The Pittsburgh Steelers lost two pieces at inside linebacker over the lats month. Tyler Matakevich earned a well-deserved payday with the Buffalo Bills while the team wisely cut tied with Mark Barron, clearing valuable cap space along the way.
That does leave the question. What does the depth at inside linebacker look like in 2020? Ulysees Gilbert III is an easy man to forget but Kevin Colbert brought him up when asked about the position in a recent conference call with reporters.
“You know Ulysees Gilbert is coming, we drafted last year, and was coming along as a special teams contributor while he learned the defense,” he said via PennLive’s Jacob Klinger. “Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury that ended his season. But you know, he was showing good promise to be able to be a contributor at some point.”
Gilbert III was placed on injured reserve midway through his rookie season due to a back injury so it’s understandable that some have overlooked him. But he was impressing and checking every box prior to that point. Here’s what we wrote about him following his first NFL training camp.
“A great camp for one of the team’s 6th rounders. Maybe a bit of a quiet start but it quickly became evident he has the talent to get on the roster now and long-term, has the traits to play in this league. Rangy, competitive in coverage, and better processing and tackling than what I saw on his Akron tape. His special teams value should give him the edge over Skipper and if he makes the 53, could be active Week One if Adeniyi remains out. Happy with UG3’s performance.
Camp Grade: B+“
His experience is limited, yes, and there’s a projection believing he can be the top backup, but 2019 offered a glimpse of his ceiling. And it’s someone capable of playing on defense, an athletic, cover linebacker who tackled with more consistency than he showed in college.
It’s still possible the team adds another ILB sometime on Day Three of the draft, and Colbert didn’t rule that out either, but if they don’t, or even if they do, there’s plenty of reason to believe UG3 can be the team’s #3 linebacker. After all, the franchise saw another former 6th round linebacker work his way up the ladder into a starting role. That’s Vince Williams and if there’s an injury to him or Devin Bush, the team is likely to call on Gilbert to fill those shoes.