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A small school pass rusher who improved his draft stock at the 2023 Senior Bowl

This small school pass rusher turned heads last week in the lead-up to the 2023 Senior Bowl.

Jim Nagy poses for a photo at Reeses Senior Bowl
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Steelers enter the offseason with a ton of questions about the type of roster they will field in 2023. Most agree that the team’s major needs are in the trenches and at cornerback (CB), and, as luck would have it, the 2023 NFL Draft is shaping up to be a solid class in those areas.

There are other needs in Pittsburgh, though maybe not quite as pressing. I believe one of those needs getting somewhat overlooked is outside linebacker. Yes, the team has one of the best pass rush tandems in the league in T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, but outside of those two studs, the team is very thin at the position. Malik Reed was brought in from Denver to be the team’s rotational 3rd rusher, but was underwhelming in this role.

Just last week, my podcast partner, Andrew Wilbar, and I had the incredible opportunity to chat with Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy on “The Steelers Fix” podcast. We talked about the Senior Bowl week events and even some prospects he had his eye on going into the week. As a former NFL scout for 18 seasons, Nagy’s insights are extremely relevant and he has a sharp eye for talent. When asked about any players he was most excited to see, Jim couldn’t decide.

“That’s like asking a parent who their favorite kid is. You know, I’m excited to see all these guys... It’s like Christmas Day down here, getting these guys all here.” Nagy said.

But when we asked Jim later on in our conversation who needed a big Senior Bowl week to improve his draft stock, he quickly found a player who stood out.

“You know, one guy that comes to mind is Isaiah Land from Florida A&M. [He] played the defensive end position in college, and led the led the country last year at any level with 19 sacks.” said Nagy. “[He] won the buck Buchanan Award for the top FCS defensive player.”

Jim went on to say that Land likely needs to add some weight to succeed at the next level. He played at around 215 lbs in 2022. The hope was that he could add some weight before heading to Mobile.

“Hopefully he’s put on about 10-15 lbs and he’s at least 225 to 230-ish, which would put him in the range of guys like Brian Burns and Vic Beasley, and even a guy like Bruce Irvin. I was with Seattle when Bruce came out of West Virginia that year, he was only like 228 lbs. So hopefully Isaiah gets his way up to that range and he comes down here and have a good week because he does have natural pass rush.”

Isaiah Land did just that! He weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 226 lbs, right in the range Jim was hoping he could, and it made a difference. You saw an explosive pass rusher with a lot of upside, who had a really good week in Mobile. For a Steelers team that could potentially add talent later in the draft at EDGE, Nagy feels a guy like Land could ride that solid Senior Bowl performance to a lot more recognition leading up to the draft.

“He’s got some doubters to prove wrong.” Nagy added. “You don’t get 19 sacks [in a season] without knowing how to rush.”

For more from Jim Nagy’s exclusive interview on The Steelers Fix podcast with Jeremy and Andrew, be sure to click on the player below for the full conversation. You don’t want to miss it.