Just how good should we expect the Pittsburgh Steelers run defense to be in 2019? According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers are expected to have a top 10 run defense in 2019.
In their Tuesday preseason NFL run defense rankings for the 2019 season, PFF has the Steelers ranked seventh overall and their main reason for that is because of their offseason addition of inside linebacker Devin Bush, the team’s first-round draft pick this year.
This is a unit that should only improve with the addition of sure tackling linebacker Devin Bush. The Steelers first-rounder missed all of 11 tackles on 146 attempts his last two seasons at Michigan.
Is the offseason addition of one player enough to rank the Steelers run defense seventh overall ahead of the start of the 2019 season? Sure, it makes sense and especially since Football Outsiders had the Steelers run defense ranked 8th overall in the NFL last season in DVOA.
Last season against the run the Steelers defense allowed an average of 96.1 yards on the ground per game and a per carry average of 4.17 yards. Both of those averages, while archaic in today’s stats-driven world, ranked top 10 in the NFL last season.
Only five other defenses allowed less runs of 5 or more yards than the Steelers defense did last season and that’s another encouraging sign with so many defensive players from last year’s team returning in 2019. Additionally, on first and 10 runs last season the Steelers defense was ranked in the top of allowing the fewest total runs that gained 4 or more yards.
During the offseason, the Steelers not only drafted Bush, they also signed inside linebacker Mark Barron as a street free agent. The Steelers starting defensive front five in 2019 is set to remain the same as 2018 barring injuries as defensive linemen Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave will be flanked by outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree once again. Even the Steelers secondary is mostly unchanged from last season with the only new addition being cornerback Steven Nelson.