As each day passes in April the 2015 NFL Draft approaches, and with it so does our own assessment of the Steelers roster and depth chart relative to their needs in the draft. Today’s focus is the Steelers draft needs at inside linebacker.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Inside Linebacker – The Starters
If there is one area of the depth chart where the Pittsburgh Steelers are truly set, it is inside linebacker. In fact, breaking down the Steelers starters at inside linebacker is hard because of that.
The group is led by Lawrence Timmons, the first draft pick of the Mike Tomlin era. In truth, Timmons did not deliver much in terms of immediate value and his development was sporadic. Injuries ruined his rookie year. In 2008 Timmons showed himself to be a versatile backup at both inside linebacker and outside linebacker, and he forced Larry Foote off the roster.
However, he struggled in 2009 as a starter, and even split time with Keyaron Fox. But Foote returned in 2010, but couldn’t shake Timmons for his starting spot, and Timmons blossomed into a stud. However, he did not play well in 2011, leading several to question the Steelers decision to renew his contract.
Timmons has answered those questions. Since 2012 Lawrence Timmons has been the Steelers most consistent player on defense and arguably their best all around. He might not make the splash plays at the level of a Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Greg Lloyd or James Harrison, but he’s around the ball, plays well and steps up when necessary as his hit on Jamaal Charles in the Steelers win over Kansas City shows.
Opposite of Timmons the Steelers have…. Well it’s hard to say, because the starting duties were shared by Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, and Vince Williams, all of whom made contributions and all of whom were playing well by the season’s end. Expect Shazier to win the starting job heading into 2015, but if he should falter the Steelers have not one but two men standing behind him.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Inside Linebacker – the Back Ups
Sean Spence and Vince Williams really are “starters in waiting,” but the Steelers depth at inside linebacker goes beyond these two players. First they have of Terrence Garvin Bengals Sunday Night Football fame.
Before making a name for himself on special teams, Garvin was working his way into the 3rd down package. 2014 Draftee Jordan Zumwalt will also return from injured reserve to compete for a roster spot. Arthur Moats can also do duty at inside linebacker, although his services are needed elsewhere.
Priority Status of Inside Linebacker for Steelers in 2015 NFL Draft
Like Wide Receiver, inside linebacker is an area on the depth chart which flipped in rapid fashion for the Steelers.
- On opening day 2013 inside linebacker was a glaring weakness.
On the eve of the 2014 NFL Draft inside linebacker was markedly stronger. Today the Steelers depth chart at inside linebacker is clearly the team’s deepest, and therefore the draft priority status for inside linebacker for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft can only be considered as Low.