Will the Pittsburgh Steelers beef up their interior defensive line early in the NFL Draft?
We are now less than a week away from the NFL Draft. A lot of questions remain including who the Steelers will take with their first pick in the draft. The indication has been someone in the secondary, but the Steelers may not be thinking the same.
The Steelers have yet to replace the departed Steve McLendon on their defensive front. Though McLendon was an average player, he played well enough as a zero technique to keep the linebackers clean, always being a space eater. If the Steelers want to find an even better space eater in this draft, Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson can be that and more.
Robinson is the best all=around 3-4 defensive lineman in this draft. The junior can play every position in a front including the zero, three and five techniques. Possessing a well portioned body, Robinson carries his 6’4 307 lb. better than any interior line prospect. His legs are like powerful tree trunks, making it tough for opposing offensive lineman to move him off the snap.
Unlike other defensive line prospects, Robinson does not have the stats to back up his excellent play. In 2015, the junior racked up only 46 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. Still, he was recognized by the media as first team All-SEC, first team All-American and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy. Some may think Robinson earned those honors only because he played for Alabama, maybe because he looks 40 (he just turned 21), but there’s no denying his talent.
Another benefit of playing with a talented team like Alabama is the tremendous depth at every position. The defensive line was so exception in Tuscaloosa. Over the past 2 seasons, Robinson only played 57% of the defensive snaps for the Crimson Tide. Though his could be due to his lack of playmaking ability, a first round talent with low trend on the tires is a godsend for NFL coaches.
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If the Steelers do select Robinson at 25, they will not only find a starter, but a team leader. At Alabama, he was the “boss” in the locker room and on the field, holding teammates accountable for poor play. Cam Heyward is clearly the leader of the defensive line right now, but bringing in another hardnosed, no nonsense guy would go a long way on and off the field.
There are more pressing needs and better playmakers in this draft, but Robinson has the potential to start 10 years or more on a defensive line in the NFL.