NFL Draft 2015: Who Will Pittsburgh Steelers Target At Outside Linebacker?


With the NFL Combine now complete, we are roughly two months away from the 2015 NFL Draft. Despite high hopes, the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled as a whole at outside linebacker throughout 2014. After the ineffective Jarvis Jones went down with a wrist injury against Carolina, the Steelers turned to former Defensive MVP and ex-Steeler James Harrison to see if he could turn back the clock. Though Harrison showed flashes of his All-Pro form, the 36-year-old Kent State product looked to be out of steam as the season came to a close. But with Steelers moving on from Harrison and the future of Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats up in the air, the outside linebacker position should be one of the top properties in this year’s draft.

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The Steelers happen to luck out with this draft’s outside linebacker crop being one of the best in recent memory. However, don’t get your hopes up that one of the top tier outside linebackers will be available when the Steelers pick at 22. Guys like Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, Dante Fowler Jr. and Vic Beasley will be long gone unless they freefall. For the sake of this argument, we will only look at who the Steelers could target in the first through third rounds.

Alvin “Bud” Dupree Kentucky redshirt Sr 6-4 269

Just falling out of the top group of rush linebackers, Dupree brings athleticism, versatility and consistence to the table. Very productive over his career at Kentucky, amassing 23.5 career sacks, which is second best in school history. In 2014, Dupree recorded 74 tackles with 11 ½ for loss, 1 batted pass and interception, 2 forced fumbles and 7 ½ sacks. Able to drop with instincts in coverage. Considered a very strong leader on and off the field.

Nate Orchard Utah Sr 6-3 250

A relative unknown headed into 2014, Orchard erupted onto the national scene in a big way. A three year starter for the Utes, Orchard compiled 84 tackles with 21 for loss, 3 forced fumbles 1 fumble recovery and 18 ½ sacks, which was second in the country, in 2014. Orchard was named a second-team All-American and won both the Ted Hendricks award for the nation’s top defensive end and the Morris Trophy for Pac-12’s top defensive end. Very high motor with a quick first step and excellent pursuit. Orchard is also a great leader who shows great physical and mental toughness.

Eli Harold Virginia Jr 6-3 247

Despite spending his entire collegiate career at defensive end, a permanent move to outside linebacker could be in Harold’s future. Very productive in his 24 starts at Virginia. Complied 54 tackles with 14 ½ for loss, 7 sacks, 2 battered passes and 1 interception and forced fumble in 2014. Very explosive off the ball, showing speed and athleticism off the edge. Needs to continue to develop his overall body strength. Only a limited experience dropping into coverage.

Markus Golden Missouri Sr 6-2 260

In the past two drafts, Missouri has been a hotbed for outside linebacker prospects. After producing Kony Early and Michael Sam last season, the previous mentioned Ray and Golden make up this year’s crop from the Tigers. Though he did not garner the same attention that Ray received in 2014, Golden managed 78 tackles with 20 for loss, 2 batted passes, 3 forced fumbles and 10 sacks. Golden is fast off the edge with good hands and a high motor. Great awareness in the passing game, getting his hands up when he is unable to reach the quarterback. Frame is relatively compact but powerful, comparable to his former teammate Sam.

Hau’oli Kikaha Washington Sr 6-2 253

Over the past two seasons, there has been no one better at getting to the quarterback in college football than Kikaha. After totaling 13 sacks in 2013, Kikaha ripped off 19 sacks to lead the entire nation. He also posted 66 tackles with 25 for loss, 3 forced fumbles and 2 batted passes. Explosive first step with great pass rushing moves and agility. Will need to get stronger regardless if he plays defensive end or outside linebacker in the league. Durability will be a concern since Kikaha tore his left ACL in 2011 and 2012. His 36 career sacks were a school record.

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