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It's a great year for the Pittsburgh Steelers to find a replacement, and Javon Hargrave would be ideal

The profile of a nose tackle who has the kind of athleticism to become a rotational weapon with Heyward and Tuitt.

The Pittsburgh Steelers should actually announce the change. 
Maybe put it this way:
"After consulting with coordinator Keith Butler, we've decided to call our 4-2-5 alignment our base defense, and the 3-4 run-downs alignment will now be our sub-package. Thank you."
Or something like that.
Hey, it's the reason Steve McLendon is off testing the market. 
Big Steve is pretty good. So good that he no doubt believes he should make more than the team figures someone who plays only a third of the snaps should make. The Steelers told him to take a look around, that he deserves to test the market in case they're wrong.
Of course, it's a good year for the Steelers to take that risk because the draft is rich in interior defensive players. 
But should they take one in the first round?
Probably not for a sub-package player.
There is one nose-tackle type, though, who has enough athleticism to get to the quarterback. And since 6-1 3/8, 309-pound Javon Hargrave isn't the monster stepping off the bus that so many of the other talented interior players in this draft are, perhaps the Steelers can pluck Hargrave in the second round.
And why not? Hargrave got past the major-college recruiters before ending up at South Carolina State back in 2012. 
I talked to him at the Combine, and of course couldn't resist asking if he had ever heard of Donnie Shell, the great strong safety for "The Steel Curtain" who attended the same school. 
"C'mon now," Hargrave said with a southern drawl and a laugh. "Of course I've heard of Donnie."
Another laugh came from the big man as he provided the evidence.
"Man, he one of the greats. He on the wall at South Carolina State," Hargrave said. "He got his own little picture up there in the coach's office. That's a big thing. Everybody know Donnie. I met him last year at the Black Football Hall of Fame. I believe he was inducted last year and I met him there."
As Hargrave talked about how he picked Shell's brain with "a bunch of questions" at the ceremony, I had not one but two flashbacks. One was of talking to the late, great Bill Nunn about the days when he pretty much had a free run of the small black colleges in the South. The second flashback was of talking to Casey Hampton. Notice how the unedited quotes above have that Hampton feel? So does Hargrave's confidence in himself.
"I'm a dominant football player," said Hargrave, the reigning two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. "I played in a lower level but I can compete at any level, too. I just want to, I guess, show everybody it don't really matter where you come from, that football is football."
Hargrave came out of Salisbury, North Carolina, a town of about 34,000 located halfway between Charlotte and Greensboro. He was a point guard on the state champion 1-A North Rowan team and a four-year football standout who set a county record with 18 fumble recoveries.
"I was always dribbling the ball," he said of his quickness. "I played a little bit of running back, too, so I think I was always an athlete and just got bigger. It never went away."
Hargrave -- who has since graduated from S.C. State -- didn't have the grades for a major college to take a chance on him, and admits that "Oh, yeah, I had a BIG chip on my shoulder. Of course I was hurt, so I had some things to prove. And I'm still proving it to this day."
He made the all-freshman team at S.C. State, fought through injuries as a sophomore and put himself on the scouting map with a six-sack performance against Bethune-Cookman as a junior. He finished that season with 16 sacks, was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award and won the National Defensive Player of the Year award for all historically black colleges and universities.
As a senior, Hargrave had 13.5 sacks and 22 tackles-for-loss to put his two-year total at 29.5 sacks and 45.5 tackles-for-loss. But, of course, that was against questionable competition. 
Those questions began to turn to answers at the East-West Shrine Game when Hargrave drew raves from scouts and draft analysts, and even the Senior Bowl committee, which invited him as an injury substitute to the more prestigious game the following week. 
In both games, Hargrave displayed his power and perhaps more importantly his first-step get-off and ability to pressure the quarterback.
At the NFL Combine, Hargrave's stats and tape were supported by his times and measurements. He ran the 40 in 4.93, the 10 in 1.69, the 20 in 2.85, and repped 29 times with explosive jumps of 34.5 (vertical) and 9-1 (broad).
All of those numbers exceed Gil Brandt's target numbers that have been used by the Dallas Cowboys for drafting defensive tackles, except that Hargrave just missed the short shuttle 4.55 (4.7) and 3-cone 7.75 (7.9) benchmarks.
To put those numbers in perspective with nose tackles drafted by the Steelers since 2000, Hargrave's are better than most, and at least comparable to all. The 6-1, 314-pound Hampton only performed the 40 (5.25) and bench (34 reps) prior to the draft.
As for the others:
* Kendrick Clancy's short-shuttle time (4.65) was the only number to top any of Hargrave's.
* Alameda Ta'amu put up 35 reps at the Combine and ran a 4.72 short shuttle and 7.52 3-cone at his pro day. The rest of the numbers are mostly lopsided in Hargrave's favor.
* Daniel McCullers' numbers all came up shy of Hargrave's.
Hargrave also ranks at the top of the interior DL metrics used by draft analysts Justis Mosqueda and Kyle Crabbs, so with that kind of athleticism, Hargrave -- in the event McLendon doesn't return -- could be groomed as a nose tackle behind McCullers and also work into the DT rotation with Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
Might Hargrave last until pick 58 of the second round? 
Well, he's short and came out of a lower classification. And the group of interior DL prospects is talented, so perhaps he will slip.
But Hargrave may deserve first-round consideration as well, due to his stats, his tape, his athleticism, his acclaimed work ethic, his humble nature and the fact that being short won't be used against him by everyone, as he explained.
"Since I'm already kind of low to the ground, me getting off the ball and getting under the offensive lineman is always an advantage," he said. "The game of football is won by whoever's the lowest. You can't be so high in football. That's the big advantage for me."
There's also the fact that Hargrave doesn't feel as if he's accomplished anything yet.
"Nah, I still don't think I've proven it," he said. "There are still some doubters. I'm still walking around with that chip on my shoulder."

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