The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they aren't set to lose any high-profile free agents during the 2024 offseason. The bad news is that -- even with the most played snaps from the 2023 season set to return to their roster -- this team still has numerous holes that need to be filled.
The quarterback position remains an issue (though Mike Tomlin is apparently convinced the QB1 is currently on the roster). Meanwhile, needs at center, offensive tackle, and linebacker will almost certainly be addressed during the 2024 offseason.
One position of need that has remained consistent from Day 1, however, is cornerback. Even with the addition of Joey Porter Jr., CB is arguably the team's most pressing need as we approach the offseason.
Mel Kiper Jr. was quick to recognize this. In his first mock draft of 2024, Kiper has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter with the 20th overall pick this year. Here's what Kiper had to say about the selection:
"20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mel Kiper Jr. via ESPN
Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia
Sure, the Steelers hit on cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the top pick of Round 2 a year ago, but this is a defense that saw 33-year-old corner Patrick Peterson play more than 1,000 snaps, so there's room for an injection of youth at the position. Lassiter emerged as a lockdown corner for the Bulldogs in 2023, though he had just one career interception, which came all the way back in 2021. Still, he allowed a total of nine receptions for 91 yards as the nearest defender in coverage, and none of those passes went for scores. He could form an elite duo with Porter."
Kiper knows the Steelers hit on Porter, but Patrick Peterson won't cut it as a starting cornerback at this stage of his career. It's also worth noting that Levi Wallace, Chandon Sullivan, and James Pierre are all unrestricted free agents. Even if one of these players was brought back, there's nothing bout any of their performances that proves they should be counted on for a big role on defense.
Enter Kamari Lassiter -- a 6'0'', 180-pound cornerback from Georgia. Lassiter had his best season in 2023 and has two years of starting experience at arguably the best college football program in the nation.
Lassiter would be an excellent pairing with Joey Porter Jr. as both players have the ability to play physically at the line of scrimmage and redirect wide receivers. His physicality will be a welcome addition to the secondary and make it hard for opposing quarterbacks to find open receivers with Porter on the opposite side (which wasn't the case for the Steelers in 2023).
This pick would make a lot of sense based on recent trends, as Lassiter checks a lot of the boxes Mike Tomlin and the front office typically look for in a first-round pick. Lassiter is a young player from a big football program, and the Steelers just drafted two players from Georgia last year.
There is going to be an ongoing debate about the top six or seven cornerbacks set to enter the 2024 NFL Draft and which order they should go. Early in the process at least, this would look like a solid but unspectacular decision for a Pittsburgh Steelers team desperate for cornerback help.