Nick Herbig NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Pittsburgh Steelers' EDGE

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 29, 2023

Wisconsin linebacker Nick Herbig during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis

HEIGHT: 6'2"


HAND: 9 1/4"

ARM: 31 1/4"


40-YARD DASH: 4.65






– Good athlete with impressive movement skills that should help him make the transition to an off-ball linebacker.

– Quick to key and diagnose blocking schemes against the run and read pass against play action.

– Takes on blocks with his hands and has good placement on the chest of the blocker. Also has more strength than his lean frame would suggest; he can set the edge and hold his ground against tight ends.

– Showed flashes of using his quickness and agility to make offensive linemen miss.

– Has the speed to line up on the line of scrimmage and still get to his landmark when spot-dropping.

– Solid at reading the quarterback's eyes to take away throwing lanes when playing the underneath areas in zone coverage.

– Good acceleration to click and close on short routes.

– Flashed some decent ball skills to get PBUs for someone who didn't drop in coverage much.

– He has a handful of pass-rushing moves that he can win with as a blitzer: i.e., chop-rip, stab-to-rip and an inside spin. And has good bend to turn tight corners at the top of the rush.


– Limited experience dropping in coverage, having primarily played as an edge in college.

– Doesn't force reroutes when playing the underneath areas in zone coverage.

– Eye discipline and route recognition in coverage are a work in progress. He'll put himself in bad positions to defend against certain passing concepts because he doesn't recognize what the offense is trying to do. This stems from a lack of experience.

– Struggles to tackle in space. He needs to learn how/when to break down and throttle before contact, and he has a habit of lunging and not bringing his feet with him.

– Short arms limit the amount of extension he's able to get against offensive linemen.

– Will get pushed around by bigger linemen working up to the second level.

2022 STATS

– 11 GS, 47 total tackles (32 solo), 15.5 TFL, 11 sacks, 2 PD, 2 FF


– A 4-star recruit in the 2020 class, No. 143 overall, No. 9 OLB, per 247Sports composite rankings

– Injuries: 2021 (left arm, missed some spring practices and still wears brace); 2022 (knee, missed 1 game)

– 31 career starts

– Brother Nate was a guard at Stanford and has played four years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets. He recently signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.


While Nick Herbig collected 20 sacks in his last two years at Wisconsin, it feels like a position change is inevitable. He was listed under 230 pounds this past season, and while he weighed in at 240 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, it's telling that he only completed the 40-yard dash and none of the explosiveness or agility tests. And his 40-time (4.65) and 10-yard split (1.59) were underwhelming for his slender frame.

Even if Herbig's combine weight sticks, he'll still need to add size, and he doesn't have a lot of room for growth. Also, he'd have a completely different athletic profile if he were to get up to, say, 250 pounds to stay on the edge.

The Badger would be just fine sticking around the 230- to 235-pound mark and making the switch to an off-ball linebacker position. He's already shown good instincts versus the run and enough athletic traits to work with in coverage. For the latter, awareness is his biggest issue, and that can come with more time and experience at the position.

Herbig would be a good fit as a "Will" or "Sam" linebacker in even fronts. For an odd-front team, he can play in his more natural stand-up linebacker position but needs to be lined up outside a tight end or over the slot receiver with safety help over the top, as he's going to struggle to hold his ground against offensive tackles as a run defender.

He and whatever team drafts him will need to be patient as he makes the transition off the ball, which could take a year or two. In the interim, he can contribute on special teams, having played there some in college, and be used as a third-down rusher. Once he gets his bearings as an off-ball backer, he can be really effective when blitzing as well.

GRADE: 6.7 (Potential Role Player/Round 4)




Written by B/R NFL Draft Scout Matt Holder