When you spend a first and second round draft pick on a cornerback and a safety, there is a strong chance the coaching staff will have some people asking why those prized picks aren’t on the field yet.
Sure, it would be great to allow these players to simply sit back and watch, but with the current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, a youth movement is underway, especially in the secondary.
Last week fans saw first round cornerback Artie Burns unseat William Gay as the starting cornerback opposite Ross Cockrell. Most chalked this up to the foot injury which limited Gay in the latter portion of the week, but when Gay was healthy enough to play, it was Burns who saw 100-percent of the snaps.
As Burns looks to solidify his spot on the team’s starting roster, the team’s second round pick, safety Sean Davis, is looking to make his own mark in his first year as a professional.
Davis was used primarily as a cornerback, a position he played extensively his Senior year at Maryland, when Senquez Golson was lost for the year with a foot injury, but the team has been leaning more on Davis as a safety, his natural position, in recent weeks.
In the team’s Week 9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Davis and Robert Golden essentially split time alongside Mike Mitchell in the deep secondary.
For some fans this will come as a shock, considering how most were extremely impressed with Golden at the start of the 2016 season, his first significant playing time as a starter. Nonetheless, according to Davis it looks as if the player seeing the most time moving forward will depend on how they practice.
Davis, Golden, shared SS at Balt. Davis: "We're splitting it 50-50. I guess whoever has a better week gets to start, then we alternate."— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) November 10, 2016
There might be some who will simply suggest this is nothing more than getting Davis valuable repetitions, but if you are honest with the situation you see the coaches leaning more on the upside, and potential, of Davis. Davis has the size, speed and athleticism to be a perfect fit at the strong safety position for the Steelers. This isn’t necessarily a cut on Golden, but the upside for Davis is far greater than that of Golden.
Having two competent safeties is never a bad thing, and it looks as though the coaching staff is searching for a combination which works best. We are at the halfway point of the season for the Steelers, and the team has already seen one rookie defensive back become a starter, while another rookie is working his way into that same role at safety.
Say what you want, but when you throw in Javon Hargrave seeing double-digit snap totals almost on a weekly basis, you have yourself a pretty solid draft class. The youth movement has officially come to the Steel City.