Coming into Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, everyone in Pittsburgh had their eyes set on a certain linebacker from Toledo. His name caught hot fever around Latrobe as many raved about his abilities and while Ola Adeniyi played admirably well, it was another former Toledo outside linebacker that put his name on the map.
His name is Tuzar Skipper.
Skipper logged 46 snaps during Friday night’s victory and he certainly made the most out of his snaps, finishing with three quarterback hits, one sack and two tackles. While that stat line may not jump off the page, the raw pass rush tools shown by Skipper are really what caught the eyes of those watching.
Let’s go through all three of those quarterback hits as each one offers something special.
Skipper’s first pressure of the night did not result in a sack but it really should have. The former Toledo product dips under the shoulder of the Buccaneers’ left tackle, showing good bend and athleticism. Skipper wraps up Buccaneers’ quarterback Ryan Griffin and if it were not for a last second throwaway that resulted in an intentional grounding penalty, we are likely talking about a two-sack performance not one. Regardless, Skipper showed the first move in his arsenal with this impressive dip rush.
Skipper was not able to get Griffin on his first try but he made sure the Buccaneers’ quarterback could not escape on his second try. What will go down as his first sack of his NFL career, the 24-year old undrafted linebacker shows off some serious power and strength, punching the Buccaneers’ tackle square in the chest, knocking him off balance and giving him a clear path to the quarterback.
While a devil’s advocate may say that Skipper was up against a third string tackle in William Poehls, that would miss the point completely. It takes some serious power to knock a goliath of a human being like Poehls completely off balance, especially considering that the tackle has a 100 lb advantage on Skipper.
Skipper – 6’3 246 lbs
Poehls – 6’8 344 lbs
On Skipper’s third and final quarterback hit, we see the outside linebacker use his arms once again but in a different manner. Instead of going for a punch, Skipper swipes across Poehls’ chest and it works, giving him an inside lane to the pocket. Likely frustrated from seeing Skipper crash into his pocket, Griffin wisely throws the ball before the linebacker can get home. The result is a completed pass though it was essentially a jump ball to a contested receiver and definitely not a throw any coach would encourage their quarterback to make.
It only took 46 snaps for the Steelers to really see what Skipper was carrying in his pass rushing toolbox and the team has to be pleased with what he brought to the table. There was an impressive dip move that displayed adequate bend and athleticism, a powerful punch that would even make Captain Falcon jealous and a nifty swipe move that showed some finesse.
While it is still to early to try to envision what the Steelers’ long-term developmental plan is for Skipper, he sure is looking like another great discovery from Toledo. An undrafted free agent who was signed after rookie minicamp, the rookie outside linebacker is certainly making a case to climb up the depth chart.