Of all the draft picks that the Pittsburgh Steelers made last month, the one that we have heard about—and heard from—the least is their seventh-round selection, defensive tackle Carlos Davis out of Nebraska. Now, it’s not exactly out of the ordinary for seventh-round picks to get short-changed in terms of attention paid to rookies, but in a six-man class, there figures to be enough to go around.
And so we’re endeavoring to fix that, with Davis’ assistance, since he spoke to reporters yesterday upon the completion of one day of ‘virtual’ minicamp with his new team, as he hopes to lay claim to a spot on the 53-man roster later this year.
Given the loss of Javon Hargrave in free agency, and the fact that the only lineman the Steelers added since then was ostensibly a prototypical 3-4 end in Chris Wormley, there are necessarily questions about what Davis’ function would be, and if he would be up to the task, with only Daniel McCullers as a true nose tackle on the team. He was asked about that yesterday.
“I was told to know all three positions” along the defensive line”, Davis told reporters. “I did play nose in 2018—I played strictly nose. I knew how to play all three positions in college, and they expect me to know all three positions for the Steelers”.
Assuming that he does make the roster, his primary role would figure to be to serve as a 3-4 nose tackle, as they have plenty of ends. Aside from their fantastic starters in Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, they also have the veteran Tyson Alualu, Wormley through trade, and the second-year Isaiah Buggs.
Still, in the past, the Steelers have preferred that their gameday backup nose tackle also be able to play end, like Chris Hoke, Steve McLendon, or even L.T. Walton. McCullers has been the exception in that regard, though he’s going on seven years of exceptionalism.
“The nose is pretty much the same as what I ran at Nebraska, but the plays have different meanings, and each system is doing a little bit different”, Davis said when asked to compare what he did in college to what he is learning now.
“The end spot is a little more different than what I was doing at Nebraska, but the nose is pretty much the same”, he added. “Neither of them are easier. They’re all essentially doing the same thing, but there’s just different stuff that you have to know for each position”.
There is, at least I feel, an outside chance that the Steelers consider carrying seven defensive linemen this year, especially since an additional non-offensive lineman player will be allowed to address starting in 2020. That extra gameday hat could potentially go to a defensive lineman.