Here’s something you won’t read every day: positive press for third-year Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds. Especially positive press for Edmunds coming from Pro Football Focus, who were quite down on him during his first two seasons—as was almost everyone else, to be fair.
One might argue that it is more faint praise, however. In a season-overview article that seeks to highlight the best player, best rookie, and biggest surprise at every position, author Ben Linsey included the former first-round pick as the biggest surprise at the safety position for the 2020 season. He writes:
Edmunds has run into his fair share of criticism in Pittsburgh as a weak link on a good defense after becoming the team’s first-round selection in the 2018 NFL draft. That was especially true in coverage, where Edmunds earned a PFF coverage grade of 58.3 and allowed a passer rating of 120.8 on throws into his coverage in 2019. Both of those numbers have improved in Edmunds’ third season out of Virginia Tech, jumping to 76.0 and falling to 76.2, respectively. He’s still yet to turn 24, so his development is a good sign for a Pittsburgh defense full of talent.
More keen observers would agree, I think, that the young man took some important and valuable steps forward in his level of play during his third year this past season, and I think a lot of that has simply to do with the level of comfort that he has not just in the system but in working within this secondary framework.
Though he did miss one game this year, the first of his career—the season finale—he still recorded 68 tackles, which was a career low, along with a sack. He posted career-highs in coverage, however, with two sacks and eight passes defensed. He also cut down a bit in the number of times he was penalized and on missed tackles, though that is still an issue—particularly when he is the last line of defense.
I don’t think it’s any surprise that he would improve. After all, he is still young, both in terms of age/maturity and in his career. He finally got a full season in with Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was traded for in September 2019. There was a lot of change going on around him in his first two seasons.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the Steelers will or should pick up his fifth-year option later this Spring, which beginning with his 2018 NFL Draft class would become fully guaranteed when exercised. He hasn’t shown that he is a definite long-term mainstay of the defense.
Certainly not at a premium price, anyway, especially when they will inevitably have to pay Fitzpatrick sooner rather than later—namely, in 2022. But he does show the potential to be a long-term contributor if he is willing to be that sort of team player who is there to do his job and will accept a lower price tag, which he might not find on the open market anyway.