Some players are perfectly comfortable at the NFL scouting combine, and others are not. Steve Longa was one of those who was not. Longa slept in his own bed before his Pro Day and decreased his 40 time by 0.1s, his short shuttle time by 0.22s and his three cone time by 0.15s. He also jumped an extra four inches in the broad jump and put up two additional bench reps. Longa had the reputation as an undersized linebacker prior to the Combine in 2016. He measured at 6’1″ 241 lbs, and it is possible he lost some of his athleticism bulking up for the Combine.
Longa did not make the cut in Seattle after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He signed with the Lions and joined the practice squad shortly after. Longa was on the Lions’ active roster for only a single game, and did not record a statistic during the season.
What Can Steve Longa Do?
Longa is likely a two down thumper at best in the NFL. He showed excellent ability to diagnose plays in the running game at Rutgers. His lack of top tier athletic ability put him one step away from receivers when the ball came in pass coverage though. He made the stop on most occasions though, and had over 100 tackles in each of his seasons at Rutgers. His college tape actually reminds me a lot of Tahir Whitehead. That is not going to excite a lot of Lions fans, but there is a place on the roster for players who get the job done a moment later than you’d like. Personally I would take that over a smooth athlete that can’t play football 100 times out of 100.
Longa is likely to find a role on special teams and not much else for the Lions. He will be in direct competition with day three draft picks and undrafted free agents. Rutgers linebackers are known for hitting and effort. Longa is no exception to that stereotype. He has the potential to become much more than he was for the Lions after a full off-season with the team. Players like Longa need to know their responsibilities precisely. This year he will.