5 cornerbacks on Steelers draft radar after cutting Steven Nelson

Defensive back Eric Stokes. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Defensive back Eric Stokes. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images) /
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Steven Nelson joins Mike Hilton as the second Steelers cornerback not returning in 2021. Here are five cornerbacks Pittsburgh will target in the NFL Draft.

Steelers fans heard some exciting news last week. After JuJu Smith-Schuster appeared destined to sign with a new team in free agency, Pittsburgh was able to retain him on a one-year, $8 million contract. However, because of the team’s current cap situation, this didn’t come without a price.

After already losing starting nickel cornerback, Mike Hilton, to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, the Steelers admitted that they would be forced to cut Steven Nelson if they cannot find a trade partner for him. This, of course, comes as a necessity to clear up the money needed for JuJu to return. On Tuesday afternoon, the team held true to their word and Nelson was granted his release.

Now that Pittsburgh will be without two of their top three cornerbacks for the upcoming season, this position becomes a huge priority in April. Here are five cornerbacks who will be on Pittsburgh’s radar early in the 2021 NFL Draft:

Eric Stokes

Of all the cornerbacks on this list, Eric Stokes seems like a pretty safe bet as a potential early-round pick from the Steelers. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were both on hand for the speedy cornerback’s Georgia Pro Day, and that puts Stokes on their radar as high as the first round.

While draft experts have differing opinions when it comes to Stokes, it’s hard to teach 4.25 speed at 6’0” and 194 pounds (though his official time was later listed at 4.31). His thoroughly impressive 40-yard dash no doubt elevated his draft stock and he has the potential to be drafted as high as the end of the first round due to his size and athletic traits. With Pittsburgh’s need for an outside cornerback now that Steven Nelson is gone, Stokes is a player that checks almost every box the Steelers typically look for at the position and he has to be a candidate as early as the 24th pick at this point.