2018 Offseason Questions: Will McCullers Have Legit Competition For Once?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Will Daniel McCullers be given legitimate competition for his roster spot in 2018?

Ever since the Steelers re-signed nose tackle Daniel McCullers, it has certainly generated a lot of discussion—much more than is typically due a bottom-of-the-roster player, which he decidedly is. The evidence for that is readily apparent in the fact that he only dresses due to injuries and was not re-signed until the second week of free agency.

Not enough discussion has been had over the fact that the Steelers have consistently failed to provide McCullers with meaningful competition for his spot on the roster, which has continually resulted in him being the sixth man following a string of fifth men readily passing him on the depth.

I invite you to try to think about the last significant player that the team has brought in that McCullers has had to scrape it for in a roster battle before you read on, because I’m about to write out a list of the names of the players he has beaten out for his spot on the 53-man roster over the last four years.

Lavon Hooks, Roy Philon, Khaynin Mosley-Smith, Joe Okafor, Mike Thornton, Al Lapuaho, and Hebron Fangupo. Those are the names of the defensive tackles with whom McCullers has had to vie for a roster spot over the course of his Steelers career. All of them are former undrafted free agents, and only Fangupo—before he was in Pittsburgh—has ever spent time on a roster.

In other words, the argument that he manages to keep making the roster is not exactly an impressive one. For four years, the team hasn’t added any quality competition to push him, in spite of the fact that his dropping in the pecking order below players like L.T. Walton was already failing to motivate him.

I think it’s important that the Steelers add a defensive tackle to the mix this year, most likely in the draft. Beyond McCullers, we must also consider that Walton’s contract is up after this year as well, as is Tyson Alualu’s.

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