The NFL Draft is the last major roster-building milestone of the offseason and will dictate much about who we see in a uniform come September. For every rookie who makes the 53-man roster, that means one veteran does not. It’s circle of life as far as professional sports goes—out with the old, in with the new.
This year, we’re going to take a look at each draft pick the Pittsburgh Steelers made and examine how they are likely to impact the 53-man roster. How likely are they to make the team, how will they dictate position numbers, whose roster spot are they likely to take? You get the idea.
The Steelers drafted seven players in 2023, including four in the first three rounds, as well as two picks in the seventh. Each of them has a chance to make the roster, certainly, but I think most would be surprised if any fewer than six were on the team.
Draft Pick: Nick Herbig
Draft Slot: Fourth Round (132nd overall)
Position: Outside/Inside Linebacker
Roster Outlook And Impact:
It’s somewhat difficult to determine what Nick Herbig’s impact will be without knowing what position he will be asked to play as his primary role. While the Steelers talked about him as an edge rusher coming out of the draft, multiple prominent members of the organization have since volunteered their appreciation of his flexibility, with the possibility of him moving inside.
Yesterday’s signing of veteran pass rusher Markus Golden lessens the burden of pushing Herbig along as the potential third outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, as well, which should only benefit the rookie.
At least in theory, it should allow the coaching staff more freedom to allow Herbig’s natural abilities dictate where he should play, whether that’s outside, inside, or some combination of the two. He was highly productive coming off the edge at Wisconsin, but his skill set would potentially translate well to the inside at the NFL level if his smaller physical stature proves too big of an obstacle to allow him to win consistently outside.
In reality, we’re not going to learn much about this situation for a while. You can’t determine these things without pads on, so that’s going to become more relevant once we get to Latrobe and training camp and the preseason get underway.
It’s entirely possible that he won’t necessarily need to have a primary position if he shows an aptitude for contributing situationally both inside and outside. What we do know is that there is no immediate urgency to rush him onto the field, since the Steelers have viable starters as well as backups at both outside and inside linebacker.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t state his case for getting onto the field. If he can convince the coaching staff that he can help them in certain packages, then all the better for him. One way or another, we should see him get some snaps this year if he’s anything like the player the Steelers believed him to be when they drafted him.