The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Artie Burns
Experience: 1 Year
When the Steelers first came away with Artie Burns in the first round, it felt to many like a reach and an act of desperation after they just missed out on the player that it was later acknowledged was their target at the cornerback position, and they needed to come out of the round with one of their own.
Burns was sort of the last cornerback in the top tier, however, so it was not an opportunity that they could have afforded to pass on, and it’s not clear that they could have traded back and still had the chance to draft him. One team traded back after the Steelers picked him.
Even still, it was anticipated that Burns would largely be serving an apprenticeship during his rookie season, and perhaps he would have if Senquez Golson had been healthy and locked down the slot cornerback role.
Instead, William Gay started on the outside and moved into the slot after they tried Sean Davis there. That resulted in them bringing in Burns in the nickel on the boundary, and while he certainly made more than his share of mistakes, he also proved that he could be a contributor.
He did intercept three passes and added another 13 pass deflections on the season, demonstrating that he has some ballhawking abilities that the defense has been lacking for a number of years now—and which was no doubt one of the reasons that they accelerated his transition into the lineup.
While he worked as a nickel player for about the first half of the season or so leading up to the bye week, Burns started during the second half of the season. He had some significant issues in games against the Ravens, Cowboys, and Dolphins, but he also made plays along the way and demonstrated the potential for growth.
He has shown a willingness to tackle, but it is still an aspect of his game that he needs to work on. Discipline is perhaps his biggest project to tackle. The more quickly that he grows into understanding the defense and his role in it, the more quickly the Steelers can become a more versatile and flexible defense.