Steelers scouting report: CB Cory Trice Jr. has high upside with medical concerns

Steelers, Cory Trice Jr.
Steelers, Cory Trice Jr. / Noe Padilla / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cory Trice Jr. was a sneaky-talented prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. When finally healthy, the Purdue cornerback had a breakout season as a redshirt senior in 2022. This led some draft experts to believe that he would be a Day 2 selection. However, injury concerns somehow allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to snatch Trice with the 241st overall pick in the seventh round.

Trice was a former three-star recruit who was originally listed as a safety coming out of Christian County High School in Hopkinsville Kentucky back in 2018, according to 247Sports. After roaming Purdue's secondary as a safety in 2019 and 2022, Trice made the switch to cornerback where his blend of size and traits with quality film raised the eyebrows of talent evaluators. Here's my full scouting report:


  • Rare size and mass for the cornerback position (6'3'', 206 lbs at the NFL Combine)
  • Impressive 32 3/8'' arms that help him disrupt passing lanes
  • Remarkably smooth and fluid for a former safety convert at his size
  • Good speed with outstanding explosion and agility numbers
  • Tested as a 96th percentile athlete, according to his Relative Athletic Score
  • Excellent ball skills, evidenced by 5 interceptions in college (2 in 2022)
  • Quick, nimble feet to stick with smaller receivers in press-man coverage
  • Outstanding in run-support, can really lay the hammer down at times
  • Terrific feel for the game, often sniffs out where the play is going before it happens


  • Severe injury history that includes a torn ACL, ankle surgery, and high ankle sprain
  • Four of five college seasons were cut short due to injuries
  • Good but not great speed, recovery speed is only average
  • Can play too tall at times, needs to get more consistent breaking on the ball
  • Better in run support than he is as a pure cover cornerback
  • Needs to improve technique both in coverage and when tackling
  • Bit of a cornerback/safety tweener, only 15 starts at CB

2022 Statistics:

  • 34 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, 2 interceptions, 10 passes defended, 1 defensive TD
  • 75.4 overall grade, per PFF
  • 47.7 completion percentage allowed

Projected role for Steelers:

We need to be careful not to expect too much from a rookie seventh-round draft choice. Oftentimes, a player's opportunity early in their career is tied to their draft position. In the case of Cory Trice Jr., I think the talent alone will help him earn a roster spot -- assuming he can stay healthy through training camp. In 2023, Trice projects as a core special teams player and reserve boundary cornerback. It's possible that he could see increased looks on defense in the second half of the season if a veteran like Levi Wallace is struggling. Trice may even get an opportunity to be the extra defensive back in dime packages.

NFL player comparison: Lonnie Johnson

Cory Trice Jr. shares a lot of similarities with defensive back, Lonnie Johnson. Entering the NFL 2019, Johnson was a cornerback who some thought may need to move to safety. Both players were older prospects entering the league, but possess great size, length, and physical tools. Johnson only played in 22 total college games before entering the NFL Draft. Houston moved him around in their secondary, but he fell out of favor after a disappointing season in 2021. Johnson was a part-time cornerback for the Titans in 2022 but has played both corner and safety in the NFL.

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Bottom line: Cory Trice Jr. is exactly the type of player you want to gamble on late in the draft. A scary injury history makes him far from a sure thing, but if he can stay healthy, he has impressive traits and quality instincts to be a good defensive back down the line.