The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was very shortly after the 2016 season ended. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed, and, in a rarity, this actually applies to literally every position on the roster, including the quarterbacks and specialists.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Total Positional Figure: 4
Javon Hargrave: A rookie last season who ended up logging nearly 500 snaps on defense, the Steelers are depending upon Hargrave to be a big player for them. Not only will he be their starting nose tackle—such that that is a starting position any longer—he will also be counted upon to log a good amount of playing time out of their base nickel defense as an interior rusher.
Daniel McCullers: McCullers represents the tipping point here. It’s quite unlikely that he is going to be surpassed by the other plays at the position that the Steelers have brought in, so he is not going to have a lot of lateral competition. But that still doesn’t mean that he is going to make the 53-man roster without question.
Roy Philon: If this name sounds vaguely familiar, it should, because Philon has been here a couple of times before. Though listed under 300 pounds, he may actually make more sense for the Steelers now than the first time he was in training camp with them because of how they’ve adjusted their defense. Still, he’ll most likely be hoping for the practice squad.
Lavon Hooks: As will Hooks, who I’m listing here despite the fact that the team’s website lists him as a defensive end. At 6’3” and over 310 pounds, he is tied for the shortest and is the heaviest ‘end’ on the roster. He came here last year on the interior and that’s where he was with Green Bay as well. That’s where I expect him to be in training camp.
Notes and Camp Outlook:
It has to be noted that it is entirely possible only Hargrave makes the 53-man roster from this group. One has to take into consideration the potential position flexibility of L.T. Walton and Tyson Alualu as players who can take some 3-4 nose tackle snaps, which is not a significant priority.
Basically the thing to watch for here, other than the development of Hargrave, is to see what kind of work the aforementioned defensive ends might get at nose tackle during training camp and the preseason, as that could indicate where this is heading.