2023 Stock Watch – OLB Nick Herbig – Purchased

 With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we have turned our attention to the offseason. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.

Player: OLB Nick Herbig

Stock Value: Purchased

Reasoning: The Steelers addressed the depth at outside linebacker in the fourth round with the selection of Wisconsin’s Nick Herbig. A highly productive and athletic edge rusher at the college level, his lack of ideal size is frequently cited as the reason for his being available in the middle of the draft. Some believe he should, and eventually will, be moved to an off-ball linebacker role.

After the Steelers addressed the offensive tackle, cornerback, and defensive line positions in the first two rounds, most would likely have regarded the outside linebacker depth as the biggest remaining need.

They added to that in the fourth round with the selection of Nick Herbig out of Wisconsin. While there was some speculation about him possibly moving inside at the NFL level, the Steelers made it clear—specifically outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin—that they are viewing him as an edge player.

Listed at 6’2”, 240 pounds, he is clearly not the typical profile at the position that most teams look for at 3-4 outside linebacker, and certainly not the Steelers. Their prototype for the position is closer to 6’4”, 260 pounds. But Herbig’s 31.25” arm length has also been a significant cause for concern among those who place substantial value on measurement ranges for positions. And it is a rather short length.

But that shouldn’t dominate the discussion, certainly not before we even see him on the field. And his first season should be dominated by special-teams duties, a role that he should excel in based on what he showed in college.

Still, the Steelers very much needed to address the depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker. They even parted with their top two backups from last year, Malik Reed and Jamir Jones. They added Quincy Roche this offseason, a 2021 draft pick of theirs who they previously cut in favor of Jones.

Pittsburgh did add another edge rusher as a college free agent in David Perales out of Fresno State, and given the general lack of depth that they have at the position, he should have a chance to compete. But that’s a subject for another day.

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