2019 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Defensive Tackle

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 Tackle

Total Positional Figure: 4

Additions: 2

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Javon Hargrave: Entering his fourth season, and the final year of my rookie contract, Hargrave has already proven himself to be a quality defensive lineman. The only things to be determined over the course of the next eight months are how much playing time he can get and how much he’s worth. He is an established interior pass rusher and run defender, even if the latter continues to be overlooked by many.

Daniel McCullers: Somewhat incredibly in his sixth year now, and back on a two-year contract, big Daniel McCullers is still hanging on to his roster spot even though he very sparsely plays. To his credit, he did make some improvements last season, though that’s not saying much. Even with L.T. Walton gone, his roster spot can still be under threat from one of the darkhorse defensive ends with the versatility of the next player being a factor.

Players Added:

Isaiah Buggs: A rookie sixth-round pick out of Alabama, Buggs is more in the model of Hargrave than anybody else. He’s an inch taller and 10 pounds lighter (officially), but the Steelers were clear that he would work up and down the line. Of course, he has to make the team first before he can earn a role.

Winston Craig: Craig was one of the many players from the AAF that the Steelers signed after that league shut its doors. Originally signed as a college free agent by the Eagles in 2017, he kicked around on their practice squad for the past two years.

Players Lost: N/A

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

We already know that there is no competition at the top of the depth chart. Hargrave is the undisputed starter at nose tackle and his role in the nickel defense will probably further expand in 2019 after he showed he can deliver sacks there. The only real question is whether or not he’s going to get a contract extension.

Things are more up in the air after that. McCullers is the incumbent, and at least for the moment, it appears likely that he will make the roster unless somebody like Craig or a defensive end steps up, but the hope, I think, is that Buggs shows well enough to earn that fifth and final helmet on game day, putting Shade Tree back on the inactive list.

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