2015 Steelers NFL Mock Draft: 7 Rounds v16.0
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers have had issues when it has come to developing outside linebackers in recent years. In fact, the last Pro Bowl-caliber player they drafted at the position was LaMarr Woodley back in 2007. Pittsburgh has had trouble replacing Woodley since he decided to basically eat his way out of town, and their pass rush has suffered accordingly.
Granted, Arthur Moats and James Harrison appear to be a steady enough duo to man the strongside outside linebacker position this season. Nevertheless, it would not hurt the Steelers to add a prospect or two in the pipeline with the intention of replacing the veterans in the near future. Ryan Russell of Purdue could be a mid-round candidate to help in that area of need.
As far as physical traits are concerned, Russell definitely looks the part of a strongside outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme. At 6’4” 269 lbs., Russell has the type of arm length (33.375”), strength and straight line speed (4.75, 40-yard dash) to be a decent pass rusher at the professional levl.
Unfortunately, issues with hand technique, pad level, wrapping up ball-carriers and quarterbacks and getting off of the ball on a consistent basis largely prevented the former Boilermaker from being a bigger force in college (2012-2014: 112 tackles, 16.5 TFLs, 8.0 sacks, 4 FFs).
Whether or not the defensive end can contribute in pass coverage is also large question, but there is plenty to like about Russell’s skill-set. He can get up the field quickly and exhibits good bend on his speed rushes for a player of his size. In addition, he plays with a high-motor off of the edge and does plenty of damage with his strength when he uses his hands correctly.
Besides the two veterans I mentioned, Jarvis Jones is still an enormous question mark and so are the three youngsters (Roosevelt Nix, Howard Jones, Shawn Lemon) behind him on the depth chart. Thus, double-dipping at outside linebacker could be a reality for the Steelers on draft weekend.
Next: Round 6