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Steelers Take LaMarr Woodley at #46 in 2007 NFL Draft

With the 46th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected another player to play linebacker - this time nabbing Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley. The 6-2, 270 pound player for the Wolverines concerned scouts as a defensive end prospect because of his size, but the Steelers appear to have drafted him to play the left outside linebacker position.

As a defensive end for Michigan in 2006, Woodley finished with a Big Ten-best 12 solo sacks, including one in the Rose Bowl, and 16.5 tackles for loss, had five multi-sack games, and forced four fumbles.

I was curious what a Michigan expert thought about Woodley as a linebacker prospect, so I turned to my good friend Brian Cook of MGoBlog. Few, if any, know Michigan football as well as Cook, who charts every down of every game for his in-depth game reviews. Cook told me:

Woodley has some experience at the position. When he was a sophomore Michigan embarked on a one-year experiment with the 3-4, in which Woodley played OLB. The results were mixed. While he was an excellent pass rusher and good against the run, his coverage skills left much to be desired. The next year Michigan abandoned the 3-4 and had him put his hand down, a move enthusiastically greeted by Michigan fans. The Steelers have proven they know what they're doing, but it's reasonable to expect a significant adjustment period as Woodley gets used to the finer points of coverage. Or they could just let him loose to rush the passer. I have some concerns about his ability to get the edge on NFL-level tackles and doubt he's ever a star, but a solid career is possible.

Hrmmm... It's difficult to evaluate this pick right now, especially without a better grasp of how Pittsburgh intends to use him. The coaching staff may intend for first-round choice Lawrence Timmons to play at the right outside linebacker position and drop more often into coverage, while using Woodley on the left side as a strong rusher. That coud actually develop into an interesting tandem on the outside in a couple of years, but both players will begin their careers with Pittsburgh carrying legitimate question marks.

Is Timmons big and strong enough to be a consistent OLB in the 3-4? Is Woodley agile enough? Taken individually, both selections appear curious. Taken together, there are interesting possibilities. I'll be very interested to hear Tomlin's comments on the team's plans for their two new linebackers.