The Pittsburgh Steelers have made no secret of their interest in Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert this offseason, meeting with him at his pro day and inviting him to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. And judging by his response to the trip, it appears that he would welcome returning as a member of the Steelers come draft day.
When speaking to Andrew DiCecco of EaglesWire, Gilbert revealed just how much he had enjoyed visiting the Steel City, a place he had only been to twice before to watch the Steelers play a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and in Week 13 last year to watch them play the Los Angeles Chargers. As per DiCecco.
“It was amazing, honestly. The Steelers were my favorite team growing up, so to meet everybody and meet Tomlin and just be around there — it was a blessing. I really enjoyed it.”
“[The facility] was big, and low-key kind of modern. I ate in their new cafeteria — they just built a new cafeteria, which was really nice. The locker room was pretty typical, nothing too special. The weight room is really nice, the field is nice — they have an open window area that looks out onto the field while you’re working out.”
As a fan of the Black and Gold, Gilbert is more than aware of the team’s needs on defense, seeing something of himself in the player Pittsburgh is clearly looking to replace this year.
“Obviously, they’re looking for that new Shazier. I feel like I share some of the same kind of moves as him. I’m not saying I’m going to be him, but I feel like we share similar traits — kind of around the same size, both fast, high football IQ. I feel like I’d fit perfectly fine with the defense that they run, I’d be right there in the middle. I’d be excited to be drafted by them, to be honest.”
By all accounts, Gilbert spent most of his time with linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky during his trip, with the young linebacker notably warming to the man who would be his position coach in Pittsburgh.
“He’s a cool dude. When we were watching film, he was very calm and asked questions — then we’d talk it through. We watched my ten best plays, and some of the plays I had some issues and he’d ask what would I do in certain situations or why I made a certain decision on a play. He told me some of the plays that they do, and I have it down pat already. I would love to play for him.”
Expected to be a Day 3 selection by most draft experts, this scouting report from Pro Football Draft Zone seems to indicate a player who could potentially be a valuable asset in pass coverage.
Notes: From Ocala, FL. Played mostly on special teams as a true freshman in 2015; had 11 tackles and a blocked kick. Starter at WLB in 2016; led team with 122 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 3 PBU, 2 FF. Posted 141 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 3 INT in 2017.
Positives: Outstanding productivity and range. Excels in pursuit. Very agile and athletic. Can often avoid and out-quick blockers in space. Good movement and change-of-direction skills. Able to run with backs in coverage. Closes quickly. Good skill set for special teams.
Negatives: Undersized. Struggles to take on and shed blockers at the point of attack. Gets bounced around and easily washed out at times. Tends to bite on play action, leaving passing lanes open behind him.
Summary: Weak-side linebacker prospect who needs to play off the ball and excel on special teams to make it.