They may not always work out, but the Pittsburgh Steelers typically use at least one draft pick every year on a defensive lineman—very often, in the late rounds at the end of the draft. Since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach, in fact, over 14 draft classes now, there have only been two years in which the Steelers did not draft a lineman, the first in 2008, and the last being in 2017.
Excluding the 2020 class, only four of those defensive linemen remain, including Cameron Heyward from the first round in 2011, Stephon Tuitt in 2014, Daniel McCullers in 2014, and Isaiah Buggs, a sixth-round pick a year ago. The rest of the group was acquired via other means, and almost all of those no longer here are no longer even in the league.
Carlos Davis is hoping to buck the trend of late-round failures, being the Steelers’ seventh-round pick this year, and he feels good about the place in which he has landed. Speaking to reporters yesterday for the first time since he was drafted, one thing he said he’s already grown to like is working with Karl Dunbar as his position coach.
“I feel like me and Coach Dunbar get along really well”, heh told reporters. “We’ve been FaceTiming and stuff this past week, going over plays and stuff. I’ve been meeting with him since the draft, so I’ve gotten a feel for how Coach Dunbar is, and I really like the way he coaches and the way he teaches, so I’m excited”.
The defensive line coach was the last coaching position on the defensive side of the ball left for Tomlin to address since he took over the staff in 2007. John Mitchell had occupied that spot for longer than anybody else had even been in the organization. He is still on the staff, but no longer in an on-field capacity.
In the two seasons that Dunbar has been here, however, all of the players have spoken very highly of him, both the rookies and the veterans. It didn’t hurt that the first two linemen they drafted under him—Joshua Frazier in 2018 and Buggs in 2019—were players that he coached in college, of course, but Davis is new to him.
And one cannot dismiss the success that he has had, either, with Heyward continuing to play the best football of his career. Tuitt looked to be ready for a career year in 2019 before going down with a season-ending injury in Week Six.
He even managed to get the best out of McCullers, which isn’t saying much, but is still more than Mitchell ever did. One can only hope that Dunbar can similarly maximize Davis’ potential, who has a lot of intriguing tools, if only somebody can help him put it all together.