If fullback is a dying breed on offense, might nose tackle follow in defense?
No, nose tackle is not in any immediate danger of going away – the fullback position is – as MORE teams than ever are using 3-4 as the “base” defense. But the proliferation of the passing game with its spread offenses and multiple wide receiver sets does mean is relegating nose tackles to a 2 down position on most teams.
How that fact influences the Steelers plans in the 2015 NFL Draft remains to be seen, but first we must assess their depth.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Nose Tackle – The Starter
Both Steelers fans and Steve McLendon himself seem to have accepted that he’ll never be Casey Hampton.
McLendon’s stats from 2013 to 2014 appear to have taken a dip, but the Steelers run defense improved from 21st to 6th. Now McLendon doesn’t deserve the lion’s share of the credit for that improvement any more than he deserved the blame for the drop off in 2013. But the simple fact is that the Steelers cannot make that improvement if McLendon isn’t disrupting things in the middle.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Nose Tackle – the Back Ups
Behind Steve McLendon is 2014 6th round pick Dan McCullers, the Shady Tree. McCullers was the biggest man in the 2014 NFL Draft. The man is MASSIVE standing 6’7” and weighing 352 pounds.
McCullers actually started a game as a rookie, which is a rarity for in Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell’s system. McCullers also saw action in 8 other games. McCullers didn’t put up a lot of statistics, but there were more than one occasion when you could see him, standing there in the middle of the line and completely clogging things up.
- McCullers still must improve, but man, does the kid have a way of defining “upside.”
Aside from McCullers the Steelers still have Cam Thomas, who isn’t as bad at nose tackle as he is defensive end. The Steelers will also bring Joe Kruger to training camp.
Priority Status of Nose Tackle for Steelers in 2015 NFL Draft
The Steelers have an established starter at nose tackle and an up and coming back up. With that said, Steve McLendon is entering the final year of his contract, and even if the plan is to replace him with McCullers, McCullers will need a back up himself.
Regardless the priority status of nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft should be considered Moderate-Low.
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