End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Jordan Zumwalt
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 2 Years
Jordan Zumwalt failed to see the field at all in his rookie season. That goes without saying, because he spent his rookie year on injured reserve after battling through a groin injury in training camp and through the preseason.
The injury, in fact, limited the sixth-round draft to just one preseason game, the team’s first against the Giants, though he did log a representative 25 snaps. He finished that game with five tackles, showing well against the run with an instinct for diagnosis and a quick see to do.
His transition into the Steelers’ system was aided by the fact that he played in a similar system in college at UCLA, which uses many of the same concepts, via different verbiage.
Much of that advantage was eroded, however, due to antiquated school regulations that prevented him from taking part in the early portions of the Steelers’ offseason program, delaying his opportunity to learn with his new team.
When he did finally come, it wasn’t before long that he began dealing with injuries. Really, were it not for that one preseason game, we would know next to nothing about Zumwalt. But that one performance was encouraging, and perhaps the Steelers felt the same way, reflected in their decision to carry him on injured reserve all year, including Shaquille Richardson.
But he is still fighting an uphill battle heading into 2015 where it concerns his prospects of actually making the team. As an inside linebacker, he is facing a numbers game that currently does not support him.
The Steelers are five deep at the position, with the low man on the totem pole being Terence Garvin, a special teams ace. The team drafted Zumwalt with the belief that he, too, could be a force on special teams, and it seems likely that there may only be space on the roster for one of the two.
Of course, there are those who believe that he can also perform at outside linebacker, which is not unrealistic given that the Steelers have also worked Garvin there, who is even more slight than Zumwalt.
There’s no question that there are fans in the young man’s corner, both inside and outside of the organization. It should be a fun offseason watching the second-year linebacker fighting to make the roster.