As the NFL offseason hits full stride, the Pittsburgh Steelers look at potential positions and gaps which need filling on their roster. One of those areas would be the depth at the outside linebacker position. With the recent news of James Harrison's alleged return next year, along with Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree and Arthur Moats, the team could use a fresh body to help alleviate some of the pressure on the other pass rushers.
While most are talking about potential free agents or NFL Draft prospects, the answer to the question might already be on the roster. That player would be none other than Anthony Chickillo.
Chickillo was the training camp darling as he showed up to Latrobe, PA trim, fit and ready to make an impact. He turned plenty of heads, and did enough to eventually be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster to protect him from being picked up by another NFL team.
Chickillo's rookie statistics were far from spectacular, but he made an impact on the team -- mainly on special teams. Chickillo recovered a fumble, caused be fellow rookie Roosevelt Nix, at a crucial point in the team's win over the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field in 2015, and forced two other fumbles throughout the season, but what Chickillo showed throughout his rookie campaign was an ability to contribute.
Now, the question remains whether he can contribute as an edge rusher, and not be a drafted player who is strictly a glorified special teams ace? Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how the future will play out for Chickillo, but if his rookie year showed anything, it is he is capable of improving himself over the offseason.
Chickillo played defensive end/tackle in college, and weighed about 40-pounds more than he does now in the NFL. He said losing the weight made him enjoy the game more, but it also brings forth other issues which could result from the rapid weight loss. The body needs time to adapt to the new weight now being carried on its frame, and that can often take time.
Give Chickillo an offseason with Joey Porter to not only learn pass rushing techniques from the 3-4 OLB position, but also to get him acquainted to the intricacies of Keith Butler's defense, and he could be the team's answer in their quest for depth at both right and left outside linebacker for the near future.