If you are like me, you don’t know a ton about players who don’t wear the black-and-gold for the Pittsburgh Steelers every week.
Sure, I keep up with the NFL, especially the AFC North, but the hyper focus on the Steelers leaves me with a type of blinders on when it comes to the rest of the league — especially when talking about the NFC.
When the Steelers signed Morgan Burnett in free agency, I had heard of him but wasn’t schooled on just what he brings to the team. For all I knew, he could have been a rangy playmaking safety, but in reality he is a veteran leader who is known for his tackling.
The fine folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) outlined some key stats for every team’s best free agent pick up, and Burnett’s statistic was extremely telling:
S Morgan Burnett
2017 Grade: 77.2
One of the best box safeties in the league, Burnett played 83.1 percent of his run-defense snaps within eight yards of the line of scrimmage last year and racked up 10 run stops as a result. Since 2012, Burnett has now racked up a whopping 93 run stops when lined up in the box, which is tied with Kam Chancellor for the most among safeties in that span.
Whenever a player is compared to Kam Chancellor, it is never a bad thing. Chancellor has long been considered one of the best safeties in the league, and Burnett being mentioned statistically with Chancellor should tell Steelers fans plenty about their newest addition to the back half of the defense.
It should be noted both Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin both spoke at the NFL Owners Meetings about Burnett, and both men said the role for Burnett is far from set in stone as of now. While the Packers might have used Burnett as a pure box safety, the Steelers may have other plans for the veteran safety, and a lot of this might have to do with the team’s plans for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Nonetheless, if you are a fan who wanted a safety who can load the box and tackle...Burnett is your man.