Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Breaking down safeties: Pittsburgh
By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the safeties of each AFC North team. Today: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu is obviously a remarkable player, but he wouldn’t have received my vote last season for that prestigious award. When comparing him to other elite defenders I just can’t get over how much time he misses with injuries. I also contend that there was no way that Polamalu was anywhere close to healthy late in the 2010 regular season and during the Steelers' run to the Super Bowl. However, he is remarkable and when right, there really isn’t anyone like him in the NFL.
Ryan Clark is not the biggest, fastest or most athletic safety in the league, but he is smart and very aggressive. His presence often allows Polamalu to freelance, which is valuable to the entire defense. Clark is also a heavy hitter and takes very good angles to ball carriers and passes in the air. He is a very solid all-around player.
Ryan Mundy saw a fair amount of action when Polamalu was out of the lineup, but Mundy is has nothing near Polamalu's ability, and Pittsburgh's defensive playbook is severely restricted with Mundy in the game. He is also just a marginal special teams contributor. But Mundy is solid at times with a great supporting cast, so his roster spot appears safe for at least another season.
Will Allen was added last year to provide depth and to be a core special teams player, but he had a tough time getting on the field and was beaten out for a spot in sub packages. A free agent upgrade here isn’t out of the question.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL