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Jordan Zumwalt is behind the 8-ball

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Steelers' rookie linebacker, Jordan Zumwalt, is behind the 8-ball in terms of preparation, and it isn't even his fault.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Vicious. Ferocious. Competitor. Intense.

All words to describe the former UCLA linebacker and now rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jordan Zumwalt. All those adjectives are a perfect fit for the Steelers defense, but Zumwalt hasn't been able to show the coaches or teammates his skill set due to the ruling that players must wait until their respective colleges graduate before attending any official NFL activities.

Zumwalt and his style of play seem to be a perfect fit for the Steelers, and the team has plans for the athletic linebacker. Not only will he hopefully add depth at the linebacker position, but his true spot on the team will be on special teams. Zumwalt's speed and athleticism will be perfect on kickoff and punt coverage units in 2014 and beyond.

However, the fact that Zumwalt has missed all of OTAs is troubling from a development standpoint. When rookie running back / wide receiver Dri Archer missed the first round of OTAs to attend a mandatory NFL Premiere, he talked about how he felt behind when he returned with his teammates, and that was just one session. Imagine how Zumwalt will feel when he finally is able to attend minicamp from June 17-19.

It is a foregone conclusion the Steelers have given Zumwalt a playbook and he is studying as if he were cramming for a final exam, but nothing can compare to actually getting physical repetitions on the field in an unfamiliar city with new teammates.

However you feel about the NFL's ruling on students being forced to stay at school until their official graduation, it has put Zumwalt in a position to have to battle his way from the bottom and be the player the Steelers expected when they selected him in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

If everything the experts say about Zumwalt is true, he will have no problem doing just that when minicamp approaches next week.