NFL Draft: Once Again, Pittsburgh Steelers Likely To Target Defensive Line Early

David KlinglerCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  Ziggy Hood #96 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals possesion of a Ravens fumble during the game against the  Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

A decision on the future of Casey Hampton with the Steelers is just a few days away. Even so, the Steelers will likely look for Hampton's replacement in the early going of this year's NFL Draft, regardless of what transpires with "Big Snack."

The truth is, the Steelers have been getting old on defense, particularly on the front line. The starters' ages are as follows: Brett Keisel 31, Casey Hampton 32 and Aaron Smith 33.

The backups aren't much better: Travis Kirschke 35, Nick Eason 29 and Chris Hoke 33.

The Steelers line needs an injection of youth to say the least. Last year's draft brought Evander "Ziggy" Hood and Ra'Shon Harris.

Hood was Pittsburgh's first round pick and saw some time in the line rotation. He got some significant playing time late in the year when injuries forced the Steelers to insert "Ziggy" into the lineup.

Overall, Hood played pretty well and even flashed signs of big play potential with a sack, fumble recovery and two passes defensed.

More is expected from Hood as his playing time steadily increases, hopefully significantly in year two.

A couple of early round prospects for the Steelers could be Dan Williams defensive tackle out of Tennessee in the first round and Terrence Cody defensive tackle from Alabama who is projected to go in round two.

The Steelers could be interested in either player to become Hampton's eventual replacement. Cody would be an intriguing pick for the Steelers in round two as his weight issues have caused some concerns in some circles.

Still, there is no denying Cody's ability to hold the point of attack. He would fit perfectly into the nose tackle position of the Steelers' 3-4 scheme.

We'll have to see how the Hampton situation turns out, I don't see a long term deal from the Steelers. All indications are Pittsburgh will use the franchise tag on "Big Snack" and draft someone to fill his big shoes in the middle of the Steeler defense.

Let's hope that person turns out to be the next great nose tackle in Steelers' lore.