Steelers Meeting With Noah Sewell, Who Isn’t A Typical Off-Ball Linebacker

With the NFL trending towards smaller off-ball linebackers, Oregon’s Noah Sewell is looking to buck that trend. At 6’3 and 250 pounds, Sewell believes that he’ll be able to effectively man the middle of a team’s defense at his current weight.

“I am on the heavier side of the scale, but I like to kind of steer away from those typical linebackers. I like to be unique with my weight,” Sewell said while speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine today.

Sewell is meeting with the Steelers today in Indianapolis, and his height and weight profile is much more reminiscent of linebackers like James Farrior coming out of college than Devin Bush. Obviously, the NFL has transformed and those smaller, 230ish-pound linebackers are becoming more popular and at times more useful, but there’s nothing to show that Sewell can’t be productive at his size.

A player who entered Oregon as the No. 3 linebacker in his class and the top recruit out of the state of Utah, Sewell has the NFL bloodlines that the Steelers traditionally look for. His older brother, Penei, was a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2021 NFL Draft and is none of the better offensive tackles in football today. His other older brother, Nephi, signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent, and a third brother, Gabriel, is currently playing college football at Nevada.

At Oregon, Sewell mostly lived up to the hype. He was a standout in 2021, with 114 tackles four sacks, five pass deflections and two forced fumbles but his production dropped off a bit in 2022. Sewell still managed 56 tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss along with four pass deflections as he endured a coaching change from Mario Cristobal to Dan Lanning. Sewell blamed the drop in production from trying to do too much.

“I was trying to do too much. I felt like I was the only one out there, but in reality, I had teammates with me. It was just putting too much on my shoulders,” Sewell said.

The Steelers are going to have a need at linebacker this offseason, with Devin Bush set to depart in free agency and the future of Robert Spillane unknown as he also enters unrestricted free agency. Sewell is likely a Day 2 selection depending on how he tests at the combine, and with the Steelers holding three picks inside the top-50 and another at 80th overall. Jonathan Heitritter put a third-round grade on Sewell, citing his ability as a downhill thumper.

Sewell said he likes the idea of potentially being the defensive playcaller as well.

“I feel comfortable with that. I feel like I can be that guy to lead the defense and just take over.”

Sewell also said his IQ is one of his biggest strengths.

“I’m able to pick up a scheme real quick and then just go out there and just perform.”

He noted he needs to work on his hands and his feet, something that Heitritter mentioned in his draft profile as he has limited fluidity for his position. He also said he watches a lot of old tape from Junior Seau and Ray Lewis and tries to model parts of his game after them.

As an early entrant to the NFL Draft, Sewell will be just 21 on draft night. That youth gives him a lot of room to potentially grow, and as someone who had pedigree as a top recruit, performed decently well in a high-major conference, and has NFL bloodlines, Sewell is a guy I would be surprised if the Steelers don’t consider at some point in the draft. He checks the boxes of what they traditionally look for, and despite being bigger than a lot of modern-day linebackers, fans are going to fall in love with his ability to get downhill and lay the boom.

It’ll be interesting to see how Sewell tests and if it positively or negatively impacts his draft stock. Regardless, he’s going to be a name to watch for Pittsburgh.

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