2015 Steelers NFL Mock Draft: 7 Rounds v16.0

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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Quick, name the Steelers top backups along the defensive line. If you guessed, “Cam Thomas and Clifton Geathers,” then you would be correct. That’s right, fans. By releasing Brett Keisel and standing pat during the free agency process, the Steelers are one injury to Cameron Heyward or Stephon Tuitt away from Thomas or Geathers seeing extended playing time.

Defensive line coach John Mitchell needs another developmental defensive lineman to add to the mix in the trenches, and I can see the front office trying to target one on the third day of this month’s draft. Tyeler Davison of Fresno State is one player who hasn’t garnered much press, but he could be late-round fit for Pittsburgh.

After one season as a role player and two as a starter for the Bulldogs, Davison proved to be a stout gap-clogger in the middle of Fresno State’s defense (2011-2013: 100 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 15.5 TFLs). To his credit, Davison stepped up last fall and emerged as an absolute monster during his senior campaign. The former Bulldog racked up a career-high 61 tackles, and even led the team in sacks (8.5) and TFLs (13.0) from his nose tackle position in the team’s 3-4 defensive scheme.

With his experience as a two-gap player, large frame (6’2″ 316 lbs.), long arms (34″) and overall strength, Davison figures to be a good fit along the defensive line of a team which employs a base 3-4 system on defense like the Steelers. Davison is powerful player who has the ability to do damage when he anchors and plays with appropriate pad level against the run. In addition, Davison can even create some pocket collapse on loops, bull rushes and swim moves which he executes with his active hands.

Davison is far from a perfect prospect, and he has some technical issues to his game which must be refined before he sees extensive work on the defensive side of the ball. As a tackler, Davison could play with more consistency when it comes to wrapping up offensive players. As a pass rusher, Davison could stand to do a better job of getting his arms and hands into passing lanes. When engaged with offensive linemen, Davison could improve his balance as well as keep his legs moving to play with more power.

Do not discount the Steelers from adding more developmental depth along their defensive line during the upcoming draft. Mitchell has found success with late round and unheralded prospects before, and a two-gap player like Davison could be a solid investment made late in the process.

Next: Will Antwon Blake Start In 2015?

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