The Pittsburgh Steelers added or promoted three coaches this offseason. They have a pretty long history under Head Coach Mike Tomlin of immediately giving coaches in such circumstances reinforcements at their positions, and this offseason has certainly been no exception to that rule.
After choosing to move on from James Saxon as their running backs coach, Tomlin elected to bring in former NC State tight end, special teams, and many other roles coach Eddie Faulkner to replace him. They brought in one of his players, Jaylen Samuels, a year ago. In the 2019 NFL Draft, they added Benny Snell in the fourth round to his stable.
Tomlin wanted to expand the coaching branch in the secondary this season, adding veteran coach Teryl Austin to Tom Bradley, who was brought in in 2018. The Steelers gave him a cornerback in the third round in Justin Layne, and it was he who came out to discuss the pick. Of course, they also added Steven Nelson in free agency as a brand new starter.
Then there was Shaun Sarrett, who has been an assistant offensive line coach since 2012 with the Steelers. With Mike Munchak parting for the Denver Broncos, Sarrett was promoted to the lead role in that platoon.
Even though Pittsburgh is already very deep along the offensive line, even going down to its practice squad players and getting people back from injuries, they still found room to add Derwin Gray in the seventh round, a possible inside-outside candidate who might groom on the practice squad for a year.
You can even throw in Keith Butler, the team’s defensive coordinator, who will also coach the outside linebackers this season after Tomlin chose not to renew Joey Porter’s contract. The Steelers drafted Sutton Smith in the sixth round, who was an undersized defensive end in college and who should at least spend some time coming off the edge at the professional level.
It should be acknowledged that giving your new coaches, or coaches in new or different roles, reinforcements is easier to do when you have a wealth of extra draft picks, and the Steelers ultimately added nine new players through the draft, so they didn’t necessarily have to go above and beyond for Faulkner, Austin, and the like.
Still, it’s not bad policy to try to do whatever you can to ensure that your newest employees get off on the right foot. Last year, when they brought in Bradley, they gave him Terrell Edmunds in the first round and Marcus Allen in the fifth. Karl Dunbar got one of his own players in Joshua Frazier (and another this year in Isaiah Buggs). Darryl Drake also got James Washington in 2018, and they continued to bolster the wide receiver room with Donte Moncrief in free agency and Diontae Johnson in the third round.