4 reasons swapping Steven Nelson for JuJu Smith-Schuster was a bad move for Steelers

Steven Nelson #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Steven Nelson #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback James Pierre (42). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

No proven player to start in Steven Nelson’s place

We just talked about how bad the cornerback depth is now that Hilton and Nelson will both be in different uniforms next year. Now the Steelers are left with a 32-year old Joe Haden and a quality, but relatively unproven cornerback in Cameron Sutton. Outside of these two guys, their next two players on the depth chart only have a combined 144 NFL defensive snaps in their careers.

The players I am referring to are former third-round pick, Justin Layne and former undrafted cornerback, James Pierre. Layne had some opportunities to showcase why he originally drew some buzz coming out of Michigan State in 2019, but he did not impress in limited action. Though he was a quality special teams player, Layne often looked lost on the field on defense.

Pierre is a player the Steelers are said to be very high on, but with just 27 career NFL snaps as a former undrafted cornerback who tested as a very poor athlete, how much confidence could they possibly have in him? Perhaps Pittsburgh knows much more about these two guys than what we witnessed in 2020 and maybe one of them will turn out to be a solid football player next year. However, it seems like an awfully big gamble to up all of your chips in that basket.