The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of needs as they enter the 2020 offseason. Here’s why cornerback is not one of them.
Without throwing anyone under the bus, there have been several draft media outlets who have recently mocked a cornerback to the Steelers with their second-round pick. Feel free to count them as an unreliable source.
While there is no question Pittsburgh has a handful of needs heading into the 2020 offseason, cornerback is not one of them. In fact, there is a good chance the Steelers currently feel better about their cornerbacks than any other positional group on the team.
In 2019, Steven Nelson and Joe Haden made up one of the best cornerback tandems in the league by nearly every metric. Haden earned 5 interceptions and 17 pass defenses in what was arguably the best season of his decade-long career. The three-time Pro Bowler allowed just 53.7 percent of passes to be complete in his direction and allowed just a 66.5 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
While most experts were aware of Haden’s ball-hawking skills in 2019, they failed to do their homework on Steven Nelson. In his first season with the Steelers, Nelson allowed just 50 percent of passes to be completed, and his 65.8 quarterback rating allowed was even better than Haden’s despite just one pick on the year for Nelson. The former Chiefs cornerback graded out as the 7th best CB in the NFL this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
But the reasons why the Steelers won’t draft a cornerback in the second round don’t end there. Pittsburgh has Nelson and Haden locked up under contract for the next two seasons. In addition, Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton provided fantastic depth in the secondary in 2019.
While Hilton’s contract technically expires this offseason, he is a restricted free agent, and it is very likely the Steelers will put a high tender on him to retain his services. In the same way, Cameron Sutton still has a year left on his rookie deal. Furthermore, Pittsburgh’s defensive backfield was so deep in 2019 than rookie cornerback, Justin Layne only played special teams in his first season.
With uncertainty surrounding the future of Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave, if the Steelers are to go defense early in the 2020 NFL Draft, they are going to do so in a different position.
In all likelihood, Pittsburgh will elect to beef up their offense in Ben Roethlisberger’s final seasons. There are a bunch of players they could target in the second round at numerous positions, but a cornerback will not be one of them.