NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Cornerbacks (2022)

Moving along in our Pittsburgh Steelers “what they look for” study for the 2022 NFL Draft Class. After tackling receiver Wednesday, we’re taking a look at the cornerback position today. By checking out the Steelers’ draft history under Mike Tomlin, we can create a set of minimum thresholds for this upcoming class and see what players best fit based on that criteria.

As I wrote in the receiver report, I am slightly changing my criteria and widening the scope of numbers I use due to the inactivity at this year’s Combine. I’ll repeat what I wrote there.

“Here’s how it will work. First, I’m only analyzing players who were Combine invites or else I’d be here for days searching all prospects. That’s in-line with what I’ve done in the past. If a player was a DNP for one test at the Combine, I will use his Pro Day number even if it was a timed event (which I had not included in the past because of the differing times and potentially fast numbers). Meaning, if a player didn’t run the 40 at Indy but ran it at his Pro Day, it will count. However, if a player ran the 40 at the Combine and at his Pro Day, I will roll with the Combine time, even if the Pro Day number was lower/better.

If a player participated in a “verifiable number” event: bench press, broad jump, or vertical jump, I will take the Combine or Pro Day numbers, whichever is higher. That is also the same methodology as I’ve used in the past.

Basically, I’m just opening up the eligibility to get more players on the list.”

Pittsburgh didn’t draft a cornerback last year so the list of names and by extension, the criteria, did not change. For clarification, I am considering Tre Norwood a safety, not a corner.

Here’s the list of CBs drafted by the Steelers since 2007 with our criteria listed below.

2019: JUSTIN LAYNE

Height: 6016
Weight: 192
Arm Length: 33″
Hand Size: 9 1/4″
40 Time: 4.51
Vertical: 37.5″
Broad Jump: 11’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.09
Three-Cone: 6.90

2017: CAM SUTTON

Height: 5110
Weight: 188
Arm Length: 30″
Hand Size: 8 1/4″
40 Time: 4.52
Vertical: 34″
Broad Jump: 10’0″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: 6.81

BRIAN ALLEN

Height: 6027
Weight: 215
Arm Length: 34″
Hand Size: 10″
40 Time: 4.43
Vertical: 38″
Broad Jump: 10’7″
Short Shuttle: 4.34
Three-Cone: 6.64

2016: ARTIE BURNS

Height: 5117
Weight: 193
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
40 Time: 4.46
Vertical: 33″
Broad Jump: 10’4″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

2015: SENQUEZ GOLSON

Height: 5085
Weight: 176
Arm Length: 29 3/4″
Hand Size: 9 3/8″
40 Time: 4.46
Vertical: 33.5″
Broad Jump: 10’0″
Short Shuttle: 4.20
Three-Cone: 6.81

DORAN GRANT

Height: 5102
Weight: 200
Arm Length: 30 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 3/8″
40 Time: 4.44
Vertical: 35.5″
Broad Jump: 10’5″
Short Shuttle: 4.33
Three-Cone: N/A

2014: SHAQ RICHARDSON

Height: 6001
Weight: 194
Arm Length: 32″
Hand Size: N/A
40 Time: N/A
Vertical: 38.5″
Broad Jump: 10’7″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

2013: TERRY HAWTHORNE

Height: 5116
Weight: 195
Arm Length: 31 1/4″
Hand Size: 8 7/8″
40 Time: 4.44
Vertical: 35.5″
Broad Jump: 9’8″
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

2012: TERENCE FREDERICK

Height: 5100
Weight: 187
Arm Length: 31 1/8″
Hand Size: 9 1/8″
40 Time: 4.54
Vertical: 35″
Broad Jump: 10’1″
Short Shuttle: 4.03
Three-Cone: 6.59

2011: CURTIS BROWN

Height: 5115
Weight: 185
Arm Length: 32 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
40 Time: 4.54
Vertical: 39.5″
Broad Jump: 10’6″
Short Shuttle: 4.00
Three-Cone: 6.59

CORTEZ ALLEN

Height: 6012
Weight: 197
Arm Length: 32 1/4″
Hand Size: 8 5/8″
40 Time: 4.53
Vertical: 37.5″
Broad Jump: 10’9″
Short Shuttle: 4.01
Three-Cone: 6.76

2010: CREZDON BUTLER

Height: 5116
Weight: 191
Arm Length: 32″
Hand Size: 8 3/4″
40 Time: 4.49
Vertical: 39.5″
Broad Jump: 10’1″
Short Shuttle: 4.23
Three-Cone: 7.08

2009: KEENAN LEWIS

Height: 6007
Weight: 208
Arm Length: 32 3/4″
Hand Size: 9 3/4″
40 Time: 4.55
Vertical: 38.5″
Broad Jump: 10’10”
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

JOE BURNETT

Height: 5093
Weight: 192
Arm Length: N/A
Hand Size: N/A
40 Time: 4.62
Vertical: 35.5″
Broad Jump: 9’10”
Short Shuttle: 4.25
Three-Cone: 6.68

2007: WILLIAM GAY

Height: 5101
Weight: 187
Arm Length: 31″
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
40 Time: N/A
Vertical: 38.5″
Broad Jump: 9’10”
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three-Cone: N/A

With the Steelers not drafting a CB in 2020, our criteria remains the same. Here it is.

Height 5’10″+ (12 of 14)
185+ pounds (13 of 14)
31+ inch arms (10 of 13)
4.55 40 or lower (11 of 12)
33+ inch vertical (14 of 14)
10’0″+ inch broad (11 of 14)
4.35 short shuttle (6 of 7)
6.90 three cone (6 of 7)

Three corners at this year’s Combine checked every single box. They are:

Name/School Height Weight Arm Length 40 Time Vert Broad SS 3 Cone
Kyler Gordon/Washington 5114 194 31 4.52 39.5 10’8″ 3.96 6.67
Chase Lucas/Arizona State 5112 188 31 7/8 4.48 38 10’8″ 4.16 6.78
Isaac Taylor-Stuart/USC 6014 201 31 1/2 4.42 36.5 10’3″ 4.17 6.81

 

Gordon is a “riser” in this process with good tape from a school that’s churned out a bunch of DBs in recent years. Lucas is more of a mid-round pick. Taylor-Stuart is considered a likely UDFA with scant production, but his athletic profile at his size is interesting and perhaps worth taking a flier on. He and Lucas are the most likely names of the three to be considered by Pittsburgh.

Seven other cornerbacks missed in just one category. They are:

One Box Away

Martin Emerson/Mississippi State: Vert (32 inches)
Akayleb Evans/Missouri: Three Cone (7.09)
Damarri Mathis/Pitt: Three Cone (DNP)
Zyon McCollum/Sam Houston State: Length (30 3/4)
Alontae Taylor/Tennessee: Three Cone (7.08)
Josh Thompson/Texas: Length (30 7/8)
Jaylen Watson/Washington State: Three Cone (7.25)

Emerson, McCollum, and Thompson came very close to checking that last box. Emerson missed the vert by an inch, McCollum missed in length by a 1/4 inch, and Thompson missed by just 1/8 an inch. Taylor is interesting for his versatility, toughness, and ball skills and would seem like a strong fit in Pittsburgh. Mathis lacks great size but plays big and is obviously a local product, while Watson is considered one of the best-kept secrets at the position.

Next up will be studying the interior offensive line, which I will post over the weekend.

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