Remember that feeling you had last year when the Steelers were on the clock in the first round of the NFL Draft? Like you, I was pretty confident the pick was going to be a cornerback. As the Commissioner approached the podium I had resigned myself to the fact that Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard would be the pick.
Here we are nine months later and still, the Steelers have yet to take a cornerback in the first or second round of the NFL Draft since Mike Tomlin has been their head coach.
What this means is that since 2007 when Tomlin replaced Bill Cowher, the Steelers have been relying on cornerback hold-overs from the Cowher era as well as free agents and lower round draft picks.
I don’t think the trend changes in 2015 either when you start to look at potential first corners either. If you look at NFL.com’s top five cornerbacks heading into the draft, each one carries at least one or two strong reasons as to why they won’t be selected by the Steelers.
Marcus Peters of Washington has plenty of skill to play the position but lacks so much maturity that he was eventually booted from the Huskies’ program this season.
Trae Waynes of Michigan State is a bump-and-run style corner who has very little experience playing in zone and that’s typically a must in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense.
Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest has been mocked to the Steelers in several different mock drafts already. He’s a good cover guy but misses way too many tackles for the Steelers’ liking in the first round at least.
Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre Olomu had been one of the top corners all season in college football before tearing an ACL during practice ahead of the College Football Playoff. The injury will likely drop Olomu into the second round.
P.J. Williams of Florida State has the potential to be the best corner in the class but has a penchant to throttle it down too often in games. He’ll also have to use his hands much less in the NFL especially with the way things are called today.
If you put me against a wall today for a pick by the Steelers in the first round I’d lean towards outside linebacker but this assumes Jason Worilds goes elsewhere in free agency.
There’s still a lot of time and many workouts to be seen but I just don’t have any reason to believe that the Steelers will break the pattern of no cornerbacks in the first two rounds.