Steelers draft capsule
This is the fifth of seven Pittsburgh Steelers position-by-position analyses for the 2019 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday:
Currently on roster: Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers, Lavon Hooks, Casey Sayles
Last five drafts: Hargrave, a third-round selection in 2016, has been a solid nose tackle the last three seasons. McCullers was a sixth-round pick in 2014 and has surprisingly stuck with the team. Joshua Frazier was a seventh-rounder last year who most recently played for Birmingham in the Alliance of American Football.
Top defensive tackles available: Quinnen Williams, Alabama; Ed Oliver, Houston; Christian Wilkins, Clemson; Dexter Lawrence, Clemson; Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State; Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
The Steelers might select: Daylon Mack, Texas A&M; Isaiah Buggs, Alabama; Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois; Trysten Hill, Central Florida; Albert Huggins, Clemson
Analysis: Finding a good nose tackle for a 3-4 defense isn’t an easy task, but the Steelers seem to be happy with Hargrave. And McCullers has steadily improved to the point where the Steelers signed him to a two-year contract last month. The Steelers don’t necessarily have to select a defensive tackle this year, but if any of the above prospects drop to the sixth round, the Steelers might consider him a good value pick at that point. But nose tackle isn’t a top priority this year.
Currently on roster: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Conor Sheehy, Winston Craig
Last five drafts: Tuitt was a second-rounder in 2014 who has joined Heyward to form a nice pair of bookends on the D-line. Leterrius “L.T.” Walton provided depth after getting picked in the sixth round of 2015 but is currently a free agent.
Top defensive ends available: Nick Bosa, Ohio State; Montez Sweat, Mississippi State; Clellin Ferrell, Clemson; Rashan Gary, Michigan; Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
The Steelers might select: Charles Omenihu, Texas; John Cominsky, Charleston (W.Va.);
Analysis: The Steelers’ most effective defensive ends since 2000 — Kimo von Oelhoffen, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Heyward and Tuitt — all were at least 6-foot-4, 285 pounds and athletic. Not many of the defensive end prospects in this year’s draft meet those specifications. Boston College’s Zach Allen (6-4, 281) would cost the Steelers too high of a draft pick, but Omenihu (6-5, 280) or Cominsky (6-5, 286) could be worth a shot in the middle-to-late rounds. The Steelers have shown some interest in Cominsky, a developmental player who could benefit from a few years learning from Heyward and Tuitt. If the Steelers don’t select a defensive end, re-signing Walton for depth in 2019 is still an option.
Coming Tuesday: Linebackers
— Buck Frank