While the Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Texas defensive back P.J. Locke officially as a safety, the reality is that those things can often change. Roosevelt Nix was signed as a linebacker initially, after all. But Locke believes that he is capable of playing all over the field, and like Sutton Smith is willing to show it.
Locke, one of a couple of notable safeties to sign with the Steelers after the draft following seven rounds of only one defensive back—cornerback Justin Layne—being added to the roster, told Chris Adamski all about his confidence in his versatility.
“I believe I can play anything – I kind of have experience at every position”, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And he did play both safety and cornerback, and even linebacker, going back to high school, playing a more blended role in college.
“I just feel comfortable at every position”, he said, “so I think it helps me more because I know certain things that nickel has to do, I know certain things linebacker has to do. So when I get put back at safety, I kind of know what holes are open and things like that”.
Former Steelers defensive back Carnell Lake also believed that his experience playing a variety of positions—he moved from linebacker to safety when he was drafted and then also later played cornerback at the NFL level—helped him with his global understanding of the defense, and of the game itself, which eventually led him into coaching.
But of course Locke isn’t looking to get into coaching any time soon. He wants to be on an NFL roster later this fall and bringing down running backs, tight ends, wide receivers—whoever might have the ball that he is tasked to stop.
While that versatility in his background can certainly be an asset—and working with Ryan Clark as a mentor won’t hurt either—the best thing playing in his favor for the Steelers might just be the numbers game, as the team only really had four safeties on the roster prior to the draft. They carried six into the season a year ago, and often have five, so you have to figure there is an opportunity for somebody there if they earn it.
Sean Davis is the biggest name at the position right now, a player entering his fourth season who has started for most of his career, but alongside him his 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, who started for nearly all of his rookie season.
Then there is Marcus Allen, another second-year player looking to make a jump, who may get the first crack at the dimeback job, and Jordan Dangerfield is a veteran who has been around for over half a decade in some form or fashion. Locke could be a welcome addition if he earns his way.