There is a large contingent of NFL Draft fans who believe a team can simply throw away their 7th round pick. Not literally, but figuratively. After all, the likelihood of those final draft picks making the team are slim, as was evident when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Gerod Holliman in the 7th round in 2015. However, with the dust finally settled on the 2016 NFL Draft class, it is safe to say the Steelers didn't throw away their final draft pick when they selected ILB Tyler Matakevich from Temple.
Is Matakevich a future starter at ILB? Even that could be a stretch at this stage of his career, but unlike Holliman, Matakevich is a football junky with very few glaring weaknesses in his game.
Nonetheless, there will always be doubters, and this is where the tape is worth its weight in gold. Watching Matakevich is very similar to watching some of the great ILBs the team has seen in years past. Yes, players like James Farrior and Larry Foote, but before fans go screaming in the comment section of this article, realize Matakevich has his physical limitations. He lacks the explosion and speed of those aforementioned players, but his instincts and 'Football IQ' are nearly equal.
Take a look at the film below of Matakevich's Temple Owls vs. the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2015.
Temple vs. Penn State
When watching the film it is hard not to see a special teams ace in the making on display. Matakevich plays with passion and fire, two characteristics which are necessities to be a special teams player, but can Matakevich provide depth at the ILB position behind Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier?
Maybe not in 2016, but in the future.
Matakevich has a lot to learn at the NFL level, and a lot of that can be regarding his conditioning. Although not blessed with ridiculous closing speed, if Matakevich can lose a few pounds, without losing his strength, he would improve his short area quickness and become more of an impact player as an inside linebacker.
However, you can't teach speed, and despite Matakevich being all over the field when watching his highlight reels and game film, you have to wonder if he has what it takes to play at the NFL level outside of special teams. If he doesn't, and is nothing but a special teams ace while with Pittsburgh, his selection in the 7th round would still be far from a waste.