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Steelers Analysis

Analysis: Steelers Continue Building Defense with Larry Ogunjobi Signing



Steelers DT Larry Ogunjobi

The Steelers have their defensive line help in Larry Ogunjobi. The former Bengals and Browns defensive tackle is signing with the Steelers, and it is a move that was very necessary. This goes deeper than just a normal signing. The Steelers needed this help after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt. It was clear that the Steelers held out hope that Tuitt would come back to the team, and when that did not happen, they pivoted.

The defense is going to be the heart and soul of this team, and Ogunjobi is another move along with Myles Jack, Levi Wallace and others that will allow the Steelers to reinforce that. Given last year’s historically bad run defense, something had to change, and when it became clear that Tuitt was not going to return, outside help became necessary.

Pittsburgh has intriguing pieces on the defensive line. Cam Heyward is still elite. Tyson Alualu returns and is one of the best pure nose tackles in football. Young players such as Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal have tons of potential. The Steelers even have veteran depth like Chris Wormley and Montravius Adams. However, they lacked a true third starting defensive lineman to play next to Alualu and Heyward.

Ogunjobi can be that, as long as he is healthy. He signed with the Chicago Bears for a big deal earlier this offseason, but had it voided due to a failed physical. He suffered a foot injury against the Raiders in the wild-card round that required surgery. It seems, though, that he is now healthy and Ogunjobi is ready to play. If that holds up, the Steelers are getting a serious difference-maker.

Working best as a true three-technique, Ogunjobi has worked as far inside as a zero-technique true nose tackle and all the way out to a five-technique, the Steelers traditional defensive end position. He will likely start as the Steelers’ base defensive end across from Heyward, and he could see play in the sub packages as well. The Steelers love to play their guys as three-technique tackles in their sub packages, and that is where Ogunjobi works best. His explosiveness and movement skills will attract that kind of attention to him.

Of course, he will likely have to beat out Alualu to earn that role, but it is on the table. Ogunjobi’s pass-rushing skills are rare at his size. He racked up 21 quarterback hits, 7 sacks, and 43 pressures last season according to Sports Info Solutions. That puts Ogunjobi in the top-10 of each category. So, if the Steelers want to scare some quarterbacks, they certainly have done so with the addition of Ogunjobi.

His run defense is no slouch, either. Ogunjobi has proven to be able to handle combo blocks and destroy those with ease. He’s a highly disruptive defender that can blow up a play on any given play due to his explosiveness. Ogunjobi brings good pad level and functional strength to the table, which allows him to lock out and stack and shed well. As long as the foot injury has not sapped some of his explosiveness, Ogunjobi’s going to be a problem.

This was a no-brainer for Omar Khan and the Steelers. Ogunjobi is a starter-level guy when that is what they clearly lacked. It fills a massive void that was left by Tuitt. With all the depth the Steelers now have on the defensive line, it would be likely that they would employ a rotation. If so, it can keep guys like Alualu, Ogunjobi, and Heyward healthy and more energized throughout the game. They would all enjoy that luxury, and it could make them even more productive.