With spring drills officially over, I think we all understand that we’re all in for a long haul, six weeks in total, between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp. You know the drill. There’s little new information coming out during this period, so it serves as the perfect time both to look back, and to look ahead.
We’re going to be focusing mostly on the latter as we prepare—ever so patiently, of course—for training camp. The Pittsburgh Steelers right now have a fairly young roster with inexperienced players that they are hoping to take on a bigger role. The problem is that in many cases, they are still waiting on those players to show them something, and that is the focus of that series—as well as the occasional veteran with lingering questions.
Show me something, Sean Davis.
As mentioned in the previous edition of this series, this space is not typically reserved for incoming players, but given the circumstances, I believed it was appropriate to include a couple of rookies. Javon Hargrave tomorrow will account for the final article in the series, but I first want to talk about second-round pick Sean Davis, who is more likely to see playing time than Artie Burns, their first-round cornerback.
While Burns took a few reps here and there with the first-team defense, I believe he is going to be deemed too raw and too far down the depth chart for him to log much time on defense during his rookie season. The case for Davis, the safety with cornerback experience, however, would seem to be different.
While William Gay and Ross Cockrell have largely manned the starting outside cornerback spots for the Steelers during the spring, Senquez Golson is expected to see his time in the slot, but Davis is another player who could find time there. He was running in that spot even while Golson was healthy.
The Steelers also found themselves intrigued by the ability to line up with three safeties last season in the quarter defense, late last year, taking Lawrence Timmons off the field in doing so. Davis, in other words, doesn’t need to start in order to get on the field.
But he does need to show competence in the scheme, and his getting plenty of work at safety and in the nickel slot position during the spring is a good start with that in mind, which could enable him to see time in either five- or six-defensive-back sub-packages.
His size and athleticism, combined with his ample willingness to tackle, should tempt the coaching staff to get him on the field, no doubt, but he is still somewhat raw in his own right, though not so raw as Burns by any means.
Davis was no more than mediocre playing at cornerback last season, but the experience should aid him in covering running backs and tight ends. Covering tight ends in particular was an area in which the defense struggled, and asking a rookie to help plug that gap is a tall order.