Robert Golden has been overlooked throughout his time since he came into the NFL, but it wasn't always that way. As a 4 star recruit coming out of Edison, Golden had multiple offers from big time schools like Oregon, USC and UCLA. Golden ultimately wound up going to Arizona where he would be replacing CB Antoine Cason, who had a well decorated career at the college level. Golden would wind up getting moved to strong safety following his sophomore year.
Golden had a decent career at Arizona but ended up going undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft. He got picked up by the Steelers and wound up making the team due to his versatility as a defender (having played both CB and safety), along with his ability to make plays on special teams. No doubt he proved to be a valuable player on special teams but that was all it seemed he was viewed as, especially after a week 3 game in 2013 in which Bears QB Jay Cutler would end up trucking him with his shoulder.
Golden was very popular on social media that night and not for the reasons he would like. Embarrassment is what most would call it, but it didn't stop Golden from working hard and getting ready to be called upon to start. Golden's hard work got him named special teams captain in 2014 and 2015 but he still was looking for that opportunity to start on defense. That opportunity wouldn't come until the 2015 season and it almost didn't happen due an injury in training camp that Mike Tomlin described as "significant." Golden's injury ended up not being as bad as many had speculated it might have been and he thankfully was available at the start of the season.
His opportunity to start came after Will Allen was unable to play in a week 6 game against the 4-1 Cardinals. Golden would play well in the win over Arizona as he registered 8 tackles and a pass deflection. Later in the season, he found himself playing on obvious passing situations subbing in for Lawrence Timmons. He helped play a role in covering TE's and receivers in the slot. Golden played well, and was rewarded for his efforts with a 3-year contract along with more competition in the mold of 2nd round pick Sean Davis.
Before we assume Sean Davis will wind up starting over him, and Golden isn't viewed as a high upside option, hear me out. Robert Golden has been working diligently over the past 4 years looking for an opportunity to start, but most assumed Shamarko Thomas would be the heir to Troy's throne. He of course has not, and Will Allen wound up getting the start over him. Golden at times last year, looked much better in coverage than the veteran Allen, and played a key role in slowing down the TE's that were dominating the Steelers much throughout the year.
Davis is bigger, more athletic and most likely has more upside than that of Golden, but just because Robert Golden wasn't drafted and he's been viewed as at best a backup safety, doesn't mean he can't be a good starting player for the Steelers. Golden doesn't have many inhibiting factors like stiff hips standing in his way, or a lack of understanding of the playbook. While Davis is the more attractive high upside option, he's still quite raw and doesn't have as much experience as Golden. Golden may not be the fastest safety, nor is he the biggest, but he's solid in coverage, he understands the defense, he's got versatility, and he's a sure tackler.
He now has a chance to finally make due on securing a starting job for the one team that took a chance on him as an UDFA. He may have been overlooked as a starting option and he may have gotten trucked by Jay Cutler, but here he is. He's still overlooked, but he's got a "Golden" opportunity to finally put that label behind him.