With our series breaking down each position on the roster completed, it’s time to turn our focus on what is going on within each position, and on the roster as a whole. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at some of the roster battles that we expect to see unfold over the course of training camp as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the start of the 2020 season.
This is not a conventional offseason, of course, for obvious reasons, which is likely to play a role in many of these battles, some in ways that we might not foresee. Generally speaking, it should favor players who have greater experience, but there’s a reason these questions are left unanswered until we get on the field.
Up for Grabs: Depth
In the Mix: Breon Borders, Trajan Bandy, Alexander Myres, James Pierre
The cornerback position may be the area of the Steelers’ roster that is most locked-in already heading into the 2020 season, with almost assuredly five players already accounted for on the roster—and it is within the realm of possibility that these are the only five who are brought into the season on the 53-man roster.
There are four young players, two rookie college free agents, one 2019 practice squad player, and one young veteran, who will be vying for the right to claim a sixth and final spot on the team at the cornerback position—the fact that multiple cornerbacks have safety flexibility perhaps making it more likely that a sixth is indeed kept.
The locks start with Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, the team’s established outside starting tandem at cornerback, as well as Mike Hilton, who has manned the slot for the past three seasons. Cameron Sutton has three seasons under his belt as well, having played everywhere from outside to dime. Finally, second-year former third-round pick Justin Layne would be a very surprising omission should he fail to make the team.
Of the four competing for an extra spot, Trajan Bandy, a rookie out of Miami, has gotten the most attention, particularly for his comparison to Hilton, a short slot defender who is capable of playing against the run and blitzing as well.
Myres is a player that the Steelers seemed to like last year, as they at one point waived him injured but later brought him back when he was healthy, signing him to the practice squad. Pierre is a rookie with good height at 6’2”, something the position lacks.
Finally, there is Breon Borders, who was signed amid a wave of XFL players coming in, though he was not one of them. Borders, out of Duke, was originally signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He spent a lot of time on different practice squads, but dressed for 12 games last season, 11 with the Jaguars, even starting one game, playing 97 total defensive snaps on the year.