Not only did Wisconsin edge Nick Herbig land on the same team as his older brother, Nate, coming out of Wisconsin in the 2023 NFL Draft, he also landed in an ideal situation in Pittsburgh with an obvious need for an athletic, versatile defensive piece that can get after the quarterback behind star outside linebacker T.J. Watt and emerging fourth-year linebacker Alex Highsmith.
That combination of being with his older brother and landing in an ideal situation with a clear path to the 53-man roster on the depth chart has Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski tabbing Herbig — the No. 132 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft — as one of the top Day 3 selections that’s in a perfect situation to contribute early.
“Herbig is an ideal fit in the Steelers’ defensive scheme. The first-team All-Big Ten selection primarily played off the edge at Wisconsin, but he lacked the size and length to continue in that role for most NFL teams. Pittsburgh is different, though. The 6’2″, 240-pounder should be able to stick at outside linebacker on the Steelers,” Sobleski writes regarding Herbig and his potential early contributions. “According to Pro Football Focus, Herbig was the only edge-defender in college to post pass-rush grades over 90 in each of the last two seasons. With Alex Highsmith set to become a free agent next offseason, Herbig can be as a rotational piece as a rookie and then potentially take over the spot opposite T.J. Watt.”
Herbig certainly landed in a good spot in Pittsburgh as he adjusts to the NFL, getting a chance to live with his brother, Nate, while getting his feet wet as a professional football player in a new system and a new city. On top of that, Herbig also lands in a situation where he’ll get to learn from the best in the game in Watt, a fellow Wisconsin product, as well as a self-made player in Highsmith, a former walk-on in college turned NFL standout.
Though size — specifically arm length — is a real concern for Herbig as a true EDGE in Pittsburgh’s scheme. The Steelers simply have nobody but Quincy Roche behind Watt and Highsmith, which is where Herbig will come into the picture. He might not stick at outside linebacker long-term, but the Steelers have a clear need for a third outside linebacker.
GM Omar Khan stated during an interview earlier in the week on SiriusXM’s Movin’ the Chains with hosts Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller that he believes Herbig can play inside and outside and will be that versatile piece. That might be his best bet at cracking the 53-man roster and having a clear-cut role, not to mention on special teams under coordinator Danny Smith.
He might not be the ideal OLB3 behind Highsmith and Watt, but he is going to get a helmet on game days and be a productive player whenever he steps between the white lines.