Perhaps it’s fitting that this is the 30-year anniversary of the 1988 NFL Draft, which was the day I sat in stunned silence as a 16-year old and scribbled “Erin Jones” on my little piece of paper after the commissioner announced the Steelers had taken defensive end Aaron Jones with the 18th pick.
Thankfully, unlikely 30 years ago, I wasn’t counting down the seconds to the 2018 NFL Draft, I didn’t have visions of various prospects dancing in my head and I was pretty much open to any position being addressed when it was Pittsburgh’s turn on the clock.
But Terrell Edmunds, safety, Virginia Tech?
I gotta tell you, I didn’t see that coming.
Apparently, neither did a lot of other people, even someone on the network broadcast crew who shouted “Wow!” when Edmunds’ name was announced.
Sitting there Thursday night and doing a special episode of the Final Score podcast with Bryan Anthony Davis, the only real satisfaction I felt from the Edmunds pick was that I was able to predict it ahead of time thanks to my “source” (my brother, whose friend works for the Steelers in some capacity and is obviously privy to information I never thought possible) who texted me the selection moments before Ryan Shazier made it official following his emotional walk to the podium.
Other than that, I don’t know how to feel about the selection.
It would be one thing if I saw Edmunds’ name linked to the Steelers in various mocks leading up to the draft. It would be another thing if Edmunds was rated a little higher on the many safety prospect rankings I researched prior to the draft.
And it would be even another thing if Edmunds wasn’t described as a player who excels in sub-packages.
I mean, I get the importance of sub-packages in today’s NFL, but I also get the importance of your typical first-round pick, and that he’s expected to start sooner rather than later.
It is true that safety was considered one of the team’s top needs coming into the draft, so why question it? Why wonder out loud about the team’s confidence in 2016 second-round pick, Sean Davis? Why speculate on the future of Morgan Burnett, a decorated free agent safety the Steelers signed to a three-year deal in March, before he even plays a down at Heinz Field?
Besides, I spent years bellyaching about the Steelers neglect of the secondary in the draft, and now they’ve gone and used yet another premium pick (five in the past four drafts) to strengthen the unit.
So why am I so stunned about the selection of Edmunds?
I just didn’t see it coming, which is hard nowadays, what with so many mocks published on a daily basis in the months leading up to the draft.
Maybe I’m being a little hard on the Steelers, but after Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans and even receiver Calvin Ridley went off the board before 28, it just “feels” like they panicked a bit and pulled the trigger on a player they feared might not be there at the end of the second round.
And, hey, second and even third-round picks are also expected to start sooner rather than later, so I’m not saying Edmunds isn’t going to be good.
But with so much supposed first-round value still sitting there at 28--defensive end Harold Landry, running back Derrius Guice, quarterback Lamar Jackson, etc.--it just seemed like the Steelers could have addressed some future needs first, while using the second round to address a more immediate one with a player whose grade befitted such a pick.
As I told Bryan on Thursday night, I want Edmunds to be a great player--the next Troy Polomalu would suit me just fine--but unlike previous years when I thought the fans overreacted a bit with their hatred of Artie Burns and even T.J. Watt, it might be hard to blame folks for the use of ALL CAPS this time around.
Again, I’m not saying Terrell Edmunds was necessarily a bad selection.
I’m just sayin’.