Let's not forget nose tackle Loni Fangupo

USA TODAY Sports

Loni Fangupo is following a very similar path that Steve McLendon did from 2009-13. That path was also followed by Chris Hoke, a long-time Steelers veteran nose tackle.

The Steelers' 2013 draft netted them four players who filled significant roles last season. They aren't the only ones to focus on, however. Several players from the past few drafts have been developing over the last few seasons, and this is look at those players.

Previous
Offensive guard Nik Embernate
Wide receiver Justin Brown
Linebacker Terence Garvin
Safety Robert Golden

First, there was Casey Hampton. Then there was a bunch of chaos.

The Steelers paid little to no attention to their depth at the nose tackle position from 2001 until about 2012. The position had been locked down by Hampton and Chris Hoke, with one of the two having participated in every Steelers game for more than a decade. When Hoke retired and Hampton was released, Steve McLendon took over after a few years of internship.

McLendon runs the show now, and third-year man Hebron "Loni" Fangupo is following that internship path.

Fangupo has a size advantage on McLendon, and while not the athlete the starter is, he's worked his way up the Steelers depth chart since joining the team after Seattle released him as an undrafted free agent.

He hasn't played much, but very much like McLendon, he came from nowhere to even get where he is now. The team obviously sees something in him; he beat out former fourth round draft pick Alameda Ta'amu - a player the Steelers traded up in the fourth round to get in 2012 - for a roster spot last season.

The depth of the nose tackle position isn't exactly back to the Hampton/Hoke days, but an improving Fangupo could help the Steelers get near that point again, or at least get to a spot where McLendon's athleticism could be used on the edge in passing situations. Defensive end Cameron Heyward proved to be an effective interior rusher in sub-packages last season, but using Fangupo's size opposite another interior rusher would create interior chaos while the edge rushers can feast on the single blocks that come with a collapsing pocket.

Certainly, Fangupo isn't likely to make these kinds of scenarios come true the second he steps on the field, but the team has been working to develop him over the last two years. Perhaps 2014 is when he breaks out.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker