Minicamp Could Show Whether Steelers Plan To Keep Jordan Zumwalt Inside-Out

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt will be lining up with his teammates out on the field again for the first time since the rookie minicamp that took place shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft in early May.

But it remains to be seen where he will be lining up, and how often.

Because his college operates on the quarters system, Zumwalt had yet to graduate, and because of league regulations, he was unable to participate in the Steelers’ 10 OTA sessions over the past few weeks until he completed his school year.

Back in minicamp, however, he was lining up as an outside linebacker. While linebackers coach Keith Butler stated pretty clearly following the draft that he viewed Zumwalt as an inside linebacker, it’s also clear that the coaches do see him as a player that can be versatile.

The Steelers lacked depth at outside linebacker among their rookie and first-year players participating in that minicamp, which is the best explanation for why he spent so much time playing across from undrafted rookie pass rusher Howard Jones.

But chances are he will see the bulk of his work falling in line as a third-string inside linebacker, perhaps paired with Terence Garvin.

There’s still no great depth at outside linebacker this year either, though, and if Zumwalt is to make the 53-man roster as a ninth linebacker, then the coaches would surely like to make him capable of playing as many positions as possible.

Another factor to consider is Arthur Moats, who is also inside-outside capable, but has been stuck working on the outside with little chance for reps as an inside linebacker in part due to Jason Worilds sitting out OTAs.

Giving Zumwalt some reps outside, especially if Worilds sees any lingering effects from the minor tweak that led coaches to decide that rest is more valuable for him than reps, could afford Moats a better opportunity to get some reps inside.

That is important, because Moats could be viewed as the fifth linebacker this season—the first guy off the bench across the unit should an injury arise.

With Worilds sitting, Chris Carter and Vic So’oto made up the second-string defense at the outside linebacker position through the majority of OTAs.

While it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of them proves to be a viable third or fourth option as an edge rusher, adding Zumwalt to the competition would only be beneficial to the process.

Zumwalt played in a similar defensive scheme in college, and did so at both inside and outside linebacker, so he comes in with an above average understanding of the defense despite being forced to miss time to finish school. The question is, will we see him at both during minicamp, starting later today?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Steelers12328882

    I can’t see Moats coming inside if there’s an injury. If Timmons gets injured then I would think Vince Williams would be the next man up. If Shazier gets injured then I would also think Timmons could easily switch over to his Mack position and then Williams would take the Buck, or Sean Spence could play the Mack.

  • steeltown

    I concur

  • steeltown

    I hope he sees time inside and outside, but with our current depth it would be beneficial if he proves to be capable of handing outside duties.

  • Geoff Cordner

    Don’t have a good feeling about Zumwalt … I would be amazed if he makes it.

  • ApexSteel

    Same here. I don’t see a pass rusher when I watch him.

  • SteelersDepot

    Me seven.

  • Geoff Cordner

    Count me as one of those Steelers Fans hoping for a James Harrison farewell tour … unless we did a sneaky sign of another team’s castoffs.

  • treeher

    Yup. Surprised you missed that, Matthew.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Does anyone know how UCLA used him on third downs?

    If he can fill the role of designated outside pass rusher in obvious passing situations that would explain a lot of things.

  • dgh57

    He can have Chris Carter’s spot. Wouldn’t take much to outplay him!

  • joed32

    He will have to show a lot on special teams.

  • Big White

    At the very least I see him making the practice squad. If indeed the Steelers depth issues at OLB are as they been portrayed.

  • walter mason

    Any word on Spence?

  • SteelersDepot

    As far as I’m concerned, no news right now on Spence is GREAT news.

  • Griffin Sherman

    I watched him play at UCLA, he is a hard hitter. He will not only make the team, he will eventually start.

  • Johnny Loose

    Zumwalt seems like a better fit at ILB. We are pretty much stacked at that position though w/ Timmons, Shazier, VW, and Spence, plus I’m sure Moats will be ahead of him at number 5. With that in mind, I really hope he can make something happen at OLB, which doesn’t seem like a natural fit for him. The kid is nasty and I really like the way he plays. I wish they would keep him over Carter on intensity alone. Maybe if Zumwalt can prove some worth on special teams while transitioning somewhat smoothly to the OLB spot he has a chance. I really hope they find a replacement for Carter. In all honesty, If Carter was to make the roster, and Worilds or Jones goes down, and then by some miracle something clicked for him and he destroyed teams like Harrison did, I’d be more than happy to eat crow on his account. I just don’t see that happening.

  • Wing t

    How many lbs do they normally keep. I seem to think its somewhere between 8-10.