The NFL Draft is about two months away and coming quickly. The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing their due diligence to find solutions for several defensive shortcomings. One target area is inside linebacker where they lack athleticism and the ability to cover, especially tight ends. There’s a couple of top prospects named Devin that could help the Steelers if either is available at the 20th spot. The Steelers could find their guy on day two, in the form of New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks.
How Terrill Hanks Fits the Steelers Defense
The Steelers need athleticism and speed at the inside linebacker position and Hanks can provide just that. He’s a converted safety who can cover tight ends and make plays from sideline to sideline. Hanks’ best traits are his athleticism, a non-stop motor, and his willingness to get physical. On top of that, Hanks is very coachable.
Terrill Hanks Bio
- 6’3″/235 Lbs
- 391 tackles including 43.5 tackles for loss
- Three straight seasons with 100+ tackles
- 8 interceptions, 14 passes defended
- 11 sacks
- 2018 Butkus Award watch list
- 2109 Senior Bowl invite
Hanks’ experience as a safety plays well in coverage as an inside linebacker. He quickly identifies the receiver coming to his area of responsibility, reacts quickly, and does an excellent job of mirroring the route. His athleticism and presence of mind has allowed him to make some pretty spectacular interceptions. Hank has shown a penchant for nailing ball carriers with textbook tackling. He’s at his best when he comes in low, wraps up, and drives through the contact.
Hanks plays with a non-stop motor, a sense of urgency, and never quits on a play. He’s the ideal type to blitz up the middle because of his closing speed and his desire to get to the ball. The Steelers defense would benefit from Hanks presence. Despite his inexperience at the position, Hanks gives them something they are currently lacking at the position. He has the legitimate ability to cover and sideline to sideline speed.
Hanks puts 100% effort into everything he does, but unfortunately it’s not always enough. He often misses tackles because he takes bad angles and doesn’t use proper balance. This leaves him vulnerable to getting run over by the ball carrier, or, badly whiffing with arm tackles. Hanks must also improve the techniques that allow him to get off blocks and work his way through traffic. Too often he tries to get by with his athleticism and arrives late to the play. Hanks can also be easily taken advantage of on play action or with misdirection due to his inexperience as a linebacker.
The Bottom Line
Keith Butler needs a playmaking inside linebacker on defense and Terrill Hanks fits the bill. He may not have all the flash of Devin Bush, but he has that type of potential. Hanks would be a nice compliment to Vince Williams and give the Steelers that solid inside tandem they’ve been missing. He’d also give them position flexibility in that he could be used at safety in certain packages and situations. The one thing to remember with a player like Hanks, is that his flaws can be coached out of him. They are mostly a by-product of his inexperience at the position.