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: It’s time to be concerned about Terrell Edmunds.
Explanation: The Steelers used their first-round pick to draft Terrell Edmunds at safety last year, the third off the board. He has started 17 of 18 career games so far and has shown great durability. He has made a handful of plays, but has perhaps given up just as many. He flashed the potential to take a big step forward in year two, but key mistakes and losses in individual matchups in the first two games have been significant moments for the team in the early goings of 2019.
It was widely felt when the Steelers drafted Edmunds that he wasn’t actually a first-round talent, and some of the safeties who were drafted after him have so far had a better start to their career, such as Jessie Bates, taken by the Cincinnati Bengals.
While it’s evident that he is playing faster and thinking less so far this year, which has allowed him to be closer to the ball, both in coverage and against the run, and he has indeed made some notable plays, the primary responsibility of the safety position is to be the last line of defense, and he has had too many breakdowns in that regard not to express some level of concern. It’s not readily apparent that such issues are easily improved upon.
Sunday will mark the third different free safety that Edmunds has paired with in three games this season. Kameron Kelly started the opener because Sean Davis was injured. Davis returned for the second game, but left injured, and now Minkah Fitzpatrick has been brought in.
With so much change around him—and there has been significant turnover at cornerback and inside linebacker as well—it’s understandable if there have been some communication breakdowns in that span.
That will improve over time as things settle down. Individually, he hasn’t been bad at all. Even on the touchdown that he allowed playing one-on-one against D.K. Metcalf, a position the defense shouldn’t put him in in the first place, it took a very good throw to get the ball over the top of him. He also had a great pass defensed working against a wide receiver one-on-one elsewhere in that game. He’ll be fine in the long run.