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The more you can do

After further review, there may be more than meets the eye associated with the Steelers' draft class.

Positions addressed through their seven selections included offensive and defensive line, tight end, cornerback, and outside linebacker/edge rusher.

But after further review, inside linebacker may also have been bolstered.

Assistant General Manager Andy Weidl identified fourth-round pick Nick Herbig as a player potentially capable of contributing as an outside linebacker/edge rusher and off the ball.

"We think he's a guy that can do both," Weidl confirmed last week.

Herbig was primarily an edge rusher at Wisconsin, and Steelers outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin announced Herbig would initially begin working as an outside linebacker shortly after Herbig was drafted 132nd overall.

But pre-draft assessments had projected Herbig as potentially a better fit inside in the NFL.

Draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic rated Herbig, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, as the No. 79 overall prospect and the fifth-best inside linebacker available.

"He has that ability," Weidl continued. "He has a high football IQ. I think you saw a little bit there in playing on the line of scrimmage, his ability to get off and rush the passer and also his ability at 'stack 'backer' to drop into coverage, the awareness he has. He is a high-energy, relentless football player, very physical.

"The one thing with Nick that jumps off is he's always passing people to the ball, he's looking for work. He makes plays. He's capable of winning off the edge, he's capable of winning in the rush game and he's capable of making negative plays in the run game, so we're excited.

"We saw him as a Steeler type of player and a Steeler type of person."

Herbig shares those characteristics with former Wisconsin teammate Keeanu Benton, a second-round defensive lineman (49th overall) and a player the Steelers perceive as more than just a traditional nose tackle.

"He's a powerful guy," Weidl assessed of Benton, 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds. "He could be a 318-, 320-pound guy. He has good length. He has the wrestling background. He is a guy that's comfortable being uncomfortable due to the conditioning that's instilled in him.

"Then we saw him at the Senior Bowl, and we saw the pass rush ability. Him being able to go from the B-gap to the A-gap and win an edge and get across the face. We think that he has upside as a rusher."

Herbig and Benton are Steelers, in part, because of a connection Weidl shares with former Wisconsin assistant coach Chris Haering.

Haering spent 17 years as the head coach at Mount Lebanon High School before eventually making his way to Wisconsin.

"I got to see them play at Ohio State," Weidl recalled of a scouting trip taken last September. "I got there early, and I was there for the pre-warmups about three hours before the game. And Chris Haering, who coached my brothers at Mount Lebanon, he coached all three of them, known him a long time and have a really good relationship with him, got to catch up with Chris before the game and get insight on Keeanu and then through the process once Nick declared, talked to him about Nick Herbig."

Take a look at the best photos from the Steelers 2023 NFL Draft weekend in monochrome