The Pittsburgh Steelers narrowed in on safety in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Here’s why that was a colossal mistake on their part.
Some NFL teams draft for need, and some take the ‘best player available’ approach. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the better teams at doing both.
In 2017, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert knew they needed an edge defender to plug in the opposite of Bud Dupree as James Harrison was 39 years old and on his last legs. Fortunately, Pittsburgh not only filled a need when they drafted T.J. Watt, but they also got the best available player in the draft.
Unfortunately, just one year later, the same could not be said for Pittsburgh’s first-round selection. With a 30-year-old Mike Mitchell entering a contract year and Sean Davis being the only other viable option on the team, we knew the Steelers were in desperate need for a safety in the NFL Draft. While many predicted that Jessie Bates would have been the pick, Pittsburgh, by all accounts, reached on Terrell Edmunds with the 28th overall pick in the draft.
Though Edmunds tested as an explosive athlete at the NFL Combine, most considered him to be a second or third-round draft choice. However, because he checked the boxes the Steelers look for when it comes to youth and athleticism and because he filled a big area of need, he was ultimately the pick.
This line of logic is exactly what ends up getting teams in trouble. The narrow thinking that safety needed to be filled right away proved to be a colossal mistake by the Steelers.
How the Steelers made a huge mistake in 2018
Louisville quarterback, Lamar Jackson, was my 10th overall player heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. When I put on the tape, I saw a competitive quarterback who continually improved and who could be a special dual-threat player at the next level. Though the Steelers weren’t quite ready for Ben Roethlisberger’s successor at the time, you never pass on a potential franchise quarterback when you have a 36-year-old passer and questionable backups.
Obviously, the Steelers would have needed to change their offense to fit Jackson’s style, but that is something all good coaches should be willing to do. With Jackson leading the charge for Pittsburgh, there’s no doubt they would have been Super Bowl contenders for a long time.
But Lamar Jackson isn’t the only good player the Steelers passed on when they got tunnel vision in 2018. Players like Darius Leonard, Nick Chubb, Courtland Sutton, and Harold Landry were all available for the picking when Pittsburgh rolled the dice with Edmunds at pick 28.
Obviously, I hope the young safety turns things around in his third NFL season, but right now, he’s done as much as I thought he would do in the NFL, as he was my 81st ranked player entering the draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers have made other major mistakes in recent years by trying to fill needs with players like Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns. Let’s hope Terrell Edmunds doesn’t follow suit.