The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Nose tackle is the top priority remaining in the draft.
Explanation: Every position on the roster has a player who is locked into a starting job or has multiple viable candidates for that role, except for nose tackle. Now that we are in Day Three, from the fourth round on, it’s obviously time to look at the dinosaur position. But is it the top priority?
Of course it’s paramount above everything else. Could they use another offensive lineman or two? Sure. Another safety? That’d be lovely, but they have their starters. At inside linebacker, maybe they’d like to have more pedigree, but at least they have people to line up.
Right now, their nose tackle is Daniel McCullers. McCullers has been in the league for six years and has 41 total tackles to his name. He has played just 605 snaps over the course of his career. Even in today’s game, your starting nose tackle is going to get at least 300-400 snaps per season.
While the Steelers lost out on the likes of Neville Gallimore, Raekwon Davis, and Jordan Elliott, there are still run-stuffing defensive tackle to be had on day three of the draft. But you don’t know how long you can wait. So Pittsburgh needs to be looking at this position with their first pick of the day—maybe even finding a way to trade up to get the right guy.
As disturbing as it might sound to suggest that a team doesn’t have a starter at a position, the reality is that we are talking about a position that is not a starting role. You don’t necessarily need to have a ‘starting’ nose tackle, and there are always ways to accommodate. In 2013, their primary defensive package was the 2-3-6 after losing Larry Foote in the opener.
And as a dinosaur position there will be players available in the later stages of the draft who will be able to come in and contribute to such a specialized role. Put simply, if the Steelers don’t get an offensive lineman or safety with their fourth-round picks, they will not be upgrading from what they already have, and that’s not good enough.