How Daniel McCullers Fits with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Curt PopejoyContributor IMay 10, 2014

Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (98) rushes against Georgia offensive tackle Kenarious Gates (72) in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia won 34-31. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

It is hard to classify a 6’7”, 352-pound defensive tackle in terms of fit. It is hard to fit a man that size anywhere. Nevertheless, the Pittsburgh Steelers might have snuck out of the draft with one of the biggest (pun intended) sleepers of the day with Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers at pick No. 215.

Earlier in the draft, the Steelers drafted running back Dri Archer. Archer is the fastest and one of the smallest players in the draft. So, it was only fitting: If you have the fastest guy, you might as well get the biggest too.

On film, McCullers is a study in contrasts. One play, McCullers is destroying double-teams and physically overwhelming offensive linemen. Unfortunately, the next play, McCullers gets off the line slowly, gets stood up and is washed out of the play.

Some people question McCullers' motor and work ethic. There isn’t a 350-pound man on earth who doesn’t take a play or two off. The key to McCullers' success is going to be managing his reps. Here's what Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had to say about McCullers:

The selection of McCullers is fascinating from a Steelers perspective. His size screams nose tackle, which they need. However, being 6’7” gives one pause. A key to being a successful nose tackle in the NFL is winning with leverage. Can McCullers play low enough to the ground to be a 3-4 nose tackle in a base defense?

I fear the answer is no. So, what do the Steelers do with this massive young man? The vision for McCullers could be as an interior lineman in sub-packages. Whether it is a goal-line set or in short yardage, McCullers would be on the field.

Theoretically, the Steelers could field a four-man front of Stephon Tuitt, McCullers, Steve McLendon and Cameron Heyward. That is upwards of 1,400 pounds of humanity. 

Wade Payne/Associated Press

The other spot where McCullers could find a role is on special teams. With his length, McCullers seems to be a natural when it comes to getting penetration and blocking field goals and extra points.

Regardless of how they use McCullers, the key will be to manage his snaps and keep him focused. A focused and energized Daniel McCullers is a terrifying prospect for NFL offenses. Even though in this scenario, we talk about McCullers as more of a situational player, at his best, he could be the biggest, strongest 5-technique the league has ever seen. Even if it is only done sparingly, it’s still a fascinating theory.

No matter how the Steelers end up using McCullers, there is a lot to be excited about in such a fascinating prospect.