Steelers draft capsule
The following is the sixth of seven position-by-position Steelers 2018 draft analyses:
Currently on the roster: Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers
Last five drafts: Hargrave (third round, 2016) has been a solid starter for the Steelers, and McCullers (sixth round, 2014) was recently signed to continue being Hargrave’s backup, possibly. Nick Williams (seventh round, 2013) played for the Chiefs and Dolphins and is currently a free agent.
Top defensive tackles available: Vita Vea, Washington; Da’Ron Payne, Alabama; Maurice Hurst, Michigan; Harrison Phillips, Stanford; Taven Bryan, Florida; Rasheem Green, Southern Cal
The Steelers might select: Payne in the first round; Phillips, B.J. Hill, N.C. State, in the second round; Bilal Nichols, Delaware, in the third round; Deadrin Senat, South Florida; Derrick Nnadi, Florida State; Kendrick Norton, Miami, in the fifth round; Folorunso Fatukasi, Connecticut; John Atkins, Georgia; Greg Gilmore, LSU, in the seventh round
Analysis: The Steelers need to get tougher up the middle against the run. Hargrave has done a good job in his two seasons as a nose tackle, but they need better depth to create a strong rotation on the D-line. They could also grab someone like Payne in the first round to pair with Hargrave and play some 4-3 alignments. This actually makes sense if they can’t find a good replacement for inside linebacker Ryan Shazier. But there have been whispers of switching to a 4-3 ever since Mike Tomlin was hired 11 years ago, so don’t count on it. The Steelers have shown interest in a number of the defensive line prospects, so they’re probably going to draft one. The question is when — the guess here is that it will be in the later rounds because the field seems to be deep this year.
Currently on the roster: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Lavon Hooks, Darnell Leslie
Last five drafts: Tuitt (second round, 2014) was the 46th player picked in the 2014 draft and has been everything the Steelers had hoped he’d be. Walton (sixth round, 2015) continues to stick with the Steelers as a quality backup.
Top defensive ends available: Bradley Chubb, N.C. State; Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio; Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
The Steelers might select: Probably none
Analysis: Heyward and Tuitt are top-notch starters, if healthy, and Alualu and Walton provide good depth. The Steelers have more pressing needs at other positions, so they’ll probably bypass selecting any players listed as defensive ends this year. That is not to say they might select a defensive tackle who can play both tackle and end in their defense.
Coming Wednesday: Linebackers
— Buck Frank