Pittsburgh Steelers: Could LaMarr Woodley Be the Best OLB in the NFL?

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IFebruary 23, 2011

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers defends against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are known as having some of the best linebackers in the NFL.

If you look around the NFL, there are others on other teams that are great, but as a unit, the Steelers are the best—BAR NONE.

The Steelers are also known to have two at a time that dominate the league. From Jack Lambert and Jack Ham, to Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene, to the duo the Steelers currently have, with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Harrison, on one side, gets much of the credit and it is well deserved. He has already won the DPOY (defensive player of the year) and finished third this year, behind teammate Troy Polamalu and some guy in Green Bay named Clay Matthews.

The man that plays on the opposite side of the man known as the best, is LaMarr Woodley.

Woodley just finished his fourth season in the NFL. Though he does not currently get the credit of his running mate, Woodley is well respected by Steelers Nation as well as the Steelers themselves.

Woodley was set to become an unrestricted free agent, once a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is signed, the Steelers valued Woodley enough to assign him with the franchise tender, guaranteeing a one-year salary of $10 million dollars.

The Steelers don't normally give that kind of money to players over only one season, unless his name is Ben Roethlisberger, which shows that the Steelers understand the value of Woodley.

Though, many people would not currently say that LaMarr Woodley was the best in the NFL, they would be hard pressed not to include him in at least the top 10.

But, CAN LaMarr Woodley become the BEST Outside Line Backer in the NFL?

For some, they will say that he is not even the best on the Steelers. Playing opposite of James Harrison, that is a fair assumption at this point.

This, however, is not about THIS point, it is about in the future.

Woodley is 26 years old, while Harrison is 32. While Harrison is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Woodley has yet to enter his prime.

While already having some personal records, Woodley has accomplished things to this point that no other player in the NFL has.

Recording two sacks in each of his first four playoff games has never been done before. Add to that, he totaled at least one sack in each of his first six playoff games. This shows that Woodley plays his best when the games are the most important.

Not only does Woodley excel in playoff games, he seem to elevate his game every time the Steelers play the Ravens.

Looking at the statistics of LaMarr Woodley, he recorded 50 total tackles in 2010 and 10 sacks to go with them.

Looking at the stats, many people would not put Woodley in the top 10. What those people are not (or CANNOT) look at, is the intangibles.

Woodley draws many double teams. He is also asked to drop in coverage more than James Harrison is. Recording five interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, shows that Woodley has a knack for the ball.

There is no question that the Steelers understand this and hopefully, the next contract that Woodley signs with the Steelers will be the one that keeps him with the team for the better part of the next decade.

So, therein lies the question: CAN LaMarr Woodley become the best OLB in the NFL?