It seems as though NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala has grown into something of a polarizing figure within the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base over the course of the past several months. She continues to be ridiculed by some at every mention after incorrectly identifying the play during the AFC Championship Game on which Antonio Brown was reportedly expressing his displeasure.
Though she acknowledged identifying the wrong play in the next day or two, Gerry Dulac for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who has worked with Brown on the radio a good number of times, confirmed that it’s not an uncommon sight to see Brown throwing a tantrum when he is not involved. He may be the only person in history that has gotten Heath Miller to tell him to shut up.
This is all in preface to saying that today we’re bringing you yet another nugget from Kinkhabwala’s report on the league’s network yesterday. During her segment, she talked about how Kevin Colbert reportedly expressed his interest in Jabrill Peppers, and how Ben Roethlisberger was campaigning for a tight end in the draft.
But in the middle of that, she dropped this little nugget: “the Steelers will take the best available, be it a safety or a cornerback, when it is their turn; at least that is what I was told today. They need to be able to play man coverage. It’s not something we’ve seen”.
Oh. So, that kind of sounds like a bit of news. And on paper it makes a lot of sense. The depth of this draft is really in the secondary, making it perhaps the most likely position to find a quality player at the 30th spot in the first round.
And multiple members of the Steelers’ decision-making group have already gone on record in talking about how they would like to play more man coverage. Looking at the number of visits they have had, and other sorts of meetings over the offseason, with defensive backs in this draft offer a lot of corroborating evidence.
Pittsburgh has used around half of their 30 pre-draft visits so far, and it has included five safeties and a cornerback. No doubt you can expect to see the number of cornerback visits to tick upward as we move closer to the draft.
Unlike in years past, it would seem to be a reasonably safe bet that there will be some defensive back on the board when the Steelers pick who would be deserving of being selected there. But even if that doesn’t seem to be the case on the surface, remember the initial reaction to the drafting of Artie Burns and how much he grew over the course of his rookie season.
Personally, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to doubling down on the cornerback position in the first round two years in a row, particularly if they cornerback is capable of playing in the slot as a rookie. A safety capable of covering the slot would fit the bill as well. And according to Kinkhabwala’s sources, reporting from the team’s facility yesterday, that is their plan going into the draft, and one they probably feel is pretty realistic.