Before the Bengals and Steelers face off in Week 6, they already competed a little earlier this year, as both used an early draft pick to fill a need at the safety position. The early results greatly favor one team over the other.
The Pittsburgh Steelers turned some heads when they selected Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Edmunds was not projected by anyone to be a first-round pick. The Steelers seemingly jumped the gun on a player who they could have gotten later to develop at a position where they could really use someone who could play immediately.
As it turned out, Edmunds did get the call relatively early for the Steelers. Although the Steelers’ website does not list him as a starter, he has played every defensive snap over the last few weeks. Edmunds has looked pretty average and has 19 tackles and one interception to his name thus far.
Jessie Bates just recorded his second interception of the year during the Bengals’ Week 5 matchup with the Dolphins and on is way to an elite grade from Pro Football Focus. Bates has impressed since day one with the Bengals, so much so that the team cut ties with veteran starting safety George Iloka. Bates has 32 tackles on the season and seems to be developing as a leader in the secondary.
The NFL's highest graded safeties through five weeks. pic.twitter.com/Y8tWeSzIwI— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 10, 2018
The Bengals actually traded down to get him — a move that drove many fans crazy, as there were good options for the team on the table. But in the end, they not only landed a good starting free safety, they were also able to move up in round three and get Malik Jefferson who has potential to develop into an exceptional linebacker.
I feel confident that Jessie Bates picks that ball off pic.twitter.com/aSS0lhmHuC— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) October 8, 2018
Steelers week is always exciting, but the chance for Bates to show the Steelers they made a huge mistake by not drafting him gives Bengals fans something extra to look forward to. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had questionable decision-making at times this season and the Bengals’ new “center fielder” could be poised for quite a performance in his first matchup with the team’s biggest rival.