With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Steelers should already have all of the main components of their offseason roster in place, with all draft picks signed and no more free agents projected to be added until further evaluation.
It’s possible that a need should arise for further additions, either due to poor performance or injuries, once we reach training camp.
But for the time being, we should take a look at the depth chart that the front office has put together since the end of the 2013 season and see how well it stacks up in terms of quality and depth.
Due to the cumbersome lengths that offseason rosters can reach, we will be projecting a number or range of roster spots per position and focusing on that number of players per position, with other potential notables receiving mention below.
Position: Nose Tackle
Projected Roster Spots: 2-3
Steve McLendon: Steve McLendon stepped into the starting lineup for the first time last season, and he seems to have learned a lot after going through that experience. He seems better prepared from both a mental and a physical standpoint to deal with the rigors of playing the nose tackle position for 16 games a year.
Hebron Fangupo: Hebron Fangupo beat out Alameda Ta’amu for the backup nose tackle job last year, but he hardly received any playing time. The majority of that time went to Al Woods, who even started two games at nose tackle last season.
This year, he is hoping to not only make the team, but to earn himself a position in the rotation. He is working on his mobility this summer, which was one of the areas of concern last year, but he has a new crop of challengers this time.
Daniel McCullers: Though he is massive at around 350 pounds, the fact that he is also 6’7” means that Daniel McCuller doesn’t necessarily have the prototypical nose tackle build. It’s even been suggested that if he loses a bit of weight, the Steelers could also play him on the outside.
But he’s quite raw and has obvious technical flaws that would need to be worked out. He could be in the competition for a seventh defensive line spot, but he may find himself headed to the practice squad as a rookie.
Others: First-year former undrafted free agent Al Lapuaho did see some second-team reps in sub-packages during OTAs. Roy Philon has also been added to the competition. Depending on the development of some of the defensive ends, Cam Thomas could also be seeing a good number of reps along the interior this season, more likely toward the end of the year while he holds down the starting left defensive end position.