On Thursday afternoon, I had the opportunity to interview Oklahoma State DL Tyler Lacy at the conclusion of the National Team practice on the field at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Lacy had just finished his post stretch routine and having a conversation with the coaching staff, talking about his pass rush improvement from Day One of practice to Day Three.
I asked Lacy about his pass rush which he referenced previously in a conversation with a coach prior to me coming over to talk to him and if there was anything specific he talked about with the coaches to improve his technique to be more consistent as a pass rusher.
“Working with a plan, using my hands and the footwork,” Lacy said. “Staying low, coming out of my stance, and exploding up field first. My go-to move… I try to use the two-hand swipe and use a scissor move. That’s what I try to use and I always have a counter in mind.”
Playing interior defensive line, Tyler Lacy didn’t post gaudy sack numbers at Oklahoma State, but he did do a good job pushing the pocket and disrupting the pocket. He has shown promise as a pass rusher, logging three sacks last season and 11.5 in his career with the Cowboys along with three forced fumbles as a prototypical 3-technique/4i that can play inside and hold his own against the run while giving something as a pass rusher.
I then asked Lacy what it has been like to have Steelers DB Coach Grady Brown as his defensive coordinator this week and what he has been able to instill into him and the rest of the defense for the National Team.
“He’s been able to instill some of the stuff he coaches over there at the Steelers,” Lacy answered. “I mean, hard work, going out there and giving it our all, and especially since we’re here at the Senior Bowl, everybody’s trying to work their way up and that’s how he’s been talking and it’s just really motivating to hear him speak.”
Coach Brown has been extremely vocal with the defense during the last three practices here in Mobile, constantly stressing the need to go after the ball and create takeaways like he has done with the Steelers. He also has been tossing a tennis ball during every practice to players, having them quickly react that catch the football like a ball being batted up in the air or jumping a route for an interception.
I then asked Lacy about Mike Tomlin who had spent a majority of the first two days up close and personal by the OL & DL in 1-on-1 sessions and if he had anything to say to Lacy then or in a personal meeting with him off the field.
“You could tell the energy he was giving towards the O-Line and D-Line; it was so exciting, and it was just special to have him, especially as a head coach down here talking to us. Yeah, I’ve been able to have some conversation with some guys. I mean we had the interviews a couple days ago and I was talking to all the guys I was talking to Tomlin, and we were all discussing and everything. He liked how I looked and everything. He talked about my game a little bit and it was good. Shake the hands of the people when I was a kid looked up to, so it was good.”
Tomlin isn’t afraid to let prospects know when the team is interested in them as he told Wisconsin DL Keeanu Benton that he is on their radar thanks to his play style as well as his measurables which match what the Steelers look for in their base defensive ends. Tyler Lacy also fits that mold of player, standing 6’4 3/8”, 285lb with 33 3/8” arms and 10 7/8” hands. Pittsburgh likes their defensive ends big and long, and Lacy meets those baseline traits, having a similar frame to Cam Heyward, Chris Wormley, and Isaiahh Loudermilk.
I then asked Lacy what it would be like to wear the Black and Gold since he said that he looked up to Tomlin as a kid. Lacy answered that he didn’t just look up to Tomlin and the Steelers, but he kind of idolized them as an avid Steelers fan in his youth.
“Oh, I would love to wear the black and gold,” Lacy answered.” I mean, when I grew up, I was a Steelers fan. Yeah, I was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. You know, Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison and Santonio Holmes. Like, I was a big Steeler fan. I had a Terrible Towel waving around. So, it would be an honor if I get drafted by them. It’d be an honor.”
Tyler Lacy grew up watching the same Steelers teams that made me an avid fan, seeing James Harrison chase after opposing quarterbacks while Ben Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in the passing game with Holmes making one of the best plays in Super Bowl history to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. That game cemented my fandom for the team in grade school and it appears that was the case for Lacy as well who made a habit of twirling his Terrible Towel while watching his favorite team play.
However, now Lacy is interviewing for all 32 teams, hoping to hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft. He matches a lot of the qualities the Pittsburgh Steelers look for in their defensive lineman given his measurables, making him a potential Day Three target should he be on the board, and they are still looking to address the position. Still, Lacy looks forward to competing on Saturday and show scouts at the NFL Combine in a month that he can be a well-rounded defensive lineman and intends to improve his testing numbers to help his case.
“I’m working on my speed explosion and coming in and out of my breaks, especially with the 20-yard shuttle,” Lacy answered. “I feel like that can help elevate my status.”
Tyler Lacy was a great interview. You could see the joy and passion he has for the game on his face with bright eyes and a big smile. I look forward to seeing him again in Indianapolis and will be rooting for him as he makes the transition to the NFL, whether it be as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers or another team that selects him here in April.