Steelers Draft History Under Tomlin – Outside Linebacker

With the 2014 NFL Draft coming up in a bit, and having finished taking stock of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, it’s now time to look back and see how the team assembled the roster they currently have through the draft.

It would be most simple to set a dividing line at 2007, the year Mike Tomlin took over at head coach, so we will revisit the past seven drafts, encompassing 59 selections, to see how the team treated each position, and look into why that is.

The next position we’ll revisit is outside linebacker. With three premium picks used at the position in Tomlin’s tenure, the team certainly hasn’t ignored the primary pass rushing spot. Yet entering the 2014 season, questions linger about how secure it is.

2007 – LaMarr Woodley – 2nd round (46)

Tomlin got his linebacking unit off to a hot start when he drafted LaMarr Woodley with the second pick of his head coaching career. He registered four sacks as a rookie in limited snaps before taking over the starting job in his second season. Over the next three seasons, he notched 35 sacks, intercepting three passes and forcing six fumbles.

All was not well after that, however. After cashing in on a big contract, Woodley got off on a tear to start the 2011 season, notching nine sacks by the halfway point, but it began a rash of nagging lower leg injuries that caused him to miss 14 starts and parts of other games over the next three seasons. Ultimately, the team made the tough decision to release him this offseason, in large part due to his chronic injuries.

2008 – Mike Humpal – 6th round (188)

Mike Humpal was a late-round prospect of really no note. He got injured and spent his rookie season on injured reserve when he was released and cleared waivers. He didn’t make the roster in his second season and that was it.

2010 – Jason Worilds – 2nd round (52)

Sensing a dearth of talent behind their two starters, the Steelers drafted Jason Worilds in the second round in 2010, even with both starters still playing at a high level. Worilds had had sporadic success, chiefly as a pass rusher, in his first three seasons, but inherited a starting job in year four.

He quickly lost it to Jarvis Jones, but regained it after a few games, and eventually even usurped Woodley at left outside linebacker. By the midway point last season, Worilds at times looked like a different player, mastering his spin move and racking up sacks while playing significantly better against the run than at any other point in his career. He’s currently locked up on a transition tag, but the Steelers would like to get a long-term deal done in the summer.

2010 – Thaddeus Gibson – 4th round (116)

The Steelers actually double dipped at outside linebacker in the 2010 NFL draft, with Thaddeus Gibson joining the party via the fourth round. Because of school obligations, he missed a lot of offseason preparation, however, and thus was essentially the ninth linebacker. When the Steelers needed a roster spot, he was the one to get axed. He’s bounced around on several teams since then while seeing very little action.

2011 – Chris Carter – 5th round (162)

Many seemed to be higher on Chris Carter initially than I was. In his rookie season, he was asked to play when Woodley first went down with the hamstring injury, and to my eyes, he simply looked overmatched from a strength standpoint. Three years later, it still looks the same. He’s yet to accomplish much of anything in around 250 career snaps, and may struggle to make the roster this year.

2013 – Jarvis Jones – 1st round (17)

The Steelers sensed that the outside linebacker position was reaching a critical mass. James Harrison seemed no longer a viable option, and was released. Knowing that Worilds was entering his final season and Woodley was suffering chronic injuries, it was probable that only one would remain in 2014. So they drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round in 2013.

In truth, he had a fairly unspectacular rookie season, especially as a pass rusher. While he played fairly well overall against the run, he definitely played like a rookie. He’ll be counted upon to start this season, so the team needs to see major strides taken in year two.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Steelers58

    Jarvis jones will be fine. You’ll see a big improvement this year.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    So that one year when they had Harrison and Woodley playing their best they still chose 2 more LB’s in the draft. I also want a couple of LB’s this year, but 1 will practically be an afterthought. Perhaps they draft one as soon as round 2 or 3. Somebody said they wished the Steelers had 5 or 10 2nd round picks, and I agree. There are some interesting guys in the 2nd or 3rd round that could end up being better than the 1st rounders.

    And, yes, Jarvis better have bulked up this off season, or there’s a lot of people that are going to be pissed.

  • srdan

    So Matt, after writing most of the positions, for tomlin and company, in your opinion what is their strongest suit? Weakest?

  • Matt Manzo

    I would say weakest is CB? Strongest? Maybe WR or LB! (I know I’m not the Matt you were asking! But it’s a good question!)

    Even OL could be a strength! Pouncey, Decastro, Beachum. Not Coaches fault that the OL coach couldn’t improve the other guys.

  • Matt Manzo

    Does Tomlin have more say in who’s drafted now more than before or is it always Tomlin and Colbert?

  • srdan

    I always enjoy your opinion. Especially when you agree wtih me ahhaha.

    WR definetly at the top of my list. I give a lot more credit for drafting late and having player pan out, rather than pouncey and decastro being good. Kinda expected.

    Worst?….hard to say. One could easily say punter-that was a debacle. Corner we have drafted two solid players. I’m one that believes that we don’t need great corners in our scheme. Safety should be considered, but we didn’t have to get safeties so far during his tenure. Hard to say

  • Matt Manzo

    Yeah! I wish CB looked like WR. If a few more late round Cbs panned out we’d be on way better shape and wouldn’t have to draft 2 this year.

  • joed32

    All of these articles say “under Tomlin” but it may be Colbert who has the final say. I’m sure Tomlin and the position coaches all have input but someone has to have the final say so and I would guess that it’s Colbert. I hope someone will tell me that I’m right or wrong.

  • Matt Manzo

    Draft Day the movie made it look like the coach is lucky to get some input. I do believe we are a different organization than most and probably give our coaches more say.

  • Steelers@2010

    I will believe it when I see it. No doubt, the kid has some skills, but he will never materialize what the Steelers envision him becoming until he adds more bulk and better pass rushing moves.

  • Steve

    Per the stats Steelers and Packer are far above any other teams in drafting quality players that make it in the pros.

  • Brandon Jonson

    you forgot Bruce Davis, who we grabbed in the third