I liked Zumwalt as a depth player at inside linebacker. He’s a very aggressive and competitive player that could be a great special teamer, and who knows down the road.
When the Steelers selected Shazier in the first round I didn’t expect to see Zumwalt selected and was a little confused.
The picture started to become more clear however, during the rookie mini-camp. Jordan worked mostly at outside linebacker, and coaches said they expect him to learn all of the linebacker positions.
The more he shows he’s capable of playing both spots, plus special teams, the better chance he has to make the roster… That’s asking a ton of a rookie though, especially in this scheme.
The Steelers carried 10 linebackers last season, which is a lot, and there’s no guarantee they’ll do the same this season.
Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Jason Worilds, Ryan Moats, and Vince Williams are locks to make the roster in my opinion.
After those guys I think that Sean Spence has a good shot. He doesn’t necessarily have to make a huge impact defensively in pre-season; he just need to show he can stay healthy and hasn’t lost explosiveness. If he looks slow though, the Steelers may decide to finally give up on him.
That’s 7 solid linebackers on the roster with 1 to 3 remaining spots.
Zumwalt’s real competition for those spots will be Chris Carter, Kion Wilson, and Terrence Garvin.
I think unless he shows a huge improvement, Carter is gone. Garvin probably has the inside edge to make it on his great special teams play in 2013.
The bigger need is on the outside, and to me, Zumwalt doesn’t look like your typical edge rusher. He’s even lighter than Jarvis Jones was last season coming in.
Zumwalt faces an uphill battle and might be playing out of position, he has the temperament and skill-set to potentially be a great, not just good, special teams player. I’ll be rooting for him this summer.