About the Author
Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki
LOLB LaMarr Woodley
Height: 6-1½ Weight: 265 Speed: 4.74
Notes: Stood out at Michigan (2003-06), where he started 33-of-49 career games — 15 at right defensive end, 18 at rush linebacker — and totaled 177 tackles, 52½ tackles for loss and 25 sacks with five batted passes and 10 forced fumbles. Took home the Lombardi and Hendricks Awards as a senior when he was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year. Was selected in the second round (46th overall) of the '07 draft. Has started 44-of-57 games played at left outside linebacker in the pros, totaling 180 tackles and 37½ sacks with 11 batted passes, three interceptions (one TD), seven forced fumbles and two fumble return TDs. Missed three games in '07 with a hamstring injury that derailed his rookie season and one in '08 (calf), when he was one of the NFL's most improved players. Is currently in the last year of his rookie contract.
Positives: Very thickly built with a strong base and natural leverage to get underneath blockers' pads. Possesses excellent hand strength to control blockers and long arms to keep them off his frame. Stout run defender — rag-dolls tight ends, leverages the edge and constricts running lanes. Forceful tackler. Understands how to set up pass-rush moves and takes good pursuit angles. Keeps his feet running while working hand-rush moves has a long second step and can trim the corner quickly. Very good balance — is seldom on the ground. Times up blitzes nicely.
Negatives: Lacks prototypical height for a rush linebacker. Has an inconsistent get-off and lacks elite closing burst. Is not an overly creative pass rusher and can get hung up on the double-team. Not loose-hipped to flip in coverage and carry tight ends down the field. Can be exposed in man coverage — struggles with his back to the ball. Coverage instincts are average (although they have improved and he returned an interception for a TD vs. Cincinnati in Week 14). Rounds out of his breaks in zone coverage and loses some ground in transition.
Summary: An extremely strong, instinctive leverage rusher who saw limited action as a rookie in 2007, but broke out in his sophomore season, when he replaced Clark Haggins in the lineup, and became the first player ever to notch double-digit sacks in every (three) postseason contest on the Steelers' Super Bowl run. Is very effective on stunts and frees up James Harrison to make plays. Can be mismatched in coverage but brings great value defending the run and leveraging the edge, and stands as the Steelers' top priority before he hits free agency this coming offseason.