After a severe tissue tear in his knee, most figured Casey Hampton's playing days in Pittsburgh were chiseled down to mere minutes as the Steelers trailed in Denver. Pittsburgh rallied, but the season ended, and with the finality, most figured Hampton would be included in the tough losses ahead.
Instead, Casey Hampton was among those who restructured his contract to help alleviate cap stresses.
Despite a loss of power and balance showcased in his game in 2012, an obvious drop-off from his sheer domination in previous seasons, the fact still remains that Steve McClendon is the lone viable option currently on the roster. Therefore, maybe it was slightly (and, only slightly) predictable in some ways that the team retained Hampton.
Additionally, with the supreme combine performance by Dontari Poe, predicted by many fans to be drafted by Pittsburgh in the first round out of Memphis, it appears the Black and Gold would have to trade up or get very lucky to still have any shot at the fine young nose tackle.
As such, the team could easily shift its focus, if it had even intended to pursue Poe anyway, to a more viable and odds-on available candidate.
Nevertheless, a fine, powerful nose tackle is a demanding and necessary component of a successful 3-4 defense. Casey Hampton's raw talents made him the perfect selection at 19th overall in 2001.
In 2012, "Big Snack" may not even see the field, making his return for the last year of his contract equally unpredictable.
Whether he plays and despite his staying, the fact remains that the future of Pittsburgh's dominant defensive front depends on their acquisition of a great nose tackle in the near future, somebody whose tree trunk thighs and "Big Snack" build they can build their future upon.
Other options in the draft include BYU's Hebron Fangupo and Washington's Alameda Ta'amu.