Why the Cory Trice Jr. injury could be devastating to the Steelers

  • Trice's injury doesn't look good
  • Steelers may have lost a gem before his career even started

Steelers, Cory Trice Jr.
Steelers, Cory Trice Jr. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries aren't uncommon in football. Sadly, major injuries can occur even when players aren't contacted. During NFL training camp practices, players are running full speed and cutting laterally --putting plenty of strain on their bodies. Occasionally, ligaments and tendons inside the body just give out. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the latest team to experience this.

During their first fully-padded practice on August 1st, rookie cornerback Cory Trice Jr. went down with a non-contact injury, and it didn't look good. Trice, who has a history that includes ACL surgery, clutched his right knee. Eventually, the Steelers brought out the cart for him and he hung his head on the way back to the facility to get examined.

While Mike Tomlin has not yet given an update on the severity of the injury, it's probably safe to assume that this will end Trice's rookie season before it even gets off the ground. Immediately after the injury, the Steelers worked out a pair of cornerback as a preemptive measure.

In most cases, losing a seventh-round pick for the season doesn't seem like a devastating loss to the franchise. But for the Pittsburgh Steelers, this setback is much bigger than you think.

Cory Trice injury is a huge blow for the Steelers

I'm well aware that opportunities are typically tied to a player's draft position. As a seventh-round draft choice, Cory Trice first needed to make the team before talking about what he could do in the future. However, as someone who watched a ton of Trice's tape a Purdue, this loss is big for the Steelers.

If it wasn't for his extensive injury history that already included an ACL tear and ankle issues, Trice would have easily been an early Day 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. In fact, he may have even declared in 2022 if his 2021 season wasn't cut short due to ACL surgery.

Rarely can you say that a seventh-round pick has the total package, but Trice legitimately does. At 6'3'' and 206 pounds with excellent length, Trice was also a fantastic athlete -- testing in the 96th percentile among his NFL cornerback peers, according to his Relative Athletic Score.

But he was far more than just a developmental CB. Trice is already a polished player with excellent game film, and there are plenty of draft analysts who actually prefer his tape to Joey Porter Jr.'s. Trice has rare fluidity at the cornerback position -- even after his surgeries -- and you just don't see many big CBs move laterally the way that he does.

Early in training camp, Trice was holding his own. Not only did it look like he was on the fast track to making the team, but he was a player who could have potentially carved out a role on defense early in the season. He was turning some heads at Steelers training camp.

Joey Porter and Cory Trice were already being called the 'Avatar Cornerbacks', and it wasn't hard to see why. They are two CBs with prototype builds to cover outside the hashes -- each possessing quality athletic traits.

If you go back and study Trice's college game, there will be no question that he's talented enough to be a quality starting cornerback in this league. I really thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were getting one of the greatest steals of the 2023 NFL Draft.

If Cory Trice Jr. can't stay healthy, we may never know what he could have been for this team. But I'm telling you that I felt really confident about his game. The seventh-round cornerback would have had a chance to be one of the biggest draft steals in recent memory. Now his future remains unclear. Let's pray for a speedy recovery.