Defensive Tackle Steve McClendon parted ways with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason and was signed by the New York Jets. Who will take his place?
Steve McClendon was by no means a superstar. Pittsburgh was clearly willing to let him go without a fight as he found his way in New York shortly after free agency started. McClendon was a player who could hold his own, and usually do what he needed to do. He wasn’t a flashy player, and he wasn’t a great player, but he was good enough.
While much of the offseason discussions regarding Pittsburgh has been how to address the dreadful secondary, McClendon’s departure leaves a gaping hole in a defensive line that holds a lot of promise otherwise.
Basically, with the way it looks now, Daniel McCullers will assume the starting role at defensive tackle.
McCullers was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 draft, but was projected to be drafted much earlier than that. With his huge frame, standing at 6’7″ and 348lbs, he has the look of a true nose tackle. He’s definitely shown some promise, often seen pushing opposing offensive linemen with relative ease.
But even with the promise that he’s shown, it’s definitely a concern going into the season if they do plan to entrust him with the starting role. He just might not have the experience or the skill necessary to be a full-time starter. It’ll definitely be necessary to throw someone else into the rotation, and the draft may be the best place to do that.
If the Steelers do plan to draft a defensive tackle, which would make incredible sense, when would they do it? Do they have the time to really develop a late round draft pick when it seems they may need someone who can jump in as at least a rotational player from day 1? Probably not.
While the secondary definitely needs help, the Steelers could even go as far as drafting a defensive tackle with their first round pick. There are plenty of possible choices at the position, and some of them will surely be there when Pittsburgh is on the clock.
A few names to remember are Sheldon Rankins, Andrew Billings, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, and Chris Jones. A couple of them will definitely be picked up before Pittsburgh makes their choice, but some of them will definitely still be lurking on the Steelers’ draft board.
Both the cornerback and defensive tackle position are fairly deep in this draft. When Pittsburgh is on the clock, it’s likely they’ll have to choose between those two positions, and maybe a few others. There will be plenty of options, and it could really just come down to best player available rather than looking at their definite needs, but you can count on them at least addressing something that seems a little bit shaky.
If they choose to go cornerback or another position besides defensive tackle, you can be sure that they will address the position in the first 4 rounds. Otherwise, the Steelers depth at the defensive tackle position could be rather concerning heading into the season.
14 days until draft day. Not too long until we find out.