Terrell Edmunds has underperformed in his first two seasons at strong safety. Should the Steelers consider moving him to linebacker?
The Steelers got some fantastic play from a former first-round safety in 2019. But it wasn’t Terrell Edmunds. While Minkah Fitzpatrick had the best season Pittsburgh has seen at the safety position since the heydays of Troy Polamalu, Edmunds was one of the lone weak spots on the defense.
Edmunds, the former 28th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, took a step back in his second season in the NFL. Despite having the second-highest amount of snaps on the team (1,036), the Virginia Tech product recorded zero interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, or sacks.
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) January 9, 2020
It’s now been 30 games since the strong safety has recorded an interception, and despite his 31 career starts, Edmunds has just one pick in his NFL career.
In addition to his severe inability to take the ball away, Edmunds was picked on in coverage this season – allowing 5 touchdowns and a 139.1 passer rating when targeted, according to Pro Football Reference.
As a former 1st round draft choice who turns just 23 years old this month, it’s too early to give up on him completely. However, would a position change be the best move for the Steelers at this point?
Edmunds does two things really well – he can tackle and play run with skill players in man coverage. Mark Barron could be a cap casualty for the Steelers this offseason, and Pittsburgh already has a lack of depth at the linebacker position. Though a bit undersized (6’1” and 217 pounds), Edmunds has a long frame to put on muscle for the position.
Some food for thought: Some of Terrell Edmunds’ most comparable players form a size/athleticism standpoint if moved to LB:
Edmunds had a 139.1 passer rating when target at safety and hasn’t had an INT in 30 games. #Steelers
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) January 16, 2020
As a linebacker, Edmunds’ skill set would be much better utilized. He would be extremely athletic for the position, and an instant upgrade in coverage over Barron or Vince Williams. Strictly from a size and athleticism standpoint, he would compare favorably to Miami’s Jerome Baker at linebacker.
These transitions are never easy, but Edmunds is still very young and a change may be necessary if the Steelers want to get the most out of their former first-round pick.
While I think that this potential move from strong safety to linebacker is highly unlikely, it’s one that Pittsburgh should consider. We have seen two straight years of below-average play from Edmunds at the safety position. Perhaps a move to linebacker is exactly what he needs to revitalize his career.