The best way to build a roster, bar none, is to hit on your first-round picks. That is the bedrock of just about any great organization. It’s certainly not the only important factor, but generally speaking, your first-round picks are the ones who are going to develop into the foundational players of your franchise.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ track record in that regard has grown more spotty in recent years, with busts in 2013 and 2016 with Jarvis Jones at outside linebacker and Artie Burns at cornerback, respectively. Bud Dupree, another outside linebacker from 2015, isn’t a bust, but certainly appears to fall short of the mark with respect to his pedigree.
Since 2016, however, the Steelers are likely to go three-for-three with day-one starters on defense, starting with yet another outside linebacker, T.J. Watt, in 2019. 2019 first-round pick Devin Bush has a good chance of starting this year from the get-go as well.
In between those two linebackers was Terrell Edmunds, the safety out of Virginia Tech. He wasn’t supposed to start, but ended up doing so due to the health of their intended starter, Morgan Burnett. He took his lumps and grew throughout the year. Now he comes into his second season with bigger ambitions. Not just for his own play, but for his defense.
“Last year we were Top 10” on the defensive side of the ball, Edmunds told the team’s website during OTAs recently. “This year we want to be the best. We are working on being the best. We are trying to make turnovers. Last year we didn’t do what we wanted to do, what we are capable of doing”.
The Steelers had just eight interceptions last year, and Edmunds had one of them, coming in Week Four against the Baltimore Ravens. He and the team will be looking for him to bump that number up. Everybody in the secondary will be coming for the football, and at least trying to do a better job of catching the ones that hit their hands.
“We want to get more interceptions, be comfortable with the ball in our hand”, he went on. “That is a big emphasis. Going after the ball. Having it in our hands even if it’s a pass breakup. We have the mentality of we have to have the ball when it’s in the air. It’s ours”.
Of course that’s easier said than done. It’s not like that isn’t something that gets discussed every offseason. There is a perpetual desire to turn the ball over even better than you had the year prior, even if you did it well then.
The 2019 secondary, though, does have the potential to be the most talented the Steelers have fielded in several years. Will that translate to better play, and more plays made?