Ask Alex: Steelers’ Mailbag


You know what grinds my gears? How the “breaking news” graphic has become meaningless. Turn on any news channel and 24/7, the headline is “breaking news.” No, it probably isn’t.

I’ve even seen it next to someone’s name in an interview. Breaking News, John Johnny.

Figure out your chyron game, people. Stop making me think everything is at a DEFCON 5 level of alert.

To your questions!

Steelers12: Hey Alex could you see the Steelers trading out of the first round for more picks and how many pass rushers can you see the Steelers drafting?


Alex: I don’t. Colbert has never traded out and the last time the Steelers didn’t have a first round pick was in 1967. Before Noll.

Pass rushers, double dipping would make a lot of sense. But at least one, obviously.

mokhkw: At any point this past season do you see Chickillo display the burst that you reported on in training camp

Alex: A little but not enough that he’s going to be able to consistently win that way. His sack against the Jets beat the RT pretty good. But he isn’t that kind of athlete who can just win with his first step. He’s someone that will need to have 2-3 moves and a good feel for how the OT is trying to play him.

He’s someone who can stick around but probably isn’t ever going to be starter material. Better off as a top backup at each spot and a core special teamer.

Brian Tollini: I with you on the breaking news, annoying!!
In your opinion, what is the single most important position on our 3-4 defense?

Alex: The outside linebackers. It’s all about pressure, for any defense, and in a 3-4, your main source should be your outside linebackers. I think this season illustrated that well. That’s why those guys get paid the way they do.

JohnB: Lets say Ben hangs it up at the end of the upcoming season and we have a pick in the 20s. How would you go about the replacement? Would you draft in the first rd? Go with your backup for a year then draft one in the mind that worst case scenario we might get a higher pick? or Sign a vet?

Alex: And they didn’t do anything this year to address that? In that case, you just start throwing everything at the wall. Hope something sticks. It’s crazy that for as calculated and complicated the NFL is, that’s sorta what it comes down to. Try every avenue.

You’d definitely draft a QB if you can but if you’re in the 20s, you might not have a guy. You may explore FA options and have a competition there if you can’t get a QB you really like. There’s no good answer about it and that’s why QBs are so vastly overpaid. Without one, you’re pretty much screwed.

Brian Miller:  Considering most people feel like the major draft needs are OLB, ILB, CB, RB, TE, and maybe S, which is the most likely position to NOT be drafted in the first 4 rounds?

Alex: Of those choices, inside linebacker, especially if Timmons comes back. The need isn’t there. If you have Law Dog, then you have Shazier, Vince Williams, and they’re probably encouraged by Tyler Matakevich. Anyone you draft is starting out 5th in the pecking order. No need.

T3xassteelers: 

What’s your prediction for Bell contract?

Also, had Bell not been suspended or hurt or anything, what would you guess that contract would have been worth?

Alex: I think I threw out an idea in last week’s mailbag though obviously, I’m basically guessing.

4 years/$46 million ($12 million guaranteed)

Had he not been suspended, I don’t think the overall parameters would change too much. But the particulars, the guaranteed money and any sort of clauses that could allow the Steelers to recoup money (sorta similar to Ben’s no motorcycles clause) would’ve changed.

Bill Sechrengost: Everyone keeps saying the Steelers will draft a OLB in the first round. If they don’t, what position do you think they will go after instead?

Alex: That’s tough because the board is wide open. That means they’re looking to value, not need, which makes the selection unpredictable. Maybe a TE though Colbert seems optimistic about Green’s future.

Maybe a CB if they love someone. Those are really the only three positions that make sense. TE, OLB, CB. Unless they went wild with a WR.

PaeperCup: Alex, if you could trade up from 30 for any player, what player would that be for? In a practical sense, I don’t expect you to say Myles Garret.

Alex: Whew, that’s still hard for me to say so early in the process. I’m interested to look more closely at Jabril Peppers as a hybrid type of safety. But there aren’t a lot of guys I’d trade up for. Pretty selective.

Peter Macdonald: Who’d you most like to fall to the Steelers that you could see happening?

Alex: Honestly, I don’t know if I’m rooting for anyone. Corey Davis or OJ Howard are picks that are fun to think about but I’m not crossing my fingers over it. With how deep this class is at the Steelers’ top position, EDGE, there isn’t one guy who has to fall.

