Many people didn’t expect Terrell Edmunds to be drafted in the first round. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t expect him to be a starter basically all season. If you include his work on special teams, though, only a few players in the NFL have spent more time on the field than has the rookie safety in 2018.
That is largely why he was the recipient of the Steelers’ Rookie of the Year Award as the standout performer of this year’s rookie class. He hasn’t made a ton of splash plays, but he has grown more and more solid with each passing week and has been a consistent presence.
Part of the reason he has been able to do that is because he knows how to take care of his body. The Steelers don’t often have rookies play wall to wall, especially on defense, but they have had one in each of the past two seasons and they have been able to go the distance probably largely because they come from football families and so knew what they would be getting into.
When Edmunds was asked about how he avoided hitting the proverbial ‘rookie wall’, he said, “I honestly don’t know. Just the guys in the DB room, we always talk about we can’t let up. Even if a play happens, we have to come back even stronger the next play, because people are going to make plays in the league because everybody’s a pro”.
While he talked about his reliance upon the veterans in the room, from Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis to Joe Haden and others, he did say that it’s physical as well. “I just keep on fighting each day in practices, work hard in practices, just getting the extra sprints in, and that’s just how I overcame that”.
Edmunds has hardly missed a snap since the bye week, and that includes his consistent presence on the punt coverage unit. He is credited with 73 tackles on the season along with an interception, four passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. His pass defensed against the Los Angeles Chargers was a big one that very nearly was a forced fumble instead.
“It was a big transition”, he said, to move from the college level to the pros, but it wasn’t just down to the practicalities. “I actually tore my labrum in my shoulder, so just overcoming that adversity, just coming over that, and then just being selected in the first round and going through rookie minicamp and everything, it was just a transition, but it was something that you had to overcome”, he said.
“I had a lot of veteran guys here that helped me in the process, so them taking me under their wing, and Coach T and everybody on the team, everybody coming together and believing in each other, that just really helped me out this whole season”.
The Steelers are going to expect Edmunds to grow leaps and bounds this offseason and hopefully emerge as a dynamic playmaker in 2019. They need him to be able to produce splash plays while being a consistent and reliable force. He has gotten better over the course of the season, certainly, but the 21-year-old still has plenty of room for improvement.