Steelers Film Room: Why Steelers defensive lineman Brian Arnfelt makes this team

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Surviving the first round of cuts is difficult for an undrafted free agent. Northwestern's Brian Arnfelt has done that already, and his performance in the preseason suggests that he might be pushing hard for a roster spot in 2013.

I first heard of Brian Arnfelt via an article by Jim Wexell that highlighted Arnfelt taking reps as the second team left defensive end. The Steelers have a history of cultivating lower round draft picks and undrafted free agents. Moreover, they have a history of taking unknown players and turning them into very productive defensive linemen. If your interest is piqued, read Wexell's article. It paints a great picture of the kid. If your interest isn't piqued, then watch these clips from the Washington game and then go back and read the article.

Here, Arnfelt shows good agility and football IQ. Football IQ is something that more athletic players are sometimes lacking because they never had to develop that part of their game. Coaches call this "getting through the trash." The ability to work down the line like this is huge for a 3-4 end. Then, the ability to finish the play and make the tackle is an added plus.

This is just a tremendous play. I'm not a Cam Heyward hater, but I haven't seen him make a play like this yet. Mike Tomlin talks all the time about the need for Steeler defensive linemen to play with superior pad level. This is a great example of that.

Arnfelt explodes off the ball. He shows great strength and explosion while driving the offensive linemen into the backfield. The most beautiful part of this play, however, is the finish. Arnfelt closes on the running back with great speed. This is really great stuff, but I saved the best for last.

First thing you have to understand about this play is that safeties are always accounted for in the run game. When announcers say that the offense cannot block the 8th defender in the box they literally have no clue what they are talking about. But, that doesn't mean you can execute the plan.

Arnfelt is able to allow Shamarko Thomas to make one of the best plays of the preseason because he is so stout against the backside double team. You notice that the right guard and tackle get no movement of Arnfelt at all.

Second, and this is the really key point, notice how right guard Adam Gettis (No. 73) has to turn his left shoulder in order to help with the double team. You can't do this as an offensive lineman. When this happens, you cannot block on the second level. The right guard is not just being lazy with his technique; this happens when the double team is about to be split.

If you look at the last frame, you see #73 eyeing up Thomas. He knows he has to block him, but he cannot do a thing about it. Arnfelt puts Thomas in a position to make a play, and Thomas delivers in a thunderous way. This is a great example of tremendous team defense.

Arnfelt shows it all in these clips. Speed, agility, power, football IQ, and hustle. He is never going to get 15 sacks a season. But, he can definitely be an asset to this team. I had to watch about eight clips of Arnfelt to find these three plays. It was not hard at all to find this kid making every day NFL starter-level plays, and he's an undrafted rookie. With a strong showing against Carolina on Thursday, I can see Arnfelt making the 53-man roster.

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