The Steelers know a thing or two about "undersized linebackers". The franchise has one who is the owner of one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, a Defensive Player of the Year and potentially a long-shot Hall of Fame candidate and another who has yet to be a regular contributor despite being the 17th overall pick back in 2013.
James Harrison and Jarvis Jones represent opposite ends of the undersized outside linebacker stigma. Harrison made the most of his opportunities, proving his doubters wrong while Jones is still trying to find his way, confirming the beliefs of those who hold him in an inferior regard. With one of the league's worst sack totals of 2014, the Steelers could potentially chase a new outside linebacker in the first round of the draft; a position which GM Kevin Colbert has declared is a great group this year. An interesting candidate among the group of talented prospects is Clemson DE/OLB Vic Beasley.
Like Harrison and Jones, Beasley is considered undersized, so much so his height and weight resemble that of a strong safety, not a disruptive pass rushing force who ended his collegiate career as Clemson's all-time sacks leader. Listed at a meager six-foot-two inches and 220 pounds (according to Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN), the prolific Beasley is considered one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft.
In fact, his relatively diminutive stature has earned him comparisons to Denver Broncos All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller. Beasley has received praise for his explosive athleticism which allows him the ability to shoot tight gaps and close in on opposing quarterbacks in a flash. As a former running back, Beasley might be the most athletic pass rusher in the entire draft, possessing quick feet, agility, and an explosive burst of the line. Mike Mayock has suggested Beasley will only last until late in the first round because of his size.
At worst, Beasley could serve as a situational pass rusher. Aldon Smith, for example, collected 14 sacks his rookie season despite not starting a single game. If Beasley could accrue half that total it would be considered a success given the relatively ineffectual pass rush produced by the Steelers during the last two seasons.
Regardless of what the Steelers do in the first round, they certainly have plenty of options involving their first round pick. Kevin Colbert and the Steelers have had success with undersized linebackers in the past, and although the results of the Jarvis Jones experiment have yet to be seen, he's a a work in progress, and the patience could pay off. Pairing Jones with his interstate rival Beasley who attended college only 70 miles away could provide the Steelers with a young pass rushing duo that could right what has otherwise been a sinking defensive ship.