The Pittsburgh Steelers, even though they predominantly play in a nickel defense, are one of the few teams remaining who play exclusively out of a 3-4 defensive front. While there are other 3-4 teams in the league, of course, they often employ hybrids of other styles mixed in, including a considerable helping of four-man fronts.
Chris Wormley was tabbed as a prototypical 3-4 defensive end when he came out of Michigan in 2017, so it’s no surprise that the Steelers were interested in him at the time. The Baltimore Ravens got to him first in the third round that year, but Pittsburgh was able to trade for him earlier this season.
While there isn’t anything going on in the way of football right now—and Wormley hasn’t even been given the chance to get to Pittsburgh yet, for obvious reasons—the assumption remains that he will work as a 3-4 defensive end. That is what general manager Kevin Colbert said, even if the team’s website currently lists him as a nose tackle.
Recently, Wormley appeared on The Fan to discuss a variety of topics, and one question that his hosts asked him was about where he felt most comfortable playing, as the Steelers have a pretty specific approach to their front.
“Definitely to play a 3-4 defense. That’s I think where my style of play fits best. What kind of sucks is that it’s a dying position”, he said. “I know the Steelers play it a little more. The Ravens played it last year toward the end of the season and we kind of had some success, playing a little more 3-4 on first and second down”.
Wormley is in many ways the quintessential run stuffer. As a pass rusher, he doesn’t have much in hiss tool kit outside of a bull rush. Nevertheless, he knows where the bread at his position is buttered.
“Everyone knows you get paid rushing the passer and sacking the quarterback, so obviously I can do that too, which will be exciting to see what the Steelers have planned up for the defense”, he said. “I can’t wait to see what that playbook looks like”.
Acquired for a fifth-round pick last month, the fourth-year end will serve in a rotation behind Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, mixed in with Tyson Alualu and Isaiah Buggs. At some point, they are still going to have to find somebody who can play defensive tackle. Who that might be remains to be seen.