PHILADELPHIA — The Steelers made the big move that came out of nowhere.
Joe Schobert, former Cleveland Browns, and more recently Jacksonville Jaguars middle linebacker, will be coming to Pittsburgh. To say the least, the Steelers have looked below the line in coverage at the linebacker position at training camp this year. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler made sure to point it out at his press conference earlier this week.
However, with the new Schobert, what are the Steelers getting? Is this a player who can be a difference-maker?
The answer to that is absolutely. Schobert brings athleticism at the position of need for the Steelers. More importantly, that athleticism shows up in many ways. Schobert is fluid. That is the key thing. When a linebacker can attack both ways and mirror running backs and tight ends, that is a linebacker that is fit for the modern NFL. Yes, there will be some moments when he has to cover wide receivers. That is not ideal, but it does happen at times. However, this is a guy who is capable of doing the main responsibility in that vein, which is guarding those running backs and tight ends.
In terms of side-to-side speed, Schobert has plenty. It might not be as good as Devin Bush’s, but Schobert can glide and has plenty of range. Combine that with some of the best instincts in both the running game and the passing game. His football IQ and acumen to anticipate route concepts are one of his best traits.
That is not to say that Schobert does not have some weaknesses. At times at the point of contact, he can be an inconsistent tackler, despite leading the league in the stat category in 2017. Even if he has that ability to be smart in his run fits, this is something that will be an issue for him. Luckily, over the past two seasons, his missed tackle percentage has fallen by 6%. All the way from 16.5% in 2018, to a measly 10.6% in 2020, a career-low.
Schobert will be a quality addition to this team’s linebacker room. He gives them a plus coverage linebacker with great instincts. Schobert should give the Steelers exactly what they want, and that is the best possible coverage duo at the position in their defense. Spillane was not providing that, but Schobert will.