The Pittsburgh Steelers will certainly need improvement on the defensive line in 2014 if they want to get back to being stout against the run. The Steelers’ defense finished an uncharacteristic 21st in the league against the run and 13th in overall defense. The team could also lose veterans Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood and Al Woods to free agency this offseason. That would leave only two defensive linemen on the team with any real experience.
Cameron Heyward looks like he is becoming a star and a potential dominant force at one defensive end spot. Heyward finally got the playing time to show what he could do in 2013 and looks like he’ll live up to the first round pick the Steelers spent on him. That one defensive end spot is the only real spot locked up right now on the line though.
Steve McLendon played well in his first season as a starter but there is no guarantee he starts again in 2014. The team will need to decide if to even keep McLendon at nose tackle or switch him to defensive end. That question will be answered when the team decides whether or not to re-sign Ziggy Hood or Al Woods.
The only other players on the roster at the position are Brian Arnfelt, Hebron Fangupo, Nick Williams and Al Lapuaho. Now I really like the potential of some of those guys but are any ready to step up into a more prominent role?
As much as none of us really want the Steelers to use another first round pick on the defensive line, they could decide to do just that. There are at least three defensive tackles that will be available at 15 when the Steelers pick. Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III from Notre Dame and Ra’Shede Hageman will all be options available.
In my opinion, I don’t really think the Steelers should go defensive line in the first round this year as there are just so many other positions that could help the team in 2014.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Steelers decide to go in on the defensive line this offseason.