A lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans are having a difficult time figuring out the team’s decision to draft a second safety in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft after adding two in free agency and selecting another in the first round. To hear the brass talk about it, however, it was perhaps the easiest selection of the day.
In a near-complete makeover of the safety position, the Steelers released Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden in the offseason and signed Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe to take their places. They also used their first-round pick on Thursday on safety Terrell Edmunds, who will be worked into the quarters defense along with Burnett and Sean Davis initially.
But then when they made their first pick on the third day of the draft a third of the way into the fifth round, they went back to the safety position with Penn State’s Marcus Allen, a heavy hitter who weighed in at nearly 220 pounds.
“The safety group was a nice group, and when Marcus was still available in the fifth round, we felt that we really liked his physicality”, General Manager Kevin Colbert said in his opening comments yesterday during his and Mike Tomlin’s post-draft press conference.
“Marcus is a guy that knocks people backwards when he hits them and he does it very often. So to add a kid like him at the fifth round, even though we had taken one in the first, it was a pretty easy pick because he was clearly the highest-rated guy we had left at that point”.
Tomlin also spoke to the same sentiment later on during the press conference, again talking about the qualities that he liked in each of the safeties that they drafted. While noting that they obviously liked more in Edmunds, he offered, “to have Allen at the time that he was available, it was an easy decision for us just because we respect the player that he is, position discussions aside”.
Many pre-draft evaluations had Allen as a late-second to early-third-day selection, so to have been able to draft him with the 148th-overall pick certainly represents value, even if it is difficult to see how he might be able to find a fit on the defensive side of the ball in a group that already has Davis, Burnett, and Edmunds ahead of him at the very least.
But he possesses a lot of the traits that the Steelers coveted in this draft when looking on the defensive side of the ball, heavy hitter who are or are capable of being sure tacklers and who play with great physicality.
For the team, drafting Allen was all about value, adding a prospect that they liked quite a bit even if there were other areas of the team that they could have addressed in that slot. He was easily the highest player on their board, so the decision made itself in their eyes.