Ready for the NFL’s dog days of summer to be over? If you have fallen into this category and are currently suffering from football withdrawal, how about a splash into the pool entitled, “2023 NFL Draft”?
Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a brief look at the outlook of each primary position in the 2023 NFL Draft, breaking down the top prospects of note while also taking a look at the prospects who make the most sense for the Steelers. This week, we will be looking at a position that has been a major headline in recent Steelers news: defensive line.
With Stephon Tuitt retiring, the Steelers are expecting a combination of DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and Chris Wormley to fill his void. Wormley seems to be penciled in as the starter as of now, but Leal will have every opportunity to steal the starting gig in the preseason. A replacement for Tuitt is not the only thing the Steelers have to worry about on the defensive line, however. Tyson Alualu is 35 years old and coming off a season-ending ankle injury, and after passing on Travis Jones on Day 2 of the 2022 draft, the Steelers will definitely need to address it in 2023.
If you have any thoughts on these prospects, be sure to share them in the comment section below.
Let’s dive in!
1. Jalen Carter | Georgia
The numbers may not wow you on paper, but if you watched Georgia’s defense in 2021, you can testify to the impact Carter made. He was an absolute wrecking ball, and it is not absurd to consider him better than any of the other defensive linemen on that stacked Georgia defense. That includes Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, who were both high-profile draft prospects this past year. When it comes to down linemen, Carter’s quickness and twitchiness are unparalleled in the 2023 class, and his solid base allows him to defend the run at an incredibly high level. Now that he finally has a chance to garner the spotlight, do not be surprised if he becomes a top-ten pick next April.
2. Bryan Bresee | Clemson
While we are talking about athletic freaks, I would be remiss not to mention Bresee. At 6’5”, 300 pounds, Bresee can literally play anywhere along the defensive line thanks to his uncanny speed for a 300-pound lineman. He is incredibly quick out of his stance, and he uses his length well, consistently winning the battle for leverage in the trenches. If he can make a full recovery from an ACL injury he suffered at the beginning of the 2021 season, he could shoot up draft boards in a hurry.
Rest of the Top 10
3. Jaquelin Roy | LSU
4. Cory Durden | North Carolina State
5. Siaki Ika | Baylor
6. Calijah Kancey | Pittsburgh
7. Gervon Dexter | Florida
8. Myles Murphy | North Carolina (not to be confused with Myles Murphy from Clemson)
9. Tyler Davis | Clemson
10. P.J. Mustipher | Penn State
Steelers Prospect to Watch
Siaki Ika | Baylor
If you like large human beings, Ika will become your BFF in short order. At 6’4”, 350 pounds, Ika fits the mold of a prototypical nose tackle, but he has also shown flashes of three-down ability. Unfortunately, those flashes need to become more frequent in 2022. While 3.5 sacks may not sound like much, it is a solid number for a man as big as Ika. However, it does not erase the fact that he is capable of even more.
Ika began his collegiate career at LSU, a school which showed serious interest in him coming out of high school. The former four-star recruit was expected to play a major role in the Tigers defense, but to his demise, LSU changed their defensive scheme to a base 4-3 front, making Ika the odd man out of the puzzle. When realizing his role was going to be destroyed, he entered the transfer portal and ended up choosing Baylor. He now heads into his fourth season of college ball with the expectation of becoming a Day 2 draft pick.
Ika’s size is no secret, but it is worth mentioning that he certainly lives up to the billing of a two-gap, run-stuffing defender. He plays with heart and emotion, and his work ethic has been unquestioned. If he can drop, say, 10 pounds and remain in the 335-340 pound range, it could do wonders for his quickness coming out of his stance.
Regardless of what he weighs in at, he is a player the Steelers should keep a close eye on this fall as they look to find a long-term replacement for Tyson Alualu.
Which of the aforementioned defensive linemen do you like the most? Which defensive lineman do you think fits best in the Steelers’ current defensive scheme? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this topic, and stay tuned to BTSC throughout the remainder of the summer for all the news and notes surrounding our beloved black and gold!