It hasn’t been easy for Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks—outside of Rod Woodson, Mel Blount, and Jack Butler—to get into the Pro Bowl. Typically, they don’t put up the numbers, even in the admittedly somewhat rare instances in which they possess all of the ability that should stamp their candidacy for such a designation.
Joe Haden making the Pro Bowl last year, even if he did so as an alternate, and not as someone who was voted in outright, was significant because it was the first time in a long while that the Steelers had sent a cornerback to the game. But if they have their way this year, they’ll send two next time, because Steven Nelson wants to join him and believes he has the talent to make it happen.
The year prior to him signing with the Steelers, Nelson did intercept four passes with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then in 2019, while he only took one pass away, he also allowed under 500 total yards in his coverage, and did not allow a single touchdown, one of few cornerbacks with extensive playing time to have done that.
Combine his efficiency from his first season with the Steelers and his splash plays from his last year with the Chiefs, and you have the makings of a Pro Bowler. So we do know he has what it takes. We’ve seen him have essentially one have of a Pro Bowl year in each of the past two seasons. It’s just a matter of doing both simultaneously.
“I think that is a major part of why I didn’t get selected in the Pro Bowl”, he told reporters a bit earlier this offseason on a Zoom conference. “The interceptions, the big plays, I was lacking in that area. It’s hard to go out there and say I am going to get some interceptions. You have to get targets”.
“I have had conversations with my inner circle”, he added. “Maybe I have to do some talking this year, get guys to throw at me. I do feel like this year I will get more than one interception at least. It should be a better year for me in that area”.
Being in the second year of a new system and having that additional layer of comfort and familiarity shouldn’t hurt, either. Even though he said that he left the Chiefs in part because he didn’t like the system they had implemented while he was there (which they since changed), it’s still an adjustment to go from one to another.