The 2019 NFL Draft is now less than a two weeks away. This year’s Draft is in Nashville, Tennessee as the NFL has decided to continue the trend of bringing the draft bonanza around the country (buckle up for Vegas in 2020). As we have done the last few years, in the weeks leading up to the Draft we will be taking a position-by-position look at the Steelers roster and where their biggest needs lie in the Draft. Last week we covered the offense and this week is the defense. Today we conclude with a look at the safety position where the Steelers used 2 draft picks last year.
Also check out our Prospect Profiles for a more detailed look at a number of draft prospects.
Returning Players: Terrell Edmunds, Sean Davis, Marcus Allen, Jordan Dangerfield
New Arrivals: None
The Departed: Morgan Burnett, Nat Berhe
Draft Need: Medium-High
Last year, the Steelers seemingly went all-in on the philosophy of loading the field with strong safeties, including using them in place of dime linebackers. They signed Morgan Burnett for that role and drafted two more strong safeties in Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen. With the departure of Morgan Burnett, who seemed more interested in leaking locker room gripes to the media than actually getting on the field and playing, the Steelers still have a need at the position. Edmunds, Allen, and Dangerfield are all strong safeties by trade. Sean Davis was moved from strong safety to free safety last year, but is entering the last year of his rookie deal. The Steelers still lack a true free safety after passing on Jessie Bates and Justin Reid last year.
Likelihood of Drafting: Medium
The Steelers have 4 safeties under contract after keeping 6 out of training camp last year. Given this, along with their lack of a true free safety on the roster and a deep safety class increases the likelihood of us adding one at some point. Drafting a true free safety early on this year would be a smart decision that would enable the Steelers to part ways with Sean Davis next year in free agency. That said, given that the two starters for the safety positions are already on the roster for this season, the Steelers may see this as a lower priority than some other positions.
There might not be a safety taken in the first round of the draft this year, but the class is plenty deep in the middle rounds. The Steelers have been tied to a number of prospects throughout the draft process. At the Combine they met with Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Washington’s Taylor Rapp. Teryl Austin followed this up by attending Rapp’s Pro Day. Austin also attended Pro Days at Kentucky for Mike Edwards (Prospect Profile) and Darius West. Maryland’s Darnell Savage (Prospect Profile) had a pre-draft visit in Pittsburgh. Defensive backs coach Tom Bradley went to Delaware’s Pro Day to check out top FCS prospect Nasir Adderley who might be the first safety off the board. Kevin Colbert and Keith Butler were present for Alabama’s Pro Day where Deionte Thompson (Prospect Profile) flashed his athleticism.
Header image source: NJ.com