The Steelers will be looking at defensive players in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Combine workouts start tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 26) and mock drafts are aplenty. The Pittsburgh offense is one of the best in the NFL and should continue to be this coming season.
The defense was a liability at times and needs reinforcement. Keith Butler’s scheme, like Dick LeBeau’s, is a 3-4 Zone Blitz that requires pressure on the quarterback and despite a significant jump in sacks in 2015, edge rushers could only help.
The uncertainty at the cornerback and safety position for next year most likely will be addressed in the first round, but it doesn’t mean it cannot also be a focus in the 2nd. Here are three prospects in the Steelers range that could bolster the defense.
Su’a Cravens OLB/SS – USC – 6’1 225
Playing a hybrid safety-linebacker role in 2015 at USC, Cravens is exactly what the Steelers need on defense. He seems to have amazing instincts on where plays and the ball are going to be.
Stanford coach David Shaw said of him, “He’s one of those guys you have to take notice of on every play, and you have to be careful with the ball because he’ll take it away from you.” Remind you of any other USC players who recently retired?
He can break on the ball as well as any of the active DBs on the roster and is currently a late 2nd round selection. This will not last, as his performance at the combine surely will move him up to the top half of the second round. My hunch is that in order to get him, the Steelers would have to use their first round pick or trade down a little.
This is a reach, but one that could really pay off. I can pretty much guarantee that you will see his jersey for sale wherever Cravens lands in the NFL.
Shilique Calhoun DE – Michigan State – 6’5 255
Calhoun is long and fast and was a major contributor to one of the best defenses in the country. He disrupts the pocket much like Bud Dupree did for Kentucky in 2014. If available in the second round, Calhoun could really strengthen the OLB position.
He played both ends in college and that is where he is comfortable – could be a very solid second round pick.
Carl Nassib DE – Penn. State – 6’7 270
Tall, strong edge rushers are what Keith Butler needs to execute his defensive game plan as much as a talented cover corner. Nassib, like Calhoun, could bring immediate depth to an aging and dwindling outside linebacker position.
Nassib came to Penn State as a walk-on and appears to be a strong character guy that displays humility and an eagerness to learn. He will probably score well in the personality portion of the evaluation.
It will be exciting to see the results from these three players come Monday. There is a lot of potential to improve the defense in this draft.