I’m happy with Carl Lawson or Derek Rivers or Haasson Reddick. It’s going to be hard for Colbert to screw this one up.

Robbie: Hey Alex. Thought a lot about it recently and something surprisingly undiscussed among SteelerNation but who is the better player: Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell?

Alex: Man, that’s like picking a favorite child. I’d say Bell just because I am in awe of the workload that is put on him and how he seemingly is never, ever worn out. Brown can take plays off and often does (as a blocker, not so much as a receiver). Harder to do that for Bell and he’s the one who gets hit by 300 pound linemen on a regular basis.

It’s that three down capability that really separates him. So he wins by a nose.

Darth Blount 47: With all of this recent Roethlisberger retirement hubbub, can you please tell me, without regards to contract and price, which QB’s in the league you would trade straight up for Big Ben – as we sit here today?

Alex: 

Tom Brady
Aaron Rodgers

That’s it. That doesn’t guarantee I’d rank Ben the third best QB in the league but for the way he fits in this offense and for what he means to this team, those are the only two.

Jeff Papiernik: Do you think resigning Timmons eliminates a guy like Hassan Riddick being drafted at number 30?

Alex: Not at all. Even if he is re-signed, the clock is already ticking on him for when Timmons is gone. He’s not going to be here in three years. He may have just one more season left. And with Reddick’s versatility, and ability to replace him on third down, there is definitely an immediate role for a guy like him.

It’d be like passing up on drafting a “true” OLB because you re-signed James Harrison. The long-term value and investment remains the same.

TroymanianDevil: Any opinions on Darius Butler and/or John Simon as FA signings? ( assuming for right price and all that )

Alex: I had Simon on my wishlist and I could see it happening. But I am just as fine passing up on an OLB in free agency. The draft is deep. And you give me Dupree/Harrison/rookie/Chickillo/Moats, that’s a pretty good crowd. Dupree isn’t coming off the field. So Harrison and the rookie split time. A mid-tier FA doesn’t quite fit into any defensive role.

Chad: Hi Alex, haven’t heard much talk of draft for the o-line which I get cause they were phenomenal last year. But what would you say if Ramczyk or Cam Robinson fell to us in the 1st? Worth the look? (and what big board do you use on fanspeak for mock drafts 🙂 )

Alex: Nope, wouldn’t even think about an offensive linemen. That’s why we haven’t written or talked about it at all. There’s just no need at all for one.

I can’t remember which one I used. I haven’t done any this year so I don’t know if they added/removed ones from last year. Probably CBS. Maybe Matt Miller’s. I usually cycle through a couple and see which feels the most realistic and comprehensive.


That’s all for this week. Great chat, talk to you next Thursday!

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.
  • Steelers12

    Hey Alex could you see the Steelers trading out of the first round for more picks and how many pass rushers can you see the Steelers drafting?

  • mokhkw

    At any point this past season do you see Chickillo display the burst that you reported on in training camp?

  • Brian Tollini

    I with you on the breaking news, annoying!!
    In your opinion, what is the single most important position on our 3-4 defense?

  • JohnB

    Hypothetical Ave: Lets say Ben hangs it up at the end of the upcoming season and we have a pick in the 20s. How would you go about the replacement? Would you draft in the first rd? Go with your backup for a year then draft one in the mind that worst case scenario we might get a higher pick? or Sign a vet?

  • Brian Miller

    Great job on the profiles Alex! Considering most people feel like the major draft needs are OLB, ILB, CB, RB, TE, and maybe S, which is the most likely position to NOT be drafted in the first 4 rounds?

  • T3xassteelers

    What’s your prediction for Bell contract?

    Also, had Bell not been suspended or hurt or anything, what would you guess that contract would have been worth?

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Everyone keeps saying the Steelers will draft a OLB in the first round. If they don’t, what position do you think they will go after instead?

  • PaeperCup

    Alex, if you could trade up from 30 for any player, what player would that be for? In a practical sense, I don’t expect you to say Myles Garret.

  • Peter MacDonald

    Who’d you most like to fall to the Steelers that you could see happening?

  • Robbie

    Hey Alex. Thought a lot about it recently and something surprisingly undiscussed among SteelerNation but who is the better player: Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell?

  • Darth Blount 47

    With all of this recent Roethlisberger retirement hubbub, can you please tell me, without regards to contract and price, which QB’s in the league you would trade straight up for Big Ben – as we sit here today?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Do you think resigning Timmons eliminates a guy like Hassan Riddick being drafted at number 30?

