Pittsburgh Steelers fans raised their eyebrows when the team traded into the fifth round earlier this month, and then used that selection on Isaiahh Loudermilk out of Wisconsin. Not only was the defensive line generally regarded as a position group that was filled, there was the impression that Loudermilk would be more suited as a priority free agent.
But his former defensive line coach at Wisconsin, Ross Kolodziej, certainly wasn’t, and is looking forward to what his pupil will do in the black and gold going forward. He thinks we’re going to learn a lot about him that will change minds.
“In terms of athleticism and length, that is what makes him an intriguing prospect”, he told Joe Rutter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He can play inside. He can play outside. One of our assistants in the weight room, who was an All-American here, thinks he could be one of the best offensive tackles, too”.
While I don’t suspect the Steelers are currently interested in exploring the possibility of flipping him to the offensive side of the ball, it takes some talent to display that versatility, and they have taken that project on before with others. But the point is, it’s a tribute to his athleticism that he would be able to do that.
“Isaiahh has got a lot of ability, and the main thing what you’re looking for in a guy is, ‘does he love football, and does he work hard at it?’”, Kolodziej said. “That’s what you’re going to get with Isaiahh. No matter where you put him, he’d get the job done”.
After the Steelers selected Loudermilk, they did talk about their belief that he would be able to play up and down the line of scrimmage, and he himself talked about the same, though they list him as a defensive end, and I imagine that is where their focus will be during his rookie season.
Perhaps down the line, and after they get a proper look at him, they might decide that they want to explore more of his versatility and kick him inside, see if he can do what Tyson Alualu is doing, but until that’s necessary, I’m not sure it would be wise.
Then again, Alualu isn’t going to play for much longer, and it’s not as though the number two nose tackle position is settled right now, with Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs the main contenders. Theoretically, that could be a place Loudermilk would be able to contribute right away.
And it would be about the only way he dresses this year if we work under the assumption that Chris Wormley, whom the team re-signed on a two-year contract with a $1.2 million signing bonus, is the number three end behind Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. Because the number five lineman has to be able to line up inside, like Chris Hoke and Steve McLendon did back in the day.