It’s not too often that we get to look back on a player’s college career when they’re already two years into the league but Mike Tomlin was asked to reflect on Anthony Chickillo’s Pro Day in April 2015.
“He had fluidity in his movement and range in his movement that wasn’t typical of a d-linemen,” Tomlin responded. “He looked like an outside linebacker trapped in a d-linemen’s body. When you did your research on him, you realize he was a high school defensive end a very good one, one of the best in the nation. And those guys usually go one of two ways. They go to outside linebacker or they becomes 4-3 ends. And he probably simply did what was asked of him in terms of the way they were structured down there.”
Chickillo recently told Jon Ledyard that Joey Porter has “made football fun for me again from where I was at in college.” Many Hurricanes’ fans have been critical of the job Al Golden did at The U, putting players out of position and in less-than-ideal spots. Chickillo could arguably be considered in that group, a 3-4 end who wasn’t able to rush the passer to his full ability.
The numbers suffered, racking up just 14.5 sacks in his career, including just two his senior season.
Coming to Pittsburgh, he got his weight down, to about 254 pounds, and though his regular season experience has been limited, he’s shined in both training camps he’s been apart of. There’s been more publicity this season, Chickillo picking up where he left off last year. His mark will be made on special teams more than defense but his progression gives the team hope for future at the position opposite Bud Dupree. Because him aside, there is very little there.
That’s all what Tomlin and the front office saw at that workout.
“But just in general and watching his movement, he had the type of range in his movement and fluidity in his movement that was characteristic of the position he’s playing for us.”
Chickillo is a near-lock for this team and should be a multi-phase player on special teams. He’s received work at right tackle on punts, the front line of kick coverage, and though I haven’t noticed it yet, it’s reasonable to assume he’ll be a starter on kick coverage. He also saw time on the punt return unit last year.