The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of holes in their secondary from the 2020 season, and not just at the top of the depth chart.
The team’s losses of starting boundary corner Steven Nelson and starting Nickel corner Mike Hilton have drawn large amount of attention, but the team also lost backup safety Sean Davis to free agency and longtime backup strong safety and special teamer Jordan Dangerfield has not been re-signed, either.
With so many places needing bodies, the Steelers have focused on versatility when attempting to address the defensive backfield this offseason.
Sixth-round draft pick Tre Norwood has played free safety and cornerback. Free agent signing Miles Killebrew has played linebacker and strong safety in the past while being a strong special teamer. Undrafted free agent safety Lamont Wade has also played corner.
The team’s latest signing seems to fit that versatility theme to a T. The Steelers signed former New York Jets defensive back Arthur Maulet on Friday, and his 2020 season was a lesson in the value of versatility.
A college cornerback, Maulet did a little bit of everything for the Jets in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Maulet lined up as a slot corner for 247 snaps, as a free safety for 109 snaps, an in-the-box safety for 27 snaps, a boundary corner for 15 snaps and was a Dime linebacker for six snaps.
In 2019 in New York, he played mostly outside corner (288 snaps), strong safety (22 snaps), slot corner (20 snaps), Dimebacker (18 snaps).
In addition to that, Maulet played over 30% of the Jets’ special teams snaps last season, making him exactly the kind of versatile player the Steelers are looking for.
Unfortunately, PFF was less kind when it came to grading Maulet’s performance last season, giving him a 49.7 overall grade and a 45.7 grade in coverage on a 0-100 scale.
Under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Jets ran a similar 3-4 scheme to that of the Steelers, so Maulet will be asked to do some of the same things he did in New York in Pittsburgh.
If he’s going to be relied on as a backup that is capable of filling in at multiple positions in a pinch, while filling a large role on special teams, that seems like it fits what he’s done in the past.
Filling a role as large as the one that Hilton departed seems likely to be outside Maulet’s comfort zone. But having versatile backups and special teamers is still a need with Davis gone and Dangerfield likely departing. If Maulet can back up all four defensive back roles, that will help the Steelers utilize the rest of their dressed DBs for optimal implementation of sub packages.