The harsh reality that the Pittsburgh Steelers must face is that neither Devin White, nor Devin Bush will be available by the time they are on the clock. Therefore, Colbert and co. must plan in order to build at inside linebacker with someone else; perhaps David Long Jr. out of West Virginia University?
David Long Jr #11
– Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year (2018).
– First Team All-Big-12 (2018).
– Long earned a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies.
– He is one of 12 children.
– The Steelers brought Long in for a visit.
– Both Kevin Colbert & Mike Tomlin were in attendance for WVU’s Pro Day.
108 tackles (79 solo, 29 assisted), 7 sacks, 19.5 TFL, 4 PD, 1 FR, 2 FF.
2018 Combine Stats
Height & Weight: 5’11”, 227 lbs
Arms: 30 3/4”
Bench Press: 18 reps.
Broad Jump: 120”.
40-Yard Dash: 4.45s.
What’s To Like:
Long’s Combine performance depicted an athletically gifted player, with his 40-Yard Dash time (4.45s) ranking fourth among this year’s linebacker class, which answered a lot of critics concerns over his ability.
As evidenced by Long’s statistical production, he can be a game-changer. His TFL are absolutely invaluable to any organisation, whilst he can alter the game’s outset by the creation of sacks.
Long excelled under WVU’s 4-3 defensive system, where he operated as weak side, strong side and middle linebacker. He boasts fantastic tackle form and almost always confirms the tackle. Uses his pace exquisitely, coupled with an electric burst at the snap. Whilst he isn’t perfect in coverage, he’s more than solid on short yardage plays. Can blitz off the edge, or provide run support brilliantly. Long’s effort, heart and hustle are unquestionable. Multiple occasions he was defeated on a play at first but recovered well and assisted in making a tackle.
David Long Jr. (LB, West Virginia)
▪️5’11” | 225lbs | 20 yrs old
▪️Quick eyes, shoots gaps fast
▪️Undersized but plays aggressive
▪️108 tackles (79 solo) 19.5TFL 7 sacks
— The Hogg (@HoggNFL) February 21, 2019
Will need to polish his football IQ at the next level, identifying reads especially. Can struggle immensely at the LOS as a blitzer, due in large part to his leaner stature. Take his performance versus Oklahoma (2018) for example. Furthermore, he has been caught up on defeating the blocker so much that he completely misses the play. Will need to add some pass-rush techniques to his arsenal in order to match-up against the NFL’s O-Line, as he will struggle to beat them on strength and stature alone. He must also learn to curtail his aggressiveness and downfield momentum, as he can take himself out of the game sometimes by his own doing.
Before evaluating Long’s ability on tape I was incredibly thrilled. He had the statistical production and Combine performance that should throw him into the late first, early second round of the forthcoming draft. That said, I was mildly disappointed by his tape, as there were several holes in his game highlighted. The biggest of which is his size, as it severely limits him at the line of scrimmage more often than not.
On the other hand, he proved his worth at the collegiate level as a solid coverage linebacker, who can be utilized in a variety of roles at the position. On top of that, he demonstrated his ability to continuously make game-altering plays, of which he contributed in abundance over the course of the season. Whilst he is far from the finished prospect, ultimately, I believe he can be a consistent contributor at the next level, and would love it if the Steelers could pick him up in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Grade: Third Round.
Projection: Third Round.
Games Watched: Oklahoma (2018), Texas Tech (2018), Tennessee (2018) & TCU (2018).
Credits: wvusports.com, sports-reference.com, bluegoldnews.com, YouTube.