Steelers fans finally get some clarity about where players will be lining up this year. Here’s what Mike Tomlin had to say on Matt Feiler and Tyson Alualu.
Since the 2019 season ended, Steelers fans have been trying to predict how the Steelers would fill the holes left in their starting lineup. Longtime starting left guard, Ramon Foster, elected to retire this offseason, while nose tackle, Javon Hargrave, signed a lucrative deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Since then, fans and experts alike have been trying to predict what the Steelers would do this year to fill those two positions. It looks like we finally have an answer.
Teresa Varley of the Steelers official website recently spoke to Mike Tomlin about his plan to fill both the left guard and nose tackle positions. Here’s what he had to say:
What we have predicted for a while now is coming to fruition. As I stated before the NFL draft, I believed there was a good chance that starting right tackle, Matt Feiler, would kick inside to left guard – a position he played back in 2017.
Behind him, the Steelers have been trying to groom the future at offensive tackle. Both Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor now have multiple seasons of backup experience under their belts and will be looking to take the next step forward into a starting role. With Alejandro Villanueva still under contract in 2020, only one of the two young tackles will earn the spot on the right side of the line.
This is a battle that will likely go through training camp. While I think that Okorafor has shown improvement, my guess is that Banner ultimately locks down the role – making Okorafor a potential replacement for Villanueva at left tackle in 2021.
On defense, there weren’t a lot of options to go with at nose tackle. Isaiah Buggs doesn’t really fit the mold, while Dan McCullers is not mobile enough to step into such an increased role. After ignoring the position in free agency and not taking a defensive tackle until Carlos Davis in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was a pretty safe bet to assume that Tyson Alualu would see an increased role by sliding into Hargrave’s old position.
At 6’3”, Alualu is a little taller than the candidates the Steelers normally run with in the middle of their defense, but Alualu is coming off one of his best years with the Steelers and has the ability to both anchor against the run and get pressure on passing downs. Chris Wormley will slide in as the primary backup at 5-technique to Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward.
With still a month to go until training camp, there will be plenty of updates to come. For now, this insight gives us a good look at what the Steelers are trying to do moving forward.