In today’s installment in our exploration of the Steelers 90 man roster we cover Steelers icon, and current manifestation of legendary Steelers OLB, James Harrison.
Player: James Harrison
School: Kent State
What makes the NFL, and sports in general, so enjoyable to many fans is that even elite seemingly superhuman athletes face challenges and difficulties that can be related to in ordinary, everyday, working life. Incredibly, James Harrison, author of among the greatest, most exciting plays in super bowl history, former NFL defensive player of the year, two time All Pro, AFC Pro Bowl starter for five consecutive years, and who, as he as aged, has shown no sign of slowing down, was a walk on at Kent State who was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent.
It’s not sentimental to draw inspiration from these feats especially considering that Harrison has accomplished something that’s rare during his career, and in life, by transforming what were perceived as weaknesses into what are often huge assets for him as a player. One, his size. While not lacking in strength, he is short for an NFL linebacker at 6 feet. A big worry for smaller athletes at this position is stride length, and Harrison does, typically, require 5 strides on his pass rush compared to some of his longer contemporaries who only need 3. Obviously, this would be a concern if Harrison didn’t have such elite acceleration and timing. Also, Harrison may utilize his size to harness the principle of leverage better than any pass rusher in the NFL. It’s quite striking to watch massive NFL tackles go flying backwards on his deadly speed bull rushes, and it happens because he, literally, gets underneath their arms and explodes upwards.
It’s hard to understate how much of an asset he is for the Steelers as they continue to groom the younger talent in the LB corps. It should hearten fans of the black and gold to see him working out and mentoring younger players like Tuitt, and it’s obviously the hope that he can pass the torch to one of the younger LB’s, but until then Harrison continues to silence critics as he continues to be among the most objectively productive OLB’s in the NFL.
One of the great all time OLB in run support
Rarely loses battle with OL to point of attack
Elite bull rush
Utilizes multiple moves on pass rush
Typically deployed in pass coverage during more exotic blitzes from secondary and asked to jam at the line. If blitz does not get there can be beaten down field.
Discipline; while he should be commended for transforming the way he hits to conform to the modern day NFL, and has improved greatly since 2010, he was still among the highest-penalized Steelers in 2015.
Chances of Making the Team: 100%
Highlights of Harrison annihilating the Colts: