Lions Rookie LB Named Potential Replacement for Versatile Veteran

The Detroit Lions lost some depth in their linebacking corps and special teams when veteran Anthony Pittman left in free agency, but one analyst believes they may have found a potential replacement in the form of an undrafted rookie.

Buckeyes linebacker Steele Chambers declares for NFL Draft | NBC4 WCMH-TV

The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy identified the rookie free agents with the best chance of making the final roster in Detroit, noting that former Ohio State linebacker Steele Chambers has shown talent at the position after converting from running back.

“A former running back turned linebacker, Chambers is an intriguing fit thanks to his athleticism, but his tape shows a prospect who’s still developing at the position,” Pouncy wrote. “He needs to learn to shed blockers quicker, but he has a good foundation with which to work. His best chance to stick around is probably in a special teams/practice-squad role. The Lions did lose Anthony Pittman to the Commanders this offseason, so there could be a fit there.”

Chambers had a strong five-year career at Ohio State, leading the team with 83 tackles in 2023 while playing in 13 games. He ended the season with 1.5 tackles for a loss, an interception and a pass breakup, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference honors.

Lions Need to Replace Special Teams Stalwart

Steele Chambers credits Ohio State Buckeyes staff

Pittman had a light role on defense with the Lions, playing just four snaps at linebacker in 2023, but had an important role on special teams. He appeared in 80% of Detroit’s special teams snaps last season while making four total tackles.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote that Chambers “has the talent to compete for a rotational linebacker and special teams role” with the Lions, but does need to make some improvements.

“Chambers runs well and made noticeable improvements with his reads and tackling consistency since moving over from offense (see the 2023 Michigan tape),” Brugler wrote. “However, his lackluster take-on technique leaves him stuck on blocks, especially when he loses his run fits. Overall, Chambers needs to continue developing his feel for blocking schemes and cover responsibilities, but his athletic range and play personality are solid foundational traits for the next level.”

Lions Coach Sends Advice to Rookies

Who Is the Detroit Lions Head Coach?

Chambers could have some good guidance in the locker room. Lions linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard told reporter Tim Twentyman in an episode of “Twentyman in the Huddle” that he advises rookies that their draft position doesn’t matter once they’re vying for a roster spot.

“I even give advice to guys now—I wish I could have known this mentally—it truly doesn’t matter where you get drafted. I really believe that. That’s just unique on that day, it’s all about what you do after you get drafted,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard added that NFL rosters are built with undrafted rookies, many of whom end up carving out long careers.

“If you really look at the lay of the land in the league, I tell people (the) majority is made up of those guys, the blue-collar sort of guys who’ve got to put the hard hat on and make it, year in and year out,” Sheppard said.

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