As they enter the 2020 NFL draft with several needs and not enough picks to fill them, general manager Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers organization have their work cut out for them. With just six total picks, it will require a perfect draft for the team to be able to fill all their holes.
One area that needs to be addressed at some point in the draft is the safety position. The team has their starters in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, but the depth is nonexistent. Fortunately for the team, this year’s safety class is full of talent.
Whenever they decide to address the position, which they almost certainly will at some point, there will be a quality safety available. Including these players, they’ll be able to find with their six picks.
Pick 49: Antoine Winfield Jr., Jeremy Chinn, Kyle Dugger
If Colbert and company decide to go safety at 49, there are several guys who could be on their radar. Antoine Winfield Jr. seems to be generating a lot of interest among Steelers fans, but he’s also the least likely of these three players to be available at 49.
A Minnesota product, Winfield would offer the much-needed versatility in the back half of the defense. He plays deep coverage well and could be great to pair alongside Fitzpatrick on obvious passing downs, allowing the team to move Edmunds into the box.
His man coverage against tight ends and running backs is nothing to scoff at either, an aspect of defense that the Steelers are greatly lacking.
Chinn, out of Southern Illinois, would offer the same zone coverage advantages as Winfield and arguably better ball-hawking skills, but lacks the man coverage ability.
Kyle Dugger offers a different skillset and could be considered if the team is looking for a box safety who is a tremendous athlete and secure tackler.
Pick 102: Terrell Burgess, Alohi Gilman
With their late third-round pick, there will still be plenty of safety talent on the board for the Steelers. Terrell Burgess is a versatile third safety option who would fit in well alongside Edmunds and Fitzpatrick. Though he is a bit undersized, Burgess has a high motor and high football IQ.
What he lacks in size he makes up for with positioning and awareness. He is a good tackler who would contribute in run support and makes plays on the ball in zone defense.
Alohi Gilman of Notre Dame would be a great option for the Steelers if they are looking for a safety to play close to the line of scrimmage. He gets downfield in a hurry and is great in the running game. Gilman doesn’t have the range to play “centerfield” single-high safety, but with Fitzpatrick back there, that’s no problem.
Gilman is a tone-setter and the type of athlete the team could use alongside Devin Bush in the box in passing situations.
Picks 124/135: K’Von Wallace, Brandon Jones, Geno Stone
These picks are lumped together because they are in such close proximity to each other. K’Von Wallace of Clemson is a player that has a lot of Steelers fans talking about him. He won’t blow you away in any specific area, but he’s a good athlete who can slide in as a third safety on obvious passing downs and will likely be a special teams contributor in the NFL, too.
Brandon Jones of Texas isn’t much of a coverage safety but has the size, physicality, pursuit, and motor to be a strong player against the run. Geno Stone is a secure tackler with a nose for the football who won’t give you much in man coverage but has the football smarts necessary to make some splash plays in zone coverage.
He also projects as a viable special teams option.
Pick 198: Tanner Muse, Antoine Brooks Jr.
By this point in the draft, the Steelers won’t be drafting any immediate starters or guys who will play a lot of snaps. Though Tanner Muse of Clemson projects more as a linebacker, he could be a legitimate option for the Steelers as a strong safety. He doesn’t have the range to play deep safety in the NFL, but he is a tremendous athlete who is physical in the running game and can cover tight ends and running backs well in man coverage.
He also seems poised to be a very productive special teams player, so getting Muse this late in the draft would be great value.
Brooks has a similar skillset in the sense that he won’t be a deep safety in the NFL. He is definitely worse than Muse in coverage but makes up for his coverage woes with physicality as a blitzer and against the run.
Pick 232: Shyheim Carter, Myles Dorn
Shyheim Carter of Alabama is a former cornerback, so his coverage skills aren’t a concern. His issues are a lack of athletic potential and tackling.
Myles Dorn of UNC has good instincts and can help in the run game, but he lacks speed and doesn’t have the highest football IQ. By round seven, though, many draft picks are based on potential.
These guys are falling to the seventh round for a reason. Each of these players are projects but they have some long-term upside.