Pittsburgh Steelers: Football Outsiders

Not everyone is optimistic about an offensive line that returns four starters, gets Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey back from a torn ACL and added respected offensive line coach Mike Munchak during the offseason.

Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar identified offensive line as the position that is most lacking Insider for the Steelers, and he said both tackle spots could be a problem this season.

"When it comes to a premium position like offensive tackle, the Steelers continue to field two turnstiles that provide opponents easy access to stuffing the run and pressuring Ben Roethlisberger," Kacsmar wrote.

That assessment is at odds with many projections that the Steelers' offensive line will be a strength in 2014. Kacsmar, as it turns out, is as unimpressed with Mike Adams as he is with starting tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert.

According to Football Outsiders, Adams blew one block per 25.1 snaps last season. That was the worst rate among offensive linemen who played at least 400 snaps in 2013.

Kacsmar liked the signings of running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Lance Moore and what those additions will do to shore up their respective positions.

He listed tight end and defensive end as two of the Steelers' most precarious situations. A serious injury sustained by Heath Miller or Cameron Heyward will result in "death at those positions," Kacsmar wrote.
PITTSBURGH -- ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have the Pittsburgh Steelers taking Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III in the two mock drafts each has done to this point.

Cian Fahey of Football Outsiders provided insight into why the Steelers need to address the middle of their defensive line. Fahey wrote that nose tackle is the Steelers’ biggest need because Steve McLendon did not prove to be a good enough replacement for five-time Pro Bowler Casey Hampton.

McLendon, according to Football Outsiders, made his average tackle following a gain of 3.0 yards, the worst of any starting nose tackle in a 3-4 defense last season.

The Steelers slipped to 20th in the NFL in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), according to Football Outsiders. Last season marked the first time in five years that the Steelers did not finish in the top 10 in either rushing or passing DVOA. And the Steelers allowed 125 rushing yards per game last season after surrendering just 95 rushing yards per game in 2012.

Here is an excerpt from what Fahey wrote regarding the Steelers’ need at nose tackle:

    Everything the Steelers do on defense is predicated on their ability to stop the run. The most important run defender in Dick LeBeau's scheme is the nose tackle. Casey Hampton excelled in that role for years before Steve McLendon took over last season. McLendon had thrived in a pass-rushing role, but he struggled to sustain quality play as a full-time starter at the nose.