The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who is the best cornerback in the AFC North?
Note: for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use images of Steelers for the cover photos of these articles. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m arguing they’re the best.
How long has it been since the Steelers’ cornerbacks could even reasonably be a part of this conversation? Too long, certainly, but all three of their starters—Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton—played well last season.
Still, I think the clear edge has to go to the Baltimore Ravens, who may have the two best cornerbacks in the league in Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Peters was an in-season acquisition and merely continued on his Pro Bowl ways, while Humphrey is still a rising star at the position. And they still have Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young coming back.
The Cleveland Browns had Denzel Ward make the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018. He backslid a bit last year, but he and Greedy Williams could make a solid pairing for years, potentially. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals brought in Trae Waynes and Mackenzie Alexander, dumping Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard.
William Jackson III has been the apple of the eye of Steelers fans since before the 2016 NFL Draft. He has had a couple of strong seasons, bouncing back a bit last year from a somewhat shaky 2018, cutting down on his touchdowns allowed and missed tackles. But I think I would take either Haden or Nelson over him right now, irrespective of age (Nelson is actually slightly younger).