If you were to ask 10 different Pittsburgh Steelers fans to name the position they believe the team will draft in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, 12 of them would probably tell you it will either be outside linebacker or cornerback. While those two positions are obvious needs for the Steelers headed into this year’s draft, I won’t be totally shocked if general manager Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers staff decide to go in a different direction such as addressing the defensive line and more specifically, nose tackle.
Now, I am known as being one of the biggest supporters of current Steelers starting nose tackle Steve McLendon, but I can’t ignore the fact that he is already 29-years-old and entering the final year of his current contract. On top of that, McLendon has missed six games due to injury over the course of the last two seasons. While in no way should McLendon be classified as being injury-prone, six missed games is still six missed games.
While second-year nose tackle Daniel McCullers certainly already has a huge fan club even though he’s only played 65 total snaps, I’m not totally convinced that the Steelers see him as their long-time starter and the heir apparent to McLendon. More than anything else, I believe the Steelers would jump at the chance to upgrade their depth at the nose tackle position in the upcoming draft if the opportunity were to present itself, and quite possibly even in the first round.
Colbert is notorious for saying that the team won’t bypass a good player in a draft just for the sake of drafting a lesser-rated player on their board that fits an immediate need. Colbert also has a track record of drafting solid character players in the first round who are not only underclassmen, but come from top-rated major conference programs.
When you consider all of the above, you would have to think that Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is highly-rated on the Steelers current draft board. And why wouldn’t he be?
If you read up on Goldman, you will discover that he is a student of the game and one who loves watching tape in an effort to improve his own game. Not that means much, but it should also be noted that Goldman’s father is a huge Steelers fan and is favorite all-time player is Hall of Famer Joe Greene.
“He’d teach me about guys like Lee Roy Selmon,” Goldman said during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. “Merlin Olsen. Those were some of my favorites. His favorite was Joe Greene, because he is a Steelers fan.”
Like most young players, Goldman has his technical warts, but he does possess ideal measurables associated with a 3-4, two-gapping nose tackle. That, in itself, can probably be viewed as a negative, however, due to the fact that so many defenses now prefer to play more sub package football instead of base. Even so, a base 3-4 nose tackle will likely be needed on at least 40% of all defensive plays runs during a season when it comes to the Steelers.
Goldman played up and down the line as a starter at Florida State, so there is a chance that he can eventually earn extra snaps as a rotational defensive tackle in sub packages at the NFL level. Just look at how the New England Patriots used the behemoth Vince Wilfork over the course of his career. Sure, the Patriots don’t run a true 3-4 defense, but Wilfork managed to play a whopping 818 snaps last year up and down their line.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that Goldman is the next Wilfork, but I do think he has a decent shot at becoming a longtime starter in the league as long as he’s able to stay healthy. While he needs to become a better pass rusher, he is already stout against the run and he should only get better with proper strength training and coaching.
Goldman will more than likely still be on the board come time for the Steelers 22nd overall selection in the draft and when you consider that he’s an underclassman with a strong character with two years of production who hails from a top-rated college program, he’s already checked off several of the boxes needed to be a Pittsburgh first-round draft pick. Did I mention that Colbert was also present for the Florida State Pro Day? That’s another box checked for Goldman.
Now, I’m not ready to point to the fence and declare that Goldman will be the Steelers first-round pick, but if he’s able to check off one more box by being invited to Pittsburgh for a pre draft visit, it will be hard for any true Steelers fan to not consider him as legitimate candidate to hold up the No. 1 jersey during and after the draft.
Look for us to provide you a full breakdown of Goldman over the course of the next few weeks and in the meantime, I welcome your comments below as long as you leave my frame of mind out of them.