2013 NFL Draft: Five Outside Linebackers Possibly On The Steelers Radar

By Jeremy Hritz

The Pittsburgh Steelers are unquestionably in the midst of draft preparations to determine which players they will target and select come this April. Their needs are obvious, yet their greatest need, as evidenced by the lack of pressure on the quarterback the past two seasons, is one for a pass rusher at outside linebacker. While the team can hope that James Harrison, if he is back, gets healthier, LaMarr Woodley gets in shape, and Chris Carter and Jason Worilds take the next step in their development, to simply hope and not take action in the draft could result in opposing quarterbacks having inordinate amounts of time to move the ball downfield.

With that said, who are a few of the top prospects that the Steelers could possibly be looking to draft for an outside linebacker spot in this year’s draft? The analysis that follows will provide an initial look at potential first and second rounders that the Steelers could select as we sit here in January.

NameSchoolHeightWeight402012 StatsDraft Projection
Jarvis JonesGeorgia6’22424.8486 TKLS / 15 SKSTop five
Ezekiel AnsahBYU6’62734.7362 TKLS / 4.5 SKSMid-first
Corey LemonierAuburn6’42424.7834 TKLS / 5.5 SKSLate first
Chase ThomasStanford6’22454.9571 TKLS / 7.5 SKSSecond round
Brandon JenkinsFSU6’32574.70(injured in 2012)Second/third round

Jarvis Jones – Georgia

Will most likely be gone when the Steelers pick at 17, Jones is the highest-rated outside linebacker in this year’s draft. Transferred from USC to Georgia, Jones is described as an explosive player whose best attribute is his ability to rush the passer, and while he is reported to play high at times and get eaten up by blockers, he plays aggressively and viciously, characteristics that the Steelers value. Would the Steelers trade up to get Jones? Not likely. But if he happens to fall a few spots before the Steelers pick, they could make the jump. The reality? He will be off the board way before the Steelers make their selection.

Ezekiel Ansah – BYU

Ansah, born in Ghana, Africa, is an intelligent, rangy player that has demonstrated the versatility to play defensive end and outside linebacker, despite never playing collegiate football until 2010. Is a naturally quick and explosive pass rusher, who like Jones, has a tendency to play high and get run over at times. Is young football-wise and has a huge ceiling that under the right coaching could blossom into an outstanding pass rusher. Not an organically aggressive player. Should be available when the Steelers pick, or could go off the board a few picks earlier.

Corey Lemonier – Auburn

Lemonier played defensive end at Auburn but has the capability of standing up on the outside in a 3-4 defense. Is described as durable, aggressive, and explosive and always plays full-go. Does not have much experience dropping into coverage and does over-pursue and miss tackles from time to time. Saw his sack total drop to 5.5 from 9.5 in 2012. Not forecasted to be drafted until the mid-twenties, the Steelers would have an opportunity to select Lemonier if they believed him to be worthy.

Chase Thomas – Stanford

From Georgia, was recruited as a defensive end, but played out his career as an outside linebacker, recording 27.5 sacks and 50 tackles for loss in his career. Has never been injured and is a high character guy. Better against the run than he is as a pass rusher, Thomas is quick to set the edge and excels in identifying the play. Limited athletically, Thomas will need to develop his ability to rush the passer and also to drop into coverage effectively. Thomas is forecasted as a second round pick.

Brandon Jenkins – Florida State

Suffered a LisFranc injury in 2012, Jenkins collected 8 sacks in 2011 and 13.5 sacks in 2010. He was also responsible for 37.5 tackles for loss during his career at Florida State. Can get collapsed by blockers and needs to get stronger to match-up against NFL tackles. However, Jenkins has an impressive first-step and demonstrates a consistent effort in getting to the passer. Has experience in coverage, yet must improve his play against the run. Jenkins is a second, possibly third round pick as a result of his injury.



