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Mock Draft Monday: Steelers focus on versatility with LB in Round 1

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The Pittsburgh Steelers 3-4 defense is dying, and the team’s first round draft pick could illustrate just that in te 2017 NFL Draft.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There is a large majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans who still want to point to the 3-4 defense as the team’s base defense. After all, since Dick LeBeau introduced the global fan base to the zone blitz defense, images of Joey Porter, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison harassing quarterbacks on a consistent basis run through fans’ brains.

However, although many long for the good ol’ days, the fact is the Steelers don’t run their 3-4 base defense that much anymore. To be more specific, some suggest the team runs sub packages roughly 75-percent of the time.

For those who don’t know, sub packages are essentially when the defense substitutes defensive backs onto the field to help counter offensive packages. This is where terms like “nickel” and “dime” come into play, depending on how many defensive backs are added, but it gets more complex from there. Nonetheless, one thing is true, and that is the need for fast and versatile linebackers who can do a variety of things on the football field.

Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier are perfect examples of these types of linebackers. Athletic enough to run in coverage, yet strong enough to stop the run and rush the passer. Some say it is the future of the NFL, and although there are those who disagree with such a sentiment, it certainly seems as if it is the future of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense under Keith Butler.

With all that said, it makes sense many are projecting the Steelers to take Temple linebacker Haason Reddick with their 30th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

That is exactly what NJ.com suggested in their latest mock draft. See what they had to say about the selection, and Reddick in particular.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Haason Reddick - LB, Temple

The Steelers are going to need to begin thinking about replacing James Harrison and do exactly that with Haason Reddick who finished 2016 with a whopping 22.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Reddick is certainly a specimen, and someone who could come in knowing they could be a part-time player, and that is okay. James Harrison will be around for at least another season, and Reddick would be able to learn from the franchise’s sack leader for at least his rookie season, and possible another season if Harrison decides to play out his two-year contract.

For those who don’t know about Reddick, the highlight video below is certainly a good glimpse into what he is capable of on the football field.

(Editor’s Note: Video’s audio is not safe for work.)