NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For Drafting Inside Linebackers (2022)

One final draft study before we dive into this week’s events. In our last “what the Steelers look for” study of 2022, we’re taking a look at the off-ball linebackers. It’s been a few years since our last check-in, posting a study prior to the 2019 draft, one that included Devin Bush on the “one box away” list.

So we have several names to update. Once we do, we’ll re-evalute our criteria and thresholds, and see what players from this pool of prospects fit best.

Here’s every off-ball LB drafted under Mike Tomlin.

2021: Buddy Johnson

Height: 6004
Weight: 229
Arm Length: 31 1/2″
Hand Size: 9 7/8″
Bench Press: N/A
40: 4.58
Vert: 38.5″
Broad: 10’8″
Short Shuttle: 4.07
Three-Cone: 7.09

2019: Devin Bush

Height: 5110
Weight: 229
Arm Length: 32″
Hand Size: 9 5/8″
Bench Press: 21
40: 4.43
Vert: 40.5″
Broad: 10’4″
Short Shuttle: 4.23
Three-Cone: 6.93

Ulysees Gilbert III

Height: 6001
Weight: 224
Arm Length: 31 3/4″
Hand Size: 9 3/4″
Bench Press: 20
40: 4.51
Vert: 39.5″
Broad: 10’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.43
Three-Cone: 7.03

2016: Tyler Matakevich

Height: 6000
Weight: 238
Arm Length: 31 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
Bench Press: 22
40: 4.81
Vert: 31″
Broad: 9’4″
Short Shuttle: 4.50
Three-Cone: 7.19

2014: Ryan Shazier

Height: 6011
Weight: 237
Arm Length: 32 3/8″
Hand Size: 10″
Bench Press: 25
40: N/A
Vert: 42″
Broad: 10’10”
Short Shuttle: 4.21
Three-Cone: 6.91

Jordan Zumwalt

Height: 6040
Weight: 235
Arm Length: 31 1/4″
Hand Size: 8 3/4″
Bench Press: N/A
40: 4.76
Vert: 33″
Broad: 9’8″
Short Shuttle: 4.25
Three-Cone: 6.99

2013: Vince Williams

Height: 6006
Weight: 233
Arm Length: N/A
Hand Size: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
40: N/A
Vert: 32.5″
Broad: 9’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.67
Three-Cone: 7.53

2012: Sean Spence

Height: 5113
Weight: 231
Arm Length: 31 1/2″
Hand Size: 9 1/4″
Bench Press: 12
40: 4.71
Vert: 33.5″
Broad: 9’11”
Short Shuttle: 4.28
Three-Cone: 7.46

2010: Stevenson Sylvester

Height: 6021
Weight: 231
Arm Length: 33 3/4″
Hand Size: 10 1/8″
Bench Press: 23
40: 4.78
Vert: 30.5″
Broad: 8’9″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

2008: Mike Humpal

Height: 6024
Weight: 244
Arm Length: 31 1/4″
Hand Size: 10″
Bench Press: 20
40: 4.82
Vert: 38″
Broad: 10’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.25
Three-Cone: 7.07

2007: Lawrence Timmons

Height: 6007
Weight: 234
Arm Length: 32 1/8″
Hand Size: 9 5/8″
Bench Press: 25
40: 4.7
Vert: 35″
Broad: 10’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.32
Three-Cone: 6.89

And here is our new criteria.

Height: 6’0″+ (9 of 11 drafted)
Weight: 225+ pounds (10 of 11)
Arm Length: 31+ inches (10 of 10)
Hand Size: 9+ inches (9 of 10)
Bench Press: 20+ reps (7 of 8)
40 Time: 4.8 seconds (7of 9)
Vert: 32+ inches (9 of 11)
Short Shuttle: 4.4 seconds (8 of 9)
Three-Cone: 7.2 seconds (8 of 10)

Couple of changes. The weight threshold has dropped five pounds from 230 to 225. The 40 time has also come down a smidge to 4.8 seconds instead of 4.85. The vertical has increased from 30 inches to 32 while the short shuttle time has adjusted from 4.5 to 4.4 seconds. I’ve also added a three-cone threshold of 7.2 seconds or faster.

All that said, four players managed to check each box. They are:

Name/School Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size 40 Time Vertical Short Shuttle Three Cone Bench
Leo Chenal/Wisconsin 6025 250 31 9 3/4 4.53 40.5 4.24 6.98 34
Micah McFadden/Indiana 6011 240 31 1/4 9 1/2 4.63 35 4.15 6.88 21
Chad Muma/Wyoming 6026 239 31 5/8 10 4.63 40 4.28 7.06 27
Quay Walker/Georgia 6036 241 32 5/8 9 1/4 4.52 32 4.32 6.89 23

 

Chenal had an incredible workout and certainly wouldn’t be the first Badgers’ linebacker the team has drafted. Muma stays clean in the run game but the team didn’t attend his Pro Day. Walker, meanwhile, had Tomlin/Colbert at his Pro Day along with LBs coach Brian Flores. He will likely be the first LB of the four here drafted, likely early on Day 2. Chenal and Muma will also be Day 2 pics. McFadden’s flying under the radar.

One Box Away

Troy Andersen/Montana State: Bench (DNP)
Darrian Beavers/Cincinnati: Bench (DNP)
Chance Campbell/Ole Miss: Bench (DNP)
Aaron Hansford/Texas A&M: 40 (DNP)
D’Marco Jackson/Appalachian State: Bench (19)
Mike Rose/Iowa State: Bench (16)
Jack Sanborn/Wisconsin: Arm Length (30 1/2)
Brandon Smith/Penn State: Bench (19)
Braylon Spector/Clemson: Bench (19)

Surprisingly, most guys missed in the bench. Three because they didn’t participate, three because they were one rep away. Beavers, Smith, and Spector seem the most likely to become Steelers, while Sanborn is further proof to just draft Wisconsin linebackers. Mike Rose has quietly been one of my sleepers who reminds me of Alex Anzalone.

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