With Cameron Heyward aging, and Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley pending free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line is looking thin. Because of this there is talk about Pittsburgh using their first round pick on a defensive lineman, and just like last year there is a potential first round pick at a position of need next door at Pitt.
In Chris Trapasso’s most recent mock draft for CBS Sports, he has the Steelers once again selecting a player from across the hall at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in Pitt defensive lineman Calijah Kancey.
“Kancey is the Javon Hargrave replacement the Steelers have missed for the past few seasons,” wrote Trapasso.
Kancey has garnered comparisons to Aaron Donald, not only because they are both Pitt products, but because of their size. Both are undersized for the defensive tackle position, standing at only 6’1″. Yet, both are highly productive. Kancey, a redshirt junior, recorded 92 total tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks, and forced one fumble in his collegiate career.
Kancey also had an incredible redshirt junior season which saw him be named a First Team All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year after he recorded 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks.
However, at only 6’1″ 281 pounds there are obviously some questions on if how he will do lining up against players much bigger than him. Comparing him to Javon Hargrave is interesting because Hargrave played nose tackle a lot in Pittsburgh and with the small frame of Kancey it would be hard to see him be a run stuffer like that.
For reference of Kancey’s lack of size, Heyward is listed at 6’5″ 295 pounds and nose tackle Montravius Adams is listed at 6’4″ 304 pounds. No matter if Pittsburgh would want him to play as a regular defensive tackle like Heyward or a nose tackle like Adams or what Hargrave played, Kancey would be undersized either way.
Kancey, though, clearly has performed well throughout his collegiate career and would be helpful on a depleted defensive line. Although he is unlikely to be Aaron Donald, he can still eventually become a very good NFL player and help in the Steelers’ defensive line transition in the post Heyward years.
While drafting him at 17 may seem like a bit of a reach given his lack of size, if Pittsburgh could snag him in the second or third round I think most people would be very happy. If you would like to watch a tape breakdown of Kancey, our own Jonathan Heitritter did one last month.