Steelers take safety Terrell Edmunds with 1st pick
With the top linebacker prospects off the board, the Steelers drafted with the back end of their defense in mind Thursday by selecting former Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier, whose spinal cord was injured in December, took his first steps in public when he walked to the podium, with the aid of his fiancee, Michelle, to announce the Steelers’ pick of Edmunds.
Edmunds, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound redshirt junior, is the brother of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who also was taken in the first round. He went No. 16 to the Buffalo Bills. Another brother, Trey, plays for the New Orleans Saints. It was the first time in NFL history that brothers were selected in the first round.
“Honestly, I was surprised,” to be taken in the first round, Edmunds said. “I’m just ready, though. I’m telling you. I’m ready. I was praying and hoping. Now, it’s time to work.”
Edmunds’ father, Ferrell, was a tight end with the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was scouting for Miami when the Dolphins drafted Ferrell Edmunds and has a history with the family.
Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin dined with the Edmunds family the night before Virginia Tech’s pro day, which was March 14. Edmunds said his mother peppered the Steelers brass with questions.
“To see that family interact, it was encouraging to see two great players coming from such a great family,” Colbert said. “It was a neat moment.”
It was the first time the Steelers selected a safety in the first round since taking Troy Polamalu in 2003.
Edmunds will join a reconfigured secondary that added safety Morgan Burnett in free agency. After the season, the Steelers released veteran safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden and cornerback William Gay.
Colbert said Edmunds can play free safety, strong safety and nickel linebacker, and he can match up against slot receivers.
“There is a lot that he can do,” Colbert said. “Really, he’s a four-down player in our opinion.”
Any chance the Steelers had of finding Shazier’s replacement at inside linebacker evaporated by the time their turn came at the podium. The top four linebackers were off the board.
Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch went to the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 19 pick. The Tennessee Titans traded up to take Alabama’s Rashaan Evans at No. 23. Earlier, Georgia’s Roquan Smith went No. 8 to the Chicago Bears, and the Buffalo Bills traded up to take Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16.
Terrell Edmunds had two interceptions and four pass breakups in his junior season before a shoulder injury cut it short after 10 starts.
The injury required surgery, but Colbert doesn’t think Edmunds will be behind when he reports for offseason workouts.
“Our doctors are very comfortable with where he is,” Colbert said. “For him to play as good as he did last year with an injured shoulder is truly impressive for us.”
Edmunds was hesitant to discuss his injury while on a conference call with reporters.
“I don’t like to say that it took any toll on my body. I’m not that type of guy to say that because I was injured it took a toll on my game,” he said. “I would have never been out there if I was going to make that excuse every game. I played my game every game I could. I put all I could on the field, and that’s just what I had to put ona film.”
Edmunds started 13 games in 2016 and had 89 tackles (21⁄2 for loss) and four interceptions. In three years at Virginia Tech, he had 31 starts and totaled 182 tackles.
“We’ve got a sharp, young, versatile guy who is a very good communicator and plays with physicality,” Tomlin said. “Quite simply, he checked all of the boxes for us.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.