The Steelers defense is loaded with talent.
And that is no exaggeration.
“You can tell they want to win football games,” said Terrell Edmunds. “They are buying all in to us, we have to buy all in for them.”
There are 10, yes 10, first round draft picks on the defense, a stat that is so impressive it even has the players kind of shaking their heads in amazement.
“It’s crazy to me,” said Joe Haden. “I keep looking around the defensive room and each person is a first-round pick. There is so much talent in that room.
“We have no reason we can’t be one of the best defenses in the league. We have to start clicking together, communicating, because athletically and ability-wise I feel like we have the most talented defense in the league.”
The addition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Miami Dolphins No. 1 pick in 2018, pushed that number to 10. Of the 10, six were drafted by the Steelers, three were acquired via free agency, including Mark Barron who was signed this year, and Fitzpatrick via trade.
“It goes to show that we are a defense with a lot of great athletes on it and are making a defensive emphasis on being a good team,” said Bush. “We play with confidence and go out there and have fun. We are all football players, whether we are first rounders or not drafted.”
Here is a look at the team’s No. 1 picks on defense.
The past five years the Steelers have used their No. 1 pick on defense, something the players have definitely taken note of and know there is a standard they have to live up to.
“The potential is really there,” said Heyward. “With the potential we have to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain. It doesn’t matter how many you have if you don’t get the work done.
“It doesn’t raise the expectations for the defense, it upholds it. You lose a guy like Ben (Roethlisberger) where is the strength going to be, the defense. I look forward to that challenge.”
That challenge begins immediately. The team has gone all in on the defense, including trading away their 2020 No. 1 pick to acquire Fitzpatrick, and every player knows it’s time to make it all pay off.
“They made an investment,” said Dupree. “Now we just have to go out and put all the pieces together. We need to have a little more detail from ourselves. Get the game plan and roll with it each week.
“It’s definite pressure. Pressure can either burst a pipe or make everybody diamonds. We are trying to make everybody diamonds out there.”