Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Terence Garvin – Undrafted

By Matthew Marczi

It has been a theme for many years that, aside from the occasional special teams contributions, rookies on the Pittsburgh Steelers, including even first-round draft picks, rarely contribute during their first season. That has been especially true over the years on defense, though less so on offense.

That pattern changed somewhat in 2013 due to a variety of circumstances, both foreseen and unforeseen, as many rookies—even undrafted players—got a good chunk of playing time on both sides of the ball. Therefore, there’s more to go on than usual when speaking about how their rookie seasons went.

Player: Terence Garvin

Draft Status: Undrafted

Snaps: 33

Starts: 1

Terence Garvin may have logged just 33 snaps on defense, but it was amazing that he was even on the roster.

Garvin not only went undrafted, he went unsigned, much like his former college teammate, Will Johnson, who had to sit out his entire rookie season after going unnoticed. Garvin was eventually invited to the Steelers’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, and obviously did enough to win a roster spot.

But he didn’t stop there. Garvin kept chipping away at the odds, getting noticed in practices, and finally putting some good plays to tape during the preseason, to the point that he actually made the final 53-man roster out of training camp, as the fifth inside linebacker on the depth chart.

Even more impressive is that he didn’t simply stay on the roster the entire season—unlike other fringe players—he played in every game for which he was healthy. He suffered an injury in the penultimate game of the season that caused him to miss the season finale after being placed on injured reserve.

Like so many rookies, Garvin paved his way toward playing time by proving to be an asset on special teams. That is precisely the reason that Garvin and Kion Wilson were active for the first week of the season while Vince Williams was without a uniform, because Williams wasn’t a special teams contributor.

Along with second-year former undrafted free agent Robert Golden, he and Garvin quickly established themselves as essential cogs to the special teams machine. He made 10 tackles on special teams on the year, and while he also was liable to miss a tackle here and there, he was also valuable on the return teams. Though his most well-known contribution in this regard was the illegal block on Antonio Brown’s punt return touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was a consistent performer all season.

Late in the season, the Steelers began giving Garvin some snaps on defense, beginning with one play against the Buffalo Bills. The snaps gradually increased until he reached a season-high 13 against the Green Bay Packers, during which game he suffered the injury.

That final game revealed pretty overtly the fact that Garvin doesn’t (yet) have the size to be a consistent threat against the run due to his safety-like frame. Garvin is currently a nickel linebacker inserted for pass coverage, but he needs to be able to play the run as well for the reasons that we saw in this game.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – LB Jarvis Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Markus Wheaton
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – S Shamarko Thomas
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – QB Landry Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – CB Terry Hawthorne
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Justin Brown
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – DE Nick Williams

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    Good depth guy, a hybrid type who could stand to put a little more meat on his bones. If they don’t draft ILB I definitely see Garvin making the Team again, especially considering he is good special teams player.

    On another note, this is the year Golden needs to take the next step, Clark and Will Allen will most likely be gone (though I could see W.Allen back on a vet deal) if there’s ever a time to cement a backup spot in the secondary its this year

  • dgh57

    I’m on the other side with Garvin in that he could stand to lose a little weight and play SS after Troy hangs it up. He has played some Safety in College. Now I know Troy could get a extension and all but I still find it at least a interesting idea.This all started with me, by the way, and I’m still looking into this, after watching Kam Chancellor(6’3″ 232 pds.) play(at SS) last night with his size and all and thinking about who do we have on our roster with similar size and has played Safety before and Garvin’s name is the only one I could think of.

  • steeltown

    I think they see Shamarko as Polamalu’s successor at SS, it is an interesting thought though, im not sure Garvin is fast enough to play Safety in the pros… IMO I think his place is backup ILB and special teams coverage

  • dgh57

    I keep forgetting about Thomas! Wish he would of played more last season so I wouldn’t have that problem. I’ve tried to find Garvin’s 40 time but to no avail. I’ll still be holding it in the realm of a future possibility though.

  • steeltown

    I think he ran 4.69 at his pro day

  • Virdin Barzey

    Garvin definitely isn’t fast enough to play SS. He needs to bulk up. Like his special teams play but don’t see him anything beyond a backup at the ILB.

  • dgh57

    Kam’s 40 time is 4.59.

  • Chad H

    So much upside to Garvin. I said it before he will compete for the starting ILB job. Gain some muscle to smack a RB like he smacks punters! Who knows he may be a starting OLB once he adds weight. Either way he will be a quality back up.

  • wilsonmjw

    Seattle is great because of 1 thing..speed.
    This is the kind of player that needs built up and coached up.

    In fact we need 10 more starters just like him. Top end speed at their positions and a nasty attitude.

  • John Hinton

    Regarding your comment on Seattle…I would add effort and attitude. They “brought it” on every play for 60 minutes even when the game was clearly over. THAT’S the way I want the Steelers to play every week!

  • treeher

    Far as I can tell, speed and physical attributes are pretty even between Kam and Garv. Kam was a fifth rounder although he played FS in college. Might be something to think about.

  • dgh57

    He has a youtube video out entitled “UNSTOPPABLE”! You should check it out! He’s played both close to the line and back deep.

  • treeher

    Not sure i agree. 40 time is close to Kam’s, and if you look at other distances (10 yd, 20 yd) he is about the same.

  • treeher

    Just watched it. Now I can’t believe he went undrafted!

  • brent

    Don’t be shocked if he leaves camp as the full time starter. I think he will put on the weight and all the coaches like him a lot. Lebeau said he won’t be known for just that block for very long.