Kevin Colbert gave some clarity to the 2022 Steelers defensive line yesterday. In an interview with Steelers Nation Radio, Colbert said the team expects to have Stephon Tuitt back. He said the defensive lineman expressed interest in being with the team next season. That’s big news for this beleaguered group. Pittsburgh ranked dead last against the run in 2021. It was a major weakness with this football team last season. But just having Tuitt back will not solve all this team’s problems. Let’s look at each player currently on the roster:
Of course, Cam Heyward is one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL right now. He is coming off perhaps one of his best seasons to date. The issue here is Heyward will turn 33 this upcoming season. There is a regression coming, we just don’t know when. There aren’t many interior defensive lineman playing at a high level at this age. So while we can count Cam Heyward as a strength with this unit, we can not be absolutely certain he can match his 2021 level.
When healthy, Stephon Tuitt is a top ten interior lineman in the NFL. He is coming off what we can only assume is a major knee injury, which caused him to miss the entire 2021 season. It is impossible to predict what to expect from Stephon Tuitt this upcoming season. With the injury, the rust of having missed an entire season, and the state of mind from the tragedy of his brother’s death, Tuitt is one giant question mark for 2022.
At this point it is time for the Steelers to cut bait with Tyson Alualu. It is foolish to think a 35 year old can contribute even close to an entire season at such a grueling position as nose tackle. Alualu has failed to finish each of the last two seasons due to injury. Each time the Steelers have paid the price for entrusting their hopes of stopping the run on such a player. They simply can not afford to do it again nest season.
Chris Wormley is a useful rotational player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He does nothing spectacular, but is a steady depth veteran. The team can save almost $2.5 million by cutting him, but chances are Wormley will be part of this group in 2022.
Isaiahh Loudermilk was a pleasant surprise for the Steelers last season. He played pretty well considering being a rookie fifth round pick. The ceiling isn’t particularly high for this player, but he will be a useful body along the line going forward.
Henry Mondeaux, Carlos Davis, Khalil Davis:
Each one of these three are no more than replacement level players. They all have just as good a chance of being of the roster in 2022, as being on it.
In a perfect world the Steelers get Stephon Tuitt back, Tyson Alualu stays healthy, and Cam Heyward has another monster season. Unfortunately we all know perfect worlds do not exist. The likelihood of even two of the three of these scenarios coming to fruition is unlikely. This franchise has several holes to fill with offensive line and quarterback being chief among them. Steelers Sanctuary top 5 quarterback wish list for the Pittsburgh Steelers
We can not discount the need for a bolstering of the defensive line as well however. Turning this defense back into the strength of the team should be a top priority. That can’t happen until they improve along the defensive line, particularly against the run. Adding a young stud at nose tackle, and possibly another end would go a long way in making this defense elite again in 2022.