The NFL Draft is just weeks away, and the Pittsburgh Steelers still need to address a number of positions. The one position many of us didn’t think the team would not address in the draft, but in free agency, is the safety position. While there still is some time to get a player such as Terrell Edmunds or Tyrann Mathieu under contract, it feels increasingly less likely someone is brought in pre-draft. Considering the Steelers like to have all their position groups buttoned up before the draft, this approach is very un-Steelers-like.
The problems grow even deeper when you realize many consider there to only be one true first-round safety option in this draft. Notre Dame Fighting Irish star Kyle Hamilton is, by far, the most talented safety in this draft. There was a time he was viewed as one of, if not the best, prospects of this draft, but his 40-yard dash time has scared some people off and he may slightly fall because of it. I doubt the Steelers get so lucky as to draft this phenomenal talent. The next two options are Georgia’s Louis Cine and Penn State Jaquan Brisker. While they are both fine players, both names will likely be announced on Day 2 of the draft process.
Unless something drastic happens in the coming days, there is a chane either Cine or Brisker could be the Steelers starting safety in Week 1. But there still is a problem with starting rookies, especially in your secondary, and even more so when they are not first round picks. The Steelers will have to ask to get even more out of Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the rest of the corners to pick up the slack which will obviously be had when starting a rookie safety. There will be communication breakdowns and struggles covering tight ends in the deep half of the field for at least half of the regular season.
With the amount of talent in the AFC North, as it pertains to pass catchers, it is concerning to have a glaring hole in this position group. If the Steelers are going to start a rookie at safety, the hope would be they somehow manage to find an upgrade at cornerback. If the Steelers are viewed to have three No. 2 cornerbacks, this situation is fine if both of your safeties are studs. Without two experienced safeties, this defense could certainly struggle to lock down the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Mark Andrews.
Having to spend a second round pick on a safety also limits what you can do for the rest of your draft class. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ need at quarterback is obvious, and will likely have to come through the first round. Taking a safety in the second round means the Steelers likely have to find a starting caliber wide receiver in the third round. While those are filling your three biggest needs currently on the roster, if the Steelers were to sign a safety prior to the draft they could upgrade the rest of their roster much easier with higher draft capital.
The pressure has been on to figure out the safety position this entire offseason. With so many safeties already off of the market the Steelers don’t have many other options left. Their interest in Kareem Jackson recently also shows they are still interested in a veteran, but it also shows they probably do not want Terrell Edmunds back. If that is the case, it really takes the Steelers out of options on the veteran market, unless they want to pony up some money for a player like Mathieu.
But what do you think? Are you comfortable with the Steelers starting a rookie that comes out of the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.