Buy or sell: Steelers should draft DL early regardless of Tuitt’s status
With the league’s new year 2022 there will be plenty of questions for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend money and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know yet who will be the quarterback, although we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including within the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table – and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like without Ben Roethlisberger?
It is these types of uncertainties that I will seek to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each episode I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments to buy it (meaning you agree with it or expect it to be true) or sell it (this which means you disagree with it or expect it to be wrong).
Subject statement: The Steelers should look to tackle the defensive line early in the draft, regardless of Stephon Tuitt’s status.
Explanation: Even with Cameron Heyward in the lineup, the defensive line was arguably the Steelers’ worst position group last season that they haven’t tackled this offseason. Heyward is also approaching his mid-30s regardless of his level of play, and Tyson Alualu is also approaching the very end of his career.
Brett Keisel was 31 in 2009 when the Steelers drafted Ziggy Hood. Aaron Smith was 33 years old. The Steelers drafted Heyward two years later because their starters were two years older. And now Heyward is 33. The same age Smith was when they first drafted Hood.
It’s time to take a big swing. It’s not like the defensive line doesn’t need help, based on what we saw last year. A 35-year-old Alualu returning from a broken ankle isn’t going to fully fix the run defense. Stephon Tuitt hasn’t played football in a year. Even if he returns, we don’t know what he will look like.
And this draft is as good as any to make it, if you’re talking about the defensive line talent available.
While it’s almost never a bad idea to add talent to the defensive line, the reality is that it can take a year for the Steelers. They drafted Hood and Heyward at a time when they didn’t expect their rookies to play, and that was even on the defensive line.
The group will be fine for the 2022 season as they pick up Alualu and Tuitt, supplemented by Montravius Adams before a full offseason and Isaiahh Loudermilk entering Year Two. Carlos Davis’ 2021 season has been almost entirely canceled after being injured for the vast majority of it.
And there’s no way the inside linebacker position’s play won’t improve from last season. Want to talk about the difficulties with the racing game? You might as well look for the culprit there rather than trying to pin everything on Chris Wormley.