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: Miles Killebrew is a lock to make the roster as a safety.
Explanation: Even though the Steelers list him as a linebacker, Miles Killebrew is the second-team strong safety on the depth chart, and he has been running a lot during training camp as the team holds Terrell Edmunds back a bit, recovering from offseason surgery. A veteran who is also a primary special teamer, the on-field work is showing that Killebrew is as much a linebacker in the Steelers’ eyes as Chris Wormley is a nose tackle (the position at which he is listed).
Right now, Killebrew and rookie Tre Norwood are the Steelers’ second-team safeties. That’s both what the depth chart and the eyes in training camp say. Really, there aren’t a lot of other options, with Donovan Stiner and Lamont Wade being rookie college free agents.
The reality is that Killebrew’s special teams contributions alone make him a lock to make the team, but he looks like a safety in size, is being used as a safety, and there are more roster spots to go around at safety as well, with Marcus Allen at linebacker and Antoine Brooks Jr. and Arthur Maulet being worked in the slot. At least one of them is going to start there, so that’s going to take them out of the safety equation.
Numbers in the secondary will ultimately be determined by numbers elsewhere, and we could very realistically see the Steelers carry 10 linebackers this year, as well as six wide receiver and four halfbacks, maybe even seven defensive linemen.
Maybe Killebrew will even be one of those five at inside linebacker, if that’s how it ultimately breaks. Killebrew is running to preserve Edmunds, and Brooks and Maulet are being tested in the slot, but by the time the regular season comes, Edmunds will be ready and they will have their slot answer without the need to find out what they have.
That could potentially result in Killebrew being ‘moved’ to linebacker, insofar as designating him at a position even matters. Or it could leave him on the outside looking in if the Steelers are comfortable with Brooks and/or Maulet, plus Norwood, as their backup safeties.