DRAFT CHATTER: OLB a strong possibility?
With the slow development of Jason Worilds and James Harrison possibly entering his final season in a Steelers uniform, buzz inside Steelers circles this week is that the team feels it could go outside linebacker in the first round.
“Thereâs not a lot of players in this draft that can come in and be immediate impact guys for us, â Kevin Colbert said on Monday as the Steelers mindset is that it’s unlikely that the group of prospects available at No. 24 will make a big impact in year 1.
While the premier 3-4 pass rusher in the draft Melvin Ingram will be gone by No. 24, two names buzzing right now connected to the Steelers is USC linebacker Nick Perry who a league source says Mike Tomlin loves and Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
Courtney Upshaw (Height: 6-1. Weight: 273) has a thick build and has drawn comparisons to LaMarr Woodley. “He’s like LaMarr Woodley, ” Mel Kiper Jr said this week in a conference call.
Upshaw carries his mass well and similar to Woodley has the speed and flexibility to use his power and weight to routinely beat offensive linemen with bull rushes and speed around the corner.
Upshaw is a player who was a disruptive force for Alabama in 2011, collecting 52 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, an interception and two forced fumbles. He also comes from a winning culture, something Mike Tomlin said is very important when he evaluates players.
USC’s Nick Perry (Height: 6-3. Weight: 271) is not a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker but sources say Tomlin regards him as a high pedigree backer and Tomlin even indicated in Monday’s press conference that the team would draft a linebacker with a high pedigree even if scheme wasn’t a fit.
Perry is regarded as being lightning quick off the snap, with excellent speed to turn the corner and cut back to the inside. The redshirt junior had 54 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted in 2011 for the Trojans.
Other 3-4 pass rushers who could be around at No. 24 include Illinois OLB Whitney Mercilus (Height: 6-4 Weight: 261) who is raw but has dynamic pass rushing ability, leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles last year. The junior collected 57 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Boise State’s Shea McClellin (Height: 6-3 Weight: 260) is a rising outside linebacker prospect who’s versatile and has a relentless motor. McClellin recorded 50 tackles, seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, and one forced fumble in 2011.