It’s pedigree be damned for Terrell Edmunds, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and one of three brothers who are currently in the NFL, sons of a former Pro Bowl tight end. It doesn’t matter what his draft status tells you. It doesn’t matter what his genes tell you. They don’t matter on the field.
He knows it. His head coach, Mike Tomlin, knows it. They both talked about it this weekend. Being a top pick or having family in the game isn’t going to make your plays for you out on the field, so Edmunds isn’t very interested in talking about those things right now. He just wants to get to work.
“I don’t really look at myself as that first-round pick because if you have that mentality, somebody else is going to outwork you”, he told Kevin Gorman during the Steelers’ three-day rookie minicamp, which was held over the course of this weekend.
“I pride myself on my work ethic. I try to put on display how hard I work, how hard I go each and every play so that’s the person I want to be looked at as. I don’t want to be looked at as a first-round draft pick. I want to be looked at as a guy that puts his all out there every play”.
Edmunds does come from a hardworking lineage, so you can’t completely sever the connection between pedigree and performance, of course. It was the lessons instilled into himself and his brothers by veteran NFL tight end Ferrell Edmunds, as well as his mother, that shape the work ethic of which he speaks.
And while he called it a blessing to be part of draft history when he and his younger brother Tremaine Edmunds became the first siblings to be drafted in the first round of the same draft, neither he nor Tomlin give it much thought when it comes to watching him on the field.
“He’s no different than anyone else in that that unique relationship is not going to help him make plays out here”, Tomlin said of the fraternal dynamic. “I’m sure at night he’s having good, familiar conversations with a guy that’s in a very similar position. But out here, he’s got to make the plays and I’m sure he and everyone understands that”.
It’s good that he has the talent to justify having been a first-round draft pick. It’s good that he comes from both a current and prior football lineage, a body of resources to consult. But it’s also good that he doesn’t assume these things give him a leg up.
He’s no different from any other inexperienced safety right now, outside of being given more chances to fail by the coaching staff, of course. He still has to prove himself and justify his spot on the team. He has to make good on that pedigree. It doesn’t live up to itself. He must do that himself.