The Steelers had one of the best fronts in football last year with Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, T.J. Watt, and Bud Dupree all contributing in significant ways. However, after Tuitt’s season-ending pectoral rupture, Javon Hargrave stepped in at his spot and was an absolute wrecking ball. Pittsburgh fans had become accustomed to seeing Hargrave do that from the nose tackle spot and the 3-technique as well. But now, Hargrave is heading to the Eagles on a new three year $39 million deal. With his departure, that means the Steelers defensive line draft targets have to be extensive.
Thus, here are four defensive line prospects that the Steelers could look at to help fill the void Hargrave left behind.
Neville Gallimore, IDL Oklahoma
Gallimore is an insane athlete. There is nothing else to say about his athleticism. He ran a 4.79 at the combine and has an incredibly explosive first step. That is very apparent on tape. I would almost say Gallimore would be the ideal realistic scenario for the Steelers along the defensive line. He is a plug-and-play guy with heavy hands and a hot motor. That is a Steelers defensive lineman if I have ever seen one.
The fit with the Steelers is natural. Gallimore is plenty strong and disciplined enough to hold up a tradition nose tackle role, but the Steelers have been running looks that would shift him out as a 3-technique, and his explosiveness is perfect for that role. Consider Gallimore a strong candidate for the Steelers. He fits the bill quite well.
Davon Hamilton, IDL Ohio State
Hamilton is another guy who makes a ton of sense for the Steelers. He is not nearly as explosive as Gallimore, but he still has some serious juice. Yet again as well, his motor runs extremely hot. Hamilton is a physical mauler on the inside that plays with great tenacity and physicality. I love his style of play.
Hamilton excels as a run-stuffer who can two-gap quite well. That is what the Steelers need in a lot of ways, and you could see Hamilton be a legit option for them with one of their fourth-round picks. He might not be flashy, but he is serviceable and reliable depth at the very least.
Raekwon Davis, IDL Alabama
Davis is someone I can see the Steelers taking with their third-round compensatory pick. The Steelers in recent times have keyed in one Alabama defensive lineman after the hire of former Alabama defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Isaiah Buggs and Joshua Frazier are two of those guys that were previous understudies of Dunbar’s in Tuscaloosa. Davis is another one of Dunbar’s pupils.
More importantly, this is another guy who can two-gap and win in the trenches. Davis’ calling card will be his run defending ability. He has the strength and gap integrity to shut down open running lanes and be disruptive. In a lot of ways, Davis is a throwback since he does not offer much in terms of pass-rush ability, but the Steelers are a team that appreciates their run plugging lineman still.
Justin Madubuike, IDL Texas A&M
I am here all day for this one. Madubuike is a dynamo on the interior with some serious explosiveness and juice in his game. He is a bit rawer than the other three mentioned here, but his upside as a pass rusher and run defender is fantastic. In particular, his hands are powerful and stun opposing offensive lineman when coupled with his burst. He becomes hugely disruptive because of it.
He does a great job of using his hands and quickness to make fools of opposing lineman. It is fun to watch his game progress throughout a game. His natural pad level is good, and he usually does not pop up and open up his chest. Madubuike’s key is that upside he has, and the Steelers will have to spend their second-rounder on him to get him, but he does fit a similar mold to Hargrave.