While Pro Football Focus was not enamored with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ free agency—largely tied to their seemingly necessary decision to retain Bud Dupree via the franchise tag—they still like where the Steelers are overall. In fact, another recent article includes them in a list of Super Bowl contenders, and describes them as having “arguably the most complete roster in the NFL when it comes to a ‘need’ perspective”.
So far in free agency, the Steelers have added a fullback and core special teamer in Derek Watt, a tight end in Eric Ebron to pair with Vance McDonald, and a reliable veteran interior lineman in Stefen Wisniewski following the retirement of Ramon Foster and the loss of B.J. Finney. They also acquired Chris Wormley via trade after losing Javon Hargrave in free agency, and of course retained Dupree.
But the loss of Hargrave remains the largest sticking point, for PFF, and lists nose tackle as the Steelers’ biggest need heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. They list Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma as an early draft possibility at the position and John Pensini out of Utah for a late pick.
“Simply being complete doesn’t always win you games, but there’s no one spot the Steelers have to address when they finally are on the clock in the second round”, the article reads. “With Javon Hargrave gone to Philly, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore could fill those shoes with a similarly explosive skillset in Round 2. Gallimore ran a blazing 4.79 40 at 304 pounds at the Combine”.
Many believed that the Steelers might use free agency to add a veteran run-stuffer at nose tackle like Andrew Billings or Al Woods, knowing that in their base nickel package, it will be Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt on the field.
They don’t need another Hargrave, after all, especially not after acquiring Wormley and anticipating further development from Isaiah Buggs in his second season. They have enough bodies to execute their nickel defense, but what they don’t have is a true nose tackle that they would trust to play 300 snaps.
The only nose tackle on the roster right now is Daniel McCullers, now heading into his seventh season and somehow one of the longest-tenured defenders on the team. He has never played 200 snaps in a single season before.
It’s possible that they could revisit their plans and ask either Buggs or Wormley to work on adding weight this offseason so that they could take up snaps at nose tackle. One of those moves paired with the drafting of a true nose tackle could be sufficient to maintain the part-time position through 2020.