Should Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson be considered one of the top tandems currently in the NFL? NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks believes so.
In his latest rankings of the top five cornerback tandems in the NFL right now, Brooks has Haden and Nelson ranked fifth overall and below is his reason why.
Don’t let the Steelers’ zone-blitz reputation fool you into believing the team’s corners aren’t capable of locking down opponents on the perimeter. Haden and Nelson (and nickel back Mike Hilton) are versatile corners with the capacity to come up with big plays in man or zone coverage. Each is adept at clueing the quarterback to get quicker reads on throws, and their superb technique enables them to maintain proper leverage on their receivers down the field. Given their individual and collective consistency in coverage and their overall physicality/toughness, it is time for the Steelers’ corners to get their props for the solid work they do each week.
That’s a fair assessment on Brooks’ part. After all, the Steelers pass defense was very strong last season in coverage and Haden and Nelson both finished in the top 10 in yards allowed per coverage snap of all NFL cornerbacks targeted at least 50 times in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. They combined to register 6 interceptions in 2019 as well.
Ranked ahead of Haden and Nelson by Brooks are Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters of the Baltimore Ravens, Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots, Byron Jones and Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins and Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Haden and Nelson will be playing in their second season together in 2020. Nelson was signed a year ago by the Steelers in free agency while Haden joined the Steelers in 2017 after being cut by the Cleveland Browns.