3 young Steelers who should be promoted over unspectacular veterans

James Pierre #42 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
James Pierre #42 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) and cornerback James Pierre (42) and safety Jordan Dangerfield (37) and fullback Derek Watt. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of some changes. Here’s why these three young players should be promoted over their veteran counterparts. 

After a rocky start to the 2021 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC. With some strong performances down the stretch and an additional playoff team in each conference now, Mike Tomlin’s team could prove to do enough to make the tournament.

Unfortunately, this team is still in need of a few serious changes that could give them a spark down the stretch. While some seasoned veterans may not necessarily be playing awful at the moment, Pittsburgh might be wise to give their young talent behind them some extended looks to see if there is an improvement. Here are three young players who should be promoted over unspectacular veterans:

Steelers CB James Pierre

I know there will be fans who don’t agree with this thought, but I think James Pierre should be given the opportunity to start over veteran Joe Haden at left cornerback. Haden has been elected to three Pro Bowls in his NFL career, and he has proved to be one of the best free-agent signings during the Kevin Colbert era.

However, the Haden that we are currently seeing is much different than the one who signed with this team in 2017. At 32 years old, Haden has a noticeable lack of top-end speed. While he still has good instincts, he’s not quite as quick as he once was and he has rarely been in position to make a play on the ball this year. Entering Week 11, the veteran cornerback has defended just 5 passes, according to Pro Football Reference.

Meanwhile, I think James Pierre has been quite impressive apart from the two touchdowns he allowed early in the season. Like Haden, Pierre isn’t an incredible athlete, but he’s big with good ball skills and excellent physicality.

Pro Football Focus currently has Pierre graded as their 26th ranked cornerback out of 119 qualifying players in the NFL. With the sticky coverage he has displayed when filling in for Haden, perhaps it’s time for the Steelers to give James Pierre an extended look as a starter.