Being named a starter in today’s NFL isn’t much to write home about. After all, it only means you are on the field for the first snap of the game on offense or defense. Nonetheless, there is some weight attached to being named a ‘starter’.
Last year it was T.J. Watt who started ahead of veteran James Harrison at the linebacker position, something very few saw coming, and this year it looks like the Steelers’ top pick from the 2018 NFL Draft will be following Watt’s lead.
As Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, it is looking like Terrell Edmunds will be the starting strong safety when the Steelers travel to Cleveland to play the Browns on Sunday.
SS Terrell Edmunds @rell_island6 expected to start Sunday against the Browns. Second year in a row No. 1 pick will start in season opener.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 6, 2018
If Edmonds is indeed named the starter vs. Cleveland, it would likely mean veteran safety Morgan Burnett, who has been hampered by injuries throughout the preseason, would be relegated to a role he knows well. Being the first safety off the bench, and someone who can cover the slot as well as play the line of scrimmage in run support, is Burnett’s forte, and a role he can play well for the Steelers.
At this point the question shifts from where Burnett plays, and goes to whether Edmonds is ready to start at this stage of his career. He will be alongside another safety, Sean Davis, who was thrust into a starting role, albeit at cornerback, early in his career, and the ramifications of that decision set Davis’ development back.
When Davis struggled to cover players in the slot, the team pulled him out of this role and told him to focus on safety. After some time, Davis learned the Strong Safety position alongside Mike Mitchell, but when Mitchell was released this offseason, Davis took Mitchell’s vacated position.
So, in other words, the Steelers will be starting a safety tandem with little-to-no NFL experience at their respective positions. Not exactly ideal, but it would be clear this is what the coaching staff believes gives the team the best chance to succeed early in the season.
Often times players who are young and thrust into the spotlight early either thrive, or just try to survive. If we use Davis’ rookie year as an example, it was clear early on Davis was just trying to survive However, if Edmunds’ preseason is any indication, it seems as if he has the moxie, intelligence and athleticism to thrive in this situation.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story as it unfolds, and other news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.