INDIANAPOLIS — Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said on Tuesday that the 2020 NFL Draft class is especially deep amongst edge rushers.
While that could be true in general, it also seems to be specifically flush with edge rushers that fit into the mold of a Steelers 3-4 outside linebacker.
Traditionally, with most college teams using a 4-3 alignment, that’s meant taking a look at college defensive ends and trying to project them to be Steelers outside linebackers. But thanks to the proliferation of the spread offense, many college defenses have taken a different tactic.
Boise State is a team that uses a 3-3-5 alignment as a base defense, with bigger, stronger outside linebackers that are expected to help in the run game like in a 3-4.
Broncos junior Curtis Weaver, who checked into the combine at 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, and with 13.5 sacks in 2019, he certainly knows how to rush the passer, and he’s comfortable doing so from a stand-up position.
“I don’t think anyone has the athleticism, the bend like mine,” Weaver said.
He’s also just fine with dropping into pass coverage, which is something that most 4-3 defensive ends do only sparingly.
“I dropped half the time, like 55-45% in Boise” Weaver said. “I’m comfortable playing man and dropping. … I played two-point [stance] my whole life.”
The Steelers will have a formal interview with Weaver on Friday.
One of the boxes that Weaver doesn’t check when it comes to typical Steelers draft picks is that he plays for a Group of Five school. But that trend might be lessening. The Steelers drafted three such players in 2019: Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson, NIU linebacker Sutton Smith and Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III.
Plus, it’s not as if Boise State is a typical Group of Five program. The Broncos have won 10 or more games in four straight seasons and beat Florida State last year and Oregon in 2017.
“Coming from Boise State, that was our theme, back to the Kellen Moore days: going against Power Five schools as an underdog,” Weaver said. “I put my head down and work and I’ll earn my respect here.”