Day Three of the NFL’s Annual Selection Meeting was more interesting than anticipated, but linebackers coach Keith Butler was still able to steal the show while talking initially about a sixth-round pick.
Butler began his media session by assessing UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt.
Eventually, the Steelers’ linebackers coach got around to discussing Joey Porter, Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier and Sean Spence.
It was worth the wait.
Butler on what Porter, new to the staff this season, can do for Jones, last year’s No. 1 pick: “I think he can help him immensely. He and Jarvis Jones are probably the same guy. Their style of play, Jarvis might be a little different than Joey, but not much. Joey has always had that kind of ‘barn boss attitude’ when he played and we need some of that.
“I’ve already told them all the story about him going out to the bus to trying to pull (Baltimore’s) Ray (Lewis) off the bus (at Three Rivers Stadium). I want that type of attitude in that room and he brings it. Joey, that’s the way he played. A lot of people say Joey was a loudmouth and maybe he was but he backed that mess up. If you don’t back it up, it’s hollow; he backed it up. He was a good player not only when he was young but when he got older, too.
“I think he has a passion for coaching, he loves it. He loves to be on the field working with those guys. He really has a good knowledge base to do it.”
Butler on the speed of Shazier, this year’s No. 1 pick:
“He’s going to make us immediately faster on defense, which is going to help. It looks to me like we’re going to have three guys sub-4.4 (in the 40-yard dash) on defense right now. I’m talking about Shamarko Thomas and the kid we got from Carolina (Mike Mitchell) and this kid. Sub-4.4 for a linebacker is moving.”
Butler on Shazier’s size (listed at 237 pounds):
“I don’t know if he’s going to be 235 but we’ll see. I don’t know if he’s that much now, but James Farrior played at 225-230 his last few years in the league and he was a Pro Bowl guy. One year I thought he should have been NFL Defensive Player of the Year and he played at 230. Larry Foote played at 230-235. Lawrence Timmons (listed at 234) is the biggest guy we’ve had inside in recent years.
“This guy fits the part of the game that is starting to put faster people on the field. We’re going to try to match them.”
Butler on Jones:
“He’s put in a lot of work. He’s trying to get stronger. If you watch his progression from the beginning of the season to the later part of the season he improved quite a bit. I think he’ll be a lot better.
“He pretty much didn’t know where to line up last year. If somebody wasn’t there to help him and tell him what he was supposed to be doing he was a half-second slow. The great thing about playing in this defense is that it’s tough to play in your first year, but the second year everything slows down. If it slows down for him mentally it will be a lot easier for him. Hopefully, that will be the case.”
And finally, Butler on Spence:
“From what I’ve seen on the field, I know I said about a year ago that it would be miraculous if he came back, and I hope he proves me wrong. It is getting really close to being miraculous. He looks real good to me. We will see how the knee holds up when he starts hitting and things like that. Right now I’m real encouraged by the way he looks.
“He’s such an exceptional young man and you hope that it works out for him, and I think it will.”