The Steelers 2015 Draft Class included 3 defensive backs. Pittsburgh made a rare opening day free agency splash 14 months ago by signing Mike Mitchell. A year before that, they traded a future pick to draft Shamarko Thomas. They also made a restricted free agent offer to Robert Golden.
And yet, the Steelers 2015 safety depth still seems to be a concern.
Source: 8 total teams put in a waiver claim on S D.J. Swearinger – TB, JAX, OAK, NYJ, ATL, BUF, PITT, BALT. Bucs had 1st priority.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 13, 2015
Going into training camp, the Steelers depth chart at safety is headed by returning starter Michael Mitchell at free safety with Shamarko Thomas penciled in as the new starter at strong safety. Behind them are veteran Will Allen followed by Robert Golden and Ross Ventorne, who’ve seen little service at the safety position, but have played extensively on special teams.
- New to the mix is 7th round pick Gerod Holliman, out of Louisville.
While Holliman is a 7th round pick, he remains an intriguing prospect based on his 14 interceptions. And yet, if the report is correct, the Steelers still made a waiver wire claim on the Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger….
…D.J. Swearinger was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and started 22 games over the last two years. Nonetheless, he was rumored to be on the trading block prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, and while he was not traded, the Texans released him.
Prior to their regular season meeting, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spoke glowingly about Swearinger. Tomlin admitted that he was “’highly familiar’” with Swearinger prior to prepping for Houston and said that Swearinger was one player who “’jumped off the tape.’”
- That may have been the case, but for someone in Houston Swearinger jumped off the tape for no reason.
Nonetheless, the Steelers were interested in him. Perhaps this is simply another example of Mike Tomlin’s infatuation with superior athletes. The Steelers made a bull rush for Plaxico Burress when he was released from prison, and word is that Mike Tomlin wanted to make a run at Michael Vick only to be vetoed by Art Rooney II.
Steelers Skeptical about Shamarko?
The other possibility is that the Steelers are uncertain about Shamarko Thomas. After trading up for him in 2013, Thomas saw action early in his rookie season before getting injured. He returned to the secondary after getting injured, but was relegated to special teams after the Steelers 2013 debacle vs. New England.
During Steelers mini-camp 2014, Will Allen started ahead of Shamarko Thomas but the word was this was only for organizational purposes. Yet, when the regular season started, Thomas remained behind Allen on the depth chart before getting injured.
Mike Tomlin later explained his lack of defensive snaps due to set backs because of the injury, yet even though injuries sidelined Troy Polamalu sidelined for the Steelers final four games of 2014, coaches still could not, or would not, find a way to get Shamarko Thomas snaps at safety.
Time will tell whether the Steelers wavier wire claim with Swearinger was fueled by mere due diligence or skepticism about Shamarko Thomas.