Steelers draft capsule
The following is the fifth of seven Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL draft position-by-position analyses:
Currently on roster: Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers, Lavon Hooks, Roy Philon
Last five drafts: Hargrave turned out to be a nice third-round pick for the Steelers last season and figures to be their starting nose tackle for several years. His success has kept McCullers (2014, sixth round) in a backup role. Alameda Ta’amu (fourth round, 2012) was a bust for the Steelers and has bounced around the league the last several years with little production.
Top defensive tackles available: Jonathan Allen, Alabama; Chris Wormley, Michigan; Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama; Caleb Brantley, Florida; Montravius Adams, Auburn
The Steelers might select: Wormley; Carlos Watkins, Clemson; Josh Augusta, Missouri; Treyvon Hester, Toledo
Analysis: The Steelers shouldn’t go after a defensive tackle early because of Hargrave’s solid play. If they do select a “defensive tackle” early, it would be someone like Wormley or Watkins who would play at end in their 3-4 defense. Wormley has the potential to be like an Aaron Smith or Brett Keisel. He’s probably not worth a first-round pick, but if he’s still available with their second-round choice, he might be too good to pass on at that point. Beyond that, the Steelers might look to give McCullers competition at backup nose tackle by taking someone like Augusta (6-foot-4, 345) or Pittsburgh native Hester in the late rounds.
Currently on roster: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, L.T. Walton, Tyson Alualu, Johnny Maxey
Last five drafts: Tuitt (second round, 2014) was a solid pick by the Steelers, and Walton hasn’t done bad for a sixth-rounder in 2015. Nick Williams (seventh round, 2013) is still in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.
Top defensive ends available: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M; Solomon Thomas, Stanford; Derek Barnett, Tennessee; DeMarcus Walker, Florida State; Taco Charlton, Michigan
The Steelers might select: Malik McDowell, Michigan State; Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
Analysis: Heyward is under contract for four more years, and Tuitt is in the final year of his original deal. Those two form a nice pair of bookends on the defensive line when healthy. Walton and former Jacksonville No. 1 draft pick Alualu give the Steelers good depth. Defensive end doesn’t appear to be an area of need for Steelers, but it is a crucial position in their defense and might be worth adding another body to it. As noted above, Wormley could be worth a high pick, or a third-rounder like McDowell or Kpassagnon (both are 6-6) could also upgrade the defensive line. The question will be whether or not other needs will cancel out what looks like a luxury pick at defensive end.
Coming Tuesday: Linebackers
— Buck Frank