The Steelers Should Do Whatever It Takes to Get Calijah Kancey

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The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs each had an equal opportunity to win the Super Bowl earlier this month.  Both teams had All-Pro offensive weapons and great defenses.  Jalen Hurts even outplayed Patrick Mahomes.  However, the only way to really beat Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes in a Super Bowl was shown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2021.  They got to him, and they got to him often.  

And that's exactly what the Eagles didn't do.  The Eagles had four defenders with double-digit sacks in the same season for the first time in the NFL.  They were being considered one of the best defensive lines of all-time.  However, the Eagles did not get even a single sack of Patrick Mahomes the entire game.  And the Chiefs made them pay, and now the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl Champions.

So that's why the Pittsburgh Steelers need to do everything they can to get former Pitt Panther Calijah Kancey in the upcoming draft.  We have a prototype of what Kancey could be with other former Panther Aaron Donald.  I mean, I'm not going to get crazy and pretend that Aaron Donalds just grow on trees.  In fact, I consider Donald the greatest defensive player in the history of the National Football League.  However, even if Kancey has half the career that Donald has had, he will be a very very good football player.  And if the Steelers had him, they'd be a very very good football team.  

I've watched Kancey play at Pitt.  He can be just as disruptive as Donald.  Most likely not as often or for as long as Donald because, again, he's one of the best to ever do it, but Kancey has games where he is just as disruptive.  He is one of the best pass rushers in the 2023 draft class and he played a large part in why Pitt was one of the best run stopping defenses in college football this season.  The Steelers certainly need help there too.

Fellow pass rushers, Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr are going to cost a lot.  They are both Top 5 and maybe even Top 3 picks.  Carter is going first overall in Mel Kiper's most recent mock draft.  But people tend to underestimate Kancey.  In fact, Kiper is the first one to have Kancey in his Top 10.  So I actually see Kancey dropping into the teens of the 1st round.  He could even potentially fall to the Steelers at 17th if the combine junkies misevaluate Kancey as much as they did Donald.  

But if it doesn't look like Kancey is going to fall, the Steelers should do what they can to trade up and take him.  If the Steelers go into the 2023 season with a defense consisting of TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Calijah Kancey, offenses will not be able to game plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush.  Even the best of offenses can be contained if their quarterback does not have time for receivers to get open.  The Steelers could make opponents completely one dimensional on offense.  Plus, as I mentioned, Kancey can disrupt run plays as well.  

The Steelers also already have all of the offensive weapons they need.  They have focused on offense in the draft two years in a row.  In 2021, they spent their first four picks on offensive players.  Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore all were drafted in 2021 and all started this season.  

In 2022, the Steelers spent 5 of their 7 draft picks on offense which included their new franchise quarterback in Kenny Pickett and one of the most talented wide receivers in the league with George Pickens.   And I think we can all agree the offensive line took major steps toward the end of this past season.  The offense is set.  Maybe spend a 2nd or 3rd rounder on an offensive linemen, but I'd like the Steelers to continue to increase their ability to get to the quarterback with their first pick.

Plus, if you're in the camp that the Steelers' offense will never be successful under Matt Canada, why give him another highly drafted player?  Instead, hope that the many tools you have given him already can take a step forward, and then win games with your defense.  Even if the offense takes marginal steps forward, which they should as those youngsters gain experience, the Steelers can start winning games 20-7 or 23-14.  Shut teams down and score just enough points to win like the Steelers did for most of the latter half of last season.  

Take their final game for example.  The Steelers shut down an offense that has the quarterback who will have the highest cap hit in NFL history next season in DeShaun Watson, and they did so by sacking him seven times.  A highly paid and highly mobile quarterback and they beat him by sacking him seven times.  The Steelers were able to put 28 on the board, and cruised to victory.  Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush.

Look, is my Pitt bias showing?  Maybe.  But I've seen what a highly touted Pitt defensive lineman can do with Aaron Donald and I want the Steelers to have a piece of that.  It's how the Steelers win a Super Bowl in the near future while Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow are in the AFC.  You have to build a defense that will get to all of them.