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Steelers Draft ’17: Linebackers

Steelers Draft ’17: Linebackers

Zach Cunningham (41) / HANEWINCKEL / USA TODAY Sports Images

Lawrence Timmons is gone and James Harrison needs an understudy. Here are multi-tiered plans for the Pittsburgh Steelers at each position.

Reuben Foster looked like Ryan Shazier playing middle linebacker for Alabama last season.

He was lightning-quick and always got to where he was going in a really bad mood.

Of course, the cost was expected to be exorbitant. Shazier was a middle-of-the-first player, and so, apparently, was Foster.

Until now. A report surfaced that Foster’s rotator cuff has yet to heal from February surgery, necessitating another surgery. Alabama players already carry the reputation of being beat up, so rumor of a second shoulder surgery doesn’t inspire confidence in first-round draftors.

However, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for starters. Would they take a chance on a falling and injured superstar?

That’s not been their M.O., and perhaps Jarrad Davis, a violent thumper from Florida, could instead be their next “Law Dawg.”

Lawrence Timmons has departed, and Davis — whose main criticism is merely that he “tends to be overaggressive” — would fit the first-round bill.

The Steelers, though, can get by with veterans Vince Williams and Tyler Matakevich if they find a complementary coverage backer for pass downs. That brings us to Zach Cunningham (6-3 1/2, 234) out of Vanderbilt.

Cunningham’s tall enough to cover Rob Gronkowski, and runs well enough (4.67 40) to get deep down the seam. The problem with the long-limbed Cunningham is that he needs big bodies up front to keep him clean. And in the age of the 2-DL nickel fronts, that’s a problem for a player who’s more suited to playing 4-3 will backer.

The Steelers could find potential three-down ILBs in the third round, where Blair Brown (5-11 1/2, 238, 4.65), Jalen Reeves-Maybin (6-0 1/2, 230, 4.68) and Tanner Vallejo (6-1 1/2, 228, 4.67) should be available.

An interesting late-round prospect is Jermaine Grace (6-0, 223, 4.57), who was kicked off the Miami team last year for an alleged role in receiving discounts on luxury car rentals.

The Hurricanes’ leading tackler in 2015 denied that he ever received the discounts (was allowed to…

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