Steelers Thoughts On Nose Tackle Depth Will Be Known Following The Draft
Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Alameda Ta\’amu made a poor decision Sunday evening when he retweeted an old picture of himself with an acquaintance in a car with a bottle of Cinnamon whiskey. He has since deleted those tweets and apologized.
Moving forward now, it will be interesting to see if the Steelers feel comfortable enough with Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo, who they signed off of waivers from the Seattle Seahawks last season, fighting to back up Steve McLendon as they head into the draft later this month. If they draft a nose tackle at any point during the draft, it will be a clear sign that they aren\’t.
Both Ta\’amu and Fangupo have yet to dress in a Steelers uniform for a game, while McLendon has started just one game and played less than 400 snaps since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009. As it looks right now, long-time starter Casey Hampton will not be back, but that could change quickly depending on how the draft goes.
A nose tackle in the Steelers 3-4 defense is not one that will not put up great stats, but his performance goes a long way in making the defense successful. The ability of a good 3-4 nose tackle to one and two gap against the run, and often times take on more than one blocker, allows for the linebackers to fill the running lanes and make plays.
Against the pass, a good 3-4 nose tackle must be able to push the pocket up the middle on a consistent basis, something that Hampton hasn\’t been able to do over the course of the last two seasons.
McLendon has shown over the course of the last few seasons that he deserves an opportunity to start. It won\’t take many games into the 2013 season; however, to figure out if he can become the successor to Hampton for the next few seasons. Should he go down with an injury, it will be up to Ta\’amu or Fangupo to replace him.
Hopefully, the Steelers don\’t have to invest an early round draft pick on a nose tackle, who is almost certain to see zero playing time in his rookie season. If they do decide to invest an early pick, it will come at the expense of another position of need of which the Steelers have plenty.