Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Says Defensive Line Positional Group Still Incomplete

We’ve long speculated that there’s still a possibility that the Pittsburgh Steelers will re-sign veteran free agent defensive end Brett Keisel later on in the summer and during the Monday’s pre draft press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin addressed his situation heading into the big weekend.

“The door is not closed to anybody that’s on the market as a free agent,” said Tomlin when asked about the possibility of Keisel returning. “I think at this point, we’re singularly focused on the draft and what this weekend holds and then we’ll gather those possibilities in the aftermath.”

So far this offseason, the Steelers have not re-signed Keisel and they’ve also lost free agent defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Al Woods. To help fill that void, free agent defensive lineman Cam Thomas was signed and Tomlin admitted that there is likely still some work left to do when it comes to that position group.

“Obviously, we’re not done in that area, but also mention that we got some young people here that are working and we don’t expect them to be the same as they have been,” said Tomlin. “We expect improvement in some of the young people working here like [Brian] Arnfelt and Nick Williams, but obviously, it’s incomplete. We’ve lost more than we added and hopefully this weekend and beyond we’ll rectify that.”

The Steelers presence at the Notre Dame Pro Day several weeks ago could be a sign that either defensive end Stephon Tuitt or nose tackle Louis Nix III are in their second-round crosshairs. As of right now, Thomas appears set to be a swingman on the defensive line, but that of course could change quickly if Keisel is not re-signed.

It goes without saying that this weekend’s draft results should shed a little more light on not only Keisel’s situation, but the position group as a whole.

  • Biggie

    Definitely need to add a starter quality DL from the draft, if they don’t Keisel is pretty much a must sign at that point. I’d be good with Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, D. Jones.

  • dkoy85

    Regardless if they sign Tuitt/Nix/Hageman I’d still like to see Keisel signed for one last year. Still can offer quality play, while letting Thomas and our young guys get some quality playing time. I’m not too sure Thomas is the answer at DE this point in the offseason, and we definitely know a rookie won’t start.

    I think what drafting Tuitt/Hageman would prove is that they view Arnfelt/Williams as swing men or they haven’t seen enough to know if they can handle it. Either way, if you draft a player in the 2nd round you expect that player to start down the line. If they wait until later in the draft to pick up a DE then I feel they have confidence in Thomas/Arnfelt/Williams to be the long term starter.

    Either way I think Keisel offers quality and should be re-signed.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    To me this was one of the more interesting points of the whole press conference.

    I love watching this whole process take shape. This is the first time in a long time we have taken this team back to the roots age wise. Up this point in recent history we were retooling by adding a little something here or there. The last 2 have been pretty major overhauls.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    huh, he only said “Obviously” twice. He is getting better!

  • Steelers12328882

    If the Steelers have 19 guys they’d take in the 1st round then I definitely think one of them is DE Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota. Maybe Tuitt too, but like you mentioned, I think he’s more of a 2nd rounder.

  • Steelers12328882

    Well I wouldn’t be able to tell myself, but all the things I’ve read about him say he’s only going to be a good DT in a 4-3, but he has a chance to be a great DE in a 3-4. That and most mocks have Hageman going late in Rd 1 and Tuitt in Rd 2.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    It will be more complete once we draft Tuitt.

  • cp72

    Yeah here is my personal dilemma. If we go Fuller Dennard or Gilbert what do we do if Tuitt and a wide out we really like is there in the 2nd?

    I do not like the idea of not addressing then wr position until late in the 3rd but Tuitt would be hard to pass up.

  • steeltown


    There are a number of quality WRs from the 3rd to 7th Rd, that number diminishes greatly when discussing DL and more so a guy that looks every bit the part of a 5 technique DE