The Steelers have a need at defensive line, but it does not seem that the whole class is even in consideration for Pittsburgh at this stage in the process.
So, who are the players that the Steelers seem to be focused on for their need on the interior of the defensive line? That goes to three players — Clemson’s Bryan Bresee, Florida’s Gervon Dexter, Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness, and Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton. Those three have a clear trend of interest throughout the draft process from Pittsburgh.
First, let’s start off with Bresee. He had a formal interview with the Steelers and moreover, had the entire cast of usual suspects at Clemson pro day. Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan both saw him up close and personal. In addition, he was part of a group that dined with Tomlin and Khan prior to the pro day. Bresse has known all about Tomlin since his freshman season at Clemson, but he is a prime candidate to be an option at 17 if Pittsburgh sees him as the best player available option.
Meanwhile, Dexter could be the one who puts up the alerts the most. Pittsburgh did not send the entire group to his pro day as they were in Phoenix, but they did have a formal meeting with him at the NFL Combine and hosted him for a pre-draft visit. In fact, Dexter even went out of his way to say the Steelers were one of his favorite visits, if not his favorite. The smoke is evident here.
Of course, Van Ness is the wildcard of the group. A player who has played at both interior defensive line and edge rusher, Van Ness could be one of the prototypical 5-techniques that the Steelers fall in love with during the process. Tomlin and Khan attended his pro day as well, and they did have a formal meeting with him at the NFL Combine. For now, there is no confirmed Top-3o visit there, but it would not be surprising to see that pop up. He is a prime candidate at 17th overall.
Lastly, there is Benton, who is in Pittsburgh today on a top-3o visit. The trail of interest for him goes back to February when the team met with him multiple times at the Senior Bowl. They would follow that up by having a formal interview with him at the NFL Combine. The interest in him is easy to see, as Wisconsin’s scheme mirrored much of what the Steelers do on the defensive side of the ball.
With the clear specks of interest in these prospects, it seems rather clear that the Steelers have narrowed down their list of potential players at the defensive line. They have gone out of their way to look into the position in-depth and it seems like they will draft one at some point, likely early. If they do just that, expect one of the names to be one of the four listed above.