Steelers 2017 Pre-Draft Movements: Outside Linebacker

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered this league year with well over a dozen players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. They ended up retaining five of those unrestricted free agents, and also tendered their two restricted free agents.

Pittsburgh also added help from outside of the organization at wide receiver, defensive line, running back, and cornerback, but suffered several free agency losses, chiefly at wide receiver and linebacker, and suffered yet another retirement in the process. There was one significant player release, and no contracts were restructured. One franchise tag and one major extension also transpired. They still have four unrestricted free agents who remain unsigned.

The organization has been clear throughout recent weeks that they have essentially wrapped up all meaningful free agent activities, with the focus turning to the draft, so now is a good time to take a look back and see where each position started at the beginning of the process and where it is now leading up to the draft.

Position: Outside Linebacker

Total Positional Figure: 6

Offseason additions: 2

Offseason losses: 1

Players Retained:

James Harrison: Harrison’s cartoonish work ethic has allowed him to continue to play at a high level into his late 30s, and his current contract could see him play to the age of 40. While he still delivers, however, he is best if his snaps can be limited with a quality rotation, which they haven’t had.

Bud Dupree: This season is huge for Dupree, who has DPOY aspirations and is working hard on his pass rush this offseason. A sports hernia threatened to derail his year entirely but he was able to come back late and show some flashes. The problem is that he is currently little more than those flashes, impressive though they may be. He needs to assemble a complete game this year with a full offseason.

Anthony Chickillo: The draft classmate of Dupree spent a good portion of his own second season in the starting lineup, and did do som nice things. He is generally in the right place assignment-wise, but the upside of his talent level is limited. He is an essential contribute on special teams, however.

Arthur Moats: Depending on how the draft breaks, Moats’ roster spot could be in jeopardy due to his contract size. Not that he has done anything necessarily to deserve it. He has been a consistently adequate performer and exceptional teammate during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

Players Added:

Farrington Huguenin: The most interesting thing that I can say about Huguenin is that he was teammates with Dupree in college. He had limited playing time and limited production there, however.

Jason Fanaika: Fanaika has at least one thing going for him, and that’s strength. These guys are both futures signings, and frankly, that’s not the sort of talent influx the Steelers need, so I can hardly act like they stand a chance of making the roster, even if technically there is always a chance.

Players Lost/Not Retained:

Jarvis Jones: Jarvis Jones was never a fan favorite and few will remember him fondly. Not for anything that he did, but rather what he didn’t do. The 17th-overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft didn’t even produce double-digit sacks in his four-year career—or even come that close—let alone in a single season. While he developed into an adequate player, it was not enough, and it clearly became time for the two parties to go their separate ways.

Notes and Draft Outlook: When a team misses on a first-round draft pick, it has the tendency to set them back at least a couple of years, and that’s what Jarvis Jones’ selection has done. They already tried to make up for it with Bud Dupree two years ago and they may well draft another outside linebacker in the first round, if not the second. An inevitable replacement will be needed when Harrison retires, and there is still a need for pass-rush help now. It’s entirely possible that they draft multiple edge rushers in this deep class, which they did most recent in 2015, and in 2010.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Steel Realist PAul

    The Steelers simply can’t miss on adding a key OLB player in this years draft. Because of that, and the additional need for quality depth in the near future, I believe the team will draft two edge guys within the first three rounds.

    Dupree hopefully will have a bigger impact year, but DPOY aspirations, while good to see in an impact player, are hard to imagine. It’s not just about sacks. Plenty of guys blew up last year with big sack numbers that weren’t considered for that honor. What else do you do?

  • steeltown

    The need is great thanks to Jarvis

  • Michael James

    Well, be know that Harrison can still channel his superhuman form when it matters most in the playoffs, but his snap count has to be managed during the regular season and someone has to be able to spell him for at least some snaps in the playoff games.
    Dupree is our hope for the future, one of the most freakish athletes to ever enter the NFL, but he needs to learn how to play OLB properly. Given his work ethic and offseason workouts with Chuck Smith, I’m very hopeful he’ll have a true breakout season.
    Behind those two we literally have nobody. Moats and Chickillo are ok backups, but let’s be honest here: Would anyone here feel confident, if one of them had to start in a playoff game because of injuries?

    They need to find a capable young pass-rusher in this draft, possibly even multiple edge rushers.

  • dany

    Dupree and the rookie starting, rookie rotates with Harrison in vital situations, and is kept fresh for the playoffs. All while the rookie learns the ropes. Only downside, the rookie will have growing pains, but better to have them early in the year than late

  • Kevin artis

    they need 2 OLBs drafted and bring in some undrafted free agents as well. Harrison, Moats, Chick, will not be on the roster next year 2018. We need to replenish the cabinet.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Double-Dip! Double-Dip! Double-Dip! Double-Dip!

    (Thanks, Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones…)

  • Shane Mitchell

    Not resigning Chickillo? that is a silly assumption to make right now.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I would have zero problems starting Chickillo and Moats at OLB in a playoff game with John ross at WR in the sklot because then we put up 40 points not 17 a damn game .

  • Danny Young

    Watt 1, Rivers 2?

  • Applebite

    Jordan Willis and Tarrell Basham

  • Kevin artis

    Chick barely made the roster as he was cut then resigned. Could he be another James Harrison? Maybe. But what I’ve seen so far, we need more OLBs.