Draft series: Linebackers

We move on to the next position in our Pittsburgh Steelers draft series, and perhaps the most important: linebacker. Here's the rundown:

Stacking the Steelers' value board:
  • Receivers
  • Offensive line
  • Running back
  • Quarterback
  • Square one
  • If the recent minicamp was to give the Steelers' coaching staff a sneak peek before the draft, expect a heavy emphasis on linebackers this weekend.

    But who needed the peek? Anthony Spencer gave it away at the combine in late February.

    "They seemed pretty interested, because they do have an older linebacking corps," Spencer said.

    It may have been the wrong thing to say had Joey Porter still been in the locker room, but Porter is gone. Clark Haggans has a year left on his contract and James Harrison has started eight career games. James Farrior turns 33 by the next playoffs and Larry Foote was the "plugger" of the bunch last season.

    Behind them are Rian Wallace, Marcello Church, Richard Seigler and Ron Stanley, with Arnold Harrison still rehabbing an ACL tear.

    Add it up and it's little wonder the Steelers sought Spencer out at the combine. He's a 6-3, 261-pound defensive end who projects to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Purdue has a history of turning out such "tweener" prospects and Spencer led the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss last season and had 10.5 sacks.

    But, Spencer hasn't been projected much higher than the 20th pick of the draft by the media. He's not Shawne Merriman or DeMarcus Ware, at least yet. So the search moved on to Lawrence Timmons.

    Timmons (6-1, 234) was the reason Coach Mike Tomlin and Director of Operations Kevin Colbert hopped Dan Rooney's private jet for Tallahassee, Florida. But Timmons received ghastly reviews of his workout, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, apologized to Tomlin, an apology that was printed.

    Hampton's Justin Durant could help in the third round. (Photo: Mark Sutton/Mark's Digital Photography)

    Next, the Steelers sized up Miami's Jon Beason. The Steelers invited him in for a visit and sent two representatives to his personal workout, where they interviewed his mother.

    Beason is 6-0¼, 237, or nearly the exact size Ray Lewis was coming out of Miami. But Beason's stats haven't measured up to Lewis'. He has 1.5 sacks in 19 starts the last two seasons. Video shows him to be a quick-twitch athlete and a better player than Timmons, but, really, where would either fit in a 3-4 defense? Perhaps Beason has caught Tomlin's eye because of his leadership, but his best position would be the mack and Foote has three years left on his contract.

    There's one other 4-3 outside linebacker who could fit at the 15th pick, at least according to some boards, but the Steelers have not brought Penn State's Paul Posluszny in for a visit.

    Perhaps it's simply a smokescreen, so here's the scouting report on the 6-1½, 238-pounder who ran a 4.7 40 at the combine:

    "Last year (2005), he was as good as anybody and we planned on him coming out, even after he got hurt," said Scout.com's Tom Marino, who ended his long scouting career last season with the St. Louis Rams.

    "This year, they moved him from will and he was a different guy altogether. At the beginning of the year, he had that big Lennox Hill brace and did not feel comfortable. (Dan) Connor made all the plays. He didn't look the same. He's got a little stiffness in him and you see it when he's moving from the ball. But he has good instincts, came on, plays hard. I think he's a good player. I would take him over the guys you mentioned earlier (Beason and Timmons). He's a smart football player. He was as good as (A.J.) Hawk two years ago. Did he slip? Yeah. But he came back and played eight months after the injury and he got to an okay level. He's not a big take-on guy but if you free him up and let him do things he's pretty damn good."

    But where would Posluszny play in a 3-4 defense?

    "He could be an outside guy," the scout said. "But he's more of a will backer in a 4-3. If you don't keep him covered up that much he's pretty good."

    Of course, there's also Patrick Willis of Ole Miss. He's a 6-1, 242-pounder with 4.5 speed and he'd fit best as an inside backer. Draft expert Mike Mayock believes Willis could play outside in a 3-4.

    "I think he would fare well in any defense," Mayock said. "He's big enough to play inside in a 3-4 and athletic enough that you could probably play him on the edge in a 3-4. And we all know he can play in a 4-3."

    Problem is, Willis is likely to be gone, so it's a difficult draft for the Steelers, who need a pass-rusher.

    "I think Spencer's a perfect fit for them," said Marino. "They have to replace Porter and there's no way of getting around that."

    Steelers' value board:

    ANTHONY SPENCER, Purdue, DE/OLB, first round.

    STEWART BRADLEY, Nebraska, ILB/OLB, second round.

    DAVID HARRIS, Michigan, ILB, second round.

    TIM CROWDER, Texas, DE/OLB, second round.

    JAY MOORE, Nebraska, DE/OLB, third round.

    LaMARR WOODLEY, Michigan, DE/OLB, third round.

    JUSTIN DURANT, Hampton, ILB, third round.