  • Cody Younkin

    I still think Mingo is a possiblity if they choose a OLB the first. He is relentless on the pass rush. Which means they should go saftey in the second, or vice versa.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    If Te’o doesn’t fall to us then I would love us to take eziekial ansah think he will be a great player

  • RW

    No Mingo here?

  • steeltown

    Te’o would be awesome, but wont happen. Ansah could be a good pick

  • steeltown

    If Foote isnt re-signed, then ILB is more of a need

  • Alan Felicia

    Ansah is a very good looking prospect who’s being compared to Jason Pierre-Paul. If the Steellers get him, LeBeau may coach until his 80! His teamate, Kyle Van Noy, is not too shabby.
    Two other prospect worth mention – Dion Jordan from Oregon (6’6″/276) and Sam Montgomery from LSU (6’4″/270). Both are considered in mid 1st Round.

  • Tim Culligan

    probabbllyy, I think past Timmons and Spence there isn’t much at the inside position (assumine Spence can be healthy and a starter). OLB is trickier but is Deebo is let go, Woodley Worilds and A Robinson aren’t particulariy strong either.

  • Matthew Stanko

    Brandon Jackson? Typo.
    What about Mingo!?

  • Cody Younkin

    Kinda unrelated but everyone watch ILB Nico Johnson for alabama! He could be available in the 3rd or 4th round and the guy is a monster run stuffer which is what we need. Timmons is our coverage guy, while johnson coyld play the spy and run more often, I like him because i think Sean Spence should attempt a move to Saftey or OLB because of his speed and coverage skills.

  • steeltown

    Exactly and Spence is unproven, they almost certainly need to re-sign Foote.. and if Harrison AND Foote are both gone, they better re-sign B.Johnson (for cheap) if for nothing more than another body who knows the system and who can be a backup inside and outside… though I do think Marshall Mcfadden has potential as a backup inside

  • mghjr88

    I would rather have two inside backers that can play both the run and the pass. Otherwise the team will be in a similar situation they were in the past couple of seasons with Farrior and Foote.
    Spence most certainly cannot contribute as an outside linebacker in the Steelers scheme. I think a move to safety is more realistic but equally unlikely.

  • mghjr88

    Speaking of safeties, how about Eric Reid of LSU?

  • WilliamSekinger

    No offense to the author, but why only focus on linebackers for a 3-4 team? College DEs are just of capable of becoming great 3-4 OLBs

  • mghjr88

    I personally hope Foote retires. If the defensive line can find its old form, I think Spence is more than capable of doing the job.

  • SteelersDepot

    Added some profile links to his piece. Moving slow today with the flu.

  • steeltown

    I like Spence coming out of college, but he probably wont be ready to start in 2013.. plus Foote is only 32yrs old and just had the best season of his career, played every game AND is willing to play for less money

  • SteelersDepot

    What part of “a few” did you not understand?

  • SteelSpine

    Every player eligible for NFL next year is possibly on the Steelers’ radar. Sorry couldnt resist.

    Seriously tho I do think Steelers will try to draft an OLB with our 1st pick, because this time we cannot afford to wait a couple of years for him to develop. We have enough developmental guys already. This one’s gonna have to be more ready to play OLB than our previous usual method the past coupla decades. That’s because Harrison’s body is probly done & if that’s the case we have zilch to provide pressure on QBs.

    In case anyone thinks Timmons will provide enough pass rush, Timmons can sack as a surprise from ILB but doubt Steelers would try moving him to OLB because our coaching staff thinks they learned their lesson from trying Timmons at OLB in the past.

    Too bad gotta use high pick for OLB because we have bigger needs at safety. Polo’s body is like Harrison’s situation, Clark is a concussion away from done, Will Allen might be gone. That leaves nothing. Golden is nothing but an untested question mark, we havent seen anything from him yet on field. Our backup OLBs Brandon Johnson & Robinson are just prospects but better than our backup safeties Mundy & Golden, That’s why safety is a big need.

  • steeltown

    Reid will be a star in the League before long.. but I doubt the Steelers draft him. I do HOPE they draft a Safety early though, maybe 2nd or 3rd Rd

  • steeltown

    Agreed. I will never be able to pinpoint the Steelers 1st Rd pick, ever.

