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Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Prospect OLB Olivier Vernon, Miami (FLA)

April 16th, 2012 at 11:15 PM
By Mark Mihalko

Continuing the breakdown of pre-draft visitors for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one this sticks out, the Steelers definitely appear to be targeting outside linebacker prospects. On the seven linebackers that the Steelers have brought in, it is possible to potentially project six of the seven as outside linebackers in the teams’ 3-4 defenses.

 

The Steelers have a history of drafting linebackers, but most pundits expect them to target inside linebacker this offseason vice outside linebacker. However, the drafting of some youth on the outside may be in order. Looking back at last season, the team struggled with pressuring the quarterback when LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison battled injury, the primary back up, Jason Worilds is still developing, and rookie Chris Carter was AWOL most of 2011 battling injuries.

One prospect, Miami (FLA) defensive end / outside linebacker Olivier Vernon could be a mid-to-late round prospect that could be on the Steelers RADAR. Yes, there are some Red Flags in his past from the booster scandal that rocked the university, but his athleticism and upside could help ease some of those concerns.  Yes, the 6-3, 265 pound underclassman is raw, but he has a quick burst off the edge and demonstrated a knack to make big plays.

Unfortunately, due to his suspension and a reliance on his natural abilities, he is extremely unrefined and lacks technique as a pass rusher, which has raised some concerns about his work ethic. In the end, some team will roll the dice and select a player with enough innate talent to develop into a special player. Could it be the Steelers? Only time will tell.

Tags: Chris Carter, Football, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, NFL, Olivier Vernon, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers

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