How Jordan Zumwalt Fits with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Curt Popejoy@@nfldraftboardContributor IMay 10, 2014

UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Once you get deep enough into a draft, you must temper your expectations. When the Pittsburgh Steelers went on the clock for pick No. 192, there were a number of directions they could go. What I didn’t think they would do is go a direction they had already gone in.

In selecting UCLA's Jordan Zumwalt, Pittsburgh essentially drafted the exact same player it drafted in the sixth round in 2013. Perhaps this was just an attempt to maintain synergy, but why Pittsburgh felt like it needed to draft Vince Williams version 2.0 is beyond me.

Zumwalt was a very productive player at UCLA. He’s a high-energy player who goes full steam on every play. He is a player who is easy to like and root for. The problem is, he brings nothing to the table that a player like Williams doesn’t already. And he in no way approaches the talent of first-round pick Ryan Shazier. 

Nov 9, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (35) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

That’s not to say I dislike Zumwalt as a player. He is a fun prospect to watch. He finishes every play with energy and brings out the best in his teammates. The rub with this pick is that there were players still on the board who could have really helped this team.

Zumwalt’s game is all about energy. He’s not a terribly instinctive or athletic player. Most of his best plays are made by sheer force of will. Sounds an awful lot like Williams from last season. Could taking Zumwalt mean the coaching staff has already given up on Williams, or is it more about depth behind him? I tend to favor the latter.

What is the fit for Zumwalt? Well, it shouldn’t be terribly hard for Zumwalt to beat out a player like Terence Garvin or Daniel Molls to hold on to a roster spot. He should provide some depth behind Shazier and Lawrence Timmons on the inside along with Williams and Sean Spence. 

Nov 23, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) tries to run past UCLA Bruins linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (35) during first quarter action at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In the final analysis, the pick spent on Zumwalt could have been used much better. And for everyone lobbying for Zumwalt, when he takes Timmons’ starting spot, you are welcome to come back here and tell me how wrong I am.

The real best-case scenario for Zumwalt early in his career could be as an ace on special teams. I can certainly see him coming downfield covering kicks with reckless abandon.

Is Zumwalt a Steeler-type of prospect? Of course he is. And odds are good that he’ll make the team. Nevertheless, in a draft that is yielding starters late, this is one of two picks on Day 3 that feel more like projects than production.


2013 Stats

Tackles: 91

Tackles For Loss: 6.5

Interceptions: 2

Passes Defended: 0

Forced Fumbles: 1