The Pittsburgh Steelers had an up-and-down season with their linebacker corps, dealing with age, injuries and suspensions. That trend continued this offseason as they said goodbye to longtime inside linebacker, James Farrior. The team does have depth at the position, but there is also some age with two projected starters James Harrison and Larry Foote both being over 30-years old when the season starts.
One of the more interesting linebacker prospects to visit is USC defensive end / outside linebacker Nick Perry. Sure, Perry is a work in progress as an outside linebacker, but there is no denying his natural pass rush ability that features an explosive first step and non-stop motor. Strong and powerful, at 6-3, 271 pounds, he has shown enough athleticism to play in space.
While he is explosive, he lacks a sudden burst off the edge at times and does not seem to anticipate the snap on a regular basis. On top of that, not the strongest prospect and he has shown a propensity to be engulfed by bigger tackles in the running game. He also needs a lot of technique work as he transitions from defensive end to linebacker, and lacks experience in coverage. In the end, he is a first-round talent and will come off the board early. If the Steelers want him, they may have to go get him.
As we have done throughout this process, Steelers101 will continue to profile the pre-draft visitors. To date, we have completed 3 of the 7 linebacker prospects that have made their way to Pittsburgh. Below is a list of visitors with the completed profiles annotated and hyperlinked, feel free to check them out.
California Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (Steelers101 profile 4/10)
Miami (Florida) defensive end / linebacker Olivier Vernon (Steelers101 profile 4/16)
USC defensive end / linebacker Nick Perry
Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower
Clemson defensive end / outside linebacker Andre Branch
Virginia defensive end / linebacker Cam Johnson
Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris
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