Steelers' 90-man roster: OLBs

(Another in a series examining the Steelers' 90-man roster as the team heads to training camp to begin the process of cutting down to 53 players in advance of the 2020 regular season.)

ON THE ROSTER NOW: Ola Adeniyi, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, James Lockhart, Tuzar Skipper, T.J. Watt.

ON THE ROSTER IN SEPTEMBER: Mike Tomlin hasn't kept more than four outside linebackers since 2012, when he kept six. This preseason will most likely end with Tomlin keeping four again.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT: Dupree and Watt combined for 26 sacks last season, the second-highest total for a set of bookends (or any two players) in team history. And the 2019 team went 8-8. The team record of 27.5, by James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, was set in 2008 when the 12-4 world champions had opposing quarterbacks in many more and desperate situations.

KEY DEPARTURES: Chickillo was a solid reserve who brought veteran experience onto the field when either starter needed a blow or was injured. Chickillo played in 65 games, made 97 tackles, had 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. His departure means the only experienced reserves on the roster are Adeniyi and Skipper, who have combined to play in 10 games with 10 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles (both by Adeniyi).

KEY ADDITIONS: Highsmith was the third-round pick out of Charlotte. He's an interesting prospect with good size (6-3, 248), long 33-inch arms, 4.7 40 speed, and strong college production his last two seasons – 18 sacks, 40 tackles-for-loss.

THE SKINNY: In Dupree and Watt, the Steelers could make arguments for two Pro Bowlers and one Defensive Player of the Year. But those are just arguments. Only Watt made the Pro Bowl last season, and his 14.5 sacks and 36 hits on the quarterback weren't enough to get him any higher than third in the DPOY voting. Its possible that Adeniyi and Skipper will be asked to have larger roles. Highsmith could become that top reserve, but expecting any rookie in the NFL this season to make a mark could be a lot to ask. Lockhart is an undrafted rookie out of Baylor. The 6-2, 263-pounder transferred there from Texas A&M and was named honorable mention All-Big 12 last season.

NEXT: Safeties

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