When a team drafts you in the first round, you have to be aware that the plan is for you to start eventually. No team is going to use a first-round pick on a player that they do not believe is capable of developing into a starter, even if it may take a year or two of development.
All of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ selections in the first round have at some point or another been a full-time starter, though most recently, Jarvis Jones proved to be a bust. 2017 first-round pick T.J. Watt is coming off a very successful rookie season, however. The 2017 season Pro Bowl featured five former first-round picks of the Steelers.
So one would think that Terrell Edmunds understands this. And he does. But he’s not taking it for granted that he will be a starter someday. The Steelers made sure to insulate themselves this offseason from the need to have him start right away with the free agency addition of Morgan Burnett.
That doesn’t stop him from thinking about it while he runs with the second-team defense in the spring, however.
“I definitely have the mindset that one day I could possibly be the top guy around here”, he told Kevin Gorman. “Now I’m with the ‘twos’ but you never know when you might be the top guy so you’ve got to stay prepared”.
He is coming off a practice in which he dropped a couple of potential interceptions. But getting potential interceptions means that you at least made a play on the ball. He is making progress, to be sure, and Burnett himself had some high praise for him.
“You’ve got to push the older guys to be the best players they can be”, Edmunds continued. “That’s going to build up the team the right way. We’re all coming together. We’re all brothers. We’re trying to push each other so that’s what we’re doing”.
That is how it works under ideal scenarios. A team has an established starter that is either entering the final phase of his career or is destined for free agency because he has played too well for the team to afford him. So they draft a player who can develop under the established player and take over when necessary.
It hasn’t been as easy in recent years for the Steelers, or anybody, to accomplish this, for a number of reasons, though part of it is just the desire for teams to get their young players on the field faster to maximize their value. They are also more frequently NFL-ready today coming out of school.
In the meantime, Edmunds is just looking forward to being able to practice in pads and enter that next phase of his career path. “I’m ready for that. I haven’t had the pads on for awhile, so it’s time to go out and hit somebody”, he said.