1997 was the year and Chad Scott was the man. He was the last cornerback selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL Draft. Since then, the Steelers have relied on cornerbacks taken in the middle rounds of the draft to hold down the position on their defense and by and large that was a somewhat successful formula.
In recent years however, the cornerbacks selected by the Steelers have not exactly worked out. Combined with a sketchy pass rush, the Steelers’ pass defense has been inconsistent at best. With that thought in mind and a cornerback-heavy draft, many expect the drought to end with a cornerback taken in the first round next month.
I am not so sure however. While there are plenty of guys that could conceivably fall to the Steelers at 25, I’m not convinced that’s the direction they’ll go. I mentioned earlier this week that the Steelers have been reported to be “in love” with Houston cornerback William Jackson III. Besides him, it’s possible Mackensie Alexander of Clemson and/or Eli Apple of Ohio State could be available when the Steelers go on the clock.
While there is good depth at most defensive positions in this draft, the Steelers may feel like they need to grab a much-needed defensive lineman with their first selection. If Andrew Billings or Sheldon Rankins were there at 25 would the Steelers be able to pass them up knowing there is significant depth at corner?
Consider the Steelers have already had some type of meeting or interview with corners Jonathan Jones of Auburn, DeAndre Elliott of Colorado State, Harlan Miller of SE Louisiana, Ryan Smith of North Carolina Central and Tavon Young of Temple and that leads you to believe they may be looking at one of two options. First, they could be considering the possibility of selecting two cornerbacks in this draft which would not be totally uncalled for and second, they could be thinking the need to address defensive line, linebacker or safety positions is just too great and will spend their early picks there.
The above list of corners consists of guys who likely won’t come off the board until the third round or later. That’s why I tend to lean in the direction I am.
Will it surprise me if they take a corner in round one? Actually, it would a little bit but until I actually see it I’m not believing it.
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