NFL Draft

Study: What Pittsburgh Looks For In Outside Linebackers

We’re back taking another dive into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft history in an attempt to have an idea of who the team will be targeting in the 2017 NFL Draft. Today, we’re looking at the Steelers’ biggest need. Outside linebacker. As always, we’ll begin by listing the draft picks and the measurables for every OLB selected under Mike Tomlin.

We’ll search for trends and compare/contrast to this year’s class.

2016: Travis Feeney

Height: 6’3/5
Weight: 230
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Hand Size: 9 1/2
40 Time: 4.50
Ten Split: 1.58
Vertical: 40
Broad: 10’1’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.42
Three Cone: 7.20
Bench: N/A

2015: Bud Dupree

Height: 6’4
Weight: 260
Arm Length: 32 5/8
Hand Size:9 3/4
40 Time: 4.56
Ten Split: 1.60
Vertical: 42
Broad: 11’6″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A

2013: Jarvis Jones

Height: 6’2/3
Weight: 245
Arm Length: 33
Hand Size: 9 1/8
40 Time: N/A
Ten Split: N/A
Vertical: 30.5
Broad: 9’3″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A
Bench: 20

2011: Chris Carter

Height: 6’1
Weight: 248
Arm Length: 33
Hand Size: 9 3/8
40 Time: 4.67
Ten Split: 1.64
Vertical: 36
Broad: 9’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.34
Three Cone: 6.98
Bench: 27

2010: Jason Worilds

Height: 6’1/2
Weight: 254
Arm Length: 32 7/8
Hand Size: 9 1/4
40 Time: 4.72
Ten Split: 1.62
Vertical: 38
Broad: 9’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.29
Three Cone: 6.95
Bench: 24

Thaddeus Gibson

Height: 6’2
Weight: 243
Arm Length: 33
Hand Size: 8 3/4
40 Time: 4.79
Ten Split: 1.69
Vertical: 32
Broad: 9’7″
Short Shuttle: 4.27
Three Cone: 6.84
Bench: 32

2008: Bruce Davis

Height: 6’3
Weight: 245
Arm Length: 34 1/4
Hand Size: 10 1/8
40 Time: 4.50
Ten Split: 1.50
Vertical: 33.5
Broad: 10’3″
Short Shuttle: 4.03
Three Cone: 6.70
Bench: 19

2007: LaMarr Woodley

Height: 6’1/4
Weight: 266
Arm Length: 32 7/8
Hand Size: 9 7/8
40 Time: N/A
Ten Split: N/A
Vertical: 38.5
Broad: 9’9″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A
Bench: 29

My criteria is as follows:

6’1+ (8 of 8)
240+ (7 of 8)
Arm Length: 32 1/2 (8 of 8)
4.75 better (5 of 6)
1.65 ten split (5 of 6)
33+ inch vert (6 of 8)
9’5″+ broad (7 of 8)
Sub 4.35 (4 of 5)
Sub 7 three cone (4 of 5)
Bench: 20+ (5 of 6)

Unfortunately, with this admittedly specific criteria, not a single OLB met all the criteria. So let’s look at this from another angle.

One thing you have to understand about this criteria is that it’s actually uncommon for any draft pick to check every single box. They  check most but are missing somewhere. Instead, let’s see how many boxes a Tomlin OLB should hit to be in consideration again, by using history.

Travis Feeney: 6/10 categories met
Bud Dupree: 7/10
Jarvis Jones: 4/10
Chris Carter: 10/10
Jason Worilds: 10/10
Thaddeus Gibson: 7/10
Bruce Davis: 8/10
LaMarr Woodley: 6/10

Five of the eight meet at least seven of the ten pieces of criteria so for this case, that’s what we’ll use. Here are the players who meet at least seven aspects. However, I am going to eliminate any player who doesn’t meet the criteria that every outside linebacker drafted since 2007 have met.

That’s height (6’1+) and arm length (32 1/2), which all eight have met. I’m also putting an “x” in categories the player did not meet.

