Ok, the headline has hopefully grabbed you. And I know what your immediate next thought is going to be. Of course Mike Tomlin is going to say that. I’m write there with you. But if it’s coming from the boss man’s mouth, it is notable.
Tomlin indicated to USA Today’s Michael Stern that the team’s top two draft picks are in the mix for this year’s starting lineup.
“I believe it’s realistic,” Tomlin told Stern. “That’s why we chose them where we chose them. But they have to earn it, and we’ll give them the opportunity to do that.”
Again, this is what you would expect from any coach and especially one like Tomlin, who rarely is absolute and loves to create competition within the room. We’ve said all offseason that Sean Davis is the most likely one of the two to start though beating out Robert Golden is no given. Golden knows this system, is a highly conditioned athlete, and performed admirably in his three starts last year while mixing into the team’s dime package.
Camp will help tell this story but it isn’t impossible to see Davis and Golden on the field, whether that comes in nickel with Davis seeing work in the slot or an increase in dime snaps, likely again seeing Davis in the slot or within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.
Artie Burns is locked in at playing as an outside cornerbacks. The notion that he’ll be a “boundary” corner, something oft-repeated from different people, is pretty silly. The NFL, with its more narrow hashes, doesn’t have boundaries the way college football does. He’ll have to beat out Ross Cockrell and/or Senquez Golson for one of those outside spots. With his lack of experience, and need to adjust to the team’s scheme, that doesn’t look likely to happen out of the gate.
The situation in the secondary is one of my top priorities for the start of camp. Clearly, it’s an unsettled situation. But we can start putting an end to the speculation and examine what is actually happening in just a few days.