While a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most recent first-round acquisitions in Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick (the latter a Miami Dolphins selection in 2018 whom they acquired via trade in September), another recent first-rounder cannot be placed on the backburner. That would be Fitzpatrick’s draft classmate, fellow starting safety Terrell Edmunds.
The Steelers’ native first-round selection in 2018, Edmunds has seemingly largely been forgotten about as he enters his third season, except by those who believe that he is already beyond redemption and feel that the team should already be looking to replace him.
Not the coaching staff. Even though he has put together so far two rather unremarkable seasons, they still believe that they can get more out of him and develop him into an impactful player, perhaps not dissimilar to Bud Dupree, who had by far his best statistical output in year five in 2019.
“It is huge for him. He is coming along and has been coming along. There is a great expectation in terms of where you are drafted”, defensive coordinator Keith Butler told reporters during a Zoom interview late last week, via a team transcript.
“We took him high. At the time, we feel like he can help us. I think he is going to get better”, he added, emphasizing the fact that working with Fitzpatrick in a steady role can also help his development, as he has not had stability next to him since entering the league.
“I think having Minkah across from him is going to help him in terms of communication and the way they play and how they can complement each other”, he said. “I think he is going to be a big asset for us as he continues to get better. I think he will continue to get better. Our secondary coaches have done a good job with him. As we roll along, the more and more he plays, the more comfortable he is going to get mentally. In that case, if they start to get comfortable mentally, most of the time they are going to play faster. So, let’s hope that happens with him”.
Hitting home runs, or at least solid doubles, in the first round is the Steelers’ bread and butter, typically, in their roster development, but recent setbacks—most notably, Jarvis Jones in 2013 and Artie Burns in 2016—have forced them to make other arrangements, including using free agency, particularly to address the cornerback position.
Many are wondering where Edmunds will ultimately fall. He probably will not be another T.J. Watt, but he has already sustained a longer period of non-negative play than Burns did during his four seasons with the team. The question is how much upside is left untapped.