Training Camp

2021 Steelers Training Camp Grades: Safety (And Final Grades)

Miles Killebrew

For the rest of the preseason, we’ll give a recap, position-by-position, player-by-player of what I saw during the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp and preseason games.

Our last group is our grades of the Steelers’ safeties. We’ll have a grades recap below.

Minkah Fitzpatrick: A strong camp for Fitzpatrick and the first time we’ve personally gotten to watch him work at camp. Traded after the 2019 season began, no public practices last season. Fitzpatrick plays each game like a Super Bowl, diving for interceptions in team drills like there’s a real win on the line. He led the team with three INTs in team drills, accounting for over 16% of the team’s camp INTs.

Fitzpatrick is a hard worker and was one of the first players and almost always the first defender on the field, getting out there early and putting his pads on once he’s hit the field. He’s available and well-conditioned, not missing much practice time, and his underrated open field tackling was on display this preseason, especially the first two snaps of the Lions’ game.

Fitzpatrick should again prove why he’s one of the best safeties in football if not the best one in the game.

Camp Grade: A

Tre Norwood: Norwood was the Steelers’ defensive snap leader with 145 non-no play defensive snaps this summer. A 7th round pick who needed as much playing time as possible, there’s definitely potential with his game. Norwood is instinctual, reads QBs well, and takes good angles to the football with the aggression to finish. He finished camp with just one interception but impacted the catch point several times in camp and in-game.

According to our charting, Norwood was targeted five times in four games, allowing just one catch (it did go for 24 yards) a passer-rating against of 47.1. Very small sample size but encouraging numbers. Norwood’s physicality, tackling, and run defense all need work but he did improve there after some ugly “attempts” in the opener against Dallas. He isn’t scared and contact-adverse. I think he just doesn’t want to screw up and give up the big play.

In the finale, Norwood saw extensive work in the slot, bouncing back between FS in base and NCB in sub. Coaches definitely love his football IQ and versatility and there’s shades of Cam Sutton to his game. Smart, flexible, needs work on physicality and tackling, just as Sutton did his first two seasons.

I don’t consider Norwood to be close to Day One ready. But his skillset is uncommon to find, much less in the seventh round, and certainly worth holding onto. There’s a chance he makes an impact in this defense at some point.

Camp Grade: B

Miles Killebrew: It was good to know what Killebrew’s role on the Steelers defensively will be. Listed as a linebacker who played in such a role with Detroit, Killebrew took all his summer snaps at safety. Granted, with his linebacker frame, he plays in the box quite a bit, 22.7% of his total snaps this preseason. He just played a lot in general. His 128 total defensive snaps; only Tre Norwood, James Pierre, and Robert Spillane played more.

Killebrew missed a couple tackles in his not-a-revenge game against Detroit but overall, he was one of camp’s most reliable tacklers, making him the excellent special teamer he was signed to be. His upside as a safety is nill and he offers next-to-no coverage ability but he should be among the team’s leaders in special teams tackles.

Camp Grade: B-

Donovan Stiner: A third-string safety for most of camp, his game reps saw a slight bump versus Carolina, coming in at safety when Norwood spun down over slot. He did wind up playing 93 total defensive snaps, a respectable number for a rookie. Stiner is an average athlete with average ball skills, though his INT against Dallas was a nice drive and pick, but he’s a big-body and solid tackler. Think that’s enough to keep him on the practice squad as a possible special teams option if injuries strike this team hard. Good tackler you can call-up is nice to have in your back pocket. Beyond that, his upside looks limited into a Killebrew-type of guy.

Camp Grade: B- 

Terrell Edmunds: I’m not sure if I noted a starter less often than I did Edmunds. That’s not a positive or negative assessment, he simply didn’t show up in my notes too often. Some of that was the team’s doing. Edmunds was held out of a lot of seven shots and contact/tackling work for a large portion of camp due to offseason shoulder surgery.

Edmunds actual play was fine. He continues to be quiet in coverage, failing to intercept a pass and I’m not sure if he recorded a pass breakup in team drills. Maybe one. He’s still young and there’s still potential to get a bit better but largely speaking, he is who he is.

Camp Grade: C+

Lamont Wade: Third string free safety. Though not a tremendous athlete, he closes on the ball in a hurry and flashed some big plays in camp with an interception and forced fumble that he recovered. His play runs hot and cold, inconsistent breaking down and tackling as a shooter and his small frame (5’9, 190 pounds) poses an issue. Surprised he didn’t play any slot corner in camp. Could hang around on the practice squad.

Camp Grade: C+

PREVIOUS CAMP GRADES

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Line
Linebackers
Cornerbacks

Training Camp Grade Recap – Final Grades

A Grades (8)

Alex Highsmith: A+

Cam Heyward: A
Minkah Fitzpatrick: A

Pat Freiermuth: A-
Melvin Ingram: A-
Tyson Alualu: A-
Jamir Jones: A-
James Pierre: A-

B Grades (35)

Chris Wormley: B+
Najee Harris: B+
JuJu Smith-Schuster: B+
Anthony Johnson: B+
Kevin Dotson: B+
Dan Moore Jr.: B+

Cassius Marsh: B
Ben Roethlisberger: B
Kalen Ballage: B
Cam Sutton: B
Isaiah Buggs: B
Carols Davis: B
Anthony McFarland: B
Trai Turner: B
Zach Banner: B
Diontae Johnson: B
Mathew Sexton: B
Tre Norwood: B
Kevin Rader: B

Marcus Allen: B-
Josh Dobbs: B-
Joe Haden: B-
Kendrick Green: B-
Devin Bush: B-
Miles Killebrew: B-
Chase Claypool: B-
Quincy Roche: B-
Derek Watt: B-
Donovan Stiner: B-
B.J. Finney: B-
Dwayne Haskins: B-
Isaiahh Loudermilk: B-
John Leglue: B-
Zach Gentry: B-
J.C. Hassenauer: B-

C Grades (28)

Mason Rudolph: C+
Eric Ebron: C+
Mark Gilbert: C+
Robert Spillane: C+
Terrell Edmunds: C+
James Washington: C+
Joe Haeg: C+
Lamont Wade: C+
Justin Layne: C+
Trey Edmunds: C+
Henry Mondeaux: C+
Ray-Ray McCloud: C+

Abdullah Anderson: C
Tony Brooks-James: C
Rico Bussey: C
Buddy Johnson: C
Arthur Maulet: C
Pete Guerriero: C
Stephen Denmark: C
Cody White: C

Shakur Brown: C-
Calvin Bundage: C-
Benny Snell: C-
Rashaad Coward: C-
Isaiah McKoy: C-
Chaz Green: C-
Marcus Baugh: C-
Chukwuma Okorafor: C-

D Grades (8)

Jaylen Samuels: D+
Aviante Collins: D+
Tyler Simmons: D+
Jamar Watson: D+

Malcolm Pridgeon: D
Ulysees Gilbert III: D
T.J. Carter: D

Brandon Walton: D-

Incomplete Grades (6)

Dax Raymond: Incomplete
Stephon Tuitt: Incomplete
T.J. Watt: Incomplete
Joe Schobert: Incomplete
Antoine Brooks Jr.: Incomplete
DeMarkus Acy: Incomplete

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