After T.J. Watt’s injury, it was made clear the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to add defensive help. Head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t hesitate to indicate the team would look for an addition to the position, claiming they at least needed depth at the position.
On Thursday morning, ESPN’s Field Yates reported the Steelers are poaching OLB David Anenih from the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad.
The Steelers are signing OLB David Anenih to their 53-man roster off of the Titans practice squad, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 15, 2022
Whether today as a corresponding roster move or later this week, the Steelers are also expected to place T.J. Watt on IR, per source.
The fact that the Steelers went thin at OLB (essentially edge rusher on this defensive scheme) to start the 2022 season indicated they’d look for an outside hire to beef up the position.
It’s safe to say their outside pickup is more exciting than we expected.
Anenih went undrafted earlier this year but was seen as a draft-pick-worthy player by many in the NFL Draft community. The edge rusher out of Houston has traits that make him a player to watch moving forward. Plus, he could be a scheme fit for the Steelers.
The Steelers are getting a linebacker with very good length as his arm length was marked over 34-inches in his Pro Day. His athleticism blends very well with explosiveness at the snap, which could make him a valuable player in pass-rushing situations further down the road.
It’s worth mentioning that Anenih was seen by many as a player that would make the roster for the Titans after a “disrupting preseason,” as A to Z Sports Nashville writer Sam Phalen predicted last month.
Dane Brugler from The Athletic had a fifth-sixth round grade on him going into the Draft.
As any late-round prospect / undrafted free agent, Anenih is a work in progress. In his draft guide, Brugler describes the recent pickup by the Steelers:
“Anenih is a bendy rusher with the arc speed to capture the corner, but he is still crafting his counters when he doesn’t win with his first step. Though he sets a firm edge and plays relentless in pursuit, he can be washed in the run game and lacks point-of-attack technique.”
Landing in a scheme like Pittsburgh’s should benefit the rookie’s development, however:
“Overall, Anenih has tweener traits and is still unpolished for an older prospect, but his get-off quickness, versatile athleticism, and length are draftable ingredients. He isn’t scheme-dependent but projects best as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.”
As a corresponding move, the Steelers are expected to place T.J. Watt on Injured Reserve. That would automatically rule out the superstar pass rusher for four weeks minimum. He’s expected to be back six weeks from now.
Featured image via Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK