2020 Offseason Questions: Should Steven Nelson Be Considered Steelers’ No. 1 CB?

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: Should Steven Nelson be considered the Steelers’ ‘number one;’ cornerback? Does that even mean anything?

If you ask Joe Haden or Nelson, they’re going to tell you that they don’t have a number one cornerback, and that perhaps a lot of teams don’t. The case could certainly be made for that. In the two years before Nelson was signed, the Steelers occasionally used Haden to shadow a particular opponent, the way they used Ike Taylor. They don’t do that now, trusting that either Haden or Nelson could get the job done.

In whatever sense could be applied to the ‘number one cornerback’ for the Steelers, however, even if that is simply a matter of which player is the ‘best’, should Nelson be considered the best that the team has to offer right now, or does Haden, now the grizzled veteran, still lay hold to that claim?

Signed during free agency last year, Nelson provided the Steelers with two reliable options at cornerback last season for the first time in the better part of a decade, and helped them build one of the best secondaries in football.

The case could be made for Nelson actually being better, and you can take a stab at it below in the comments if you wish. Chances are it will start with the fact that he did not allow a single touchdown in coverage all of last season, which is a rare enough feat for a starting cornerback to be notable.

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