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Steelers Rookie Earns Impressive Award from PFF



Steelers Nick Herbig

Steelers rookie OLB Nick Herbig continues his ascent with 2.5 sacks through his first two preseason games. The polished pass rusher out of Wisconsin is taking everyone by storm with his array of pass rush moves. Herbig follows T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Markus Golden around like a puppy dog trying to grasp onto anything those guys teach him to start his NFL career.

So, it shows up on the football field. But Pro Football Focus also sees the high level of play that Herbig is bringing to the table. This preseason, no Day 2 or Day 3 rookie is rated higher by Pro Football Focus—Herbig’s elite 90.6 grade is the best in the NFL over the first two weeks of preseason play.

Among defensive rookies overall, Herbig ranks 4th in the NFL, behind guys like Will Anderson, Markees Watts, and Levi Bell. Considering that many evaluators tabbed Herbig as a guy who would have to move off-ball, his production off the edge is much more critical. His bend and burst give Herbig traits that most guys do not bring. It is hard for tackles to match his burst with their foot speed and beat him to the top of the arc, and then Herbig does an elite job of softening that arc with elite ankle and hip flexibility.

If there is one thing outside of the weight that Herbig lacks, it is length. He measured in having sub-32-inch arms, 18th percentile to be exact, so power was never his go-to move. We know Herbig can win with speed, and he was experimenting with a long arm and bull rush at times in training camp. If he adds even a fraction of power to his game, his speed rush becomes all the more deadly. There is natural power to harness there, and if tackles are going to bail out to the outside and almost blatantly overset, Herbig can come back inside and push them off their spot on their heels with power. That game element can take Herbig’s pass-rush bag and counters to the next level.