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Devil’s Advocate: Safety Net At Safety

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Who should the Steelers’ top reserve safety be?

It was reported yesterday that Steelers starting safety Sean Davis underwent surgery at some point during the offseason. Though he was at at least some level of participation during the first day of OTAs yesterday, I couldn’t help myself but to ponder the question of what would take place should he be injured when it mattered.

In order words, who would be the Steelers’ top reserve safety when they enter the 2017 season? The team opened the 2016 season with Robert Golden in the starting lineup, but by the end of the year Jordan Dangerfield was taking snaps over him.

The team has since then done little to bolster the group, so it figures to be one of the two. Golden obviously has the greater amount of experience, though Dangerfield has been around for a while, and he started a couple of games last season and played pretty well.

To Golden’s advantage is the fact that he is the more athletic of the two. He is also the more experienced of the two, but that hasn’t prevented the occasional communication lapse while he has been in the game.

Dangerfield is a big hitter and more of a box safety who can play well when he is coming downhill, either against the run or coming in to defend short passes over the middle, something that he showed in his start against the Chiefs. But he has limited experience, limited range, and limited athleticism.

The Steelers just last season clearly held the belief that Golden was capable of being a starter, and they signed him to a three-year deal in the offseason knowing that he would probably serve as a bridge starter. But he did lose his starting role near midseason, and after that even lost the spot of top backup, ostensibly. It’s hard to say right now how much of a factor that will be in September.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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