2006 Draft Preview: Defensive Line

Babatunde Oshinowo could play nose tackle or re-wire the scoreboard at Heinz Field for the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a habit in recent years of selecting players in the draft who not only love the game, but look at it in studious way.

That's one reason why the team has taken an interest in Stanford nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo (pronounced ba-ba-TOON-day OH-shi-no-who).

He won't get the praise the first-round guys such as Mario Williams, Mathias Kiwanuka, Tamba Hali or Haloti Ngata will get, but Oshinowo has everything it takes to be successful in the league.

Oshinowo, who went by O.J. as a freshman at Stanford before changing his name for obvious reasons, was a first-team Academic All-Pac-10 performer. And lest you think he was piling up those good grades in basket weaving, football coaching or some other gym class, realize that Oshinowo was an electrical engineering major. In fact, he was working on his Master's and Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering at the same time.

Oh yeah, the player his friends call "Baba" also happens to be a pretty good nose tackle as well.

The Steelers locked up Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton through 2009 with a multi-year contract last preseason, but backup nose tackle Chris Hoke turned 30 this week, meaning the team may be interested in getting a little younger at the position.

Besides, in the 3-4 defense, the hardest players to find are the nose tackles.

And that's where the 6-1, 302-pound Babatunde fits it.

Not only is he good at taking on two blockers as required by his position, he's also shown an ability to get off of those blockers and get to the football. During his first two seasons at Stanford he combined for 48 tackles, 14 for loss, and seven sacks. As a junior, he had 41 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. As a senior he had career highs across the board, finishing with 54 tackles, 10.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

That's pushing the pocket.

Should Babatunde be available in the third round, the Steelers will give serious consideration to drafting him.

But he won't be the only consideration.

If the Steelers start looking at combination linemen who could play inside or outside in their scheme, Texas A&M's Johnny Jolly (6-3, 310) or BYU's Manaia Brown (6-3, 310) could fit the bill in later rounds.

If they're looking at college defensive ends they can bulk up, the Steelers might not have to look father than Babatunde's Stanford teammate Julian Jenkins (6-3, 277).

Jenkins is well-suited to be an end in the 3-4 and like Babatunde, is bright enough to pick up the Steelers' scheme quickly.

Later in the draft, LSU's Melvin Oliver (6-3, 275) is a player who could receive some consideration.

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