Yes, I know that it’s a bit early to make a prediction on what players will be drafted where in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. The combine hasn’t taken place, and schools haven’t had their pro days. However, looking at what’s been presented to us so far, we can take a crack at what franchises could be thinking leading up to this April’s draft.
As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I think that their 15th overall pick should be used to get University of Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III. The Steelers struggled in stopping the run during the 2013 season. Pittsburgh’s average of 115.6 rushing yards allowed per game was 21st in the league, which included surrendering 197 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in back-to-back weeks.
The 6-foot-2, 352-pound Nix is the perfect fit for the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive alignment. Nix could give Pittsburgh that hole-plugging presence that has been lacking since Casey Hampton left the Steel City. Current starting nose tackle Steve McLendon didn’t fill the void left by Hampton like most thought he would, and it’s not set in stone that reserve nose tackle Al Woods will be re-signed for 2014.
The potential addition of Nix could definitely enhance the performance of defensive end Cameron Heyward, who’s finally looking like the first-round draft pick the Steelers expected, and the entire corps of linebackers. Furthermore, drafting Nix could compensate for Pittsburgh’s decision of selecting nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu in 2012.
As great of a pick Nix seems to be, there is a red flag regarding his health. Nix was dealing with tendinitis in his knee this past season at Notre Dame, and had surgery to repair a torn meniscus this past November.
Despite his knee issues, I still believe that Nix will be the best pick for the Steelers this offseason. There is no guarantee that he’ll be available once Pittsburgh is on the clock, but if Nix is still on the board, the Steelers should jump at the opportunity that could make their defense the best in the league once again.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.