    Sean Davis
    Darian Thompson
    Tyvis Powell
    Jaron Kearse
    Justin Simmons
    MIles Killebrew

    A majority, if not all, of these guys should be available after round 1.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    What are the other D-lineman in the draft (besides Billings) who have the ability to play NT and DE in subpackages to rush the passer AND who the Steelers are showing interest in?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Heard you on the Josh Taylor show saying Billings and Jackson III are looking like “the pick” in the first round the more things play out. Who would you say are your 3rd and 4th options after that if both are gone by #25?

  • Matt Manzo

    Is it true Darian Thompson ran 4.5 40 today? Does that bring him back into first round consideration?

  • Jeff Kotova

    Alex, Why don’t they just resign Landry Jones to be the backup QB instead of drafting someone like Cardell. The review on him earlier sounded like he would be a waste of a pick.

  • Alex Kozora

    Ran in the 4.5 range. More like 4.55. I want to see his other numbers first.

  • 58Steel

    I know DL and CB/S are most people’s choice in the 1st, depending who’s there. Just to throw out a different one, looking at Leonard Floyd. Similar athletically to Jamie Collins of NE. Any chance the Steelers take him at 25?

  • Ask Questions Later

    Hey Alex. Quick question. Should Pittsburgh obtain Billings, how flexible do you think he can be in Butler’s defense considering his ridiculous athletic traits?

  • Ask Questions Later

    I would not. Considering this class of defensive line talent is on par with the 2014 Wide Receiving class, I see no reason why they would not. Heck, if Jihad Ward lasts that long….. watch out.

  • Ask Questions Later

    Hence why taking a corner round one this year is ridiculous. Unless Hargreaves III magically falls out of the sky to 25, Pittsburgh should avoid the others like the plague.

  • Nolrog

    Ah, you meant in the first 3 rounds. That part was left out of the question above and gives some context to your question. I was thinking you meant the entire draft and I was thinking, of course they are going to draft someone for offense somewhere, but that’s not what you were asking. I agree that it’s highly likely we’ll see the first 3 picks being defense.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah, but more specifically our first 3 picks, not just rounds, like in 2003 we drafted 3 straight defenders, but in rds 1,2 and 4. Didn’t have a 3rd rd pick. In 1956 we drafted 3 straight defenders, but in rds 1,1 and 2.

  • Doug

    Are you comfortable with the current safety group? Shouldnt we sign a veteran?

  • Frank Cordaro

    I have a question for you Alex Ive read a lot of article, listen to experts…lol in regards to the players the Steelers got in FA and what they should do in the Draft. Question, as we know the Steelers take the best available player on board but with needs in secondary,D-Line can you see the team pick a WR at #25 if someone drops to them like Depree did last year or is it straight CB,S ind round 1. Thank you