I was doing some research on measurables of linebackers that the Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted over the years just for comparison purposes and I figured I would go ahead and make a post out of the results and add in the top linebackers this year for comparison purposes. Let me disclaimer here that combine and pro day results are numbers that should reflect what a scout sees on tape. You can\’t judge a player on how fast he runs and how well he jumps in shorts. The numbers are fun to play with, but tape of a player does not lie.
The numbers below show the best result a player had at either their combine or pro day. Remember that times are subjective too, as it all depends on who is timing the player, or how accurate the timing equipment is being used. Also a player could have run a 40 on a fast track with or against the wind in addition. Numbers like bench press reps, vertical jump and broad jump, are what they are.
The last two columns represent the players lateral agility number and explosion rate. The explosion rate is calculated by adding together bench reps, vertical jump distance and broad jump length distance. The lateral agility number is derived by subtracting the short shuttle time from the 40 time. The greater the numbers, the better, or so some scouts say.
I should note that I could not find a broad jump number on Larry Foote and Dont\’a Hightower did not lift at the combine or either of his two pro days because of an injury. I put in the number 19 for Hightower on the bench, as that was the last recorded bench number I could find on him. I believe he said at his first or second pro day that he thought he could do 20 plus reps, but have not seen an official number on him.
What is interesting about Hightower is that he weighs the most of any inside linebacker on the list and is 13 pounds heavier than the second place Bruce Davis. His 40 time was not bad compared to the other inside linebackers on the list despite his weight, but as you can see, Mychal Kendricks recorded the fastest time out of all linebackers listed. Most of the criticism you hear about Hightower is that he flips his hips poorly and that he has poor lateral movement to go along with poor change of direction. The lack of lateral movement does show up on tape and is evidenced in the numbers by his slow short shuttle time. His lateral agility number is only .04, the worst of the inside linebackers on this list. Kendrell Bell, however, only had a .14 lateral agility number and he was pretty damn good until injuries dragged him down. Depending on what number you want to put Hightower down for his bench, his explosion number comes in between 61-65 more than likely. Bell, Kendricks, Luke Kuechly and Lawrence Timmons were all 70 plus with Kuechly leading the way.
As far as outside linebackers go, Nick Perry has a very nice explosive number of 83.54 and if you have seen tape on him, you know that number does not lie. He is very impressive off the snap, has impressive straight line speed and gets into the man responsible for blocking him with power. His lateral movement is not great though, nor is his change of direction. It is not bad mind you, just not great. If it were better, Perry would likely be a top 10 pick as either a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4. You may have heard me compare him on the podcast to LaMarr Woodley, but he just isn\’t as agile in my opinion and plays much stiffer.
Judging by the measurables of Thaddeus Gibson, it leaves you to wonder why he never made it. Football intelligence? I remember watching college tape on him and never thought that. He did tend to negate his speed at times by taking too many false steps, and he certainly could have stood to add some weight, but had he good weight room strength and showed fluid hips. I was surprised he vanished so quickly and never caught on permanently elsewhere. He is a perfect example of why you just can\’t go by the measurables.
The Steelers have had Hightower, Kendricks and Perry in for pre draft visits along with outside linebackers Andre Branch and Cam Johnson. Jerrell Harris was also brought in and he played both inside and outside at Alabama. It figures the Steelers could be setting up to draft one of each again this year. Will it be Perry, Hightower or even Courtney Upshaw in the first round? Maybe Kendricks or Branch in round two? We don\’t have much longer to wait to get that answer. We can have fun with the numbers in the mean time, but that\’s all they are, numbers. The game tape means much, much more.
Let me know if anything sticks out to you.