Steelers go defense in the 3rd round with LB Sean Spence, Miami. He’ll play inside for the Steelers and will provide additional depth behind the starters while he learns the ropes of playing in the NFL . He does have 39 games of starting experience at weak OLB though so he’s versatile, but the majority of his experience is obviously on the outside. He’s a smaller player but super quick and great in pass coverage which is key with all the tight ends in routes these days.
According to Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler, Spence is a mack LB and will play special teams and provide depth behind Lawrence Timmons. He also told him at their meeting at the NFL combine that that no rookies comes in for the Steelers and starts at LB. Also according to Colbert: Larry Foote ready to take over for James Farrrior at buck LB and Stevenson Sylvester to back him up. (courtesy of Scott Brown from the Pittsburgh Trib).
Spence will make the final roster but he’s going to have to prove himself on special teams and in the limited action he could see during the regular season. If injuries strike this unit he could be called upon quicker than Keith Butler and Dick Lebeau would like so he’ll need to be ready.
The Steelers always keep a stock pile of linebackers on the roster. Spence has a lot of talent but as we know, linebackers for the Steelers take time to develop.
University of Miami Hurricanes
5’11 231 lbs
Spence has been a bright spot and a standout player on a rather uninspired Miami defense. He was a four-year starter at Miami, and although undersized he makes up for this deficiency through speed, instincts and overall athletic ability. He is a great defender on outside runs, as he can effortlessly run down his fastest opponents. He is stellar in coverage, and he can blanket tight ends and tackle from various angles. He makes quick decisions and executes on them. While size will be a concern as he enters the NFL, Spence will be defined by his ability to play free and get off blocks to make plays on the ball. While he was suspended in the fallout from the Nevin Shapiro booster scandal at Miami, there is little doubt of his true character and, likewise, his overall athleticism and ability. Look for him to be taken in the middle rounds, but he could be a late riser.
Spence’s athleticism shows in all that he does. He can quickly diagnose a play and use his explosive hips to meet running backs and deliver the blow. He has fluid hips in coverage and uses his arm strength to shed blockers when he gets engulfed by bigger players. He is an experienced starter at a high level, and this should allow him to play fast and instinctively from the start at the next level. He has natural athletic ability to fit in a 4-3 scheme, in which he can play freely and flow to the ball. He is an active player and almost always involved on run plays.
Spence is undersized and needs to play free of big blockers on him to be productive. He can flow to plays but “rides the pole” and falls off tackles at times. The scheme he plays in is key to his production.