It’s not as crazy a statement as you might think. This current version of the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary on paper has a legitimate chance to go down as one of the best in a very long time. During Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach, the defensive backfield has never really been a strength. Although any group with Troy Polamalu on it would be tough to top. You’d have to go all the way back to the Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake days to find an elite type Steelers secondary. Of course the 2018 Pittsburgh secondary will not have the benefit of the kind of pass rush those former teams had. There’s no Gregg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, James Harrison, or LaMarr Woodley on this year’s squad. Hell there may not even Jason Worilds, but that remains to be seen. There’s a good mix of veteran talent and young potential that could lead to a very special season.
The corners are lead by two time Pro Bowler Joe Haden. He is entering his first offseason in three years where he is not recuperating from some kind of surgery. A fully healthy Haden is easily the best corner this team has had in years. On the other side it’s year three for the inconsistent Artie Burns. He has more than his share of talent, but the mental lapses have hurt him time and again. Here’s to hoping new defensive backs coach Tom Bradley can finally iron out some of those issues Burns has had. Second year corner Cam Sutton will push for a starting spot somewhere on this team. Early word out of camp is he has been running outside and in the slot so far. Speaking of slot corners, Mike Hilton broke out in 2017, playing as good as any at that position in the league. Rounding out this group is the size/speed wonder Brian Allen. He didn’t play much last season, but let’s not forget his 4.4 speed at 6′ 3″ frame. Allen has the raw tools to work with, playing time may be an issue however.
The Steelers brought in free agent Morgan Burnett to help bolster the safety position. In theory Burnett at strong safety and Sean Davis at free should be a significant improvement over last season. The concern is this will be the third position change in three years for Sean Davis. Once again we will have to hope Tom Bradley is much better at his job than Carnell Lake was. Behind these two is the Steelers first round pick Terrell Edmunds. He represents the kind of depth at safety the Steelers have never had at this position. Edmunds is the latest example of elite athlete types Pittsburgh covets on defense. The team used another 2018 draft pick on safety Marcus Allen. Although he and another free agent acquisition Nat Berhe project to be mostly special teams players, both are big hitters who could fill in at strong safety.
There is plenty of reason for real optimism for the 2018 Steelers secondary. The key to this group is how the young players progress from last season to this one. Big leaps from the likes of Burns and Davis would make this one of the top secondaries in the league. With a new coach, and another years experience who knows. It’s at he very least the most exciting collection of players Steelers fans have seen in a very long time.