Wide receiver to continue replacing Antonio Brown? Yup, still a need. Inside linebacker? Oh yeah, top of the board. Tight end? Mike Tomlin’s all but confirmed it. All positions you’re going to see the Pittsburgh Steelers address in April’s draft.
But when you’re assessing team needs, don’t forget about safety. And I’m not just talking about the dimebacker position though yes, that’s an area this team has to fix in a big way. You can’t trot out Robert Golden, William Gay, and Morgan Burnett like the team has the last four years – excuse me while I cringe at those names – and expect to be successful in what’s now your most prominent package.
Put that aside and think about plain ol’ safety depth. The dudes behind Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds. Sure, a dimebacker could be a backup at one of those spots. But what about free safety? Who is Davis’ backup?
The only two reserves on the roster, assuming Burnett’s release, are Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen. Dangerfield is a great story, the one you point to at the start of every preseason, an example of how every player on the 90 man roster truly has a chance. He bounced on and off the roster, dealt with injury, release, and cut his teeth on special teams. That earned him a backup job, spot start, and next man up when there was enough injuries to demand it. But can you do better? Definitely, especially at a position like free safety. Danger is better suited at strong.
Allen is in a similar boat, not a free safety by any means, with a much lighter resume. He’s yet to even earn the coaches trust on special teams and outside of the Los Angeles Chargers game, a schematic nightmare, hasn’t played in this defense.
Options are limited. Double-dipping often ends up just being a value game, not something done intentionally, but with ten picks and the need at dime and depth, safety is a position you can reasonably expect the Steelers to invest heavily in, just as they did last year with Edmunds and Allen. Judging by Colbert’s comments in previewing the draft, he seems to like the depth in the secondary.
“Defensively, really the secondary, there are a significant number in the secondary, both at safety and corner.”
Besides, this secondary – again – needs a facelift. Infusion of new talent, playmakers, the future of the secondary. That’s how the team attempted to upgrade over the last three seasons, getting rid of nearly everyone prior, even if the results have been mixed. It’s time to do it again.