MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 27: Jeremiah Mathis #81 of the Virginia Cavaliers runs with the ball and is tackled by Jojo Nicolas #29 and Sean Spence #31 of the Miami Hurricanes on October 27, 2011 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
University of Miami LB Sean Spence didn't measure out well at the 2012 NFL Combine. His stats there paint a picture of a training camp body, not a third-round selection, where the Steelers took Spence in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Maybe the Steelers listened to perhaps the best response a player could use in defiance of the annual workouts, dubbed by some "The Underwear Olympics."
"It makes me feel like I shouldn't have played football. I should have just worked on the [NFL] combine and been a workout warrior."
It's tough not to love that bravado. Reports indicate Spence plays much faster than his 4.71 40-time indicates. Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 231 pounds, Spence lacks ideal size, but his production at Miami suggests that may not have factored in as much as pundits may want them to.
He finished his career with the Hurricanes as their all-time leader in tackles-for-loss, and developed a reputation as a voracious viewer of film. He rarely makes false steps as a result of that diligent film work, and appears to prepare himself well.
It's fair to point out one of the can't-miss responsibilities of a linebacker in Pittsbugh's defense is preparation, and former Steeler James Farrior lasted 15 years (and counting) in the NFL not ever playing at a weight much higher than 231 pounds.
Spence won't walk into the Steelers' weight room and throw the bar around like it's a Tinker Toy, but his awareness on the field and dedication to that awareness will make his 40-time seem far smaller than it is. Making plays is what counts, and he seems to be the kind of guy that can do that.