Categorized | 2013 Draft, Article, News

Hybrid Outside Linebackers In Even Higher Demand As More Teams Switch To 3-4


The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a 3-4 defensive team for ages and that front relies heavily on the play of its outside linebackers to not only be able to rush the passer, but set the edge against the run and drop into coverage as well.

More teams will be switching to a 3-4 in 2013 with the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns now set to make that transition. That means the need for those special type of hybrid college defensive ends will be in even more demand now moving forward. Most college teams still play 4-3 fronts, so there figures to be a premium early in the draft on players such as Barkevious Mingo, Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan as all three are tweeners that likely fit in a 4-3 front as well.

Identifying college defensive ends that can play outside linebacker in a 3-4, especially in a Dick LeBeau run 3-4, has always been a chore, and with more and more teams now competing for those same type of players the last few years it will make it even more challenging than ever to get a good one. The transition from having a hand in the dirt to standing up is one that many players struggle with and that will not change anytime soon.

The Steelers chose to keep undrafted free agent Adrian Robinson on the 53 man roster last year, as opposed to trying to stash him on the practice squad, because they definitely saw the potential that he has. He remains very raw, and continues to be a work in progress, but certainly can get off of the edge quickly as we saw last preseason.

Also, if you think that the Steelers are ready to give up on Chris Carter after two seasons, you better guess again. Some players take a little while longer to convert than others and I only need to point to James Harrison as an example of that. Carter has played all of 150 snaps so far on defense, and thanks to him missing his rookie offseason program due to the lockout, 2013 will essentially be his second season even though it will technically be his third.

The Steelers pick 17th this April in the draft, and as it looks right now, there is a good chance that the top hybrids could very well be off the board when it comes time for them to make their selection. General manager Kevin Colbert will stick to his board and loves to get positional value, so it would not be surprising to see the outside linebacker position be put on hold until later in the draft as a result as he will not chase a need over better value at another position.

Remember, even if the Steelers do draft an outside linebacker in round one or two this year, that player would be hard pressed to be anything more than a special teams contributor during his rookie season. That\'s just the way it works in Pittsburgh with all linebackers not named Kendrell Bell.

The Steelers will almost certainly draft an outside linebacker at some point during the 2013 draft and you can expect they will be adding a few more undrafteds afterwards as well in hopes of finding another Robinson. The position, however, has become one that is in such high demand and it figures to remain that way for the next several years.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason White

    I know he is raw but I have high hopes for Adrian Robinson. And unlike some Steeler fans I haven’t given up on Chris Carter either. I understand that last year was basically his rookie season. Though I’d like to see him shake off the injury bug.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree reality is anyone they draft for OLB will not play any position his first year, I just wish LeBeau could work a young guy in on a few snaps here or there, for example on some of the obvious passing downs if the raw guy is a pass rushing beast.

    The only point I disagree with is your implication in that article that anyone who stunk in their 2nd year means that player (in this case Chris Carter) will become as good as James Harrison. Using that rationelle, wonder why in the past, Steelers have cut plenty of young defensive players, including linebackers, sometimes cut defensive players in their first year, instead of kept every young defensive player on the roster. I hope you’ll be right on that.

  • walter mason

    Kendrell Bell was an exciting player his first year. The way I see it, we need to draft better.

  • Bob Loblaw

    If there’s a position on the Steelers’ defense that a rookie has a spot at starting, it’s OLB. We’ve had rookies play that spot before.

  • Jollyrob68

    I wis Butler would get promoted

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.duncan.77 Steve Duncan

    Play or start? A lot of them have got PT, but it is very rare that they start.

  • Cody Younkin

    Im still a huge fan of robinsion, his freakish pass rushing talent cant be ignored, as a rounded linebacker he needs to develop. I do not think the steelers need to draft an OLB in the first. I would trade back and and take a saftey and with the extra 3rd round pick take Corey Lemoneir.

  • SteelSpine

    Thanks for the info. Fingers crossed.

  • zyzak

    Why? He coaches LBs and they are not responding

  • zyzak

    Steelers have almost as many injuries to OLBs as they do O Linemen

  • Nolrog

    Without question we need to draft better. Too many picks not giving us value for that round. Colbert gets way too many acolades (sp?) for his drafting, which has been average, at best.

  • Nolrog

    The defense works as a single unit, not as line men and line backers and so on. The DL, particularly the NT hasn’t been taking up the space they need in the last 2 years, and as a result, the LBs aren’t making the plays they used to.

