The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who is most likely to break the Steelers’ eight-season streak of having no players with four or more interceptions?
As we brought to you yesterday, the Steelers are in the middle of a historic drought as it pertains to rostering defensive players who are able to take the ball away in bunches. No player aside from Troy Polamalu, who did it twice, has recorded four or more interceptions in decades, and the last time he did it was in 2010.
Is there anybody you would be on doing it this year? There are a couple of players on the roster who have done it elsewhere. Joe Haden did it with the Cleveland Browns a number of years ago and went to the Pro Bowl, though he only has three interceptions in his two seasons with the Steelers. Steven Nelson recorded four interceptions with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, but didn’t have any in his first three seasons.
Free safety Sean Davis came close, picking off three passes in 2017 while playing strong safety, but he had just one last year. Terrell Edmunds is now the free safety. He had one interception as a rookie and was not a turnover machine in college. Mike Hilton has three career interceptions and the one he had last year was off of a deflected pass.
That covers the entire starting secondary, though you can throw in Artie Burns, who recorded three interceptions as a rookie. Devin Bush hardly produced any turnovers in college, but then again, Ryan Shazier didn’t have many either and he developed that at this level. Then there’s Mark Barron, who intercepted three passes in 2017.
If you had to choose from any of them—or any other Steelers defender—as the most likely to end the Steelers’ drought this year, whom would you choose? Personally, I would learn toward Haden. He should be more comfortable and healthier than ever before in Pittsburgh this year. Davis would be my number two candidate in his second season adjusting to free safety.