With nine picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the opportunity to address almost every position on the roster, and they only doubled up on one position, taking inside linebacker Ulysees Grant III after adding Devin Bush in the first round. If there is one glaring omission that was not addressed, however, it would have to be safety, where the team only has four players on the roster who are true to the position, all returning from last season’s roster.
Understandably, Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about that after the draft and whether he was comfortable with the names and numbers they have at the position that allowed them to exit the draft without adding additional personnel to the spot.
“We’ll allow those guys to sort themselves out”, he said. “We’re comfortable with the number of people that we have working”. The Steelers return starters Sean Davis and 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, as well as veteran Jordan Dangerfield and second-year Marcus Allen.
Prior to that question, Tomlin specifically discussed Allen, a fifth-round pick on whom the team was rather high in the pre-draft process, and mentioned that he is a primary candidate to work into some sub-package play in 2019 as the dimebacker. In following up the previous remarks, he also brought up the position flexibility they believe they have in the secondary, specifically referencing Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton.
“We’re also comfortable with the versatility of some of the corners. You’ve seen Cam Sutton play some safety. You’ve seen Mike Hilton play safety on our football team in the past”, Tomlin said. “I’m sure there are others who are capable as well. So, we’re comfortable, not only with our numbers, but with the flexibility of others that may not be quote on quote safeties”.
Brian Allen, heading into his third year, is another potential candidate to work at safety that has been kicked around in the past. But Hilton and Sutton have worked there in practice. Hilton even at one point last season hinted that he would be the second-string free safety, over Morgan Burnett, if Davis were to suffer an injury.
So the Steelers exit the primary roster-building portion of the offseason without addressing an area in which they are thin on paper, yet nonetheless they express confidence in both the names and numbers they have available to them.
It’s also worth noting that the defensive backs that they got from the Alliance of American Football, Jack Tocho and Kameron Kelly, are safety-capable, and given the makeup of the roster there’s a reasonable chance they will get the opportunities to work there.