Home Steelers Offseason SCB Steelers 2023 Training Camp Preview – Defensive Line

SCB Steelers 2023 Training Camp Preview – Defensive Line

by Steeldad

It may seem like the Pittsburgh Steelers were just putting the cap on their 2022 season but believe it or not Training Camp is right around the corner. As the Steelers prepare for their trip East to Latrobe, we’re getting ready too. We’ll be previewing the 90 players participating at St. Vincent College position by position. In this article we look at the defensive line.

Currently on the Roster

Manny Jones – 1st year
DeMarvin Leal – 2nd year
Keeanu Benton – Rookie
James Nyamwaya – Rookie
Montravious Adams – 7th year
Cam Heyward – 13th year
Jonathan Marshall – 2nd year
Larry Ogunjobi – 7th year
Armon Watts – 5th year
Breiden Fehoko – 3rd year
Isaiahh Loudermilk – 3rd year

Manny Jones

Jones spent his rookie season of 2022 in Arizona where he appeared in just four games. The Colorado State product could find himself being used as an outside rusher or even down at defensive tackle depending on how he handles himself in Camp.

DeMarvin Leal

He appeared in just 11 games after suffering a leg injury but his overall play was solid for a rookie. Even more interesting is how the Steelers chose to deploy him on defense. When T.J. Watt was lost early in the season, Leal was often used as a “heavy OLB” tasked with shutting down the run first and foremost. This spoke to his ability to learn and to his athleticism as well. His status this coming year is one of the more intriguing stories I’m watching.

2022 stats:
11 games
13 tackles
3 passes defensed

Keeanu Benton

If you go back into last year’s draft prep, you’ll find that Benton was on the Steelers’ radar earlier than almost any other prospect. So when they drafted him, it came as absolutely ZERO surprise. He was full-time starter at Wisconsin for most of his four seasons so his experience is crucial. There’s a lot to like about his game including his size, athleticism and brute power. That said, there are areas he’ll need to improve upon and one of those is not getting stalemated at the snap. He has to learn how to get off that.

2022 stats (at Wisconsin):
35 tackles
10 tackles for loss
4.5 sacks

James Nyamwaya

Born in Kenya, Nyamwaya faces long odds in terms of making a roster. He played in college at Division Three Merrimack where he was able to show off some terrific athleticism. Much of that was developed playing soccer and basketball as a boy. He needs a lot to go right for him but for now, the best he can hope for is a Practice Squad position.

Montravius Adams

Adams was a really nice find off the Saints’ practice squad in 2021 at a time when the D-Line desperately needed help. He seemed to take a step back last year and often gave way to other guys. He’s a super quick guy who thrives on penetration but that’s not always what the Steelers’ D-linemen are tasked with doing. It will be very interesting to see where he falls in the rotation this year.

2022 stats:
17 games
26 tackles
1 tackle for loss

Cam Heyward

At some point, Father Time is going to catch up with Heyward. It happens to all of us but Heyward didn’t show too many signs of slowing down last season so the hope is that continues. He is still one of the stronger D-Linemen in football and can rush the passer and stop the run equally well. There’s no Steeler the fans want to see get to a Super Bowl more than Cam so let’s hope he gets his shot.

2022 stats:
17 games
74 tackles
10.5 sacks
4 passes defensed

Jonathan Marshall

He appeared in just four games his rookie season with the NY Jets in 2021. Pretty decent athlete with solid basketball background. Has work to do on his hand usage and lacks overall experience after being a reserve most of his career at Arkansas. He’s largely a project for Camp at this point.

Larry Ogunjobi

When healthy, Ogunjobi showed how disruptive he can be along the defensive front. There were several games where he was probably the team’s best D-Lineman. When he wasn’t healthy, he was just another guy out there. In many ways I think the Steelers had to bring him back. The depth just hasn’t developed the way many have hoped or expected and it just felt to me like if Ogunjobi wanted to be in Pittsburgh then they had to make it happen.

2022 stats:
16 games
48 tackles
1.5 sacks
11 QB hits

Armon Watts

Watt comes over from Chicago after spending his first three seasons in Minnesota. He really blossomed in his senior year at Arkansas after three years of pretty quiet play. He has dominant power and possesses the versatility to play anywhere along the front. Two areas of concern are getting off at the snap and being a better run stopper. He could easily find himself as one of the key reserves and spot starter when needed.

2022 stats:
17 games
35 tackles
1 sack
4 tackles for loss

Breiden Fehoko

Fehoko is a pure nose tackle who played his first three years with the Chargers. Many scouts doubted his ability to even make an NFL roster after a rather pedestrian college career that spanned Texas Tech and LSU. He clearly proved them wrong appearing in 19 games over his first three seasons. Fehoko is a candidate for early and run downs play but I think he’ll largely be used as a reserve when necessary.

2022 stats:
23 tackles
1 tackle for loss

Isaiahh Loudermilk

I thought Loudermilk showed some real promise during his opportunities his rookie season but the improvement that should have been there in year two escaped him. Considering the Steelers traded up to get him in the draft, it would be ideal for him to really turn it on this season. He has to get more stout against the run first and foremost but more than that, he must be a guy the Steelers can trust to spell the starters without losing too much. This is a big year for him.

2022 stats:
11 games
0 sacks
7 tackles

Roster Projections

Heyward, Ogunjobi, Benton, Leal, Watts, Fehoko, Loudermilk

Jones, Marshall – Practice Squad

Adams, Nyamwaya – Cut

I listed seven here for the roster because I find Leal interesting in terms of where the Steelers will use him. He could be listed as an OLB… Loudermilk needs a good camp. He could be on the bubble.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.