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NFL Analyst Tabs Nick Herbig As Day 3 Draft Pick That ‘Could Compete’ For Starter Snaps

Pittsburgh Steelers fourth-round draft pick Nick Herbig doesn’t quite have a set position in the Black and Gold, but that didn’t keep NFL Draft analyst Chad Reuter from identifying Herbig as one of 12 Day 3 picks from the 2023 NFL Draft that “could compete” for starter snaps this season.

Herbig, who comes into the NFL a bit undersized for the outside linebacker position at 6’2″, 240 pounds with 31 1/4-inch arms, will be used all over the Steelers’ defense, at least according to GM Omar Khan. His versatility and play demeanor are traits that attracted the Steelers to him throughout the pre-draft process.

Despite not having a clear-cut position right now, Reuter believes that Herbig could compete for starter snaps right away as a rookie behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker, and even behind Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb at inside linebacker.

“Three-time All-Pro T.J. Watt missed time with injuries last year, so Herbig’s pass-rush moves and quick get-off might be used to spell Watt even if the veteran stays healthy all season. In addition, Herbig’s football intelligence and toughness should help him win gaps inside if free-agent signees Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts can’t go at some point during the year,” Reuter writes regarding Herbig as one of his Day 3 players that could compete for starter snaps. 

The Steelers will certainly let Herbig start out at outside linebacker behind Watt and Highsmith as he gets comfortable in the NFL, but it’s unlikely he competes for starter snaps there behind those two, who comprise one of the top pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Herbig will certainly be able to spell the two at times in 2023, but that won’t rise to the level of potential starter snaps unless there is an injury.

It is rather curious that Reuter said Herbig could challenge Holcomb and Roberts inside if there is an injury. Granted, off-ball linebacker is Herbig’s ideal position with his measurables, but he hasn’t really played the position, so pegging him as a potential injury replacement at inside linebacker certainly raises some eyebrows.

The depth behind Holcomb and Roberts isn’t great overall with the likes of Mark Robinson and Tae Crowder listed as the backups — for now. Pittsburgh could add a veteran before the start of training camp at inside linebacker to shore up the depth chart, but it will be interesting to see if Herbig gets some run there in minicamp and OTAs, becoming that jack- of-all-trades type defensively for the Steelers.

It just seems like a bit of a stretch from Reuter to include Herbig as a guy who could compete for starter reps right away defensively in 2023. He’ll be a “starter” on special teams without a doubt and will be a key depth piece overall, but anything more in 2023 seems like wishful thinking.

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