Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Weighs In On Outside Linebacker Depth

One of my biggest concerns about the Pittsburgh Steelers coming out of the 2014 NFL Draft is the depth at the outside linebacker position and while general manager Kevin Colbert didn’t calm those fears during his Monday afternoon interview on The David Todd Show, he did provide a little bit of insight on how he views the current depth at the position.

“Obviously Chris [Carter] has been in that position and he’s been a good backup for us,” started Colbert. With [Arthur] Moats, Arthur played inside, he played outside, he’s played with his hand on the ground and I think he has the versatility to go back and forth.”

None of what Colbert said about Chris Carter and Arthur Moats is a surprise and in fact, Moats best position might very well be outside being as he was an undersized passing rushing defensive end in college. The Steelers general manager then went even further with his talk about the outside linebacker depth as it relates to the players now on the roster.

“Terrence Garvin played more inside for us, mostly in sub package football, but in college he was more of an outside guy and he may get some work out there as well,” said Colbert. “I think a guy like Jordan Zumwalt, who we took in the sixth-round, he played both inside and outside in a defense that was very similar to ours when he played at UCLA under Lou Spanos, who cut his teeth learning our defense here as a defensive assistant.”

As for Terrence Garvin, while I have acknowledged in the past that he played outside at West Virginia, I have my doubts that he can become a reliable outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense. Rushing the passer is one thing, but being able to set the edge against tight ends and tackles against the run is another thing. Garvin only weighed 222 pounds a little over a year ago at his Pro Day and we can only hope that he’s added not only some bulk, but some muscle as well over the course of the offseason.

As for Jordan Zumwalt playing under Lou Spanos at UCLA, he mostly played weak-side inside linebacker in 2013 after mostly playing both the strong and outside linebacker position in a 4-3 defense prior to that. From the tape that I have watched of Zumwalt, I think his best fit is inside with the Steelers as opposed to outside. Until I see something that changes my mind, I will hold firm in that opinion. He’s more of a run and hit player as opposed to a pass rusher, in my opinion.

Colbert of course loves players with versatility and he hit on that when closing out his thoughts on the outside linebacker position depth.

“I think we have some guys that have the versatility to go back and forth,” said Colbert. “As we get through the spring and get through training camp we’ll find out what the best mix and match is.”

  • Matt Manzo

    Howard Jones, Harrison, and a FA signing later will push Carter out and solidify the depth. I’m not worried, I wasn’t in love with any of the mid-late round OLB prospects.
    I am surprised we didn’t draft or sign Shaq Barrett!

  • Brian Miller

    me too…don’t really understand that, except that it is possible we tried to get him, but he decided to sign with the Broncos…it is much closer to home.

  • Game_Time

    I’m surprised we didn’t pick up Shaq Barrett or Jackson Jeffcoat as UDFA’s

  • Kenneth Wilt

    With all do respect to Dave, I disagree, I think Zumwalt can be on OLB for us providing us more pressure than Chris Carter who I can’t wait to get off the roster. I doubt he plays anything but special teams this year, but I see no reason why as he matures another year or 2 with the addition of a pro weight program he can’t put on another 10-15 pounds mostly of muscle. By next year he could be a great OLB prospect for us.

  • Weiss Chad

    We are stacked at ilb now

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s my thinking! It would be cool to play pro ball at home so maybe it was that and he was pissed at us for not drafting him?!

  • Matt Manzo

    There’s a lot of udfas im surprised we didn’t sign! Rashad Reynolds, Pourifoy, Jeffcoat, Barrett, Jeff Janis just to name a few!

  • Matt Manzo

    I think it was Butler who said he’s gonna be strictly inside.

  • Alan Felicia

    You’re making this issue too much of a big deal, Dave. Their current situation is similar to what they had in 2008. If you remember, the 08 starting OLBs almost mirrors the current starters, Worilds and Jones. Woodley was unproven coming off his rookie season in 07, while Harrison was coming off his first full year as a starter. And the backups were Andre Frazier and rookie Bruce Davis! Two players who were probably as good as Chris Carter.
    Its safe to say that Pittsburgh is very fortunate to have Moates and Carter as backups.