  • TroymanianDevil

    Any opinions on Darius Butler and/or John Simon as FA signings? ( assuming for right price and all that )

  • PaeperCup

    that would make me sad if they passed on him. But where would they put him? I guess he is technically a OLB…I just love the idea of a guy like him next to Shazier.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I like John Simon. Coming off some injuries to end the season, could be had on the cheap. Would provide good depth.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I do as well. I think he’s much better suited as a 3-4 ILB that you can move around and occasionally have come off the edge. But resigning Timmons means he probably doesn’t see the field much in his first year. And that feels like a bit of a waste of a first round pick, at least in the immediate setting.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I really liked Alex’s answer. Good insight. He’s probably better in coverage than Timmons, so he might see a lot of snaps on 3rd down. Would be a great replacement when Timmons moves on.

  • Chad

    Hi Alex, haven’t heard much talk of draft for the o-line which I get cause they were phenomenal last year. But what would you say if Ramczyk or Cam Robinson fell to us in the 1st? Worth the look? (and what big board do you use on fanspeak for mock drafts 🙂 )

  • RickM

    Do you roughly know how much Lawson played the right side versus the left. And are his moves equally good from both sides?

  • Alex Kozora

    More on the left than the right but he did flip. Yeah, the arsenal is generally the same. Nothing that stuck out to me.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Did they ask Kevin Colbert about the coaching staff today and whether or not it is coming back the same?

  • Alex Kozora

    If they have, I haven’t seen anything on it. You’d think any changes would’ve happened by now. I am surprised Richard Mann hasn’t retired. He said this was his last year.

  • John

    BREAKING NEWS, the major news channels and sports networks are hype mills. They sensationalize most things. And then they fail to report on obvious curiosities like how a 39-40 year old QB that has had prior injuries and issues is suddenly ageless and feeling no ill reflects from any and all direct hits he takes. Or how LeBron left in the middle of tla season to get his “cycle” down or whatever and then suddenly is showing more energy than substantially younger players at his advanced playing age. I cannot wait for the next breaking news when the Steelers have resigned someone like DHB. Meanwhile the entire press core fails to figure out the Lance Armstrong stuff. So I agree.

  • John

    As to Lawson, my understanding is he has had significant prior injury issues. Why do we want him?

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t know if they’re deal breakers. Torn ACLs are pretty common and the only other thing he has is a hip injury, which who knows, may have been influenced by the knee. He came back last year, played every game, and played well.

  • PaeperCup

    Yeah, I don’t think you can pass on a guy like Reddick, it may not be a need this year, but will be eventually.

  • Steve

    James Harrison will be 39, is no young Buck, but still is Great at what he does.

  • Steve

    Ben said he was thinking of retiring, people do change their minds.

  • Alex Kozora

    Ben was passive about it. Mann was adamant. But of course, minds can be changed.

  • AustinTxStillerFan

    Nitpicking here, but DefCon 5 is a peacetime defense posture. DefCon 1 is nuclear war.

  • Alex Kozora

    haha, keeping me honest. I respect it

  • TroymanianDevil

    I’m also a resident of Austin, seems like we got a good presence down here

  • gjnn

    Does the Lawson-Rivers-Reddick hope mean that you don’t think there’s much chance that Barnett, McKinley or Harris are there at 30?

  • Alex Kozora

    It’s really hard to say. One team could love Reddick, take him, and it pushes another guy down. Anyone – and you could throw in Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson – as EDGE options at 30. Field is wide open.

  • Nolrog

    Adding to Alex’s reply. Not only don’t the Steelers trade out of the first, they rarely make draft pick trades at all. The last one, I think, was 2013 when we gave up a 3rd round pick in 2014 for a 4th round pick in 2014 (which still annoys me to this day) and then wasted it on Shemarko Thomas.It’s possible that they trade up, but they don’t often do that either (was the last time was trading up to get Troy?)

  • Nolrog

    BREAKING NEWS . . . .

    I find the use of “breaking news” annoying too.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • Steelers12

    Yeah we traded up for troy, i remember the Steelers did discuss trading with the redskins to jump in front of Miami to get the other pouncey twin but the asking price was too steep

  • Hec

    Alex, do you think JPP be a great fit for our defensive scheme? He is a productive pass rusher, and we need a productive pass rusher.