Pittsburgh wasted no time in signing rookie free agent and former Pitt Panther, Brandon Lindsey. A stand-up outside linebacker (or two-stance DE) with powerful hands and good spin when it comes to blockers, Lindsey is an aggressive player with significant growth potential.
Impressive in the tape that one can find, Lindsey made the All-Big East team in 2011 and ranked second in sack percentage in the nation.
Lindsey rushes the passer well even though he doesn’t have elite speed. Oh heck, he doesn’t even have good straight-ahead speed (40-times range from the high 4.7's into the low 4.9's).
But he does have quick football speed and can come off the ball with a good jump. He accelerates well towards the passer while still keeping his eyes in the backfield.
His vision also enables him to knock down passes while rushing the quarterback, and he excels at taking an aggressive angle on QBs and rushers to frequently great effect.
Lindsey was thrust into the starting role due to injury in 2011 and responded well to both the challenge and the opportunity, stepping up his game and gaining notice (Lindy’s Pro Football Draft).
Something that should never be overlooked in a football player: Lindsey has hands that are almost 11 inches wide. Wow.
That same aggressive spirit is also Brandon's greatest liability, since he can over-commit and miss the tackle while aiming for the big hit.
While Lindsey has the athleticism to move well in the flat, he really doesn't play the run at a pro level. There’s just no other way to put it that isn't mean. Even nfl.com called him “adequate.”
Although he seized the moment and played well when he became a starter, Lindsey reportedly tired when pressed to play every down (Lindy's). That and his tendency towards giving in to his own instincts and overplaying the ball will need to be addressed if he is to succeed in the pros.
He is a good athlete who can play very unevenly, but with enough potential that it might be possible to “coach him up.”
Potential Rookie Impact
There seems to be a disconnect between what scouts have written based on workouts and what one can see on tape. In these videos, Lindsey clearly flashes play-making ability.
Some agree that he has good hands (CBSSports.com), some even like his run-stopping prowess (Lindy’s) and some say he is explosive (MockingTheDraft.com). But there is a general air of hesitancy in most scouting reports regarding his overall readiness to excel in the league.
Considering that he served primarily as a standout reserve in college and that he has a lean frame, Lindsey may need some time to grow into a professional role. He’ll almost certainly bulk up and will need to improve conditioning and ball discipline.
If allowed to work into a rotation as a stand-up pass rusher, he may well break onto the field in 2012. Otherwise, he’ll have to try to survive on special teams until he matures in terms of technique, judgement and strength.
One thing in his favor is consistent durability, which may give him the time he needs to develop.
CBSSports.com compared Lindsey to Steelers star LB LaMarr Woodley, which will be not only a thrill to Pennsylvania native Brandon, but should also serve as inspiration to earn that accolade alongside his new teammate.