Improved Mentality is Key to Unlock Steelers DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (2024)

Entering his fourth season, defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk is ready to take his game to another level. The Wisconsin alum has been a solid rotational piece for the Steelers since he was drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft but has yet to become a starting-caliber player on defense.

Loudermilk served as the Steelers sixth defensive lineman last season. He is pitted against nearly the same group of competition for playing time in 2024. With that in mind, Loudermilk went to work in the offseason to identify and improve what he needed in order to take that next step. The thing that he tried to improve was his mentality.

“I think it is all my mentality,” Loudermilk told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now. “I have been trying to get that tightened up this offseason. Just kind of going on there and playing more, not being as timid. This will be year four so it is about time for me to go out there and start flying around, not think as much, that will help me kind of fly round a lot better.”

While the Steelers lost Armon Watts in free agency they replaced him with Dean Lowry. Additionally, the team drafted Logan Lee in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. This means that Loudermilk’s role is already pretty well defined.

“The group of guys that we brought in are all smart guys, too,” Loudermilk said. “But, we’re bringing a lot back on defense, so it’s not a whole a lot of turnover, people having to learn new things, learn what the person beside you likes,” Loudermilk said. “There is that continuity between us, not just as a defensive line, but as a defense. Everyone’s been playing together for a couple of years so everyone has the feeling of how other people play.”

Since Loudermilk’s arrival, the Steelers defense has witnessed little change, from coaches to players. This has given Loudermilk the chance to grow under players like Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi while becoming a contributor himself.

“It is a tight-knit [defensive] line group right now,” Loudermilk said. “We are helping each other out wherever we can. It’s the type of room where I can go out and fly around and not need to worry about mistakes. If there’s a mistake, we’ll all kind of come in collectively to fix it so it is a great group of guys.”

Over the last few seasons, the Steelers defense has been banged up with guys like Heyward, TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick all missing periods of time. This season, as everybody is healthy, the defense looks to play as a complete unit for the first time in a while.

“I definitely think we can be an absolutely dominant defense,” Loudermilk said. “It’s football. People are going to get banged up. It’s the next man up mentality. You don’t want people to get banged up but it’s the nature of the game. Something’s going to happen to somebody, and I think everyone knows that so everyone stays ready.”

With Loudermilk’s role essentially already carved out, he will use training camp and the preseason to try to showcase his growth to the coaches. With Heyward’s future in question, if Loudermilk can prove himself this season, he could be in line for an extension and possible promotion.

92 • Isaiah Loudermilk, Defensive End, Wisconsin
6-foot-7, 293 pounds, 26 years old, 4th Season

Acquired: The Steelers drafted Isaiahh Loudermilk with the 156th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The team traded up to select Loudermilk and gave away a 2022 fourth-round selection to do so.

Last season:As a third-year player, Isaiahh Loudermilk played in the most games of his career as he played in 16 of the Steelers 17 regular season games. As a rotational defensive end, Loudermilk logged 16 combined tackles and four quarterback pressures on 181 defensive snaps.

Additionally, Loudermilk appeared in 82 special teams snaps in 2023,

Improved Mentality is Key to Unlock Steelers DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (1)

Steelers DL Isaiahh Loudermilk against the Arizona Cardinals, Dec. 3, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Career:After the Steelers selected Isaiahh Loudermilk out of Wisconsin in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he appeared in 15 games as a rookie and made two starts. He made his NFL debut in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders as he finished with one tackle. Loudermilk recorded his first and only NFL sack in Week 8 of the 2021 season against the Cleveland Browns.

Loudermilk made his NFL starting debut in Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs as he tallied six tackles. He appeared in one playoff game so far and that came against the Chiefs as well. He finished his lone playoff game with three tackles.

In his second professional season, Loudermilk’s snap count went down and so did his production. Last season, Loudermilk played in 11 games and made three starts on the defensive line. He made his first appearance and start in Week 6 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he recorded one tackle. He would start the next two games as well before being moved back into a depth role for the rest of the season.

In his 116 snaps in 2022, Loudermilk recorded seven tackles and one quarterback pressure.

In his career, Loudermilk has made 42 appearances and five starts as he recorded 30 combined tackles, one sack, and 11 quarterback pressures.

YearGPGSDef. SnapsTacklesSacksPressuresFFsPFF Rating
20211522882316047.5
2022113116701042.2
20231601811604055.9

College: Isaiahh Loudermilk committed to Wisconsin after being named a consensus three-star prospect in high school. He would go on redshirt during his freshman season in 2016.

In 2017, Loudermilk played in 11 games and missed three due to injury. He recorded 11 combined tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and one pass defended. He contributed to a defense that ranked second in the nation in total defense (156.2 yards per game), third in scoring defense (13.9 points per game), and third in rushing defense (98.4 yards per game).

As a redshirt sophom*ore, Loudermilk appeared in nine games as he made 15 combined tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and three passes defended.

In 2019, Loudermilk really came into his own as he played in all 14 games and finished with 24 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

In his redshirt senior season, Loudermilk appeared in six games while making 13 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. Following the season, Loudermilk was named third-team All-Big Ten and later declared for the NFL Draft.

In his Wisconsin career, Loudermilk played in 40 games and made 26 starts at defensive end. He recorded 63 combined tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks.

YearGPTacklesTFLsSacksPDsFFs
2016000000
201711111.51.510
20189152.5130
201914245352
20206132.5200

Salary cap and future: Loudermilk is entering the final year of his standard four-year rookie contract that he signed with the Steelers in 2021. He will cost $1.135 million against the Steelers’ cap space in 2024. His 2024 contract included a $1.055 base salary and a $80,072 signing bonus. He is signed through the end of the upcoming season.

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Improved Mentality is Key to Unlock Steelers DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (2024)
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