Two weeks ago, the selection of an edge pass rusher/outside linebacker was a very real possibility for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the April Draft. But after the performances of several outside backers at the NFL Combine, it’s less likely they’ll choose one.
Simply because they might not even be there.
Prior to the Combine, the Steelers may have been targeting guys like Vic Beasley from Clemson and Dante Fowler from Florida.
Despite fair questions about the overall football abilities of all three, these young men put on a virtual clinic in the forty-yard dash, bench press and pass rushing drills.
Beasley for example probably elevated himself from a “likely first round selection” to a top ten pick with his performance. At 6’3″ and 246 lbs, Beasley ripped off 35 reps on the 225 lbs bench press and then ran a 4.53 forty-yard dash.
Fowler was just as impressive in the forty (4.60) and had great runs in several agility drills to vault himself further up draft boards.
Two other potential outside backers that may have seen their stock rise were Alvin “Bud” DuPree from Kentucky and Eli Harold from Virginia.
DuPree ran a 4.56 forty despite a tweaked hamstring and then had a 42″ vertical jump while Harold showed explosiveness in every single thing he did.
If the Steelers were hoping for an edge rusher to be there at selection number 22 then perhaps they aren’t getting their wish but at the same time, it’s possible one of these guys slips simply because teams are more interested in other players.
I also think the Steelers are looking for more of a tweener or “elephant” type player who has the size to take on the run and the speed to get to the quarterback. I’m not certain any of the above guys would fit that role.
It’s still quite early in the process and there is much that can change but for right now the top outside backers appear to be out of reach.