Just as James Washington showed up on NFL.com’s “breakout” list, Gil Brandt is predicted a big season ahead for Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds showed up on a list of nine defensive backs poised for a breakout year. Regarding the Steelers’ sophomore safety, Brandt writes:
“Edmunds was projected by most people to be a second-round pick, but the Steelers jumped up and snagged the safety — and he proceeded to play 1,189 snaps (including special teams), which was more than any other rookie in 2018, while proving he warranted the use of that first-round choice. The brother of fellow first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds, Terrell stepped in for injured safety Morgan Burnett early in the year and never looked back, collecting the second-most tackles on the team (78). That said, Edmunds finished the year with just one interception and zero forced fumbles. The hope is that both Edmunds and defensive back Sean Davis can generate more impact plays under the tutelage of new staffer Teryl Austin, the former Lions and Bengals defensive coordinator.”
A fair assessment of his rookie year though at the risk of being pedantic, Edmunds played the second most snaps of any rookie. The Colts’ Quenton Nelson played slightly more, finished with 1215. But the point functions the same. He played a lot more than anyone on the Steelers expected or planned for. Morgan Burnett missed most of the start of the year with an injury and by the time he got back into the lineup, the team opted to roll with the same starting lineup.
As we’ve written about in the past, while it was far from a magical rookie season, he improved as the season went on and seemed to avoid the dreaded rookie wall. His physicality and tackling picked up too. Now, as Brandt notes, the defense will look for more splash in his game. Edmunds created just one turnover last season, taking advantage of a Ryan Fitzpatrick overthrow in the Week 3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He’ll also be compared to another safety Pittsburgh could’ve drafted and expressed interest in before taking Edmunds. Brandt includes the Cincinnati Bengals’ FS Jessie Bates as part of his nine. Bates had a better season from a box score perspective. In 16 starts, he racked up a whopping 111 tackles, broke up seven passes, and intercepted another three.
It’s a big year for both of the Steelers’ starting safeties. Edmunds will be counted on to make the anticipated Year Two jump. Opposite of him sits Sean Davis. We wrote earlier in the week how critical 2019 is for him.