On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran free agent safety Morgan Burnett to a three-year contract and judging by the early numbers that have already surfaced, it appears as though he’ll man one the two starting spots for at least the next two years. Because of that, and combined with the fact that the team’s other starting safety, Sean Davis, a former second-round draft pick, is now entering just his third-year in the league, you really have to wonder now if the Steelers will ultimately draft yet another safety this year in the first-round.
Make no mistake, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert hates passing up very talented players in any round of any draft regardless of the position that they play, but in addition to that, Pittsburgh now likes to get their early-round draft picks on the field and contributing at the position they were drafted to play as soon as possible.
Should the Steelers ultimately select a safety such as Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison, Stanford’s Justin Reid, or Wake Forest Jessie Bates III 28th overall in the first-round of this year’s draft, it’s hard to speculate as to how any of them will be able to get on the field during their first two seasons in Pittsburgh outside of special teams, barring, of course, injuries to either Burnett or Davis. Surely the Steelers haven’t given up on Davis already, right? Do you see where my line of thinking is going with this? Would Colbert draft a safety in the first-round that could potentially only play mostly on special team his first two years in the league?
Before any of you argue that the same line of thinking could be applied to the inside linebacker position now that the Steelers have signed Jon Bostic to a two-year contract, please keep in mind that his early contract numbers that are being reported should in no way prevent him from being able to be bypassed on the depth chart at any point during the 2018 regular season. Sure, he’s likely to be the Steelers starting inside linebacker alongside Vince Williams come Week 1 of the regular season, but how long will he be able to hold that job?
If bypassed by a rookie inside linebacker in 2018, Bostic would still be a very affordable, solid backup and special teams contributor, at worst. On top of that Bostic argument is that fact that if an inside linebacker were drafted early this year, that player could potentially overtake Williams’ spot on the depth chart as well, either this season or next. Remember, Williams is now in the final year of his current contract.
Mind you, in no way am I attempting to say that the Steelers shouldn’t or won’t draft a safety in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, I’m just trying to fathom how they would be able to get that player on the field at any point during his rookie season, and perhaps even his second season as well. Personally, I’d still like to see a player such as Reid or Bates ultimately drafted by Steelers this year, but barring the team already giving up on Davis, or thinking that Burnett might just be a one-and-done addition, I wonder if either young player might ultimately have to sit and learn a good while.
I’m sure several of you will have good counter arguments to what I am trying to convey in this post and for those of you who argue that drafting a quarterback in the first-round this year could ultimately be an even longer sit and wait situation than safety would be, it’s important to remember that franchise players at that position do not grow on trees. That should give you fans of the Steelers drafting, let’s say, Mason Rudolph, in the first-round this year, a glimmer of hope.
Let me end this post by saying that now that the Steelers have signed Burnett for the kind of money that’s being reporting that I am a little less sure that this year’s first-round selection will wind up being a safety than I was Sunday night. Instead, I am now leaning more to it possibly being an inside linebacker, or gasp, maybe even an edge-rusher, because you can never have too many good ones, in my honest opinion.
What say you?