There's a sad and true fact that Pittsburgh fans must come to terms with -- the Steelers are aging. Fast.
After missing the postseason, the goal for Pittsburgh's front office now becomes to re-up the roster before they age themselves out of contention. And, as all football minds know, games are won and lost in the trenches. One of the oldest members of the 2012 Steelers was NT Casey Hampton, 35, and he is set to enter free agency. CBS Sports' NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang recognizes this as a major need for Pittsburgh.
Thus, with the No. 17 pick in his latest mock draft, Rang has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
The Steelers have invested heavily in replacements on the defensive line with first round selections of Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward over the past three years. The most critical component of Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme, however, is at nose guard, where the team could be looking to replace 35-year old free agent Casey Hampton.
Rang also mentions how the Steelers tried to address the position last season with their fourth-round selection of Alameda Ta'amu. However, Ta'amu, following a felony arrest, was released and later signed to the practice squad.
SB Nation's Dan Kadar agrees with Rang, projecting Williams to the Steelers in his latest mock draft as well.
Casey Hampton is set to enter free agency and at 35, his career may be at its end. Even if the Steelers bring him back on a one-year deal, upgrading the middle of their defense is a must. Williams may be coming off a knee injury, but it shouldn't negatively impact his future play. He's a powerhouse nose that can push the pocket or take up multiple blockers.
Matthew Fairburn of SB Nation lays out Williams' pros and cons in his latest scouting report, which can be seen here.
Williams amassed 37 tackles and one sack as a run stopper for Alabama last season.