It really looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers were about to make a move just before time expired on the NFL trade deadline. They were reportedly in talks with the Chicago Bears about acquiring cornerback Jaylon Johnson, but no move was made, and the Steelers weren't able to make a splash at the deadline this time around.
Most fans were hoping this wouldn't be the case, and they have been begging for a cornerback to pair with Joey Porter Jr. The Patrick Peterson experiment hasn't been working (as I suspected when they first signed the 33-year-old cornerback), and Levi Wallace has been a trainwreck.
At this point, the Steelers probably would have been desperate enough to turn to seventh-round rookie CB Cory Trice Jr. if an ACL injury didn't claim his first season before it ever got off the ground. With a depleted free-agent pool, Pittsburgh is likely going to move forward with what they currently have on the roster.
Steelers take talented CB in 2024 mock draft simulation
This could mean that cornerback might be their top priority heading into next offseason. Porter has already given the Steelers a glimpse of the difference a competent CB can make. Recently, I ran a first-round mock draft simulation on Pro Football Network. The computer had Pittsburgh going with Ohio State CB Denzel Burke with the 21st overall pick in next year's draft.
Burke is listed at 6'0'' and 189 pounds. He broke out during his freshman season at Ohio State with 12 passes defended and an interception. The talented CB prospect is a former wide who is a fluid athlete with some ball skills.
Though I did let the computer decide in this complete first-round mock draft simulation, they might have hit the nail on the head with this selection. Not only is cornerback arguably the biggest need on the team, but Mike Tomlin also has a history of taking players from Ohio State early in the draft. Ryan Shazier and Cameron Heyward were successful choices from this top-notch college program.
Burke feels like a great player to pair with Porter long-term, and this would no doubt give them a huge upgrade in the secondary. The Steelers might also love to land a center or another offensive tackle in the first round next year, but it looks like the top OT prospects could be off the board, and there may not be a center worth taking this early in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The hope is that the Pittsburgh Steelers can load up with another talented draft class next April. We are already starting to see how good their 2023 class could be, but this team still needs a lot more help. There are several big holes around their roster but cornerback might be the biggest and Denzel Burke would be a great fit.