4 cornerback prospects Steelers must avoid like the plague in 2024

Pittsburgh needs help at CB, but Omar Khan must steer clear of these four prospects in the draft.
Delaware v Penn State
Delaware v Penn State / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The decision to take Joey Porter Jr. with the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is already looking like an excellent decision by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, this team still has a long way to go when it comes to rebuilding their cornerback room.

Porter is the only young cornerstone at the position who the team can count on. Cory Trice Jr. was a seventh-round draft choice last year and he's coming off an ACL injury. It's not fair to assume that he will be part of the plan on defense.

Trading for Donte Jackson didn't solve Pittsburgh's problems at the position either, but it at least gives them a stop-gap low-level starter for 2024. The Steelers are desperate for a slot cornerback and more talent to pair with Porter.

Because of this, it's possible that Pittsburgh could double-dip at the position in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, there are a number of CB prospects who won't be worth the selection the Steelers would have to spend on them. Here are four cornerbacks Omar Khan should avoid like the plague in the draft.

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

I had my concerns about Kamari Lassiter early in the pre-draft process. Though his tape at Georgia is solid, there's nothing impressive about him from a physical standpoint, and his lack of elite athletic traits was a concern for a player who is projected to be picked in Round 2.

These fears grew when Lassiter opted out of the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump at the NFL Combine despite being healthy. When he tested at his Georgia Pro Day, Lassiter was clocked running a 4.64 40-yard dash and he again opted out of explosion testing.

Lassiter has instincts and decent coverage skills, but Steelers fans won't want another Levi Wallace on their hands. The sheer lack of speed is a major concern, and spending a second-round pick on the Georgia cornerback would be a mistake.

T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not expressed interest in T.J. Tampa throughout the pre-draft process, but that's probably a good thing. After a good season in 2022 at Iowa State, Tampa didn't play as well in 2023.

Tampa checks the boxes the Steelers look for when it comes to size for a boundary cornerback. He's over 6'0'' and has 32 1/8'' arms. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh could run into the same problems they've had with an underwhelming athlete at the position.

Tampa opted out of testing at the NFL Scouting Combine but ran a 4.58 at his Pro Day to go with a dismal 22nd percentile 10-yard split (1.64). Like Lassiter, Tampa didn't do any explosion testing at the Combine or his Pro Day. He's simply not a good enough gamble considering the Steelers would likely have to take him in Round 2.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB Missouri

NFL Draft experts have flirted with Ennis Rakestraw Jr. as a potential first-round pick, and he has even been mocked to the Steelers in Round 1 in the weeks leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft. Rakestraw is a physical cornerback, but there are things about his game that are very concerning and simply don't fit what Pittsburgh is looking for on defense.

Though Rakesaw is an excellent tackler, the Missouri product measured in at 5'11 3/8'' and 183 pounds at the NFL Combine. This isn't egregiously small for a CB, but it's well under his listed size in college. Rakestraw is a decent athlete with 4.51 speed, so that's not a concerning issue.

The biggest reason to avoid him in the NFL Draft is his lack of man-coverage ability. Rakestraw earned just a 56.6 grade in man coverage last season while allowing 64.3 percent of balls to be completed in his coverage. He's a zone cornerback by trade and isn't a fit alongside Joey Porter Jr. -- especially considering the Steelers would have to take him early in the draft.

Kalen King, CB, Penn State

It's hard to believe how much things can change in just one year. During the 2023 pre-draft process, many didn't think that Joey Porter Jr. was the best cornerback on his own team. Kalen Kings had a remarkable season as a sophomore at Penn State in 2022.

Unfortunately, King plummeted down to earth with a pedestrian showing last season in which he was exposed far too often. If this wasn't enough, King elected to participate in the Senior Bowl as an underclassman only to get humiliated by the group of wide receivers on hand.

On top of all of this, King tested as a very average athlete with 4.61 speed and he skipped the 3-cone drill at both the Combine and his Pro Day. King made a mistake entering the NFL Draft early, and the Pittsburgh Steelers can't make a mistake by spending a mid-round pick on him this April.

All athletic testing numbers and percentiles courtesy of RAS.football.