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Steelers Rookie Review: Recalling the draft profile of Nick Herbig

Now that the last game of the 2023 NFL season has come to a conclusion, the entire NFL is in full-blown offseason mode. As both the Steelers, as well as we here at the Steel Curtain Network, prepare for the start of the 2024 league years and the associated free agency period, as well as the 2024 NFL draft, it’s good before we get too far into the process of looking at next season to look back at some various things from the 2023 Steelers.

As I continue to work through the Exit Interviews article series of covering every player from the 2023 Steelers and their status for 2024, another fun idea is to check out last year‘s rookie class and what was said about them before the 2023 NFL draft. With all the analysis looking at 2024, sometimes it’s fun just to see how much those profiling players got things right, or wrong.

Continuing on, here are some of the various draft breakdowns for linebacker Nick Herbig last offseason heading into the 2023 NFL draft.

Pro Football Network

Full report HERE

WisconsIn LB Nick Herbig Current Draft Projection

Productive edge rushers are among the most valuable players on an NFL roster. In an offensive-driven time like the NFL is currently in, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback off the edge is paramount. Not only can it masks inefficiencies in the secondary, but it can also lead to more opportunities for your offense to put points on the board.

While he is not currently in the upper tier of the position, Herbig is the No. 7 ranked outside linebacker on Tony Pauline’s Big Board. The No. 85 overall player, Herbig’s 3.73 grade gives him a draft projection in the third round.

Whether stuffing the run, getting after the passer, or even dropping back into a soft zone, Herbig might not fit the mold of a prototypical pass rusher but brings the versatility of someone who should be a staple on the roster.

Likely an immediate impact player on special teams, Herbig could quickly develop a role as a reserve linebacker and valuable pick based on what we read from his scouting profile and current draft projection.

Full report HERE


A three-year starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Herbig is lacking in size and strength but possesses plenty of athleticism and potential. He can be a slippery rusher with subtle hands and a wicked inside move that leaves tackles in the mud. His lack of play strength limits his speed-to-power rush and his ability to stand his ground against tackles looking to widen him off the mark. He would benefit from a year in the weight room to get ready for NFL edge work, but he might have the instincts and athletic ability for consideration as an off-ball linebacker.


  • More than 26 percent of his career tackles resulted in lost yardage.
  • Fluid inside move fueled by long, easy strides.
  • Excellent lower body flexion to dip and flatten into the pocket.
  • Finds second gear to close and finish quarterbacks.
  • Plays with good pre-snap recognition of hazards.
  • Uses hands effectively to stay clean and pursue the football.
  • Cross-faces tackle and disrupts run plays into the B-gap.
  • Good agility and change of direction in coverage space.


  • Angular frame will require additional muscle mass.
  • Below average play strength and ruggedness at the point of attack.
  • Unable to sink and set a firm edge.
  • Lacks lower body strength to push through redirection.
  • Speed-to-power rush fizzles out.
  • Would benefit from varied entry angles and tempos as a rusher.

Bleacher Report

Full report HERE


While Nick Herbig collected 20 sacks in his last two years at Wisconsin, it feels like a position change is inevitable. He was listed under 230 pounds this past season, and while he weighed in at 240 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s telling that he only completed the 40-yard dash and none of the explosiveness or agility tests. And his 40-time (4.65) and 10-yard split (1.59) were underwhelming for his slender frame.

Even if Herbig’s combine weight sticks, he’ll still need to add size, and he doesn’t have a lot of room for growth. Also, he’d have a completely different athletic profile if he were to get up to, say, 250 pounds to stay on the edge.

The Badger would be just fine sticking around the 230- to 235-pound mark and making the switch to an off-ball linebacker position. He’s already shown good instincts versus the run and enough athletic traits to work with in coverage. For the latter, awareness is his biggest issue, and that can come with more time and experience at the position.

Herbig would be a good fit as a “Will” or “Sam” linebacker in even fronts. For an odd-front team, he can play in his more natural stand-up linebacker position but needs to be lined up outside a tight end or over the slot receiver with safety help over the top, as he’s going to struggle to hold his ground against offensive tackles as a run defender.

He and whatever team drafts him will need to be patient as he makes the transition off the ball, which could take a year or two. In the interim, he can contribute on special teams, having played there some in college, and be used as a third-down rusher. Once he gets his bearings as an off-ball backer, he can be really effective when blitzing as well.

So there are some of the draft profiles for Nick Herbig last year ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. Now with a season under his belt, how accurate do you think these profiles were? Is Herbig living up to what he was believed to be ahead of a draft? Is he more than what was expected? Please make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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