In recent years the Pittsburgh Steelers have invested some serious draft capital along the defensive line. From drafting guys like Javon Hargrave in 2016 to selecting Isaiahh Loudermilk in 2021, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers like to add pieces to a great defensive line that features All-Pros in Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
Though Hargrave left in free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the 2020 season, the Steelers are starting to build sound depth along the defensive line behind the starting trio of Heyward, Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, thanks to draft capital.
Colbert traded a 2021 fifth-round draft pick to the Baltimore Ravens last summer for veteran defensive lineman Chris Wormley, and then proceeded to select Carlos Davis out of Nebraska in the seventh round, before trading up to add Loudermilk in the fifth round this year.
Heyward, who at 32 years old may be starting to slow down ever so slightly, likes what he’s seeing from the young guys that have been brought in along the defensive line, who have stepped up to create a good core of depth pieces in the trenches.
“It’s huge. You know, I think last year a guy like Carlos Davis didn’t really get to, you know, learn the playbook, feel comfortable with what we were doing,” Heyward said to reporters Thursday following practice. “He just had to show up day one and say, get ready. Tip the hat to the guys that made the team in that capacity. But, you know, for a guy like Loudermilk he’s still catching up and he’s come a long way. I mean, these are going to be a really good players for us. But I even look at a guy like Chris Wormley, who was a free agent a year ago, and then we bring him in, but he doesn’t really get to get acclimated or adjust to our scheme and all those different things. But I think we got a really good sound core of young guys that, you know, if somebody gets nicked up, they can go in and step up.”
Along with guys like Davis, Loudermilk and Wormley, the Steelers do have some sound depth along the defensive line as guys like Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux battle to retain a roster spot coming out of training camp.
It’s never easy to see someone as important like a Heyward, Tuitt or Alualu go down with an injury — as we saw last year with Alualu — but the Steelers do have good depth overall along the defensive line. It remains to be seen just how productive Loudermilk can be as a rookie if he’s thrust into a role due to injury, but the stars along the defensive line believe in the depth and talent the young guys behind them have.
That can go a long way in the locker room.