The Pittsburgh Steelers appear poised to sign a linebacker within the next 24 hours. On Friday, the team came up with three experienced supports – this one after Aaron Wilson by Pro Football Network – all of which were mid-round picks in the NFL Draft.
The most successful of the three is Marquel Lee, a 2017 5th Round pick for the Wake Forest Raiders. Lee won the right to start as middle linebacker as a rookie and made six starts before an ankle injury forced him to miss time. When he returned from injury, his role was reduced, yet he still finished his debut season in the league with 25 tackles and two tackles lost. His second campaign fared better as he made 10 starts and appeared in all 16 games. He recorded 68 tackles, including three tackles for losses, three quarterback hits and three passes defended, according to the Pro Football Reference.
But Lee, 26, has been increasingly hampered by injuries in recent years, appearing in just five games (of three starts) in 2019 due to ankle and toe problems. He then missed the entire 2020 season after having off-season surgery on his right ankle. He returned to action in 2021 but was largely confined to a dedicated team role.
Eventually, Lee signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills in March 2022 but was released in mid-August. So far, he has appeared in 45 career games with 19 starts.
Arguably the second-biggest name among tryout players is Dorian O’Daniel, 28, a 6-foot-1, 217-pound outside linebacker who played his college football at Clemson and was drafted No. 100 overall by the Chiefs in 2018 became. He appeared in 58 games during the four years he played at Kansas City, but made only a single start during that period. To date, O’Daniel has been credited with a total of 58 tackles (37 solo), including three tackles for loss, a sack, two quarterback hits and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Finally, there’s Joel Iyiegbuniwe (pronounced jo-EL ee-yay-boo-NEE-way), a 6-foot-1 outside linebacker who spent the first four years of his career with the Bears after Chicago made him a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft from Western Kentucky.
He appeared in 58 games for the Bears between 2018 and 2021, during which time he was credited with 29 tackles (25 solo), with one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. According to Pro Football Reference, he has only played 49 career snaps on defense, with a total of 1,214 snaps on special teams.
In other training news, former Steelers linebackers Joe Schobert and Ulysees Gilbert III both trained for potential employers on Friday (according to the NFL’s daily personnel release), with the former training for the Seattle Seahawks and the latter glancing at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Schobert has been unemployed since being fired by the Steelers in mid-March 2022, apart from a “brief stint” in Denver during August training camp.
Gilbert was a 2019 (Akron) 6th-round pick for the Steelers who played in 28 games for Pittsburgh between 2019-21 but was held back by a variety of injuries, including a fractured L-5 vertebra that left him for the rested second half of his rookie season.