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The Pittsburgh Steelers defense can no longer be labeled "old and slow"

Remember the "old" Steelers defense? Yeah, me neither...

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

I remember a time, not too long ago, where opposing fans and analysts were poking fun at the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, calling them "old and slow." While the Steelers defense started to get long-in-the-tooth, that was due to a variety of mainstays such as Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor, who all still had at least some gas left in the tank before their final hoorah in the Steel City.

With an offense capable of scoring on anyone, at anytime, in place, Pittsburgh started focusing on defense heavily over the last few seasons. It started with an investment in a number of first round draft picks used on linebackers Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree, and a plethora of picks used defensive players in this year's draft (actually 5 of the team's 7 total picks.)

Those picks were used to shore up the secondary (CB Artie Burns, S Sean Davis) and anchor the defensive line (Javon Hargrave) in addition to the team spending two picks in 2015 on cornerbacks as well (Senquez Golson, Doran Grant.)

What the makeover amounts to is one of the youngest defensive units in the NFL.

The following chart lists the Steelers defense with current age (as of this publication.) While I wanted to include all players, it isn't possible, as many camp bodies will be cut (and they also skew the figures, mostly in the younger demographics.) Players who were on the active roster or practice squad are included in the table, along with this year's draft picks, and several other hopefuls (such as Donald Washington, who has NFL experience.)

Artie Burns is the youngest of the group, finally old enough to buy a beer (21.) He is followed by fellow 2016 draft pick Sean Davis (22) and a huge group of 23-year-olds (11 total.)

This year's iteration of the Steelers defense is so young in fact, there are only 3 players over the age of 30: Lawrence Timmons (30) William Gay (31) and James Harrison (38) (considering Donald Washington, 30, is a longshot to make the team.)

Here is the full list of roster hopefuls, along with their age and position:

Name Position Age
Burns, Artie CB 21
Davis, Sean S 22
Hargrave, Javon DT 23
McCullers, Daniel DT 23
Lyons, Caushaud DE 23
Tuitt, Stephon DE 23
Chickillo, Anthony LB 23
Dupree, Bud LB 23
Feeney, Travis LB 23
Matakevich, Tyler LB 23
Shazier, Ryan LB 23
Golson, Senquez CB 23
Grant, Doran CB 23
Walton, L.T. DE 24
Zumwalt, Jordan LB 24
Cockrell, Ross CB 25
Golden, Robert S 25
Thomas, Shamarko S 25
Fort, L.J. LB 26
Jones, Jarvis LB 26
Williams, Vince LB 26
Heyward, Cameron DE 27
Johnson, Steven LB 28
Moats, Arthur LB 28
Mathews, Ricardo DE 29
Mitchell, Mike S 29
Timmons, Lawrence LB 30
Washington, Donald CB 30
Gay, William CB 31
Harrison, James LB 38

Joe is the founder of Steel City Underground, a Pittsburgh Steelers blog and podcast. Follow SCU on Facebook and Twitter.