Much of the conversation today between Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and local media revolved around the hypothetical of the draft. You’re not going to get many concrete answers because frankly, there aren’t many. And the few that do exist, well, the Steelers ain’t sharing that kind of stuff.
The most concrete answer given came in the last question when Tomlin was asked who he believes will open up as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting free safety this spring. His answer? Morgan Burnett.
“I’d imagine it’s going to be Burnett,” Tomlin said. “But we hadn’t decided yet. He’s played a lot of ball. He’s started more than most. But again, it’s not about how we start. Everybody will be given an opportunity to show where they’re capable of contributing. Maybe Morgan ends up at strong safety, Sean Davis at free.”
To be clear, Tomlin left that door open, as the quote indicates, saying Burnett may wind up playing strong. But it’s worth noting because many had the expectation of Sean Davis transitioning to free safety and Burnett playing strong. That doesn’t seem to be the team’s initial plans.
Keeping Davis in his strong safety spot is a good thing for his development. Pittsburgh has admitted moving him around and trying to do too much with him hurt Davis early in his career. Playing free safety would essentially be his third position in three years after beginning his career in the slot, then to strong safety, and then the theorized move to free.
But Burnett isn’t an ideal centerfielder at his age. He’s at his best, as we wrote about in our scouting report after he signed, between the hashes and defending short to intermediate routes, not playing the deep safety role. Moving Burnett there would be a better version of Mike Mitchell. Dependable as a tackler, a good communicator, but not going to offer much in the form of splash plays as an average to slightly below average athlete.
Could that mean the Steelers are looking at a FS in the draft? It’s hard to say. And of course, as Tomlin would probably point out if he was reading this, nothing is etched in stone.