Steelers make an overcorrection to Kendrick Green pick by signing OG Nate Herbig
It's no secret; the cat's out of the bag. The Pittsburgh Steelers want to run the football and they have made that abundantly clear from the choices they've made since the end of the 2020 season. In fact, you can say that they've overcorrected in a way.
Following a 2020 season where Pittsburgh ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards per game (82.5), Art Rooney II hammered home the fact that the Steelers need to run the football better during his post-season media session.
So what did the Steelers do during the 2021 offseason? They drafted running back Najee Harris in the first round and double up on offensive linemen in back-to-back picks in the third and fourth rounds. They then proceeded to sign former Pro Bowl OG Trai Turner in June.
Unfortunately, Kendrick Green has been a colossal disappointment -- so much so that many predicted he wouldn't make Pittsburgh's final roster in 2022. Now in an effort to fortify the roster and get even more offensive line help, the Steelers recently signed former Eagles and Jets offensive guard, Nate Herbig.
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports that Herbig has agreed to terms with the Steelers on a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with $4 million guaranteed.
This isn't exactly chump change for a backup offensive lineman, and the assumption is that Herbig will get a chance to start (perhaps over LG Kevin Dotson). Since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019, Nate Herbig has been a mauling run blocker but hasn't offered much in terms of pass protection.
Herbig played with the Eagles from 2019 to 2021 -- earning 17 starts in his first three NFL seasons. After being waived by Philadelphia, the Jets claimed him off waivers on May 5th, 2022. He started all 11 games he played for New York last season.
Steelers shifting philosophy on the OL with Nate Herbig signing
Over the past few years, the Steelers seemed to have a type when it came to piecing together their offensive line. They went with quick-footed athletes who could reach block and get to the second level. Basically every starter they had last year fit this mold.
However, after seeing how badly Kendrick Green struggled with power, the Steelers may have made an overcorrection here. Green was an elite athlete, but that didn't seem to matter when he barely had any anchoring strength. Herbig is just the opposite.
At nearly 6'4'' and 335 pounds, Herbig's weight puts him in the 93rd percentile among NFL guards. It's not hard to see how this translates either. Herbig is a mauling run-blocker by trade as he uses his mass to outmatch his opponent on the ground.
Unfortunately, Herbig doesn't offer much in terms of pass protection (at least not at this point in his career). Despite his power in the run game and earning the sixth-highest run-block win rate in 2022 among guards, per ESPN Analytics, he still isn't a complete player yet.
The big interior offensive lineman earned an overall grade of just 58.0 last year, according to Pro Football Focus. It's also worth mentioning that he tested as a very poor athlete by NFL standards at the 2019 Combine.
The good news is that he can make up for his lack of foot quickness with brute strength. It's also encouraging that Herbig is still just 24 years old after four NFL seasons, as he was very young entering the draft in 2019.
It's interesting to see the Steelers value a player like this who is very much the opposite of a nimble athletic guard like James Daniels that they signed last offseason. Herbig's strength in the run game and ability to play all three interior offensive line positions should be an asset for Pittsburgh in 2023 if he does indeed earn a starting job.