The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: How likely are the Steelers to double dip at cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The Steelers are expected to address the cornerback position early in the 2023 NFL Draft, possibly as early as the first round. Some have even wondered if they might trade up in the first round to grab Christian Gonzalez, who is unlikely to last to their native 17th-overall selection.
If they don’t take a cornerback in the first round, one is likely to come soon after. But regardless of when the first one comes off the board, how likely is it that another will follow? And here I mean specifically two cornerbacks, or clearly cornerback-capable players, not a safety.
A high draft pick could start immediately over a crowd consisting of Levi Wallace, James Pierre, and Ahkello Witherspoon, the latter considered by many to be a prime candidate for release. But they could also use another slot defender, at the very least for depth, or rotational purposes.
Pretty much none of their cornerbacks with experience outside of Arthur Maulet have much experience or inclination for playing in the slot. Patrick Peterson could do it, and he expressed an openness to being moved around, but that’s a limited solution.
With the possibility that not many draft resources will be devoted to the offensive side of the ball after the offensive line is addressed, that would, in theory, increase the likelihood of a positional double-dip on the other side of the ball.
Cornerback figures to be the most likely, but one of those cornerbacks might be a flexible player who can work equally well in the slot as well as at safety. They have retained Damontae Kazee there and added Keanu Neal, yet many still get the sense that the Steelers view it as a position of need. A pure safety, however, would not satisfy the requirements of this prompt.