Steelers Mock Draft 2023: Pittsburgh fills their biggest team needs

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Steelers mock draft round 7: Edge Rusher Lonnie Phelps

7th Rd – Edge Rusher/OLB – Lonnie Phelps – Kansas – 6’-2”, 245# - It’s no secret the Steelers like Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) linebackers and Phelps began there before going to Kansas for his senior year. Even though he was used mostly as a pass rush specialist early in 2022 he had one of his best seasons statistically.

He’s average sized for an outside linebacker and his technique is still developing but he’s a good athlete and plays with a high motor. He has some pass rush moves and strives to keep constant pressure on the quarterback. He can ‘get skinny’ when squeezing between blockers.

There isn’t a lot of him in coverage but he seemed to do well in zone under schemes. He keeps his eye on the quarterback and quickly breaks on the play once he gets his read. His speed also shows potential for man coverage. In run defense, he runs toward the ball carrier attempting to disregard, rather than engage, a blocker. He can be slippery around the line of scrimmage.

Phelps had a good Combine putting up 30 reps of 225 lbs. landing 1st Place among defensive ends. He needs to develop his hand use to take advantage of his upper body strength. He also ran a fast 4.55 forty with an excellent 1.62 second 10 yard split. Pro Football Focus gave him a 74.5 overall grade with 70.0 for run defense, 83.1 pass rushing, and 67.2 in pass coverage.

Phelps was productive during his college career. In 37 games (27 starting) he had 114 tackles with 32.0 for a loss, 21.5 sacks, one pass deflection, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He also returned a punt 32 yards for a TD. I don’t know how you do that and I can’t find a news article on it, anywhere, but he did it. He blocked another punt. Called a 'demon' on special teams, Phelps played on punt, kick-off, and kick blocking units. That’s something that should increase his chances of making the final 53.