Pittsburgh Steelers: Supplementing Youth with Experience on Defense
In recent years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted their share of defensive players. This offseason, they added some depth via free agency.
Face it. In recent seasons, the modern-day version of the “Steel Curtain” at times has looked like aluminum foil. These days, stopping opposing quarterbacks has been more difficult than ever. And as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers have been under Mike Tomlin, their defense has had its issues.
In these last two drafts alone, general manager Kevin Colbert has addressed this unit early. In 2016, the franchise used its first three selection in the first three rounds on cornerback Artie Burns, strong safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave. All three had an impact as the season unfolded and slowly but surely worked their way into the starting lineup.
In late April, the Steelers were at it again. They used a first-round selection on outside linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) and a third on cornerback Cameron Sutton (Tennessee). It will be interesting to see how much this duo gets in terms of on-the-job training this season.
Meanwhile, the defending AFC North champions have made sure the learning curve isn’t too tough. Via free agency this offseason, Colbert signed defensive end Tyson Alualu (Jacksonville Jaguars), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (New York Giants) and strong safety Daimion Stafford (Tennessee Titans). It gives the 12th-ranked defense of a year ago a trio of proven performers. Alualu is a solid pickup due mainly to the fact that both Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward had injury issues, and he could also move inside if necessary.
As for Sensabaugh and Stafford (the latter who knows the Pittsburgh system after spending time with Dick LeBeau the last few years), they can only be pluses for a secondary that is improving but isn’t quite dependable just yet.
Rebuilding the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has come slowly but surely. Youth is certainly being served. But a few seasoned performers that can pass on some needed experience certainly can’t hurt.
Russell S. Baxter is the Washington Redskins lead writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Redskins news and features? Like our Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.