NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Outside Linebackers

We continue our Pittsburgh Steelers “what they look for” draft series with our first look at the defensive side of the football. The most likely defensive position the Steelers are going to address first is outside linebacker. So that’s where we’ll begin today.

What players from the 2021 draft meet the thresholds the Steelers look for? First, let’s look at all the EDGE rushers drafted by the Steelers in the Mike Tomlin era.

2020: Alex Highsmith

Height: 6031
Weight: 248
Arm Length: 33 1/8″
Hand Size: 9 1/8″
40 Time: 4.70
10 Split: 1.68
Vert: 33″
Broad: 10’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.31
Three-Cone: 7.32
Bench: N/A

2019: Sutton Smith

Height: 6003
Weight: 233
Arm Length: 30 3/4″
Hand Size: 9″
40 Time: 4.69
10 Split: 1.72
Vert: 31.5″
Broad: 9’10”
Short Shuttle: 4.32
Three-Cone: 6.75
Bench: 25

2017: T.J. Watt

Height: 6042
Weight: 252
Arm Length: 33 1/8″
Hand Size: 11″
40 Time: 4.69
Ten Split: 1.59
Vert: 37″
Broad: 10’7″
Short Shuttle: 4.78
Three-Cone: 6.79
Bench: 21

Keion Adams

Height: 6020
Weight: 247
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
40 Time: N/A
Ten Split: N/A
Vert: 36″
Broad: 10’4″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 27

2016: Travis Feeney

Height: 6035
Weight: 230
Arm Length: 33 3/8″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
40 Time: 4.50
Ten Split: 1.58
Vertical: 40″
Broad: 10’1’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.42
Three-Cone: 7.20
Bench: N/A

2015: Bud Dupree

Height: 6040
Weight: 260
Arm Length: 32 5/8″
Hand Size: 9 3/4″
40 Time: 4.56
Ten Split: 1.60
Vertical: 42″
Broad: 11’6″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: N/A

2013: Jarvis Jones

Height: 6023
Weight: 245
Arm Length: 33″
Hand Size: 9 1/8″
40 Time: N/A
Ten Split: N/A
Vertical: 30.5″
Broad: 9’3″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 20

2011: Chris Carter

Height: 6010
Weight: 248
Arm Length: 33″
Hand Size: 9 3/8″
40 Time: 4.67
Ten Split: 1.64
Vertical: 36″
Broad: 9’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.34
Three-Cone: 6.98
Bench: 27

2010: Jason Worilds

Height: 6012
Weight: 254
Arm Length: 32 7/8″
Hand Size: 9 1/4″
40 Time: 4.72
Ten Split: 1.62
Vertical: 38″
Broad: 9’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.29
Three-Cone: 6.95
Bench: 24

Thaddeus Gibson

Height: 6020
Weight: 243
Arm Length: 33″
Hand Size: 8 3/4″
40 Time: 4.79
Ten Split: 1.69
Vertical: 32″
Broad: 9’7″
Short Shuttle: 4.27
Three-Cone: 6.84
Bench: 32

2008: Bruce Davis

Height: 6030
Weight: 245
Arm Length: 34 1/4″
Hand Size: 10 1/8″
40 Time: 4.50
Ten Split: 1.50
Vertical: 33.5″
Broad: 10’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.03
Three-Cone: 6.70
Bench: 19

2007: LaMarr Woodley

Height: 6014
Weight: 266
Arm Length: 32 7/8″
Hand Size: 9 7/8″
40 Time: N/A
Ten Split: N/A
Vertical: 38.5″
Broad: 9’9″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A
Bench: 29

Here is our updated criteria.

6’1″+ (11 of 12 drafted)
240 lbs.+ (10 of 12)
Arm Length: 32 1/2″ (11 of 12)
4.70 or better 40 (7 of 9)
1.70 ten-yd. split (9 of 9)
32″+ vert (10 of 12)
9’5″+ broad (12 of 13)
Sub-4.5 short shuttle (7 of 8)
Sub-7.00 three-cone (6 of 8)
Bench: 20+ (7 of 8)

We have one change to it. The 10-yd. split has been changed from 1.65 seconds to a threshold of 1.70 seconds.

From the list of players invited to the Combine and based on Pro Day information, there were two EDGE rushers who checked every single box.

Name/School Height Weight Arm Length 40 Time 10 Split Vertical Broad Jump Short Shuttle Three Cone Bench
Jayson Oweh 6047 257 34 1/2 4.37 1.59 39.5 11’2″ 4.20 6.90 21
Shaka Toney 6024 242 33 4.53 1.58 39 10’8″ 4.29 7.00 24

 

Pair of Penn State kids making the list. Oweh is no surprise. The last EDGE to check every box was Montez Sweat in 2019. Both of those guys were athletic freaks and usually “freaks” make the cut. Toney’s numbers aren’t quite as gaudy but still very good. That three-cone time is right at 7.00, but in 2019, I gave Sweat the pass with his on-the-nose seven-second time. So I’ll allow it here as well.

Nine other players missed in just one category. Most failed to hit the three-cone number. The three-cone figure could change in the future. It came very close to being raised higher this year. That would get more players to check every box.

One Box Away

Carlos Basham Jr./Wake Forest: Three-Cone (7.13)
Patrick Johnson/Tulane: Bench (16)
Joshua Kaindoh/Florida State: Three-Cone (7.21)
Jaelan Phillips/Miami (FL): Three-Cone (7.13)
Hamilcar Rashed Jr./Oregon State: Three-Cone (7.51)
Janarius Robinson/Florida State: Three-Cone (7.31)
Quincy Roche/Miami (FL): Three-Cone (7.20)
Joe Tryon/Washington: Three-Cone (7.18)
Patrick Weaver/Pitt: 40 Time (4.88)

Lot of interesting names on the list. A Pitt kid, two from The U, and two from Florida State. I could see most of these names being on the Steelers’ draft board. Johnson, Rashed Jr., Robinson, and Tryon feel like the most logical fits.

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