Steelers Mock Draft: Senior Bowl standouts leave an impression on Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin has a hand in the draft process, and he seemed to be infatuated with several players in Mobile.

Roman Wilson, Michigan Wolverines
Roman Wilson, Michigan Wolverines / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
5 of 7

529. player. Defensive Tackle. Maason Smith. . . Maason Smith. 4. Maason Smith.

Steelers mock draft round 4 (via LAR): Maason Smith, DT, LSU

As Cameron Heyward gets up there in age, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers need to look for additional help and girth along the interior defensive line. Heyward is still a quality football player when healthy, but he missed half the year in 2023 as he dealt with a severe groin injury and his career could soon be coming to an end.

Keeanu Benton looks like a potential budding star, but he's about the only thing to look forward to among the interior defenders. Larry Ogunjobi has been underwhelming and he turns 30 years old this offseason. Meanwhile, former third-round pick, DeMarvin Leal, was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh in the final stretch of the 2023 season and he might not have a significant role on the team moving forward.

Maason Smith would give the Steelers a big-bodied defensive tackle with plenty of upside. Listed at 6'6'' and 315 pounds, Smith's body type fits the mold of the 5-technique they've coveted in players like Heward and former Steeler Stephon Tuitt.

Unfortunately, Smith is incredibly raw. Nearly his entire 2022 season was claimed after he injured his knee while celebrating a play early in the first game of the season at LSU. Once he finally got healthy, Smith was suspended for the first game of the 2023 season for participation in autograph signings before the rule change in 2021.

As a result, Smith has a small body of work in college football and he has a ton of work to do as a run defender, but you can't teach the size and traits he has as an interior defender. The former five-star recruit is a project player that the Steelers may be able to groom into an eventual starter if all goes well.