There is, perhaps, no greater need remaining on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster than for an influx of talent at the cornerback position. There are only five cornerbacks in total on the roster at the moment—four of them with NFL experience, and two of them with a significant number of snaps. Only one of them has been or become a reliable starter, and the team has been trying to get him back into the slot.
After the team shored up some of their other deficits in free agency by re-signing Matt Spaeth, James Harrison, and Arthur Moats and signing free agent DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers have determined that their best course of action in terms of addressing the biggest question mark remaining is to wait for the draft.
Not that they didn’t try. Free agent Brice McCain chose to pass up the team’s offer and signed elsewhere. They brought in two outside free agent cornerbacks for visits but couldn’t come to terms on a deal that “made sense”, according to general manager Kevin Colbert.
Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have already more than suggested that both starting cornerback position are up in the air for this season, which is no surprise given that the two cornerbacks who started on opening day in 2014 are either not on the roster or are a question mark.
On Cortez Allen, Tomlin said that he better bounce back, or it will make a cloudy situation at cornerback even worse. He will be competing, at least, with Antwon Blake and B.W. Webb, neither of whom are overly experienced.
Tomlin acknowledges that, while the team was able to accomplish much through free agency, which mostly consisted of “holding serve”, in Colbert’s words, there are some things that remain on the to do list, with the cornerback position right at the top, insinuating that addressing it is something that they “intend to get accomplished in the draft”.
As has been the theme this week, he fostered the concept of creating competition at the position on defense. The difference is, however, that they have as of yet been unable to add any competition. “We have to create some competition”, he said, “and get some guys who can add to us”.
It’s easy enough to read between the lines at this point and draw the conclusion that the Steelers intend to rely heavily on the draft to add these players to create competition.
The organization hasn’t always been so accustomed to leaving open such significant needs prior to the draft, but it has been more common in recent years when they’ve needed, for example, a starting running back, a defensive end, or a starting center.
But that is the predicament that they find themselves in heading into the draft this time, which is a little over a month away. Mark Kaboly went so far as to say that he would be “stunned” if the team does not come away with a cornerback in the first round, but you can probably expect to see multiple high draft picks used on the position.