At this point in the offseason, we find that training camp is just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
We now continue to look at the new faces that the Steelers have brought in by way of the 2016 NFL Draft, moving on to their second-round selection, safety Sean Davis. Davis may be as likely as any of the Steelers’ rookies to see any playing time this season, if the spring drills are any indication.
While the Steelers drafted Davis as a safety, he also has experience playing cornerback. He played some there in 2014 and then spent all of the 2015 season playing the position, though he did provide evidence that he is a better safety than cornerback.
But that experience in covering wide receivers on the outside last season only provides Davis with further assets in his coverage ability, and that is something that the Steelers were looking for when they drafted him.
In fact, the team had been working him in the nickel, at times even with the first-team defense, during OTAs and in minicamp, and I expect that we will continue to see that during training camp and into the preseason.
The manner in which he performs will determine from that point forward whether or not that work will continue when the reps start to matter on the scoreboard and in the standings, however, and there is no reason to believe that he would not have his fair share of struggles if he were asked to play early on.
While it is pretty unlikely that he will manage to win a starting position at strong safety over Robert Golden during training camp, however, that does not mean that he should not expect to see time at safety during the regular season.
Last season, late in the year, the Steelers began to turn more and more to their dime, or quarter defense, which features six defensive backs, among them three safeties. Golden was the quarter safety last season, but that slot is now open for Davis.
While he may have the size and speed to play the role, however, there are still other aspects of his game that must improve. He is a willing tackler, but misses a few too many. His route pattern recognition is also a work in progress. He may struggle in his rookie playing time, but in the long run he may be better off for it.