Ex-Steelers Nose Tackle ‘a Tryout Guy’ at Ravens’ Rookie Minicamp: Report

Dan McCullers

Quarterback Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals faces the oncoming rush of Dan McCullers of the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 30, 2019. Quarterback Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals faces the oncoming rush of Dan McCullers of the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 30, 2019.

On Saturday Jeff Zrebiec, who covers the Baltimore Ravens for The Athletic, revealed that the Ravens have five tryout players attending the team’s rookie minicamp, including veteran nose tackle Dan McCullers, who spent the first six-plus seasons of his career occupying a roster spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers while only occasionally occupying blockers.

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Dan McCullers Was with the Steelers as Recently as September

It seems like a long ago that McCullers—6-foot-7 and 350-plus pounds—played for the Steelers, but he was actually with the team as recently as the beginning of last season. After serving as a reserve nose tackle for six years, McCullers failed to make Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster out of training camp last year. But he immediately returned as a member of the practice squad, only to terminate his contract a few weeks later so he could join the active roster of the Chicago Bears.

He went on to appear in three game for the Bears in 2020, during which time he recorded eight tackles (three solo) in 86 defensive snaps and 13 special teams snaps. He spent the remainder of the season on Chicago’s practice squad, sometimes as one of the four “protected” members of the unit.

McCullers Had a ‘Career Year’ in 2016

McCullers arrived in Pittsburgh in the spring of 2014, a sixth-round pick out of the University of Tennessee (No. 215 overall). Until he joined the Bears, the Steelers were the only NFL team he ever knew, despite making just three starts in 73 regular season games while recording a mere 41 total tackles, 2.5 career sacks, nine quarterback hits and two passes defensed over that time frame. Most of that production came in his peak year of 2016, when he had 17 tackles, a sack and five quarterback hits.

Dan McCullers’ Last Chance?

At 28-years-old, one has to believe that the opportunity with the Ravens might be McCullers’ last chance to remain in the NFL. Considering his longevity to production ratio, it also seems foolish to count him out. Working in his favor is that the Ravens have long favored exceptionally large players at the nose tackle position (think Tony Siragusa and Haloti Ngata), and McCullers certainly qualifies in that regard.

This is still my favorite picture of him, from his days at the University of Tennessee.

However, McCullers is not the only defensive tackle with NFL experience to attend Baltimore’s rookie minicamp. The afore-referenced Joey Ivie—6-foot-3 and 310 pounds—has played eight games in the league with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs. He has also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and most recently, the Cleveland Browns.

Also, the Ravens already have seven defensive tackles on their offseason roster, including Brandon Williams—6-foot-1 and 336 pounds—who started 13 games at nose tackle for Baltimore last year. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis—6-foot-2 and 350 pounds—started the other three games on the interior.

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