The Steelers may have been scouting a replacement for the recently departed free agent Steve McLendon when they visited Baylor’s pro day. Head coach, Mike Tomlin, and GM, Kevin Colbert, were among those in attendance.
Just as they have for the past few years, pundits and fans alike are calling for cornerback help for the Steelers’ porous secondary. To be honest, that doesn’t sound all that bad. Aside from William Gay, the individuals within the Steelers’ secondary were just as inconsistent as the unit as a whole.
The cornerbacks and safeties would consistently follow up a great jump or read with a missed tackle or disappearing act. Even with all of the inconsistency that the Steelers experienced with the play of its secondary, the team now appears to be worse off.
While they might have 2015 draft pick Senquez Golson returning from injury, he remains an unknown. Many believe that the Steelers’ first round pick should be used to address this need by selecting a safety or cornerback. However, the Steelers might have another way of using that pick to help a dreadful secondary.
Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings might remind Steelers fans of a certain tackle that formerly played for the team. The 6 foot, 311 pound Billings compares favorably to Casey Hampton. Both players hail from Texas and played for an in-state school, building a reputation for disruption.
While Billings’ college numbers are not as impressive as those Hampton put up throughout his four year career at Texas, the junior has consistently made plays behind the line of scrimmage and freed up his teammates.
That’s what Hampton did best in his career with the Steelers. In his tenure in Pittsburgh, five different defenders posted 10 sack seasons–several of them more than once. Since his departure, no Steeler has had more than eight sacks in a single season.
Clogging the middle and taking up blockers is an ideal role for a player like Billings, and along side the Steelers’ current defensive ends, Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, the defensive line could become a real strength.
In turn, this would free up the Steelers’ linebackers to create more of a pass rush. The effect would continue to the secondary where corners and safeties would not be required to cover receivers for extended plays.
Billings projects to be taken right about where the Steelers pick in the first round, and the team might just feel he’ll be the best available player when they pick. It might not be a direct addition to the secondary, and Billings is no guarantee to turn in to a force like Hampton, but it sure would make for an exciting defensive line.