Steelers plan for Nick Herbig is to use him at multiple positions
By Tommy Jaggi
If college performances were the only thing that mattered during the pre-draft process, Nick Herbig would have been one of the top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, there's much more that goes into evaluating players and it's important to project forward. Regardless, the Pittsburgh Steelers were thrilled that Herbig fell to them with the 132nd overall pick in the fourth round.
At Wisconsin, Herbig's production was off the wall. In just three seasons, the scrappy edge defender earned 36.0 tackles for a loss and 21.0 sacks. In 2022, Herbig earned an elite 92.8 pass-rush grade, per Pro Football Focus, and his 24.0 percent pass-rush win rate was the best in the nation. This led to 15.5 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks in just 11 games last season.
Sadly, when we project forward, it's hard to see him having the same type of success at the next level. At the NFL Combine, Herbig measured in at just 6'2'' and 240 pounds with 31 1/4'' arms. This puts his weight and length in the 3rd and 2nd percentile, respectively, via MockDraftable's database.
Now comes the complicated part: trying to find where he fits on defense. Herbig is a fluid, natural athlete with a remarkable feel for the game. Because of this, the coaching staff feels very confident that they are getting quality football players here.
Steelers will play Nick Herbig at OLB and ILB
After Omar Khan already addressed the media regarding Nick Herbig and where he will play in 2023, Pittsburgh Steelers assistant GM Andy Weidl echoed his comments. Both front office executives insisted that Herbig is going to be a versatile chess piece for them who will play both outside linebacker and inside linebacker.
Herbig's frame suggests to many that he should make the transition to a full-time off-ball linebacker. However, that might not be the best way to utilize his skill set. While Herbig proved that he can move well in space, he also has a knack for getting after the quarterback.
This won't be a role that he could handle full-time at the NFL due to his obvious size and length restrictions. But I would love to see a role for Herbig where he can cover and blitz from the inside on early downs and kick outside of tackle to tee off on the quarterback in obvious passing situations.
Obviously, we need to see how this translates to the NFL. If he can occasionally get the best of Broderick Jones and Chukwuma Okorafor this summer, that will be a good sign. I think a hybrid role is best for a player like Nick Herbig. Let's hope that Teryl Austin can get the most out of him in 2023 and beyond.