While the role that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Nick Herbig will play with the team is up in the air, the fourth-round pick from Wisconsin is embracing his opportunity and is willing to do whatever the team needs. In a media session with after the first day of rookie minicamp practice on Friday, Herbig talked about doing whatever the team needs and joked he could play a new position.
“I’m just taking it day by day, whatever they want from me. Whether it’s kickoff, kick return, outside backer, inside backer. I’ll play nose tackle, whatever. I’m just coming here with an open mindset, ready to work,” Herbig said via video posted to the team’s YouTube channel.
Herbig played outside linebacker in college, but his limited arm length at 31¼-inches had many assume he would move to an off-ball linebacker role in the NFL. However, the Steelers announced their intention to use him as an EDGE rusher after drafting him, although more recently general manager Omar Khan talked about Herbig’s versatility and said he can play inside as well as outside.
While he may be more suited for an off-ball linebacker position at the NFL level, Herbig seemingly doesn’t care where he plays and is willing to do whatever is asked. For someone who could be a core special teamer for the team as soon as this season, Herbig’s willingness to play anywhere and do whatever is asked is certainly a positive.
Whatever position he ends up at longterm, Herbig’s attitude, motor and passion for the game will give him a chance to succeed. Obviously, he knows the work it takes to stick in the league given that his brother, Steelers guard Nate, is entering his fifth season in the NFL. The bloodlines coupled with his attitude and mindset should serve him well in his journey in the league.
If Herbig can primarily play inside linebacker and become a subpackage pass rusher, I think that might be ideal for both him and the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s depth behind Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb isn’t anything to write home about, and it also needs EDGE depth.
While Herbig showed off his pass rushing chops in college, I’m not sure he’ll last as a full-time outside linebacker in the NFL. Having the ability to do a little bit of both and rush the passer in sub packages could be the right fit. Wherever he ends up, expect Herbig to make an impact Year One, even if it’s only on special teams.