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 should consider the defensive/nose tackle position for their top draft pick.
Explanation: There is only one ‘starting’ position on the Steelers’ roster right now that is currently unoccupied, and that is the role of nose tackle, or defensive tackle, vacated with the departure of Javon Hargrave. That is significant, but so too is the fact that the nose tackle is only likely to play a few hundred snaps at best unless he is also a significant pass rusher.
There is always the possibility depending upon how the board breaks, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to once again get four quality years out of a stud pass-rushing defensive tackle only to collect a third-round compensatory pick for him a year later. They still get those four years out of him, as they did Hargrave.
And the Steelers are in a championship window right now. He is a player who could get on the field immediately and help right away. More so, perhaps, than any other position. Even wide receiver and running back is full of players who are capable. At nose tackle, the Steelers have…Daniel McCullers. And who knows, four years from now, maybe this defense looks different and opens up an opportunity.
Not even Neville Gallimore is worth the 49th pick in a year that the Steelers don’t have another selection until the 100s. Pittsburgh can find other defensive tackles who are able to play right away in later rounds without sacrificing their most premium draft pick on a position that has a cap limit on its contribution levels.
Even an outside linebacker could get on the field this year, and potentially could be a starter in 2021 if Bud Dupree is not retained beyond this season. That would have a much more positive impact on the team’s championship window, provided that it lasts at least two seasons, than drafting a nose tackle this early would be.