    I think if Harrison is gone, then Worilds will start and I bet he proves some critics wrong, either way, it will give any rookie OLB a year to develop and learn the system. I guess we’ll see just how much they think they have in Worilds come draft weekend and whether or not they release Harrison or not

    Also, I hope they retain Will Allen, unless they draft a Safety early. I like Golden but its too early to gauge his potential. Mundy has lost the confidence of the Coaching staff and rightfully so, I too think Safety is a HUGE need, especially if Will Allen is not re-signed

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I would rather have Skov. I think he can be had in the 3rd round. Ansah is still my first pick. A S in round #2, and than an ILB like Skov with pick #3.

  • Kysteeler

    Foote said he would take a pay cut for 2013. I think it would be nice to see Foote there in the start of the season, with hopefully Spence taking over mid-season.

  • Kysteeler

    I’m not a huge fan of Mingo, how can you have Montgomery and Mingo on the same team and not produce more sacks than they have?

  • JT

    Foote means literally nothing to the Draft. If he can’t go, nobody they Draft this season can replace him. And regardless of how Spence plays, they need more bodies.

  • Kysteeler

    I really like Jenkins, a mid-round pick that gives us a year to see what we have in Worilds (he had a decent season I thought, with missing training camp). I personally think they will miss out on Jones. Thomas could be a nice 2/3 round pick as well.

  • walter mason

    How much higher of a draft pick would we have if we simply lost the last meaningless game with Cleveland?

  • WilliamSekinger

    A little touchy aren’t we?

  • LucasY59

    the steelers would have the 1st overall pick if they lost all 8 of the “meaningless” games this year, I dont get how any respectable fan would want their team to lose a game

  • JT

    Ansah could be the next feared Steelers defender. Right now, who is it? It certainly isn’t Woodley anymore. I’d love to see what LeBeau could turn him into.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Foote’s numbers are already around what Farrior’s were when they let him go. And at 32, he’s only going to be getting slower.

  • LucasY59

    Sorry if my comment came across wrong, not trying to insult anyone,
    but It is frustrating to see someone hope or want their team to lose, yes picking higher could be better, but most teams that have those picks dont make the playoffs and play in a lot of meaningless games, the Steelers have done just fine for the most part with their picks in the later half of the rounds.

  • steeltown

    Still need him another year, even if they draft ILB early, unless you want Sylvestor or B.Johnson starting inside

  • steeltown

    I love the Spence pick but he will never be an every down ILB, Coach Butler himself said they dont see him as a BUCK ILB, but more of a MACK which is where Timmons plays. He was drafted for his instincts and speed to counteract pass catching RB’s and hybrid TE’s (a nickel LB) I agree they need more bodies and I think they draft ILB relatively early, they need to start grooming one, I dont think Sly is the answer

  • I agree. I don’t like Foote in coverage anymore.

  • I hope they select Huey Richardson in the first.

  • No way the Steelers go OLB in the first round!!! Did you see Chance Warmack play guard for Alabama last night? Awesome! He won’t be around at 17, but I wish he was. The Steelers will select a rush backer in the 2nd-5th rounds. Chase Thomas would work, but it won’t matter cause Harrison and Woodley will combine for at least 20 sacks next year.

  • I agree, but I still think it’s more of a need even if he does resign. There’s none worth a 1st round pick except Manti Te’o, and he was run over easily by Alabama last night. Too bad C.J. Mosley isn’t coming out.

  • Jake

    Apparently he didn’t understand the part where you said “no offense to the author.”

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Hahah. Goes to show a bust culd happen, we spent our 1st round pick on pass rusher named that who coaches were sure could convert to an outside rush LB for Steelers. Biggest bust Steelers ever had because Steelers cut him before the regular season even began that year.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Spence way too slow for safety, even strong safety. That info is available. & thats probably why Steelers said an immediate no after that last draft. We do have a glaring need at strong safety though.