Well, this position just got a little more interesting. After what was, in my opinion, a fairly unexpected retirement from Stephon Tuitt last week on June 1, the Steelers have a group that is still very deep, but lacking in any sure thing at the position outside of All-World defensive tackle (DT) Cameron Heyward.
The fact that the other side of the ball in Pittsburgh is so young, inexperienced, and a major unknown at this juncture means that much more pressure is on the Defense to be great for this team to be a true playoff contender. That starts up front in the Steel City, where the defensive front will be the driving force of success, or failure, for the entire unit.
Note: Player positions are pulled directly from the Steelers official roster on Steelers.com.
DE: Tyson Alualu, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiah Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux
DL: Daniel Archibong, Chris Wormley
DT: Montravius Adams, Carlos Davis, Khalil Davis, Cam Heyward
NT: Donovan Jeter
What more can be said about the incomparable Cameron Heyward? He is still one of the top 2 or 3 Interior Defensive Linemen in the league, despite entering the season at age 33. He'll be a game-wrecker once again in 2022.
After Heyward, there are a LOT of questions. When we last saw a healthy Tyson Alualu in 2020, he was a gap-filling run stuffer that played mostly at Nose Tackle and a some 2i and 3-technique, depending on the scheme or sub-package Tomlin and Co. sent out. Where he’s at health-wise for 2022 will be a huge plot-line as we move through the offseason. In any case, Alualu will have to display a little more versatility now that he is likely the number 2 guy on the roster.
Second-year DT Isaiah Loudermilk looks to have put on some weight and muscle with the hopes of making a sizable leap in year 2. He’s got the tenacity to be a good defender, but needs a lot of polish and coaching to become anything more than a depth piece this year.
Montravius Adams was a big pickup for the Steelers in the middle of the season last year, and he had some good moments in run defense. Overall, he’s going to have to get better as well to make the Steelers think twice about bringing in an outside Free Agent. Chris Wormley fits this bill, too, as a versatile veteran with starting experience. Wormley does have struggles defending the run, a real weak point for the team last year. The Steelers should think long and hard about going into the 2022 season with either of these guys as their solution next to Heyward and Alualu.
The other name to watch is obviously 2022 3rd Round pick DeMarvin Leal out of Texas A&M. The big question is do the Steelers think of him as a Day 1 starter at the position or was the plan to give him a redshirt year as a rotational depth piece with the hopes he develops quickly into a plus starter on the interior? I lean more toward the latter, but Leal has real talent and is a true technician at the position. Oftentimes, that gives a young player a leg up early when fighting for a job.
Quickly hitting the last few names, this is likely Henry Mondeaux’s last opportunity with the Steelers to show he belongs. Same could be said for Carlos and Khalil Davis, the brothers along the DL that have been nothing more than Practice Squad hopefuls thus far. Daniel Archibong returns alongside Rookie UDFA Donovan Jeter as the biggest roster long shots. It would take quite the miracle for any of these guys to make the final roster.
Depth Chart Prediction
Questions, questions, questions. It’s Cam Heyward and then... what? Could/should the Steelers bring in a Free Agent such as Eddie Goldman or Ndomukong Suh to shore up the other end? Is it someone in-house that steps up and solidifies the group? I believe the Steelers will bring in a starting level veteran before the season starts, allowing the depth pieces on the roster to remain just that.
Alualu needs to have a healthy 2022 for this group as a whole to have any shot at being a team strength, while Loudermilk, Adams, Wormley, and Leal all provide steady depth and solid rotational production throughout the season.
STARTERS: Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Free Agent Acquisition
DEPTH: Isaiah Loudermilk, Montravius Adams, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal
PRACTICE SQUAD: Henry Mondeaux, Daniel Archibong
Who is most likely to replace Stephon Tuitt on the Defensive Line for the Steelers?
This poll is closed