'He could really cover a lot of ground'

Why you should be excited about sixth-round pick Ulysees Gilbert:

He's productive: Gilbert, a 6-foot, 224-pound inside linebacker, had a combined nine sacks in 2016 and 2017 at Akron. He registered five of those sacks, along with 141 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed and three interceptions in 2017.

He's decorated: Gilbert was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2016 and 2017.

He's versatile: General Manager Kevin Colbert considers Gilbert an "outside linebacker-capable, fast, space player. He runs 4.48. He's an active guy. In today's football, a lot of times that linebacker is removed from the formation. He plays over the slot."

He's also a special teams-capable player: "We think Ulysees can compete for special teams play, as well as give us the new type of athleticism that you look for (at inside linebacker).

Added head coach Mike Tomlin: "We imagine that Gilbert is a guy who can distinguish himself in that area, as well."

He can potentially make outside linebacker deeper: "We're excited about what Ola (Adeniyi) can do," Colbert said. "But then you throw in a guy like Sutton Smith who played at the same level collegiately and had a lot of success in the MAC, so there's going to be good competition there whether it's for the last spot or special teams.

"You throw in a guy like Ulysees Gilbert, now you got three similar body types fighting for those spots. The competition can only make them all better."

He had the right mindset at Akron: "He could really cover a lot of ground, sideline to sideline and he'll hit you," inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky said. "That's what we look for. If you like to run around and hit people, you know you're good for us."

He impresses on and off the field: "I'm glad we drafted Ulysees," Olsavsky said. "We had him up for a visit. We saw a lot of good thing on film and he runs well, plays out of the box, which is where today's game is going.

"He was just really a genuine kid when he came up here. He likes to play the game, he likes to run around and hit people. I'm extremely pleased to have him."

His pass coverage capabilities matter: "When a team trusts you to put you out of the box on a wide receiver, they have confidence that you can go out there and you won't be embarrassed or you're not going to slip up in your coverage," Olsavsky said. "That's a skill that he naturally has, and we like that."

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