The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Which players participating in Combine workouts today are you most interested in seeing perform?
Okay folks, this is the last day of the Combine for workouts, and it’s the day a lot of people have been waiting for. Even with a big hole at inside linebacker, there is still a strong impulse toward upgrading in the secondary. Raise you hand if you still want another first-round cornerback. I’m sure there are more than a few.
Today is the day the cornerbacks and safeties go, and let’s be honest, it would be awfully surprising, at least sitting here in early March, if they come out of the first two days of the draft without taking at least one defensive back.
And safety remains the likely target. With a report that the team would like to try to bring back J.J. Wilcox at a reworked rate, that only strengthens the likelihood that they will release Mike Mitchell, though they could be looking at an either/or here. Rework Wilcox and release Mitchell, or keep Mitchell if you can’t work something out with Wilcox.
Even if we assume that both of them return, which I think most would agree is unlikely, safety remains a high priority. Mitchell is on the wrong side of 30 and on the last year of his deal while showing signs of wear, and he’s never shown the ability to stay healthy. Wilcox was not an asset last year and Robert Golden is in his last year as well. Other than that, it’s just Jordan Dangerfield.
Finding room at cornerback is a little more complicated, but that can be simplified if they part with Coty Sensabaugh and/or William Gay. That would leave Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, and last year’s additions, Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen.
It’s entirely possible that both spots get reinforcements during the draft, and it wouldn’t exactly be rare. They drafted both positions in 2016, most recently, but also in 2015 and 2013. They have drafted at least two defensive backs in a draft class six times under Mike Tomlin, including the past three drafts, and four of the past five.