Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams made some waves on social media Wednesday when he posted a video of sophomore nose tackle Dan McCullers demolishing undrafted free agent Miles Dieffenbach.
When the Steelers selected Big Dan in the 6th round of the 2014 draft, he was a raw defensive lineman that was just big… really big. Scouting reports said he won’t get pushed around but he gets too high out of his stance (understandable for a 6’7″ guy), and he’d need to improve his conditioning and motor to be more consistent.
I honestly didn’t expect Dan to even make the roster, let along actually get on the field and make an impact as a rookie. Shame on me.
I should have remembered the fact that for all the grief that Kevin Colbert has gotten in recent years, he has had some absolute home runs in the last couple rounds of the draft.
In 2013, the above mentioned Vince Williams was seen as a special teamer and 2 down run thumping specialist at best. Vince ended up starting 10 games in his rookie season and really holding his own at a tough position. I fear that Vince could be starting somewhere in another uniform once his rookie contract is up.
The year before that, 2012, Colbert tapped Kelvin Beachum just several picks before Mr. Irrelevant. Beachum was a small school tackle that was too small to be a tackle in the NFL. Kelvin just keeps proving people wrong, and is now the starter at one of the most important positions on the team; tasked with the challenge of protecting the franchise quarterback.
Obviously, the best example of this was in the 2010 draft when the Steelers found arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL today, Antonio Brown.
As a rookie we got to see a glimpse of just how hard Big Dan is to move off of his spot. It’s nearly impossible. My favorite play of his rookie season was on what was unfortunately a Titans touchdown run. Despite missing the tackle, McCullers blew the Titans center Brian Schwenke away. Check out the gif below (courtesy of Steelers Wire).
This play, and even more-so the one posted by Vince Williams show that Dan not only has impressive strength, but an unusually quick burst off the line for a guy his size.
I’m not ready yet to call McCullers the next Brown or Beachum, but if he continues to work like it appears he has been, then the Steelers defense could improve much quicker than expected.
I think a lot of the Steelers defensive struggles stemmed from their bad tackling and bad run defense the last couple of years. The pass rush and secondary was rarely able to capitalize on long distances to go, because teams ran so well on early downs.
If “Shade Tree” can be anywhere close to the level of play the Steelers once got from “Big Snack” then the Steelers hopes of reaching the Superbowl may not be as far away as it’s appeared to be in the past few seasons.