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Steelers linebackers groups among best in NFL

SB Nation puts the Steelers' linebackers positions collectively in the "Contenders" category of the best groups in the NFL.

Joe Sargent

Danny Kelly of SB Nation sees what the Steelers are doing at their linebackers positions.

And he likes it.

He put the Steelers in the auspicious "Contenders for the Crown" group - which ranks below "The Elite" and "The Damn Good." If it was to be taken in a linear order, they'd be sixth, behind San Francisco, Buffalo, Carolina, Seattle and Cincinnati, with Tennessee and New England rounding out the Contenders category.

Writes Kelly:

The Steelers, as a franchise, are known for their linebackers, and with a core cadre on the interior that already included Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams, the Steelers were already in okay shape. However, after adding Ryan Shazier in the first round, this group just got a lot more interesting. Shazier has elite speed and a nose for the football, and was one of the more exciting defensive players to come out this season. He'll give the Steelers a dynamic on defense that they didn't have last year.

He also notes the possible addition of sixth-round pick Jordan Zumwalt as an outside linebacker who could be used on the inside if necessary as a boost to the team's depth.

Clearly, the Steelers wanted to make moves at both positions in the offseason. The acquisition of Arthur Moats as well as the selection of Shazier and Zumwalt helped allay any loss the team may have experienced in the release of Larry Foote - who signed with Arizona.

The big release, though, was OLB LaMarr Woodley. His release, along with the transition tag given to OLB Jason Worilds, commits $14 million to the team's salary cap this season. Jarvis Jones, the starter opposite Worilds, had just one sack his rookie year, and will have to shoulder a much larger share of the pass rush this season if the Steelers are to register more than 37 sacks - their highest total over the last three years.