Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Needs: Defensive Line

Anyone in Steelers Nation who can register a pulse knows that defensive back (specifically cornerback) and wide receivers are areas of high interest for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Steelers have had at least 7 cornerbacks and/or safeties and at least 4 wide receivers into the South Side for pre-draft visits.

  • That’s a curious selection, as neither wide receiver nor cornerback is the Steelers greatest area of need.

This is not to minimize the Steelers needs those two positions. The Steelers need both depth and quality at both wide out and corner. But neither area of the depth chart offers the gapping hole that one finds when looking at the state of the Steelers defensive line.

Leading the Steelers defensive line of course is 2011 first round pick Cameron Heyward, who appears to be, what Chuck Noll once described as a “Championship Caliber Player.”

Next to Heyward the Steelers have Steve McLendon, who will return for a second stint at nose tackle. The Steelers also bolstered their depth at nose tackle with the free agent acquisition of Cam Thomas.

Al Woods is in Tennessee and Ziggy Hood is in Jacksonville. Neither loss is critical, but together they rob the Steelers of two serviceable veterans who knew Dick LeBeau and John Mitchell’s systems.  That means the Steelers cupboard at defensive line is as thin as it is bare.

After the two Cam’s and Steve McLendon the Steelers have Nicholas Williams, Hebron Fangupo and Brian Arnfelt. William got injured in training camp and spent the entire 2013 season on IR, losing a rookie year is never a plus, but the Steelers drafted Williams the 7th round of 2013 as a project.

  • The good news is that Fanbupo and Arnfelt both got on to the Steelers active roster in late 2013 and therefore have some NFL experience.

The bad news is that if their combined 2013 snap total can hardly top 2 dozen, if even that.

Resigning Brett Keisel remains an option. Steel Curtain Rising is on record calling for Kesiel’s return, but even if the Steelers bring him back, that is hardly a long term solution.

No, the Steelers need quality and quantity on the defensive line, and they need it now. Therefore the priority of the defensive line in for the Steelers in 2014 must be rated as High.

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