There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum hundreds upon hundreds of new players under the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve.
With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.
As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.
Asset: S Sean Davis
Roster Vulnerability: Zero
Role Vulnerability: Low
The chances are quite slim that Sean Davis might lose his job, either for the start of the 2018 season or by the end of it. But those chances are not zero. While I would be floored if he somehow ended up off the roster entirely, I could foresee a scenario in which he loses his starting job at some point during the season.
I think this becomes even more likely if the Steelers manage to draft a safety in the draft that they feel comfortable as the prototypical coverage free safety, which Davis is expected by most to transition to following the acquisition of Morgan Burnett.
The ninth-year former Green Bay Packers safety profiles as more of a strong safety, particularly at this point in his career. There is some interchangeability between the strong and free safety spots, but they are not entirely the same thing, and it would be another change in Davis’ young career.
The third-year player had some significant periods in which he struggled last season, and of particular concern is the number of tackles that he has missed. This could be an even bigger issue as the last line of defense at free safety than at strong.
The possibility of this even happening though is predicated upon Pittsburgh being able to land one of the top prospects at the position in the upcoming draft a couple of weeks from now. It’s unclear if the position will even represent value when they pick in the first round.
Still, Davis’ inability to find consistency in his play during the first two seasons of his career does mean that he should not proceed as though he has job security. He is the obvious favorite to start and will likely be given every opportunity to retain his job, but the possibility of him falling out of the starting lineup exists.