  • Ernest

    I think Its more about them not wanting to sign with the steelers than steelers wanting to sign them. I assume these guys phones blow up with camp offers as soon the draft is over.

  • Jacob Dixon

    Did I miss something because from what I saw I didn’t see Chris Carter being a good back up

  • greeny

    Panicking at the lack of depth. We are assuming Jarvis Jones (who showed absolutely nothing) will solidify this position. Please spare me the rookie……tough to learn the defense argument. By default or mistake, he should have come away with more than 1 sack with the playing time he had. Plus he can’t tackle (way too small for the NFL). In addition to that, Worilds will most likely not sign a long term contract until after he kicks but this season. Yes, I believe he will kick but this season. He has been our best OLB over the past year. Consequently we will not be able to sign him because of Pouncey and Big Ben. We are hoping that we bring back a 36 year old OLB and he may be our best option….or bring back #55 (#8 at Colorado State) at this point.

  • walter mason

    Harrison should be happy.

  • LucasY59

    they probably think that Timmons can move to OLB if someone gets hurt (It didnt work very well last time when he filled in for Harrison, but he is probably 2nd behind Carter if something did happen, Williams would fill in at ILB)

  • shawn

    Ditto … but not really worried about OLB Depth … Depth is not really an issue .. we have bodies that we can plug in there … it will only be an issue if one of them gets hurt for an extended period of time, then we would unfortunately likely have to deal with Carter for the duration.

  • Jeff Anoble

    Chris Carter doesn’t even look impressive in preseason games in the 4th quarter. He’s the worst.

  • William Weaver

    Spence and shazier in the middle with Timmons moving outside if a big injury hits jason or Jarvis is probably how it unfolds? I like that idea more then signing James Harrison back even being a fan of his. I would rather not see him come back and be average at best.

  • William Weaver

    Jarvis will settle in to at worst above average. Outside linebacker in the steelers system takes a serious man. Give him a season to catch his breathe and learn. If he don’t come out swinging this year, then jump on him. He was in over his head a little like Big Ben was early on. Ben was carried by the defense and running game. How is he now? Be patient a little. Tough position to play.

  • Wing t

    Any chance we could get Adrian Robinson back? I think we traded him to Philly. I liked him a lot.

  • 20Stoney

    I was surprised to see the word “good” in the same sentence with “Chris Carter” too.

  • joed32

    It didn’t work out at all, I don’t think they would do it again. It hurts 2 positions.

  • James Kling

    Eagles cut him and he’s now a Redskin.

  • Madi

    I’ve always thought he’s an excellent 7th stringer. Now we just need to sign strings 2 through 6…

  • Big Joe

    Agreed. I understand what Kevin Colbert was saying, but Carter is far from an asset at the OLB position and another year isn’t going to change that. As much as I like Harrison, his age and speed are just as much a hinderence as Carter is. Zumwalt is more of an ILB and I think the coaches even said that after the draft so it’ll have to be someone not currently on the roster tha tthey pick up from somewhere else.

  • Big Joe

    I agree with your point, but I just wish we has another option other than Carter. I actually think Sylvester showed more when he filled in last year than Carter did. Neither can hold the edge well but Sylvester showed something in the way of pash rush skills when Carter did not.

  • Big Joe

    I wouldn’t worry just yet. Even Harrison was cut 4 times by both Baltimore and Pittsburgh before he figured out what he needed to do and got there. Give Jones some time then we’ll see what we see. As for not being able to sign Worilds, he knows the Steelers want him – they made that clear when they released Woodley to prove their point to him. The salary cap is already expected to go up more than 12 milion next year from where it is now so signing him will not be a problem because there were no guarantees in Polamalu’s contract that indicated that he couldn’t be released as a cap casualty if needed. While I, as a loyal fan, hope that doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Steelers were not already working on an extension with Worilds so that they could probe the camp cuts looking for some more quality depth at OLB and RB before the season started.