Following a tryout on Thursday morning, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw enough in former LSU linebacker Ryan Baker to sign him to a contract. The tryout also included former New England Patriots linebacker Markell Carter, who walked away without an offer in hand.
A roster spot opened up for Baker when the Steelers released quarterback Troy Smith on Monday.
Baker, who spent the past two seasons as a starter for the dominant Tigers defense, went undrafted during the 2012 NFL Draft. One of the biggest factors that led to him not hearing his name during April’s draft was his lack of ideal NFL size. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but failed to impress during offseason workouts and was waived in early May.
Measuring in at 5’11’’, 232 pounds, Baker was an All-SEC performer during his senior season at LSU while posting 58 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. He racked up 87 tackles (11 for a loss) and seven sacks during his junior year.
During the 2012 NFL Combine, Baker ran a 4.74 40-yard dash and tallied 30 reps on the bench. His size, however, forced many linebacker-needy teams to look elsewhere.
Considered an inside linebacker prospect, Baker will act as an extra camp body while the Steelers try to compensate for injuries that could leave James Harrison (knee) and Jason Worilds (wrist) on the PUP list to start training camp.
If he hopes to make the roster, Baker will have to make a name for a himself as a special teams standout.