2012 was not a banner year for Pittsburgh’s outside linebackers. In fact, the team’s “premier pass-rushers” recorded a combined 15.0 sacks over the course of the 2012 regular season!
Although the Steelers’ brass must find a way to bolster their depth and improve their personnel at the outside linebacker position, the franchise has a multitude of other pressing needs to address through the draft process. In the event that Colbert & Co. elect to plug other holes like the ones at wide receiver, safety, running back or inside linebacker early on, outside linebacker could be put on the “back-burner” until Day 2 or even Day 3.
While I have talked at length about post-Round 1 pass-rushers like Stansly Maponga (T.C.U.), Corey Lemonier (Auburn), Jamie Collins (Southern Mississippi), Brandon Jenkins (Florida State), and John Simon (Ohio State), former Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman might also be on Pittsburgh’s radars as well.
As far as Goodman is concerned, I am intrigued to see if he would truly fit in a base 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. At 6’4” 276 lbs., the former Tiger has the perfect type of height, speed, weight ratio to be a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. The Steelers’ brass however appear to view Malliciah as a candidate for a potential switch to the strongside-outside linebacker position in their 3-4 scheme. In fact, earlier in the week, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review even tweeted that “LB” Malliciah Goodman was coming to town for a visit, not “DE” Malliciah Goodman.
While I like Goodman’s measurables, I certainly have plenty of questions about his productivity at Clemson and his overall skill-set. While Malliciah set career-highs in tackles for loss (9.5), sacks (7.0), and forced fumbles (4) in 2012, he only registered a combined 12.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles during his first three years at Clemson combined.
When I watched the former defensive end in action, I was also left with some concerns about how well he would transition to the outside linebacker position at the professional level. At times, Goodman was very inconsistent when it came to his ability to diagnose snap-counts and come off the ball quickly (especially on passing-downs). In addition to that, Goodman did not anchor himself and set the edge against the run game as well as I believed that a player with his athletic ability could.
I would also like to know how well that a 270 lb. full-time defensive end can turn his hips and play in space against the pass in zone and man coverages. As a down-lineman with the Tigers, Goodman would would have to develop as a pass-defender in addition to a stand-up pass-rusher if he became an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. While Malliciah ran a reportedly fast time in the 40 yard dash at his Pro Day (4.67 and 4.7 seconds), he must maintain that type of speed and develop more fluidity in his hips if he wishes to change directions and stick with some of the league’s better pass-catching running backs.
Although the Steelers might view Goodman as a potential outside linebacker, I believe that Goodman might have the potential to be a defensive end with Pittsburgh if he can add another 10-15 lbs. to his already stout frame. Due to the length of his python-like arms (almost 37″) and his raw strength (26 reps of 225 lbs. at Pro Day), Goodman could turn out to be a successful 5-techinque in a 3-4 scheme if he can learn to disengage from blockers better, maintain control of multiple gaps so the inside and outside linebackers around him can make plays, and use his powerful frame to better set the edge against the run. Although Malliciah struggled to master those skills consistently against college foes, the physical tools (33″ vertical at Pro Day) are there for defensive line coach John Mitchell to develop him into a 5-technique.
I should also add that Goodman’s ability to rush the passer from a 3-point-stance could make him a viable candidate to utilize his pass-rushing skills from the defensive line in sub-packages and on 3rd downs too. The Steelers have always found ways to make players with versatile skill-sets shine, and the former Clemson tiger could find a place as a “jack-of-all-trades” sub-package player on passing downs early in his career.
I for one believe that the physical tools are there for the former Tiger defensive end, and it definitely appears that he can be mentally prepared to play professional football as well. But because of his rawness as a prospect, marginal productivity at the collegiate level, and the mystery of where he can be best utilized in a 3-4 defense could hurt Malliciah’s stock on “Draft Weekend.”
Overall, if the Steelers elect to fill their pass-rusher needs later in the Draft and grab Goodman at any point in the 4th Round or beyond, I would be very pleased. At that juncture, I believe that they will acquire themselves a solid developmental prospect who has the potential to help out in a number of different areas once Dick LeBeau and Keith Butler or John Mitchell find out exactly how to highlight his unique skills.
Readers: Should the Steelers take Goodman if he is available on Day 3? Do you believe that he would fit better as a defensive end or an outside linebacker with Pittsburgh? Why or why not?
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