In 2007, I raged – initially – at the drafting of Lawrence Timmons with the 15th pick. I was surprised that the Steelers were calling him an outside linebacker for their scheme when in reality he was a 4-3 will backer.
Well, the Steelers moved him inside to replace their weakest linebacker and now it appears they have their pass-downs coverage backer for the next several years. Fine.
But the Steelers are looking at Lawrence Timmons II at this combine. His name is Sean Weatherspoon. Like Timmons, he’s really a 4-3 will backer with similar size and speed.
Weatherspoon had an admittedly uneven senior season, and played poorly when moved inside against Navy in Missouri’s bowl loss. But, at the Senior Bowl, he played his best football of the season as a middle backer. Weatherspoon dropped fluidly and quickly into coverage and shot gaps to take down ballcarriers. And he did it all loudly, since he’s an enthusiastic and passionate leader. But, at his size, he doesn’t take on blocks. He runs around them, so I still feel he’d fit better as a 4-3 will backer. He’s Timmons Lite.
So why draft a second Timmons? Why draft an inside coverage backer who’ll have to be taken off the field on third downs because you already have one of those?
It doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll watch Weatherspoon go through the paces at the combine today. And I’ll also watch Brandon Spikes, who, with his physical inside presence and third-down pass-rushing ability off the edge, makes more sense as James Farrior’s eventual replacement.
That is, of course, if Rolando McClain is already drafted in the first 17 picks, as expected.