It’s 2000. Life is good. Y2K didn’t destroy the world. The Internet is providing an outlet to the entire planet.You’re actually able to sit and eat at a restaurant. What a time to be alive.
And in 2000, the Steelers’ 3-4 run defense was its defining quality. Get you a massive plugger in the middle and a couple of offensive-linemen looking defensive ends next to them. Their goal? First, second, and third, stop the run. Pass rusher? I hardly know her. That was the outside linebacker’s job.
So those defensive ends were true five techs. Lining up outside shade (outside shoulder) of the offensive tackle. Banging against them every snap, doing the grunt work so the rest of the defense could function.
The NFL isn’t quite like that today. 5 tech isn’t that much of a thing. In the land of nickel and dime defenses, there’s often only two d-linemen on the field, aligned as the 1 tech (between center and guard) and 3 tech (between guard and tackle). Cam Heyward is now classified as a defensive tackle, not an end, allowing him to earn the accolades he’s clearly deserving of.
Pittsburgh’s newest Steeler is Chris Wormley. He hearkens back to those early 2000 days, a true 5 tech and run stuffer. A low ceiling/high floor player who will provide quality depth even if he doesn’t quite fit in today’s hyper-athletic world.
Let’s break him down.
Starting here because this is what he’s all about. A run stuffer through and through. Listed at 6’5, 300 pounds with 34 inch arms. You couldn’t draw up a better looking defensive end than that. And he plays like one too. Wormley uses his length to his advantage well in the run game, creating space (and thus creating vision) to find the ball, shed the block, and finish the play. Couple examples.
He has a strong upper body and is stout at the point of attack, handling base blocks against guards and tackles with ease and rarely getting moved or washed out. He does a good job locating the ball carrier and finishing with hit power and authority.
Wormley is a one-note pass rusher. He will win with power or he won’t win at all. But that power can be overwhelming, he has a powerful punch capable of stunning guards and collapsing the pocket. Really nice bull rush here leads to a big hit and near sack.
Just don’t expect him to win with anything else. Not speed, not swim, certainly not a spin. He’s going to collapse the pocket. That’s it. While he won’t be an impactful pass rusher from a pressure/sack standpoint, he does a great job of disrupting QBs by getting his hand up in throwing lanes. Officially seven deflections the last two years. Here are most of them.
One other thing to like about Chris Wormley? Gets his hand up in throwing lanes. Seven pass deflections last two seasons. Steelers' DL had nine in 2019 after struggling in 2018. pic.twitter.com/a0mTuOPGeH
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) March 20, 2020
Pittsburgh’s d-line deflected nine in 2019, a great number collectively. So Wormley will make a positive impact there.
I do want to note his effort. In Pittsburgh, you better run to the football. Doesn’t matter what position you play. There are few defensive linemen who show as much effort as Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, setting the tone for the rest of the unit. Wormely runs hard and chases the ball up and down the field and you gotta respect that.
Here’s my scouting report on him.
– Excellent size, prototypical defensive end frame with great length (34 inch arms)
– Strong upper body and holds the point of attack well
– Uses his length to his advantage, creates space between him and the blocker
– Disengages from blocks effectively, shows vision to find the ball and has the hit power to finish the play
– Above average power and bull rusher who collapses the pocket and wins with leverage
– Good effort player who runs to the football
– Consistent player without many highs/lows to his game
– Average athlete without much snap or foot speed
– One note pass rusher who will only win with power, not much else
– Low-ceiling player who doesn’t fit as well in current era, limited to being a top backup/rotational piece
So how will he be used? He’s a defensive end, not a nose tackle, at least based off everything he’s done in the NFL so far. So he will round out and give Pittsburgh some very quality depth at 3 tech/4i (inside shade of the offensive tackle) along with Tyson Alualu and Isaiah Buggs.
I still view nose tackle as a position that should be addressed in the draft but with so few options on the market, getting an experienced linemen like Wormley was a smart alternative.
There are some valid questions about his exact role and long-term plan. 2020 is the final year of his rookie deal and you’d hate to let him walk after giving up a 5th, something that’s seemed to have happened with Nick Vannett. Perhaps Wormley will be a seamless replacement for Alualu after 2020.
How much will Wormley play this year? Another valid question. There isn’t a clear, immediate path. Log-jam with him, Alualu, and Buggs. But defensive end feels like one of the deepest groups on this team and the Steelers got a rock solid addition in this trade.