Devil’s Advocate: Golden Stays 3rd 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: Will Robert Golden be the third safety for the Steelers when the regular season begins?

Leading up to the start of the 2015 season, Robert Golden, a former undrafted free agent, was no better than fourth on the depth chart, even after the retirement of Troy Polamalu. Ahead of him were Mike Mitchell, implanted starter Shamarko Thomas, and veteran backup Will Allen.

Allen went on to usurp Thomas in the starting lineup by the start of the regular season, and Thomas descended so low that Golden passed him. Even when Allen missed most of four games, Golden was the one to take his place. So when they moved on from Allen a year ago, Golden entered the starting lineup.

But he lost his starting job around mid-season, and by the end of the year he was running behind Jordan Dangerfield. Not that a third safety was used frequently—usually an injury fill-in for a couple of snaps—but those are snaps Golden lost out on to Dangerfield.

But with Sean Davis currently taking it easy recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, it has been Golden running with Mitchell and the first-team offense, so it would seem that he has retained—or regained—his status in the pecking order.

A lot could happen between now and the start of the regular season, however, as Thomas learned. He was starter during the preseason only to have the rug pulled out from under him prior to the start of the games that counted.

The Steelers recently brought in Daimion Stafford, who has more experience than does Golden in playing that specific third safety role. More of a zone safety with size, he seems to make sense on paper for that sort of role. Even if Golden stays ahead of Dangerfield, he could ultimately lose out to Stafford on the depth chart as well.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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