Pittsburgh Steelers: CFL Star Shawn Lemon Rushing Into Steel City


On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers signed CFL defensive end Shawn Lemon. Lemon was being pursued by reportedly 14 NFL teams, all looking at the former Calgary Stampeder to boost their pass rush.

The 6-2, 255-pound Lemon had a great 2014 season. He was second in the CFL with 13 sacks. He also had five tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles. His team won the CFL the Grey Cup in 2014 with Lemon recording three pass deflections and a sack in their two playoff games.

He also had six sacks and one fumble recovery with the Stampeders in 2013. Lemon will try to become the next Cameron Wake, who went from the CFL to star with the Miami Dolphins.

Lemon will be competing at outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 scheme. Lemon does have experience dropping into coverage and even recorded an interception last season.

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Translating CFL dominance to a starring role with the Steelers seems to be a long shot; but he picked a team that needs outside linebackers. Jarvis Jones is the only starter or part-time starter currently on the Steelers roster. Veteran Jason Worilds looks to fly the coop into free agency. James Harrison could return for limited duty but the Steelers need a starter as well as multiple players with the ability to sack quarterbacks like Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton.

The Steelers ran lean at outside linebacker this season, instead going heavy at inside linebacker with Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin, and Ryan Shazier were all activated when healthy. They carry into 2015 two young OLB projects in Jordan Zumwalt and Howard Jones who will be in competition with Lemon.

OLB Arthur Moats is again a free agent—and one that might want to consider sticking around in Pittsburgh another season. He has a chance to get a lot of opportunities rotating with the injury-prone Jarvis Jones and whoever replaces Jason Worilds if he does leave in free agency…a replacement that could be a rookie.

As bad as the Steelers want a corner, the organization covets a pass rusher. A player like projected outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. or Vic Beasley would be perfection. But getting the best ones in the draft won’t be cheap. Both players are predicted to go around picks 11-13 with potential to rise as the draft approaches.

Sitting at No. 22, the Steelers would have to make a significant trade to land a top OLB prospect.  It would also set up some high stakes for a position they have made questionable investments as of late.

Signing players like Shawn Lemon addresses OLB depth in the off-season and may allow more draft picks to be used on the secondary.

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