After parting ways with seldom-used cornerback Justin Gilbert last week, several now believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers should and ultimately will address the position in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, however, isn’t one of those people.
During his weekly online chat on Wednesday, Dulac was asked to give his expanded thoughts on the Steelers not needing to spend an early draft pick this year on a cornerback.
“What I said is cornerback is not a priority, not like the past 2 seasons,” Dulac wrote during his recently concluded online chat. “And just like last season, the Steelers view [Senquez] Golson as a second No. 2 draft pick for 2017. That doesn’t mean they won’t draft a cornerback, but it won’t be in the first two or three rounds. It’s more likely they will draft a safety before a corner.”
After waiving Gilbert last week, the Steelers currently have four cornerbacks who ended the 2016 regular season on the team’s roster under contract for the 2017 season and that includes Senquez Golson, who has yet to play a single down since being drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft because of various injuries. While last years starting cornerback Ross Cockrell is expected to return for the 2017 season on a restricted free agent tender at the very minimum, that process has yet to have taken place.
Despite him currently believing that the Steelers will ultimately draft another safety before selecting another cornerback this year, Dulac doesn’t see the team spending a bulk of their early-round picks on defensive players.
“Unlike the past two seasons, when the Steelers went heavy on defense, this draft won’t be as lopsided, especially in the early rounds,” wrote Dulac on Wednesday. “Last year the Steelers went defense on the first three rounds. This year, don’t be surprised if you see a RB or WR sneak in there on the second round or third round, and possibly both through the first four rounds.”
With his above draft speculation in mind, Dulac does believe we’ll ultimately see the Steelers spend an early draft pick this year on a pass rusher and that probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to any of you reading this post.
Personally, I’d like to see the Steelers draft two edge-rushers in the first four rounds in addition to a tight end and a safety and especially if the team doesn’t view the cornerback position as a big need like Dulac has suggested a few times now since the 2016 season ended. As for the team potentially selecting both a running back or wide receiver in the first three rounds, I can see the former position happening if the team ultimately decides to not re-sign DeAngelo Williams prior to the draft commencing. However, to be quite honest, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit if three of the first four players drafted this year play on the defensive side of the football.
It’s always fun to save these draft opinions of beat writers who have been closely connected to the team for a long period of time in order to go back and review them after the fact. As we sit here a few weeks ahead of the start of the annual NFL combine, I’m curious to know how much weight you give Dulac’s most recent draft speculation.