    BRIAN ROBISON, Texas, DE/OLB, third round.

    ZAK DeOSSIE, Brown, ILB/OLB, fourth round.

    TIM SHAW, Penn State, ILB/OLB, fourth round.

    NU'U TAFISI, Cal, DE/OLB, sixth round.


    Steel City Insider Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
    \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
    \r\n Stacking the Steelers' value board:
    \r\n
  • Receivers
  • \r\n
  • Offensive line
  • \r\n
  • Running back
  • \r\n
  • Quarterback
  • \r\n
  • Square one
  • \r\n\r\nIf the recent minicamp was to give the Steelers' coaching staff a sneak peek before the draft, expect a heavy emphasis on linebackers this weekend. \r\n\r\n

    But who needed the peek? Anthony Spencer gave it away at the combine in late February. \r\n\r\n

    \"They seemed pretty interested, because they do have an older linebacking corps,\" Spencer said. \r\n\r\n

    It may have been the wrong thing to say had Joey Porter still been in the locker room, but Porter is gone. Clark Haggans has a year left on his contract and James Harrison has started eight career games. James Farrior turns 33 by the next playoffs and Larry Foote was the \"plugger\" of the bunch last season. \r\n\r\n

    Behind them are Rian Wallace, Marcello Church, Richard Seigler and Ron Stanley, with Arnold Harrison still rehabbing an ACL tear. \r\n\r\n

    Add it up and it's little wonder the Steelers sought Spencer out at the combine. He's a 6-3, 261-pound defensive end who projects to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Purdue has a history of turning out such \"tweener\" prospects and Spencer led the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss last season and had 10.5 sacks. \r\n\r\n

    But, Spencer hasn't been projected much higher than the 20th pick of the draft by the media. He's not Shawne Merriman or DeMarcus Ware, at least yet. So the search moved on to Lawrence Timmons. \r\n\r\n

    Timmons (6-1, 234) was the reason Coach Mike Tomlin and Director of Operations Kevin Colbert hopped Dan Rooney's private jet for Tallahassee, Florida. But Timmons received ghastly reviews of his workout, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, apologized to Tomlin, an apology that was printed. \r\n\r\n

    \r\n
    Hampton's Justin Durant could help in the third round. (Photo: Mark Sutton/Mark's Digital Photography)
    \r\n\r\n

    Next, the Steelers sized up Miami's Jon Beason. The Steelers invited him in for a visit and sent two representatives to his personal workout, where they interviewed his mother. \r\n\r\n

    Beason is 6-0¼, 237, or nearly the exact size Ray Lewis was coming out of Miami. But Beason's stats haven't measured up to Lewis'. He has 1.5 sacks in 19 starts the last two seasons. Video shows him to be a quick-twitch athlete and a better player than Timmons, but, really, where would either fit in a 3-4 defense? \r\n\r\nPerhaps Beason has caught Tomlin's eye because of his leadership, but his best position would be the mack and Foote has three years left on his contract. \r\n\r\n

    There's one other 4-3 outside linebacker who could fit at the 15th pick, at least according to some boards, but the Steelers have not brought Penn State's Paul Posluszny in for a visit. \r\n\r\n

    Perhaps it's simply a smokescreen, so here's the scouting report on the 6-1½, 238-pounder who ran a 4.7 40 at the combine: \r\n\r\n

    \"Last year (2005), he was as good as anybody and we planned on him coming out, even after he got hurt,\" said Scout.com's Tom Marino, who ended his long scouting career last season with the St. Louis Rams. \r\n\r\n

    \"This year, they moved him from will and he was a different guy altogether. At the beginning of the year, he had that big Lennox Hill brace and did not feel comfortable. (Dan) Connor made all the plays. He didn't look the same. He's got a little stiffness in him and you see it when he's moving from the ball. But he has good instincts, came on, plays hard. I think he's a good player. I would take him over the guys you mentioned earlier (Beason and Timmons). He's a smart football player. He was as good as (A.J.) Hawk two years ago. Did he slip? Yeah. But he came back and played eight months after the injury and he got to an okay level. He's not a big take-on guy but if you free him up and let him do things he's pretty damn good.\" \r\n\r\n

    But where would Posluszny play in a 3-4 defense? \r\n\r\n

    \"He could be an outside guy,\" the scout said. \"But he's more of a will backer in a 4-3. If you don't keep him covered up that much he's pretty good.\" \r\n\r\n

    Of course, there's also Patrick Willis of Ole Miss. He's a 6-1, 242-pounder with 4.5 speed and he'd fit best as an inside backer. Draft expert Mike Mayock believes Willis could play outside in a 3-4. \r\n\r\n

    \"I think he would fare well in any defense,\" Mayock said. \"He's big enough to play inside in a 3-4 and athletic enough that you could probably play him on the edge in a 3-4. And we all know he can play in a 4-3.\" \r\n\r\n

