Pittsburgh Steelers' Nose Tackle Casey Hampton

steeler junkyContributor IMarch 5, 2010

PITTSBURGH - MAY 01:  Casey Hampton #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the rookies during rookie training camp at the Pittsburgh Steelers Practice Facility on May 1, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Some people have mentioned that Big Snacks' play has lost a step, and we need to use a high pick on a Nose Tackle. I disagree! He still is a force in the middle of that line and, barring injury, will be fine for a few more years.  Sure, he is older, but his experience helps him understand what is happening. So he can start making his adjustments sooner.

In the first three seconds after the snap, Casey has to stand up the double team, diagnose the offensive threat, and react to the play.

3-4 defenses are extremely complicated for players to learn, and Pittsburgh's 3-4 is no exception. Players not only have to learn their responsibilities, but also many of their teammates' responsibilities, for the players responsibilities are overlapping and concern the timing of each others' assignments.

Also, there are a lot of different player assignment variables for each position. Anytime anyone can enlighten me about the something on the defense, feel free to comment, for I don't have time to watch game tapes.

I am sure there is much we as fans don't know about how it all works exactly.  That's  the way it should be, for if we knew,' so would the other teams' offenses. Mr. LeBeau is great at disguising the defense's intent. That's what helps keeps his fine defensive schemes working as well as they do.

Casey's job in the middle of that line is to occupy as many offensive linemen as possible while not giving ground, while trying to collapse the pocket without leaving a running lane on either side of himself and freeing up the line backers behind him to make tackles. It is a tough dirty job that goes mostly unnoticed. First and foremost, he is the anchor in the middle and cannot let himself be pushed backward.

He can't work left or right during a possible run play, unless the play is headed in that direction or there is no run threat. Also, he cannot push the pocket faster than the players beside him without leaving a running lane.

The exception to this rule is passing downs. Then he has more options to do different things. Being a two-down player most of the time, he doesn't get to play as many passing downs as he does running downs.

So he does not get as many opportunities to push in the pocket on the quarterback.  But I am sure he loves it when he gets a chance to do that. And I love to see him do it.

Many times, I have seen him beat the double teams he is consistently faced with.  But a lot of the time, his job is just to be the immovable object, and that is also a win for him. He succeeds at that more often than not.

This year will not be the year they draft Casey's replacement in the first round.  They may in the later rounds draft or sign a player that shows enough promise to compete for the backup position. NT Cam Thomas could be a value pick in round three if he is still there.

If one of the top four offensive tackles is still there at 18, it would not surprise me if the Steelers took him. Odds would go up if they lose Colon and get an extra pick in the first or second round.