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Defensive Linemen Fits for the Steelers in the 2024 NFL Draft

As we break down the NFL Draft one position at a time on the FFSN Big Board, we will be highlighting specific players at each position for your beloved Pittsburgh Steelers!

This week, we released our initial defensive lineman rankings and analysis for the big board, and today, we are going to share with you our most ideal fits for the Steelers specifically. The quarterback position is not incredibly deep this year, and the prospects with first-round grades will likely be gone by the time the Steelers are on the clock, given the high demand for the position. Nonetheless, we will give you the top option for the Steelers in Round 1, as well as a couple intriguing prospects in the mid to late rounds.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on these prospects, and the NFL in general, in the comment section below.


Darius Robinson | Missouri | 6’5”, 291 lbs
Wilbar’s Overall Grade: Late 1st
2023 Stats: T 41, TFL 12, S 7.5, FF 1.
Andrew Wilbar: Fellow Michiganders get extra credit in my book, but for Robinson, there is so much more I like than just where he grew up. Robinson is a standout athlete who took his game to a new level in 2023, amassing 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Robinson had originally played at over 300 pounds as an interior defensive lineman, but in 2023, Missouri asked him to lose weight and kick outside. Aligning primarily as a 4-3 defensive end, Robinson’s size and athleticism was simply too much for most linemen to handle one-on-one. His 6’5” frame and 35” arms make him a perfect fit as a 5-technique at the NFL level, as he could easily add back a few of the pounds he lost when kicking out to the edge. While many will look at his 2023 stats and try to use it to justify keeping him on the edge, I believe his frame and play style fits better in a base 3-4 system that branches out into subpackages on second and third downs. Either way, the fact he can play multiple spots boosts his value, as NFL coaches love versatility in the trenches. He does play with his pads a little too high as a run defender, and his occasionally poor footwork affects his quickness and balance getting upfield in pass rush situations. Nonetheless, I am excited about Robinson’s potential and consider him a potential first-round pick.

Day 2 Upside Play

Braden Fiske | Florida State | 6’ 3” 300 lbs
Wilbar’s Overall Grade: Mid 2nd
2023 Stats: GP 13, T 43, TFL 9, S 6, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.
Jeremy Betz: Fiske is an intriguing prospect with solid size and strength, albeit lacking the elite athleticism of some of his higher ranked counterparts. Fiske wins with great technique and hand usage. Effort is never a question as a team captain known for his leadership skills. This is a defender who understands his role and gap responsibility. He’s fairly scheme proof and can play multiple spots along the IDL. Teams looking for a do-it-all DT could do worse than Fiske.

Day 3 Sleeper

Maason Smith | LSU | 6’ 6” 292 lbs
Wilbar’s Overall Grade: Early 4th
2023 Stats: GP 12, T 28, TFL 4.5, S 2.5, PD 2, FR 0, FF 0.
Noah_E: I went into this excited to see what Maason Smith has to offer and I could not be more disappointed. He’s slow off the line, there is a severe lack of power in his game, and he gets eaten alive by double teams. He doesn’t know how to use his hands whatsoever and he consistently plays off balance. His pad level is atrocious and more often than not he gets stopped instantly on contact. He has a decent arm-over move that wins sometimes, but he lacks any pass rush moves outside of that. It’s not all bad though. Smith is a good athlete who’s just 21 and flashed potential during his freshman season, before he tore his ACL. His size gives him a good foundation to be a starting caliber defensive lineman. If he goes anytime before Day 3 it would be a reach.

What should the Steelers do?

Despite the many needs the Steelers have that could be addressed in Round 1, Darius Robinson should strongly be in play, considering the need to replace Cameron Heyward in the near future. Ideally, the Steelers may be able to trade back a few spots and still secure him, but much will depend on his combine testing. Considering the lack of depth at defensive line, the good ones may go sooner than anticipated, forcing the Steelers to take him at 20. Braden Fiske is another guy I am intrigued by, but I want to see what his measurables are at the combine. The Steelers like guys with length at defensive end, and if he measures in under 6’3″, he may not be what the Steelers are looking for.

Which defensive lineman do you think is a good fit for the Steelers? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!


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