The Pittsburgh Steelers’ complete list of backup inside linebackers, heading into the 2020 NFL Draft:
Ulysees Gilbert III
Christian Kuntz (kind of)
Complete list of their backup safeties:
Arrion Springs (kind of)
Are the Steelers trying to add one of their starting safeties to their list of inside linebacker depth? One notion that was floated around in the pre-draft process was that the team was open to playing third-year safety Terrell Edmunds in some hybrid roles during sub-packages. But it was also suggested this would be predicated upon acquiring a third safety.
The only inside linebacker or safety the team has taken is Antoine Brooks, Jr., a sixth-round pick out of Maryland who stands at 5’11” and 215 pounds. It would probably take a lot for the team to get comfortable with the idea of him being on the field in any capacity.
After Brooks was selected, however, one reporter asked defensive backs coach Teryl Austin if the team would consider Edmunds in a hybrid linebacker role. “We’ll get them in our jar, shake ‘em up, and see where they fit best”, he said, via Joe Rutter on Twitter.
Teryl Austin on asked whether Terrell Edmunds might be a hybrid linebacker instead of Antoine Brooks: “We’ll get them in our jar, shake ’em up and see where they fit best.”
— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) April 25, 2020
The Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Edmunds has started all but one game in his career to date at strong safety. While he plays a substantial amount in the box (451 snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus, compared to 346 such snaps as a rookie), it wouldn’t be accurate to say he has played a hybrid role, to date.
It would be interesting for the Steelers to work something out that allows Edmunds that kind of flexibility, even in select circumstances. But it requires that they have another safety who can come in and play, and there are no sure things about the team having that guy right now.
Outside of Allen, a 2018 fifth-round pick who spent most of last season on the practice squad until a guy ahead of him was arrested, all of the team’s backup safeties are undrafted free agents who have been cut by other teams.
Of the group, Dangerfield is by far the most experienced. He’s been around the team almost as long as any defender on the roster, and has started two games, both back in 2016, but they have shown very little indication in the past two years that they are interested in seeing him on the field on defense.
Could that change? As of right now, it would have to seem as though either he or Allen is the likely third safety should they ever play with three on the field, whether that means one of them is playing some type of hybrid role or not.