NameHeightWeightArm Length40 Time10 SplitVerticalBroad JumpShort ShuttleThree ConeBench
Tarell Basham6’3/626934 1/44.701.6132.5x9’11”4.357.27x15x
Myles Garrett6’4/427235 1/44.641.634110’7″??33
Takkarist McKinley6’225034 3/44.591.613310’2″4.62x7.48x24
Carroll Phillips6’3/224233 3/44.641.6430x10’3″4.37x7.06x23
Haason Reddick6’1/4237x32 3/44.521.5936.511’1″4.37x7.01x24
Derek Rivers6’4/124832 3/44.611.613510’3″4.40x6.9430
Tyus Bowser6’2/524733 1/44.651.5937.510’7″?6.7521
TJ Watt6’4/425233 1/84.691.593710’8″4.136.7921
Tim Williams6’2/724432 3/44.681.6433.510’4″4.57x7.36x?

Couldn’t fit it into the table but here is the number of criteria each of those guys met from highest to lowest (7).

Watt: 10
Rivers: 9
Bowser: 9
Garrett: 8
McKinley: 8
Reddick: 8
Basham: 7
Phillips: 7
Williams: 7

Ok…so that’s the list. Sorry to throw so much at you. This one came out a little bizarre. The Steelers have brought in Rivers, McKinley, and Phillips for visits while showing strong interest in Watt, who may have hit every category if we knew what his ten split was.

Here are the players who do not fit well. Ones who miss in at least half (five) of the categories or more. The Steelers have drafted just one of those guys…and that was Jarvis Jones.

Ryan Anderson: Arm Length (31 1/2), 40 (4.78), Ten Split (?), Vert (28.5), Broad (?), Short Shuttle (?), Three Cone (?)
Tashawn Bower: 40 (4.82), Ten Split (1.66), Vert (31.5), Short Shuttle (4.37), Three Cone (7.20)
Dylan Donahue: Ten Split (1.65), Arm Length (30 1/4), Vert (29.5), SS (4.46), Three Cone (7.02)
Daeshon Hall: 40 (4.76), Ten Split (1.67), Bench (18), Short Shuttle (4.38), Three Cone (7.03)
Avery Moss: 40 (4.79), Bench (14), Vert (32.5), Short Shuttle (4.43), Three Cone (7.25)
Al-quandin Muhammad: 40 (4.88), Ten Spit (1.73), Vert (30.5), Short Shuttle (4.47), Three Cone (7.25)
Garrett Sickels: Arm Length (32 1/8), 40 (4.9), Ten Split (1.72), Short Shuttle (4.41), Three Cone (7.21)
Dawuane Smoot: 40 Time (4.77), Ten Split (1.68), Vert (29.5), Short Shuttle (4.39), Three Cone (7.18)

Finally, you’ll notice some big names off this list: Carl Lawson, Derek Barnett, and Charles Harris. The issue all three ran into was arm length: Lawson would’ve made the list with Rivers, Watt had it not been for his lack of length. The Steelers have never drafted an outside linebacker with shorter than 32 5/8 inch arms. They prioritze length along the defensive line and OLB.

Maybe Barnett or Harris get a pass, they fall just shy, but Lawson has 31 1/2 inch arms. I know it’s *just* one number and otherwise, he looks good, but it’s hard for me to look past that apparently very important number.

If you want to look at every player I evaluated, click this link for the full list.

Previous 2017 studies:

Wide Receiver
Cornerback

Update: One reader pointed out I overlooked Jordan Willis. And wouldn’t you know it, Willis was the only guy to check every box.

*I’ve also been told TJ Watt had a 1.59 ten split at the Combine. That passes the threshold and makes him the other player to check every box.

NameHeightWeightArm Length40 Time10 SplitVerticalBroad JumpShort ShuttleThree ConeBench
Jordan Willis6’3/625533 1/24.531.543910’5″4.286.8524
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