We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made by then. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 10 starters or primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed only five of them, those being JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton, Zach Banner, Tyson Alualu, and Jordan Berry. They re-signed a number exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly Robert Spillane and J.C. Hassenauer, while signing Ray-Ray McCloud to a non-tender deal.
The deals of Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward, Derek Watt, and Eric Ebron were restructured, while those of Steven Nelson and Vince Williams were terminated, the latter being re-signed. Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald retired.
Of note, the Steelers have added five players as unrestricted or street agents from outside of the organization, including three offensive linemen in Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward, and former Steeler B.J. Finney. The group also includes linebacker Miles Killebrew and running back Kalen Ballage.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Total Positional Figure: 5
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Tyson Alualu: Retained on another two-year contract, Alualu is coming off arguably his best professional season after shifting inside to nose tackle. He was perhaps among the best run defenders in the league a year ago before suffering a knee injury in the second half of the year.
Carlos Davis: A rookie seventh-round pick a year ago, Davis made significant strides. He ultimately overtook Buggs for the top backup nose tackle job and showed some flashes of ability that put him in the position of front-runner for the role this year.
Isaiah Buggs: Buggs lost ground to Davis last season, spending much of the second half of the year as a healthy scratch when there were enough bodies to go around, though he also missed time due to COVID-19. I still think he is a talented player who could reasonably push for the backup nose tackle job.
Henry Mondeaux: A practice squad graduate, Mondeaux is primarily a defensive end in the Steelers’ front, but does have inside capability, and played at nose tackle a small bit a year ago. He would be the emergency number three in a best-case scenario as a player who can play at all positions.
Demarcus Christmas: The current owner of the jolliest last name on the roster, Pittsburgh added him to the practice squad in early November last year and spent the rest of the year there. A former sixth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, he has yet to log a game. He spent the entirety of his rookie season on the PUP List and only seeing practice squad time last year.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes and Draft Outlook:
Retaining their entire depth chart from last season, including the practice squad, it seems unlikely that there will be any movement on the Steelers’ part at this particular position this offseason. At best, they may invest a late-round pick here, more likely a college free agent to compete down the line. They still want to see more from their own young guys, including Mondeaux.