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: Someone currently on the roster other than Daniel McCullers will see the most snaps at nose tackle in 2020.
Explanation: The Steelers waited until the seventh round to address the defensive line this year, taking Carlos Davis, as the only true nose tackle on the roster other than McCullers. Mike Tomlin named Tyson Alualu among other potential candidates to play there as well, however, which would include Isaiah Buggs and Chris Wormley.
While it doesn’t guarantee anything, the Steelers probably wouldn’t have listed Chris Wormley’s position as a nose tackle on the roster on their site just completely at random if he was obviously and incontrovertibly exclusively a defensive end.
Whenever the team is able to go into camp and get the pads on, they are going to check out all of their options at defensive tackle—McCullers, Alualu, Buggs, Wormley, and Davis. The odds are that two, maybe even three of them will play the position this season.
Pittsburgh gave up a fifth-round pick for Wormley despite the fact that he’s going into the final year of his contract. They’re going to want to get as many looks at him as possible before they decide on his future. Playing him at nose tackle, in addition to reps elsewhere, affords them that opportunity.
Either McCullers is the guy, or they have to bring in a guy. I think if the Steelers were really that down on the possibility of McCullers being their primary nose tackle for 2020, then they would have already signed a veteran by now, so he is going to get the first crack at seizing that opportunity.
If he fails, then they have to hit the open market. Tomlin recently said that they were open to the possibility of looking at the market to address the position, even as he listed potential in-house candidates. None of these guys have played there, or at least played there much, any time soon though. Even if it’s a bit role now, you don’t want a conversion guy to be your starter there. It will be immediately exposed as a weakness, and would force them to play in more nickel and dime.