Free agents: None
The good: McLendon suffers by comparison when it comes to Casey Hampton, the player he succeeded at nose tackle, but the fourth-year veteran is a solid player in the middle of the Steelers’ defense. McClendon, who recorded 18 tackles and a sack in 2014, might never command – nor fight off – double-teams with the regularity that Hampton did. But the Steelers can win with him at nose tackle. McCullers has a ton of upside because of his sheer size and ability to move as well as he does at 6-foot-7 and 352 pounds.
The bad: McLendon bulked up to 330 pounds last year to withstand the rigors of nose tackle but missed four games because of a recurring shoulder injury. McCullers showed flashes in the limited snaps he received as a rookie, but he still has a lot of work in front of him, not to mention McLendon.
The burning question: How much of a factor will McCullers be next season? There simply aren’t many people his size walking the planet, and McCullers has surprisingly light feet. A sixth-round pick out of Tennessee, he has to improve in a number of areas, including locating the ball, and playing with leverage will always be an issue because of his height. But McCullers could develop into a real force if he is willing to work and makes consistent improvement.
The money: The Steelers are in good shape at nose tackle as McLendon’s base salary in 2014 is $2.25 million. McCullers will make a base salary of $510,000.
Draft priority: Low. The Steelers are much more likely to address defensive end, as they need depth and could also use another developmental player at the position. They might draft a player who has the flexibility to play everywhere along the defensive line, but it’s hard to imagine them using anything other than a late-round pick on someone who projects solely as a nose tackle.