John Mitchell: L.T. Walton ‘Could Be A Starter For A Lot Of Football Teams’

When John Mitchell likes you, he really likes you, He’ll got to bat for you. Maybe even serve as a character witness in your murder trial. But you really have to impress the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line coach and assistant head coach before he’ll start saying nice things about you—at least ones that are free of pretty damning caveats.

But he paid third-year defensive lineman L.T. Walton a very high compliment recently, telling Chris Adamski recently that “this guy could be a starter for a lot of football teams in this league because he’s smart”.

Now, I’m not so sure I would go that far, but the former sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan did start six games, including the postseason, a year ago when the Steelers were in dire straits along the defensive line. Cameron Heyward was out for the year, Stephon Tuitt and Ricardo Mathews were both banged up, and he was virtually untested.

This year, Walton has been limited to a reserve, deep rotational role—though he has also expanded his repertoire to include nose tackle snaps—in spite of the fact that Tuitt has missed most of the season because the Steeler also added veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu in free agency.

But that doesn’t mean the Steelers, and his position coach, are any less appreciative of what Walton brings to the table every day, and why he has stuck around for three years now as a late-round pick. “This guy is a pretty good football player”, Mitchell said of him, modestly. “He picks up things. He runs well. He’s strong at the point of attack, and he’s a good technician”.

He even said that Walton is “right there” with the other defensive linemen—though he very tellingly mentioned everybody except for Daniel McCullers. “He could play anywhere on defense we asked because he’s very intelligent”.

Through eight games, he has recorded six tackles, though on last Sunday he recorded his first tackle since the third game of the season. He had three tackles against the Bears that week. Against the Lions, he also recorded a batted pass and hit Matthew Stafford off of play action as the quarterback turned into pressure.

“A guy who comes to work, I’m going to give an opportunity to play”, Mitchell said. “And every chance I get an opportunity to put L.T. in there, I’m going to put him in the game. He deserves to play”.

According to Pro Football Focus, Walton tied a season-high with 18 snaps played against the Lions, previously seeing 18 against the Bears, and 17 in the opener. Those are the only three games in which he has logged more than 10 snaps, playing a total of 84 on the season to date.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • AndyR34

    I had high hopes before that year’s draft that a) the Steelers would take him, and b) that he might develop into a second Kiesel. Well, a second Hoke isn’t too bad.

  • Smitty 6788

    He’s played well so far.. But starter a bit much.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    John Mitchell says any position? Put him in at safety! Want to see him eat someone hahaha.

  • Michael James

    That’s all you (realistically) want from a 6th round pick: Smart, hard-working guy, that serves as a rock-solid backup.

  • Spencer Krick

    He’s great against the run and I always see him run to the football.

  • Ichabod

    Good guy
    Hope he earns a lot of playing time
    Emphasis on earns

  • capehouse

    Mitchell loves smart guys. Any stats other than tackles that would show his effectiveness?

  • Rotten Sircus

    I haven’t been able to see LT’s production this season. Am I missing something ? ??

  • DirtDawg1964

    It didn’t take long for a weakness to become a strength. A few short years and we’ve completely turned the DL around with three top end starters and quality depth.

    Must have been divine intervention because we all know Tomlin and Colbert can’t draft worth crap. Right?

    Sarcasm font off.

  • Mr jack

    It kills me with laughter when I hear all these couch GM’s talking noise about our GM and coach as if they do not know what they are doing.

  • kamil

    Wait you said u wouldn’t go that far .I’m sure john Mitchell knows a Hell of a lot more than you..then you referenced pro football focus.. Smh really

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, he’s only played 84 snaps this season, so six tackles on that ratio really isn’t too bad at all. The sample sizes are way different, but his run stop percentage is comparable to Leonard Williams and Aaron Donald.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I cited Pro Football Focus for snap counts. Are you suggesting that they can’t count? Also, go ahead and do your research and find me how many teams, barring injury, he could be starting for right now.

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    When he sliced into the backfield on the goal line stand in Detroit and blew up the Run play that was enough for me. That might have been the best slice into the backfield at the goal line that I’ve seen in the Years by a Steeler defensive lineman. Shot in there like a bullet hard and low. Then Hargrave and Williams cleaned up. But it was clearly Walton’s penetration that made that play

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    As far as I’m concerned the goal line stands performance should have earned him more playing time going forward. Because this defensive line will definitely need the rotation and to be healthy going deep into the playoffs. It would be smart to rotate him anymore and not overwork the starting front 3

  • Doug Andrews

    Coach Mitchell see’s the guy in practice and evaluates his game film so if he believes LT is starter material for most teams i’m inclined to believe him. He looks improved in year 3. Turned out to be a solid late round pick.

  • walter

    Is McCullers on the roster?

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I may be alone but I’m m guessing that John Mitchell doesn’t blow smoke too often. I’ll take John Mitchell at his word for 50 Wink?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    LT was a guy I had on my short list of guys the Steelers would look at in the 6th…Feel good at that one since I do not think he was on anyones radar.

  • Aj Gentile

    I thought the same thing when I read that haha.