The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who is the greatest third-greatest 3-4 outside linebacker in Steelers history?
I think this is going to be an interesting conversation. I know that James Harrison is going to be the most popular answer, or at least I assume that will still be the case even if he burned some bridges in the past couple of years, but this organization has had some good edge rushers for sure.
And so we’re going to talk about them. And in case your answer is Harrison, then keep talking anyway, and let me know who number two is. From LaMarr Woodley to Jason Gildon to Joey Porter, Greg Lloyd, Mike Merriweather, and Kevin Greene, there is no shortage of valid names to choose from.
Personally speaking, I would give Harrison the nod. He had the single most dominant season by a 3-4 outside linebacker in team history, but he also had sustained success. He was also a complete player, easily one of the most dominant run defenders at the position in his era, and perhaps in NFL history.
To go for the number two, though, it’s close between Lloyd and Porter, but I’m going to have to go with Porter. He had a relatively brief career here (seven seasons) but finished third in sacks with 60. He had another six sacks in the playoffs, including three in the 2005 season. An underrated aspect of his game was coverage. Would you guess that he intercepted 10 passes in his seven seasons in Pittsburgh? Only Merriweather, with 11, had more, though in fairness, Lloyd also had 10, but in more games.
Truth be told, Woodley could have been the greatest outside linebacker in team history had he only been able to stay on the field, for whatever reason that he did not. He is still fifth in team history in sacks with 57, doing so in seven seasons, but he had 48 in his first five, including four as a rookie before he was a starter. He intercepted five passes and forced seven fumbles with 15 passes defensed, scoring two touchdowns. He also had the best win rate as a pass rusher outside of Harrison.