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: The Steelers need to sign a nose tackle in free agency.
Explanation: After the 2020 NFL Draft came and went with the team taking only seventh-round pick Carlos Davis to address the defensive line, it’s fair to say that the team has not adequately replaced the loss of Javon Hargrave.
Daniel McCullers just isn’t going to cut if. If he is the guy the Steelers are going to bring onto the field when they need to get a run stop, then they are going to have problems. Even with the reduced importance of the position, your nose tackle is still going to play at least 300 or so snaps, if not more. McCullers hasn’t come close to this, and hasn’t been terribly productive when he was on the field.
The NFL may be a passing league, but teams will still run the ball on you when they can, and the Baltimore Ravens did just set a new rushing record. Might I remind you of what Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans did down the stretch and in the postseason on the ground?
I think we get too caught up on labels and size profiles when really it’s about whether or not a man can do a job. I think the Steelers have enough people in-house capable of absorbing whatever 3-4 tackle run-blocking snaps may be asked of them this season.
They already have an abundance of depth among their ‘defensive ends’ with Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, and Isaiah Buggs as reserves. When acquired, all three of these players were spoken of in terms that indicated they could be asked and trusted to play inside.
Chris Hoke was the Steelers’ backup nose tackle for a long time, and he wasn’t the biggest guy in the world. That was in an era when Casey Hampton was making Pro Bowls. One of these guys can kick inside and take on a center for 10 or so snaps a game, mixed in with McCullers, who at least is an obstruction.