Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: DT Daniel McCullers
Stock Value: Down
Outside of J.J. Wilcox and whichever quarterback loses his job to Mason Rudolph, the Steelers’ draft was no worse for anybody on the roster than it was for fifth-year defensive tackle Daniel McCullers, whom the team only re-signed late in the process, and for whom they now seem to have drafted a replacement.
I have run down a list of the defensive linemen against whom McCullers has competed for his job over the course of his career in the past and it hasn’t been pretty. He has largely earned his keep simply because the team hasn’t had anybody else. They even moved L.T. Walton to nose tackle last year.
He should be able to stick to defensive end this year after the Steelers drafted the first Alabama player of the Kevin Colbert era, by no small coincidence, as they also just added an Alabama coach to their staff.
Karl Dunbar spent the past two years coaching Joshua Frazier and will now continue to do so in the NFL after Pittsburgh selected him in the seventh round. While he was not a starter in college (at least not after an injury early in his career), the ones he played behind are or will be high draft picks, including Da’Ron Payne.
Frazier is easily the biggest challenge McCullers has had to his roster spot in five years, the closest competitor being Hebron Fangupo, if you even remember who that is. But by the time Fangupo came around the Steelers were already rethinking the nose tackle position, and McCullers doesn’t fit that new thought process either.
Nor does Frazier, to be fair, but he does what a backup nose tackle is supposed to do. The reason that McCullers did not dress last season is because the team didn’t trust him. They had to conjure up another option at backup nose tackle just because of that.
This season, Walton should go back to being a gameday inactive barring injuries rather than backing up Javon Hargrave. That role will now go to an actual nose tackle in Frazier, who could be an asset against the run and may even play in the goal-line package.