  • SteelSpine

    The calling CCarter’s “2nd year in NFL is basically his rookie season in NFL” is complete bullsh.
    – It’s saying no one got paid that year, especially a draftpick who was healthy all that year. It’s saying that during that year, between games when there are weeks between games used for meetings, practices, & NFL coaching, it’s saying Carter didn’t pay any attention during the meetings & practicing during the week, between each game. Bs. It’s why they got paid during the year.
    - Gilbert was in same draft as Carter yet no one used that excuse for Gilbert. Gilbert plays off tackle, including during Gilbert’s rookie year, & off tackle is um kinda hard.
    - Also Cortez Allen was in same draft as Carter, yet Cortez actually made a few big plays last year.
    - There are LBs around the in NFL who made big plays last year who were in same draft class as Carter, & there probably isn’t anyone claiming those LBs didn’t get paid their previous season in the NFL.

  • lefnor

    Carter was TERRIBLE during preseason. He is fast, can run anyone around but that’s everything he has. He is unable to play against the run. Look at the preseason game against the Bills. The backup TE (I don’t even know his name) singlehandedly embarrassed him during run blocking.

    What a shame for the FO, that he was the no1 backup OLB in week 1. Ridiculous.

    On the other hand, Robinson is very promising. His bull rush and speed rush with great hand usage and bending ability is more than promising. He needs to get in better football shape though.

    I think Harrison (thank you everything, Deebo, you are the best!) won’t be on the 2013 roster and just hope that Carter neither.

    LOLB: Woodley, backup: Robinson

    ROLB: Worilds/Robinson, backup: draftpick (Jordan/Mingo/Montgomery/Lemonier)

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Agreeing with ALL of that. I wonder if also Brandon Johnson can get a chance to compete in camp since he made splash too in preseason.

  • HarryBackside

    The good news is that the trend in college football is moving towards the 34 defense, especially in the SEC.

  • HarryBackside

    Yup. But he was a second year player. Compare what fans were saying about Keenan Lewis after his second season, and what they say about him now. I’m still willing to give Carter some time to develop into a finished product.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    I too wuldnt mind trading down in the first if it gets us another second pick, & I wuldnt mind if we take a safety with our first pick. Need a good prospect too tho to compete at outside linebacker, because I fint have faith that the health of Woodly or Worlids will hold up for many games.

  • Clint Martin

    They are in higher demand but the Steelers don’t use outside linebackers that are that size every linebcker on the team is 6’2″-6’0″ except for Brandon Johnson and he is on the depth chart behind Timmons

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Cortez Allen was only a second year player, so were other better playmakers. Beachum was a rookie 7th rd last year & near end of last season played well at a position he had never played before. Multiple bodies probably already leapfrogging Carter on the depth chart.

  • walter mason

    I thought Woodley started his rookie year.

  • Mike Carroll

    Chris Carter should be and will be given every opportunity to come into training camp, compete, and show real improvement this year. But, if he continues to look like the same player from his first two seasons, then it’s possible he does not make the roster this year. At least, I would hope the team can replace him with a better option if he is showing no improvement this year.

  • HarryBackside

    Was James Harrison a finished product by year two? Just because the light comes on for one player during his second year, you can’t use that as the standard for every other players. It’s going to take a few seasons for most players.

  • Jollyrob68

    Linebackers need to be played. They learn on vets past their expiration date.

  • Jollyrob68

    Flip Woodley to ROLB and Worilds to LOLB. Worilds played better on the left.
    Carter will be fine. he needs to not crash down on every play. the same way debo does at times.

  • Jollyrob68

    First season was lockout so doesn’t really count. He will be fine

  • Jollyrob68

    They need yoga & better conditioning.

  • Jollyrob68

    It’s not about pay its about off season training.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.duncan.77 Steve Duncan

    From what I can find, he played a lot, but did not start. That comes from Pro-Football Reference, but they are not always accurate on starts. I can’t remember myself.

  • Pete

    What are you basing “average at best” on? The Steelers are one of the best drafting teams in the NFL. Every team will have duds and studs from the draft. Nobody can hit 100% and accurately predict how hard a kid is willing to work to make the transition to the NFL. The hope is that you hit more than you miss and the Steelers are one of the best.

  • Pete

    The coaches believe Carter is a clone of Worlids, the same type of player and they’re not down on Carter like many fans are. Whether Carter and Worilds can become another Harrison is another story but the coaches feel Carter and Worilds can contribute to the team.

  • Guest

    trading down in the first where or pick is at 17 only gets you the other teams 1st and their 3rd.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Oh, bummer.

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