Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart Analysis: Safeties

By Curt Popejoy
Troy Polamalu
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers as a team are in a state of flux. There has been significant turnover on both sides of the football, and the transformation of this roster to being head coach Mike Tomlin‘s team gets closer every season. But one area where the influence of former head coach Bill Cowher is still evident is in the defensive secondary at the safety position. But that could all come to an end after the upcoming NFL season.

Both incumbent starters Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu were hand picked by Cowher and have been tremendous players throughout their careers. Many consider Polamalu one of the best safeties of all time, and Clark is a pure Steelers type of player as an ideal fit for the mindset of the franchise and its fans.

Both Polamalu and Clark have had to contend with age and injuries over the past several seasons, and during that time the lack of depth really showed through. This offseason prior to the draft, the Steelers lost even more members of that depth. So the situation in the secondary is tenuous at best, but at this point the Steelers have the following safeties on the roster.

Troy Polamalu

Ryan Clark

Shamarko Thomas

Robert Golden

Damon CromariteSmith

Assuming that Polamalu and Clark are able to play this year, Golden and Thomas look to be the primary backups and as far as I am concerned the future. This is a group that has been a point of strength, but at least for one season I’m not sure if that’s going to be the case. I won’t be at all shocked if one or both of Polamalu and Clark are gone at the end of this season. Polamalu is showing real wear, and if his play continues to deteriorate he’s just eccentric enough to retire. Looking ahead to this upcoming season the player I am most excited to see on the field is Thomas. His skill set is violent and explosive, and after last season watching Golden lose a year of development while Tomlin played mediocre backups like Ryan Mundy and Will Allen (both of whom are gone now), I sincerely hope he uses better judgment than that this year. These exciting, young players need to get on the field now so they are ready to start soon.

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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