The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Terrell Edmunds will grow into a quality starter in his second season.
Explanation: Last year’s first-round pick, Edmunds was not drafted to start immediately, but that is what ended up happening as the byproduct of multiple injuries suffered by Morgan Burnett, which contributed to his release earlier this offseason. The rookie was initially in over his head but smoothed out as the season progressed.
I think there is a good chance of this happening based on the manner in which he closed out his rookie season, with the vast majority of the better games of his rookie year coming at the end of the year. He played with a lot more confidence and a lot fewer mistakes, though there were still issues in that regard.
Edmunds is a very talented player with both good size and athleticism. There is certainly nothing in his physical profile indicating that he cannot perform at a high level in the very near future. He does seem to show some tendencies that suggest he has an instinct for the game. If those can be developed and accentuated, then there is reason to believe that he can be a quality player, not just down the road, but as early as this season.
Still, even though he showed growth over the course of the year, he has a long way to go before he can really place himself in that category, and he is even behind some of his draft classmates such as Jessie Bates, who had a much better and more complete rookie season.
He doesn’t lack for size, yet he doesn’t always play up to it, and this was often seen in his run fills, particularly when he had a one-on-one opportunity with the running back in the hole. Increased physicality doesn’t necessarily come just from a greater understanding of what you’re doing out there.
The reality is that he has a lot to show in every phase of the game. Can he be a competent run defender? Can he hold up consistently enough in coverage when really stressed? Can he be a solid blitzer? We don’t have affirmative answers to any of these questions yet, and there weren’t enough signs from his rookie season to say that it can be safely projected for this year.