2019 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Defensive End

The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.

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 since the build-up to the draft as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

Position: Defensive End

Total Positional Figure: 9

Additions: 3

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Cameron Heyward: A Pro Bowler in each of the past two seasons, it’s safe to say that Heyward is a part of the nucleus of this defensive unit, which desperately needs him to continue playing at his current level, if not even more.

Stephon Tuitt: Tuitt is Heyward’s equal in talent—and in pay—but not in result. That has to change this year. He cleaned up his tackling a lot last season, but he needs to put together more complete games and more impact plays.

Tyson Alualu: Not much of a pass rusher, but Alualu remains one of the Steelers’ strongest run defenders, and a reliable number three defensive end.

Lavon Hooks: Hooks is in his fifth (or maybe even sixth) offseason already. He’s spent the past two years on the practice squad. Will he ever make the jump? He can’t have many opportunities left.

Conor Sheehy: A Reserve/Future signing back in January, he spent time on the Packers’ practice squad last season as an undrafted rookie. He’s a fairly typical Wisconsin end.

Casey Sayles: A repeat from last year, Sayles is in his third offseason and second with the Steelers. He had success with the Iron in the AAF earlier this year before the team brought him back, so we’ll see if that in-game experienced helped him.

Players Added:

Isaiah Buggs: The rookie out of Alabama was drafted in the sixth round. He will be expected to be able to play up and down the defensive line, including end, and will be tasked with offering a splash of pass rush off the bench, which they haven’t had since Brett Keisel in his final season.

Greg Gilmore: Another retread from last year, Gilmore also played in the AAF with some success. Unlike Sayles, he wasn’t re-signed until after rookie minicamp.

Henry Mondeaux: Mondeaux was signed at the same time as Gilmore, after rookie minicamp. A first-year former free agent out of Oregon, he recorded four tackles for the Saints in the preseason last year.

Players Lost: N/A

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

The biggest task of training camp, I think, will be to break in Buggs and make sure he is who they thought he was capable of. The possibility of somebody like Hooks, Sayles, or Gilmore emerging is also a situation worth monitoring.

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