    Problem is, Willis is likely to be gone, so it's a difficult draft for the Steelers, who need a pass-rusher. \r\n\r\n

    \"I think Spencer's a perfect fit for them,\" said Marino. \"They have to replace Porter and there's no way of getting around that.\" \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

    Steelers' value board: \r\n\r\n

    ANTHONY SPENCER, Purdue, DE/OLB, first round. \r\n\r\n

    STEWART BRADLEY, Nebraska, ILB/OLB, second round. \r\n\r\n

    DAVID HARRIS, Michigan, ILB, second round. \r\n\r\n

    TIM CROWDER, Texas, DE/OLB, second round. \r\n\r\n

    JAY MOORE, Nebraska, DE/OLB, third round. \r\n\r\n

    LaMARR WOODLEY, Michigan, DE/OLB, third round. \r\n\r\n

    JUSTIN DURANT, Hampton, ILB, third round. \r\n\r\n

    BRIAN ROBISON, Texas, DE/OLB, third round. \r\n\r\n

    ZAK DeOSSIE, Brown, ILB/OLB, fourth round. \r\n\r\n

    TIM SHAW, Penn State, ILB/OLB, fourth round. \r\n\r\n

    NU'U TAFISI, Cal, DE/OLB, sixth round. \r\n","skipOnMobile":true,"skipOnMobileReason":"UnsupportedHtmlTable","unsupportedMarkup":"LackingResponsiveTableClass","media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-04-23T18:30:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:424977]","mainImage":{"url":"[MEDIA:424977]"},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:424977]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"422","name":"Penn State"},{"id":"9887","name":"Penn State - Football"},{"id":"423","name":"Purdue"},{"id":"9819","name":"Miami (Fl) - Football"},{"id":"9889","name":"Purdue - Football"},{"id":"348","name":"Miami (Fl)"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh Steelers"},{"id":"Draft","name":"Draft"}],"nodes":["2483357","2435718","2707849","99","673","688","689","2119","2125","2148"],"isActive":true,"inActiveAndMemberHasPublishRights":false,"createdOn":"2007-04-23T19:02:56.073-07:00","createdById":"166721","modifiedOn":"2015-12-18T13:15:37.06-08:00","modifiedBy":"51458","imgs":[],"viewStats":[{"from":"2015-08-08T15:00:00","to":"2015-08-08T16:00:00","count":8}],"hasVideo":false,"brandUnsafe":false,"breakingNews":false},"editorsChoice":{"siteUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1704973-energy-bringers-badasses","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1722620-sci-teams-sports-illustrated","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1644408-long-may-heath-run","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1626251-ups-and-downs-shazier-playcaller","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1614465-qa-peezy-deebo"],"networkUrls":["http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1747828-scout-s-top-25-recruitng-classes?s=143","http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1748329-its-boring-ucla-hoops-its-about-d","http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1746093-final-scout-300-2017","http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1747814-james-franklin-on-joe-paterno-s-legacy"],"pinnedStory":"http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1745324-scout-s-road-to-national-signing-day-hq","topRibbonWidgets":[],"carouselStoryUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1748301-steelers-outclassed-afc-title-game","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1747776-steelers-patriots-z","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1747725-steelers-right-blend-experience-skill","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1747446-steelers-showing-immeasurable-growth","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1747456-notebook-run-vs-pats-illnesses-elis-math"],"storyStreamUrls":[],"storyStreamBlacklistUrls":[],"videoStories":[{"type":"StorySummary","containerType":"StorySummary","id":"1747725","siteId":"68","isPublicSite":true,"subdomain":"pit","canonicalUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1747725-steelers-right-blend-of-experience-skill","shortUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1747725-steelers-right-blend-of-experience-skill","siteName":"Steel City Insider","forumName":"","friendlySubdomain":"Pittsburgh","title":"Steelers Right Blend of Experience, Skill","subtitle":"","seotitle":"Steelers Right Blend of Experience, Skill","caption":"Steelers leaders","deck":"The Pittsburgh Steelers are handling the biggest week of most of their careers with a precision that's difficult and hard to master.","dateOverride":"2017-01-21T00:53:25-08:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"Publisher","isActive":true,"isPremium":false,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":false,"hotNamesLinked":false,"storyImage":"http://img.scout.com/sites/default/files/2017/01/20/01-20-17harrison-roethlisberger.jpg","mainImage":{"uuid":"e8abc9c5-bd22-4737-91e2-b2d9e1d02c7d","url":"http://img.scout.com/sites/default/files/2017/01/20/01-20-17harrison-roethlisberger.jpg","title":"Steelers leaders","alt":"","description":"James Harrison and Ben Roethlisberger before a 2015 preseason game. 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