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Best Play/Worst Play: NT Daniel McCullers

Series we’re bringing back to Steelers Depot that we began last year. A snapshot of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season, a look at the singular best and worst play from each player on the roster. If I wanted to sum up a players season in 30 seconds, these are the plays I would look at.

Finishing up the list by digging into Daniel McCullers’ tape.

Best Play: Pressure Leads To Pick Six Versus Tampa Bay

McCullers registered only three pressures, according to our charting, all year though to be fair, chances were rare and his pressure rate, one every 16.7 snaps, actually led the entire defensive line. This one was a good one. A gap pressure against Tampa Bay in Week 3, walking back and turning the center on the way to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

His pressure forced a hurried – and just plain bad – throw. Bud Dupree capitalized and picked it off, returning it for the score.

In select few one-on-one matchups, especially against undersized centers like Tampa had, McCullers can use his strength to collapse the pocket. And there’s no better pressure in the NFL than interior pressure. Disallow the quarterback to step and climb and you’ve won the play.

Worst Play: Reverse Pancake Against Denver

His inconsistency is one of the most maddening things about him. He’ll flash like he did in the play above but too many other snaps, he’s just…there. At best, taking up space.

And sometimes he doesn’t even manage that. Look at this rep against Denver. Slow, lethargic out of his stance The LG slides and basically just puts his hands on him and down McCullers goes. That’s all it took.

I’m not mad that he didn’t record a pressure or won this rep or did anything remotely impressive here. The design of this play is to open up the B gap for a blitzing Vince Williams. And it works as intended. Williams is free to get pressure and force the ball out.

But McCullers can’t hold his ground here? What if Case Keenum escapes, or fires the ball over the middle, or the ball is deflected by Williams or Keenum fumbles the ball. McCullers is on the ground. And no linemen has ever made a good play on the ground. With how little it took for him to timber and fall down, despite generally getting to play fresh, it’s hard to see him ever evolving as anything more than a bit-piece backup. Even then, you’d rather have better options in this day and age.

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