Steelers Biggest Gaps Remain on Defense
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers have helped their situation for the 2020 season with nearly every move they've made so far. Free agency has been overly strong for Pittsburgh this spring as they've accumulated enough cap space to go out and fill gaps with very promising names.
Adding Eric Ebron to better the tight end position and replacing Rosie Nix with Derek Watt only upgraded the offense and special teams. Stefen Wisniewski is a reliable veteran who, even if not a starter, will be a contributor to an offensive line that needed depth.
Their own team signings have kept young talent like Zach Banner and Mike Hilton on the roster for another season, and now, they're down to minimum dyer needs before the summer.
The release of Anthony Chickillo and Mark Barron, and signing of Tyler Matakevich in Buffalo, have left the linebacker position dry. Outside of Ola Adeniyi, Pittsburgh doesn't have any depth that played in a game in 2019.
There's promise in young players like Tuzar Skipper and Ulysses Gilbert, but neither can be guaranteed contributors in 2020. Even with promise from both, having no certainty behind the starters leaves an alarming weak spot in the front seven.
The same goes for defensive tackle. Trading for Chris Wormley and signing Cavon Walker does add talent to the defensive line. Both can find themselves working in at the nose, but neither are a true tackle on defense.
Wormley started seven games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 but all were at end. His conversion inside works when needed, but saying he's more than a Tyson Alualu isn't realistic.
Any XFL player is only a tryout until proven otherwise. Yes, the Steelers found a diamond in the rough in Kameron Kelly last season but outside of the safety, no luck was available for AAF players.
Walker has promise, leading the XFL with 4.5 sacks this season. Still, even if he does make the team, he's another defensive end who can play on the inside.
Pittsburgh needs a true-blooded defensive tackle to replace Javon Hargrave. Even if it's not as big of a name as Hargrave is, having someone who can lineup inside on every down is the only way to replace the position.
All this can be found in the NFL Draft, if the Steelers decide to go that route. Even without a first-round pick, there's plenty of role players with high up-side later in the second and third rounds.
Names like Neville Gallimore, Terrell Lewis, Malik Harison and more will all be available as the draft reaches the Steelers in the second-round.
Moving forward, the game plan will remain NFL Draft for the Steelers. Outside of minor signings, general manager Kevin Colbert has turned his attention to April and finding the next generation of talent in Pittsburgh.
And the first place he's likely looking is defense.
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