Cameron Heyward: ‘We Want Some D-Line Assist’ In The Draft

It’s only days into the start of the new league year, but we are beginning to gain some clarity into what the Pittsburgh Steelers’ needs and wants may be when the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around. They have largely been handed net neutral moves, signing a cornerback while losing one, bringing in two inside linebackers while losing one and cutting another.

They’ve also added an offensive lineman on top of that. While they re-signed Larry Ogunjobi at defensive end, they have not done anything to expand upon the defensive line beyond where it was a year ago. And Cameron Heyward believes that’s a place the team should address in the draft.

We need some d-line help”, he said in the latest episode of his podcast, Not Just Football. “We’ve still got to sign some guys there because we don’t have a lot of guys on the d-line as it is. I know we signed Larry back, but we’re trying to get some pieces back, so we’ll see on that”.

Although they had to pay arguably a premium price for it, the Steelers filled a big hole when they re-signed Ogunjobi, who was brought in a year ago to replace the retired Stephon Tuitt. Outside of Heyward and Ogunjobi, the defensive line room has little in the way of proven commodities.

Whether he retires or not, Tyson Alualu seems unlikely to be brought back after playing poorly in 2022. Montravius Adams took over at nose tackle, but the Steelers would be better served with a more established or talented starter at nose tackle.

Their top reserves at end are a pair of young players, most notable DeMarvin Leal. He was their third-round draft pick last season and saw 175 snaps of action. But there are questions about where he might ultimately play, as his size is more that of a ‘tweener’.

Then there is Isaiahh Loudermilk, a 2021 fifth-round draft pick who flashed some promise as a rookie but offered rather little last season. He was injured in training camp and so was slow to come along at the start of the regular season. When Loudermilk did get on the field, he failed to distinguish himself.

Chris Wormley, who has been a top rotational end for the past three seasons, is an unrestricted free agent but also recovering from a torn ACL. Even if Wormley returns, that should not dissuade the Steelers from attempting to upgrade here.

Regardless of how one feels about the Steelers’ depth here, the fact of Heyward’s age is not served by ignoring it. It’s fair to ask how many years of quality service he may have left, even if he continued to play at a Pro Bowl level in 2022 at age 33. Will he do the same at age 34? Thirty-five? Thirty-six?

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