You may have noticed, especially if you are a regular follow of this site or its Twitter account, that the Pittsburgh Steelers rounded out their list of pre-draft free agent visits with four more players, including a cornerback and a safety.
While our tracking seems only to account for 29 reported visits from outside of the local area, there are those who have claimed that this is the final group of visitors that the team can bring in, which suggests that there may have been another visit that went unreported.
What we do know is that a full third of their allotted 30 pre-draft visits went to defensive backs, including the visits yesterday of first-round safety option Landon Collins and cornerback Dexter McDonald. Nine of those visitors have been cornerbacks specifically.
We have already known for quite some time that the Steelers have planned all along to address the cornerback position through the draft. Head coach Mike Tomlin even laid this plan out specifically a short while back during the Owners Meetings.
Consider the course of events that has transpired since the end of the previous season. They signed undrafted free agent practice squad player Kevin Fogg to a futures contract, they lost Brice McCain to the Dolphins through free agency, and Ike Taylor retired, although he was not in the Steelers’ plans.
In addition to being down two of their six cornerbacks from the 2014 season, they also failed to sign either Patrick Robinson or Sterling Moore, the two free agent cornerbacks that they brought in for visits. It’s not that they didn’t even try to address the position in free agency; it just didn’t make sense.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the team is perhaps even planning on using the draft to add multiple cornerbacks as part of a broader strategy, which likely factored in both the quality and the depth of the cornerback class this year, knowing that they could find contributors even on day three of the draft.
The fact that they have used over 30 percent of their known pre-draft visit slots on cornerbacks is as strong an indicator as possible that this is the case, and they have looked at a variety of different body types and draft stocks in the process.
They have taken long looks at two potential first-round candidates in Marcus Peters and Eric Rowe, the latter visiting the Steelers on Tuesday. His stock has been rising, and he could sneak into the first round, though it wouldn’t be a shock, similar to Stephon Tuitt last year, if he slips into the middle of the second round, particularly due to the depth available in this class.
The other names run the gamut of high day two to late day three candidates who offer value, from Alex Carter and Senquez Golson to McDonald and Bryce Callahan.
At this point, one has to figure that the Steelers are planning—as much as there can be a plan—to add multiple new players to the cornerback position through the draft. The supporting trail of evidence is quite apparent. Hopefully it works out better than the two previous attempts to do so in 2009 and 2011.