Veteran strong safety Troy Polamalu officially retired on Friday after an already-legendary 12-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While nobody can truly "replace" Polamalu when it comes to what he means to the franchise, the team will be looking forward in hopes of finding someone to fill his roster spot (and HUGE shoes) in 2015. Here's four potential out-of-house options.
Jaquiski Tartt (Samford)
You may not have heard of Tartt after he toiled in relative obscurity for four years in the FCS, but the kid's got game coming out of his ears. A former first-team FCS All-American, Tartt has a true NFL strong safety frame (6-1, 221 lbs, 32 5/8" arms), and a naturally aggressive playing style that would win the hearts of Steelers fans straightaway. Projected to go in the late third/early fourth of the 2015 NFL Draft, Tartt could be a hell of a steal for the Steelers.
Landon Collins (Alabama)
Another collegiate strong safety who played with a perpetual chip on his shoulder, Collins has a much higher profile than that of Tartt after starring under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. However, that profile comes with a price -- Collins will almost definitely cost the Steelers their #22 pick in the first, provided he falls that far. Regardless, Collins has the fluidity and open-field smarts necessary to be a top-flight strong safety in this league.
Cody Prewitt (Ole Miss)
An odd choice first brought to light by TribLive.com's Mark Kaboly, Prewitt played free safety for the Rebels -- a position which requires a very different/unique set of skills to that of strong safety, especially at the NFL level. Yet, Prewitt has gone on the record and said that he patterns his game after Polamalu, giving him a potential leg up if the Steelers call on him to fill a similar role.
Brandon Meriweather (Former Washington Redskin)
The cream of an awful crop of strong safeties left on the market (no, Bernard Pollard is NOT an option), Meriweather has been a mess of injuries and attitude/suspension issues during his eight-year NFL career. When he's on, he's an impact tackler adept at forcing fumbles on first contact and jumping in on the pass rush. When he's not, he's a guy filling up roster space. Unless the Steelers can swing a low-risk one-year flyer, this is a last resort kind of pickup.
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