For the second time today, a national NFL analyst praised the Steelers’ pick of EDGE Nick Herbig in the NFL Draft as NFL.com’s Chad Reuter named the selection of Herbig one of his favorites in the fourth round. Coming on the heels of CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco naming Herbig his favorite pick by Pittsburgh, Reuter thinks Herbig is a good fit for the Steelers.
“I figured teams might sleep on Herbig because of his average size (6-2, 240 pounds) and overall athleticism for an edge rusher. He landed in the perfect spot, though, because the Steelers appreciate his toughness and versatility. The tough-minded defender, who joins his offensive guard brother, Nate, in Pittsburgh, is fast off the ball, has a variety of pass-rush moves outside and plays strong against the run,” Reuter writes.
The value of the Herbig selection really depends on where he ends up long-term. He was a predictable draft pick by the Steelers because of his bloodlines. They signed his brother Nate earlier this offseason and he’s also close with fellow Wisconsin Badger T.J. Watt. It’s not really a surprise that he ended up in Pittsburgh.
What is a surprise, though, is hearing that the Steelers plan on playing Herbig at EDGE. He was a productive pass rusher in college, with 11.5 sacks last season for Washington, and his motor is seemingly endless. But production doesn’t always translate to the NFL, and Herbig’s lack of length for the position with 31 ¼ arms raises serious questions about his ability to produce as a pass rusher in Pittsburgh’s scheme.
Pretty much the only EDGE with arms that size who went on to find success as a pass rusher at the NFL level is Markus Golden, who had 47 career sacks. He’s had three double-digit sack seasons but never more than 4.5 in any other season of his eight-year career to date. Golden was also bigger than Herbig when he came out of Missouri. Obviously, that level of production out of Herbig would be considered a win, but it’s obviously incredibly rare for someone with his physical tools to be a successful EDGE at the NFL level.
If Herbig moves to off-ball linebacker, he could be an impact player. He’s shown solid coverage ability, and he has the motor and IQ to be a really productive player. I just don’t know how it’s going to work as an EDGE. I would love to be proven wrong, and Reuter obviously believes he’s going to be a fit for the position.
I’m looking forward to rookie minicamp and then training camp getting underway to see how Herbig looks at EDGE. The Steelers don’t have a much depth at the position right now, so if Herbig is able to pan out quickly, it’ll be huge for them.