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Preseason Film Study: Analyzing Steelers LB Farrington Huguenin

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Taking an in-depth look at Steelers linebacker Farrington Huguening’s preseason performance against the Falcons.

When Farrington Huguenin broke into the league in 2016, he came with little fanfare. Signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins last year, he was eventually released in August with an injury settlement. In January, he signed a future/reserve contract with the Steelers after several workout sessions back in December. Huguenin’s only credibility at that time, was based on the fact he was a one-time teammate of First-team All-SEC defensive end and Steelers 2015 first round pick, Bud Dupree.

During training camp, as was his experience when he entered the league, Huguenin did not get as much attention as much of the focus at his position were on first round pick T.J. Watt. What many perhaps did not see, was that Huguenin had a strong camp showing. Often times, there were reports about his natural strength, and how he overpowered the offensive linemen in one-on-ones.

In his two preseason games this year, Huguenin has accounted for 2 sacks and several quarterback pressures. Even though he may not have received the attention he deserved, Huguenin is an intriguing prospect that brings to the table a variety of skills which were in full display against the Atlanta Falcons.

Setting the Edge

This does not appear on the stats sheet, but it is an essential skill for all players in this position. An outside linebacker who has containment responsibilities, needs to establish control on the outside of the line; the idea of "setting the edge" to prevent the big gains down the sideline. Huguenin in this play does it beautifully.

Note how far Huguenin is lined up from the defensive end on this play. He takes a seemingly wide angle to his rush. Even with the Falcons fullback engaging him, he is still in the right position to prevent the Falcons running back from bouncing outside; as a result, the Falcons running back is forced inside where safety Jacob Hagen and others are there to converge on the tackle.

Pass Coverage

Late in the game, Hugenin displays his versitility breaking up this pass intended for the Falcons tight end. With the Falcons quarterback completing passes down the seam most of the game, so this read made sense. Notice how Huguenin does not over-pursue; he is in the right position to play both the ball and the man. It is seemingly a simple enough looking play, but considering that pass coverage is an area of weakness among many of the linebackers, this is encouraging to see.

Bending the Edge

This is a skill that few outside linebacker can do effectively, because very few possess the hip flexibility required to do so consistently. In this particular clip, Huguenin gets a good jump and beats the tackle. Unfortunately for Huguenin, he wasn’t able to get the sack as he gets pushed up the arc, but his pressure was enough to force the Falcons quarterback out of the pocket to make his throw and eventual incompletion.

Pursuit of the sack

This play, in many ways, exemplifies the way Huguenin has played throughout the preseason; relentless pass rush, displaying his natural strength as he overpowers the Falcons guard, and comes up with the sack. There are a couple of key areas that should be taken note when watching this play.

First, Huguenin’s pad level (the importance of this I have noted in previous film studies), his level allows him to use his core strength, rather than his upper body strength to overpower the Falcons’ lineman. Second, his hand usage, one of the strengths noted in Huguenin’s draft profile was his hand strength. In this play, he is able to control and maneuver past the Falcons guard to get the sack.

Summary:

With the log jam at the linebacker position, it is more than likely that Huguenin will make the practice squad, but he is the type of player that a team would not hesistate placing on their active roster. In the games he has played thus far, he has shown the aggression and versitility which he displayed throughout training camp. If Huguenin continues playing at this level, he will certainly take the right steps in building his own identity.