Steelers' 90-man roster: DL

(Another in a series examining the Steelers' 90-man roster as the team heads to training camp to begin the process of cutting down to 53 players in advance of the 2020 regular season.)

ON THE ROSTER NOW: Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Josiah Coatney, Carlos Davis, Dewayne Hendrix, Cam Heyward, Dan McCullers, Henry Mondeaux, Calvin Taylor, Stephon Tuitt, Cavon Walker, Chris Wormley.

ON THE ROSTER IN SEPTEMBER: Over Mike Tomlin's 13 seasons, the Steelers on the average have kept 6.46 defensive linemen per season, so it has either been six or seven seemingly every other season.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT: Even being without starting defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt for 10 games last season, the Steelers allowed only 3.8 yards rushing per carry, their best per-carry run defensive average since 2012.

KEY DEPARTURES: A big part of that run defense is gone with the departure of starting nose tackle/nickel tackle Javon Hargrave in free agency. Not an insignificant loss, but it became clear the Steelers couldn't pay all three of their starting linemen top dollar. Losing a still-ascending 27-year-old homegrown product is difficult, particularly being that Hargrave was an interior defensive lineman who can pressure quarterbacks (four sacks last season).

KEY ADDITIONS: Wormley couldn't stop talking about his childhood love for the Steelers at his coming-out NFL Combine in 2017. The Steelers were interested in the Michigan prospect with the classic Steelers 5-technique frame (6-5, 298), but the Ravens drafted him in the third round. He played three seasons with the Ravens, made.

THE SKINNY: Heyward and Tuitt will do the bulk of the work in both the base 3-4 alignment and in the nickel, with Alualu likely moving into Hargrave's nose tackle spot in the base as well as rotating into the nickel. Even at only 304 pounds, Alualu is five pounds heavier than Kimo von Oelhoffen when he came to Pittsburgh to play nose tackle in 2000. Von Oelhoffen did a credible job, as Alualu will do, but there is less need for a big presence at that interior position than there was 20 years ago based on the way the NFL game has evolved. Behind Alualu is McCullers, who is said by Heyward to be working harder than ever in his seventh NFL season.

NEXT: Cornerbacks

Advertising