PITTSBURGH — The ‘Wisconsin Factory’ has given the Steelers a lot of quality players over the years. T.J. Watt, Keeanu Benton, and Nick Herbig all look like quality players for this team, who have translated impeccably well from Jim Leonhard’s defense with the Badgers. But one other player is finally starting to round the corner — Isaiahh Loudermilk.
The team drafted Loudermilk out of Wisconsin after trading back up into the fifth round, giving up a future fourth-round pick to land him. Loudermilk’s play had fallen below the line for most of his career, but this year, he has put together a nice season as a run stuffer. On Wednesday, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin gave him his flowers.
“Milk is a guy that’s kind of under the radar, but Milk’s really developed into a valuable backup for us, get us some solid minutes in there. The Wisconsin farm team is doing great,” Austin said.
Loudermilk’s film showcases some newfound hand usage that has allowed him to stick as a run defender. He has carved out a role for himself in the rotation with that, and jumped DeMarvin Leal on the depth chart at that point by doing so.
In 2022, Loudermilk started three games and appeared in eight more afterward but did not do enough to increase his role even when injuries popped up later in the season. Most fifth-rounders do not get much leeway in regard to keeping a roster spot, especially in year three, unless they really begin to show promise which Loudermilk did in training camp to hold off other competitors.
Loudermilk has all the things in the world to be a good defensive lineman as he is an insanely large human and has good mentors around him. He stands at 6-foot-7, 293 pounds, and was taken under Cam Heyward’s wing during his rookie season.
But his tape is finally starting to come around to showcase that, too. The game has slowed down for Loudermilk and he can process blocking schemes much better. More than that, he has rectified the pad-level issues that plagued him in the previous two seasons. All of that has given Loudermilk’s game a new flair where he can now be a trusted member of the rotation.