3. Who will be the nickel cornerback?
Over the past several years, the type of cornerback the Pittsburgh Steelers have valued has shifted completely. A few years ago, they had a team full of nickel cornerbacks, and players like Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton were ideal for such a role. Today, however, this positional group is comprised mostly of tall and long boundary cornerbacks who are tailor-made to play outside the hashes.
This leaves the Steelers with a massive question entering training camp: who will be their starting nickel cornerback in 2023? The initial thought is that former All-Pro Patrick Peterson will play this role. Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks of the past decade in the NFL, but the clock is ticking on his NFL career, and at 33 years old, his performance could fall off a cliff at any given moment.
Not only that, but Peterson has hardly played the slot throughout his NFL career. Last year alone, the veteran earned just 8 snaps from the slot in Minnesota while playing a whopping 1,087 on the outside. If Peterson doesn't cut it as a slot CB, what other options do the Steelers have?
Both rookies Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice Jr. have very limited experience from the slot and are much better suited on the outside. The same can be said for Levi Wallace. Chandon Sullivan is the only cornerback on the team with notable experience covering the slot in nickel and dime packages. However, the sample of play has been very disappointing during his time with the Vikings.
We all need to hope that Peterson is well-equipped to handle slot duties this year. If not, this might prove to be a gaping hole on Pittsburgh's defense. This was the case last year with Arthur Maulet, but this proved to be a big problem in getting teams off the field on third down. The Steelers can't have that if they want to make a push for the playoffs in 2023. Keep an eye on this position at training camp.