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Devil’s Advocate: Competition For Third 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 will be the Steelers’ top backup safety in 2017?

We have come to expect over the years the simple fact that at some point during the season, the Steelers are going to use their third safety due to injury. It’s seemingly been a while since they have had both of their safeties make it healthy through an entire year. So this question is annually relevant.

When the 2017 season kicks off, who will the team’s third safety be? Right now, there are three options with varying degrees of experience and familiarity. There’s Robert Golden, who’s been here and played the longest. There’s Jordan Dangerfield, who finally made the roster last year and started a couple of games. And there’s the free agent, Daimion Stafford, who played under Dick LeBeau in Tennessee and was used in sub-packages.

Each of them offers their strengths and weaknesses, so they’re worth exploring.

On the positive side for Golden, he has grown into a sure tackler and has the athleticism to match up in coverage. He knows the defense, yet he doesn’t always seem on the same page. He’s been put into some tough positions over the years and has failed in high-profile moments as a result, tainting his perception.

As for Dangerfield, he certainly values his spot on the 53 as well as anybody, considering how long it took to earn. Quite frankly, he looked pretty good in his couple of starts a year ago. He is aggressive in the box, but one has to wonder how he would hold up over the long term working away from the line of scrimmage.

And last, there is Stafford, who as the new guy tends to be the favorite. But the new toy isn’t always as shiny as it seems. While he has played in that third safety role, he hasn’t necessarily excelled. He has a tendency to have weight problems, and at least one beat writer has not been impressed with his work in coverage so far.

There is still a lot to determine here and I think this is a fairly open competition. Golden was the starter last year but Dangerfield took some snaps ahead of him by the end of the season after he was demoted. Stafford has played in the league in a familiar system, but there’s a reason he was available.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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