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Steelers move up, take former Badger Isaiahh Loudermilk in fifth round of NFL Draft
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Steelers move up, take former Badger Isaiahh Loudermilk in fifth round of NFL Draft

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The wait for a Badger to be selected in the 2021 NFL draft is over.

The Pittsburgh Steelers moved up in the fifth round Saturday to select defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk, taking him significantly higher than his projections. Loudermilk was the 156th overall pick in the draft and the first Badger. 

“I know traditionally it is a great defense. I just can’t wait to be part of such a historically great defense and a historically great team,” Loudermilk told reporters.

Isaiahh Loudermilk mug

Loudermilk

He’ll join former University of Wisconsin great T.J. Watt in the Steelers’ front, and have the opportunity to learn from new teammate Cameron Heyward, a two-time first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler at defensive end.

“I want to be able to come in and really be a sponge,” Loudermilk said. “I can play with someone who I’ve been watching for a while.”

Loudermilk played significant snaps every year he was at UW, amassing 40 career appearances and 63 total tackles. He had 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks for the Badgers. He also had nine passes defended and two forced fumbles.

A number of projections, including those from ESPN and NFL.com, had Loudermilk as a seventh-round selection or a priority free agent. Loudermilk said he didn’t pay attention to the rankings and had good conversations with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin in the pre-draft process, so he knew there was interest in the Steel City. 

His height (6-6⅜) and long arms could help him be a pest to quarterbacks, batting balls down at the line.

"He can make a spin, he can stunt, they game him a little bit, he can work inside and he can be disruptive with that height, that wingspan," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "With that length, that's a factor ... he doesn't have to beat the center, guard, but you can at least bat down passes ... those passing lanes will be disrupted by Isaiahh Loudermilk.

"He made his presence felt in a number of games for the Badgers.”

After participating in UW’s pro day at about 260 pounds, Loudermilk said Saturday he’s closer to 280 now, but feels like it’s healthier weight. He figures to be a rotational piece on the Steelers' defensive line right away, backing up Heyward and fellow end Stephon Tuitt.

Loudermilk got experience playing in different areas of the line with the Badgers, and said that’s something the Steelers’ front office has discussed with him.

“I feel like that’s what helped me at Wisconsin,” he said, “I was able to move along the line, inside, outside, five-tech.”


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