2010 NFL Draft: Steelers Can't Afford To Neglect Defensive Line

David KlinglerCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2010

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 13:  (L-R) James Harrison #92, Travis Kirschke #90, and Aaron Smith #91 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at the line of scrimmage during the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on August 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 20-10.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Steelers have been neglecting their defensive line in the draft for years, and it's starting to show.

Over the past five years, while the Steelers' line has gradually gotten older and the games lost to injury have continued to increase, the Steelers have drafted a grand total of five defensive linemen.

Only two of those draft picks are still on the roster, last year's picks Evander Hood and Ra'Shon Harris. Of those two, only Hood appears to be a viable starting option.

Five players in the Steelers' line rotation are 31 or older. That should send up red flags right there.

To think the Steelers have done enough to solidify their defensive line depth based solely on last years' draft is unrealistic. There's much work to be done.

Even if the Steelers sign Casey Hampton to a long term deal, which seems unlikely, they don't have anyone on the roster suited to replace him down the road in the all important nose tackle position that makes the whole 3-4 scheme work.

The Steelers use the method of selecting the "best available player regardless of position or need" as most teams do, but they are not totally inflexible in their approach.

They are not so stubborn as to pick a highly rated long-snapper in the third round when there are more pressing needs elsewhere.

This year's draft is deep at defensive tackle, so Pittsburgh shouldn't have to reach for anyone.

One thing is certain, they need to address the issue of depth on defense. It starts up front, on the line.