Steelers rookie comparisons: CB Cory Trice Jr.

Steelers, Cory Trice Jr.
Steelers, Cory Trice Jr. / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

*Please note that while this was written before the sudden news of Trice's injury, the contents of the discussion stand nonetheless true. All of us here at Still Curtain wish Cory Trice Jr. a speedy recovery.*

We’ve officially reached the seventh and final round of the Steelers 2023 draft, and considering that their first preseason game is not even two weeks away, that means we are right on pace to wrap this comparison series up beautifully—so let’s dive right in.

There were two players that Pittsburgh selected in the last round, and some might think that with them being taken so late, they aren’t particularly strong talents. That could not be further from the truth though, and the first of the pair proves that on his own. His name? Cory Trice Jr.

Trice, a cornerback out of Purdue, was taken with the 241st pick, and while it is always a privilege to be drafted, his sitting on the board for that long was a bit of a surprise. He had been previously considered as more of a middle-round selection, so the delay in his drawing left a question mark over what franchises had been seeing/not seeing in their evaluations of him.

Yet, upon performing a general evaluation of my own, I stand by his worth being viewed as a diamond in the rough. My reasons why fall on multiple attractive traits, the first of which is his size.

Standing at 6’3”, 206 lbs., he’s often recognized for having a build that teams dream of having in their corners. That once again proposes the head scratcher surrounding why he was passed up like he was.

But to be fair, the size means only so much without the execution. Perhaps there were concerns that Trice only looked good on paper? With that in mind, how well does Trice live up to the potential that his intimidating stature presents?

When knowing that he dropped to the seventh round, it would be unrealistic to assume that he’s already revealed his ceiling. However, something that he’s wasted no time displaying over and over again is his knack for tracking the ball—and not just in college.

In his time as a Boilermaker, Trice amassed 13 pass deflections and five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. While those numbers count for a lot on their own, he’s nonetheless managed to mirror such impressive abilities in the black and yellow as well.

Just a couple of months ago, Trice made headlines for his outstanding showing at the Steelers OTAs, snagging back-to-back interceptions. The performance, though not earth-shattering, proved that he could at least hang with professional-grade opposition fresh out of the gate, going as far as to get him praise from fellow Steelers CB Levi Wallace.

So, it’s safe to say that Trice’s player profile is already promising enough to help him make a name for himself, but if we were to provide that with a respectable frame of reference, who would it be? For me, the answer is obvious: Richard Sherman.

In what ways are Cory Trice Jr. and Richard Sherman comparable?

Over the course of his NFL career, Sherman was a Super Bowl champ who earned five Pro Bowl selections and five All-Pro selections—in other words, quite a kind comparison. But what makes a guy like Cory Trice Jr. worthy of his company? Honestly, a quicker question would probably be what doesn’t. As usual, we will look at his dimensions first.

At the 2011 NFL Combine, Sherman was measured at about 6’3” and 195 lbs. (11 less than Trice today), yet the latest installment of the latter was listed at 205 lbs. (just one less than Trice). Beyond that, they also have matching hand sizes (9 ¾”) and similar arm lengths (Trice’s are 32 ⅜” and Sherman’s are 32” exactly). In short, their builds are undoubtedly comparable, but can the same be said about their athleticism? We’ll keep that short, too: absolutely.

Just by looking deeper into their combine statistics, we can see overwhelming evidence of athletic comparability, most notably in regard to speed and strength. The best indications of this are their 40 times (Trice: 4.47; Sherman: 4.54), 10-yard split times (tied at 1.56), and bench reps (Trice: 17; Sherman: 16).

It will forever be fascinating to see numbers so nearly identical, as it truly does put into perspective just how relatable two players can be. But, at the end of the day, the smoking gun will always be their on-field visuals. Luckily for us, a blind man could see how Trice resembles Sherman in that aspect.

As we previously covered, one of Trice’s strongest selling points coming out of college was his ability to track the ball, and his offseason play has already put his teammates on notice of that.

Now let’s think back: Who was the young star of the early/mid-2010s that exploded into the NFL spotlight for his ball-tracking success? None other than Richard Sherman, who had deflected 57 passes and intercepted 20 by the end of just his third season in the league.

Should Trice be expected to experience that same start to his professional career? No (Sherman experiencing it was a big deal for a reason, after all), but the potential he’s established implies to me that his odds of doing so are better than those of anyone else in his shoes, and that means something.

Next. 5 Steelers Legends we wish we could bring back in their prime in 2023. 5 Steelers Legends we wish we could bring back in their prime in 2023. dark

I’m on record as having said that Cory Trice Jr. was disrespected by his late selection, and I would like to think I’ve solidified that stance today. However, it landing him on the Steelers is something I wouldn’t change, and that’s especially the case now that we know what his future could be holding.