PITTSBURGH — The family ties within the Steelers draft were strong already with the selection of Joey Porter Jr., but now Nick Herbig adds another cap in the hat of the family ties that the Steelers seem to covet so much. So, just how does this one grade out?
Herbig is fascinating because, at only 240 pounds, he will have a tough time being an every-down player that bangs down low in at the line of scrimmage. I think that will not be him. However, he can be a high-upside sun-rusher who on passing downs can cause chaos for teams up front. It seems that the Steelers are leaning into that part of his game, as Denzel Martin believes that the Herbig will start at outside linebacker and could bulk up a bit.
Herbig has to learn the intricacies of playing off-ball, where he will be best in the capacity of playing the SAM position. He is fluid enough and has key instincts that teams covet for that position. Just know that he is raw in most of the off-ball parts of the game, and his immediate impact will come down as a pass rusher.
As a pass rusher, I really think there’s a lot to like. He is a unique player that maybe scared some teams away because of the ‘unique’ label. However, the Steelers draft thus far screams ‘unique’ at just about every turn. They have no qualms at getting guys with this athletic ability or projection to be someone that they can’t coach up. That’s something unique about Mike Tomlin in general, and he’s not scared away from the uniqueness that makes a player who they are.
As a pass rusher, Herbig has heavy hands, is explosive, and the hand usage is all there. For what he can control, I think he could get stronger and add some more power moves to his game to complement some of the crafty stuff he already has there in the bag. But the truth is, he is pretty polished and could be the OLB3 on those pass-rushing downs while DeMarvin Leal takes most of the snaps on early, run-downs as a big nickel.
He’s just an explosive hitter and he has the ability to drop into coverage when necessary, giving him plenty of possibilities for his NFL future. As long as he can develop the strength and skills needed to get past larger tackles, he’ll likely develop into more than just a narrow contributor for the Steelers.
On top of that, this value is dynamite at this point. Herbig was one of the best players on the board. So, for that, I like this pick for Pittsburgh. I’m tentative about his projection as a full-time outside linebacker, and so they should cross-train him as an inside linebacker to maximize his value.