The Pittsburgh Steelers did not draft any linebackers this year, but yet there is a reasonable chance that as many as two rookies will make the team this year at the position. I already talked about one of them in Matthew Thomas at inside linebacker. The other one drawing attention to himself is outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who had a strip sack in the preseason opener.
A scrappy worker out of Toledo who was given James Harrison’s old number, Adeniyi flashed some last week against the Eagles, so let’s take a look at some of his notable snaps in the game.
On the play right before he recorded the strip sack at the top of the second half, the rookie did a nice job against the run, setting the edge and forcing the run to come inside. Once the run tucked inside—with Jon Bostic filling the next lane—Adeniyi was able to come around the corner and help make the tackle for a short loss.
Of course we know what happened one play later. And it does look somewhat reminiscent of what we have seen Harrison do time and again over the years. The rookie used a big right-hand punch to win outside leverage, getting up the arc and pressuring the quarterback, who lost the football for a strip sack.
Later, at the end of the first quarter, he was lined up across from the tight end on the playside of a run and did his part to drive his blocker back, forcing the run wide. The runner did get to the perimeter and was able to pick up seven yards, as there was a lack of support from the rest of the defense.
Coverage is difficult to tell in the preseason thanks to what’s available to us, but here’s a brief look of Adeniyi in that role. He doesn’t look natural dropping yet, but he can play to what’s in front of him.
On the second to last play of the game, Adeniyi was able to win around the edge again, and probably would have pressured the quarterback here had the ball not come out so quickly.
It’s worth remembering that he was working against a player who is just learning football, converting from rugby, so his performance needs to be graded on a curve in that regard. But the rookie flashed some positive traits that suggest he might stick around. We’ll see what he does tomorrow.