With the 2012 NFL Draft quickly approaching I have been scouring the internet for opinions on who the Steelers number one selection will be. There is one general consensus on who that player will be mock draft after mock draft: Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. There is one name that fans are forgetting, however, that name is Stevenson Sylvester. Sylvester was the Steelers fifth round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and has shown potential in both preseasons he has participated in. Over the course of two seasons Sylvester has accumulated 21 tackles and 4 forced fumbles. That means almost one out of every five times he has hit an opposing player he has jarred the ball loose. Sylvester is a big strong linebacker; so big in fact that some people worried about his ability to play in the middle. He has spent this offseason putting those worries to rest. Sylvester currently stands 15 pounds lighter than his 2011 playing weight and is ready to show he has what it takes to be the Steelers new signal caller.
The Steelers have a knack for creating star linebackers. Many of those linebackers made a name for themselves as special teams stand-outs much like Sylvester. You may have heard of Joey Porter and James Harrison; both players spent time on special teams before finally getting their shot on defense. Sylvester has the knack for making big plays and big hits and is ready to take over the spot vacated by James Farrior who was released by the Steelers earlier this offseason. Sure I may be a bit biased I saw Sylvester play in person in his college days while I was a student at Colorado State University and after seeing him drafted to the Steelers I have been following his career. His talent, however, outweighs my general interest in him as a player as my reasoning for believing he could be a star for the Steelers.
Sylvester has a knack for getting to the ball and has better athleticism than his potential successor James Farrior. Added speed at the inside linebacker position would be welcomed with the introduction of quick tight ends and scat backs over the past few seasons, players Farrior struggled to keep up with. Sylvester will be competing with veteran Larry Foote for the job alongside Lawrence Timmons. There will likely also be a rookie in the mix, but it is yet to be seen what round that player will be drafted in. A first round pick such as Hightower would be given a shot to start right away due to the salary he would be making, but a later round pick would likely be put on the same path as Sylvester, special teams first. Whenever a team loses a long-time starter their position is considered a position of need. However, in Farrior’s case the Steelers have two capable players ready to step in. With the issues on the Steelers offensive line they may be better off addressing other positions in the early rounds and grab a middle linebacker later on.
One thing is a definite for the 2012 season, Sylvester will be ready to compete. Although he may share time with Larry Foote there is no question in my mind that Stevenson Sylvester is a Steeler ready to shine.[youtube]xGHOnGctDZQ[/youtube]
Other Steelers Ready to Shine: