The rookie minicamp started for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, and there is at least one slight twist to report out of the South Side.
Mark Kaboly from the Trib stated on Twitter that former UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt will be vying for a spot at OLB.
Zumwalt is going to play OLB.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) May 17, 2014
Odd. Back on May 10th, linebackers coach Keith Butler stated during a press conference that Zumwalt will ‘create competition at the inside linebacker position.’ I don’t think Kaboly’s tweet is a typo/auto correct, and he has yet to retract the tweet as a mistake. So, assuming that what he is saying is accurate, why would the Steelers have him position himself at OLB instead of ILB?
During Zummy’s 30 games played at UCLA, he did see some time at the strong side OLB position. But he also saw time as a middle linebacker as well as weakside inside linebacker – which happened while playing for former Steelers defensive assistant coach (now UCLA’s defensive coordinator) Lou Spanos. The Steelers are cultivating depth at the linebacker position, and Zumwalt was brought in for that reason during the 6th round of this year’s draft.
I don’t really see him having starter caliber success at OLB, but I do believe the Steelers are doing this for versatility. Zumwalt is not an edge rusher, but he targets the ball very well. He’s possesses a bit of nasty in him and could be a very good disruptor on the outside if nothing else. From his time in college, he appears to grasp multiple positions. Consider him the swiss army of linebackers for the Steelers if he ends up doing well on the outside and inside. The Kelvin Beachum of linebackers, if you will.
I don’t mind this idea one bit. Zumwalt has an attitude and nastiness about him that will jive well with assistant coach Joey Porter’s guiding hand. He should fair well on special teams, and the Steelers appear to be trying what they can to make sure Zumwalt makes the cut for the 2014 season.