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 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? How might they tackle the 2023 NFL Draft? 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 many cornerbacks will be drafted by the time the Steelers are scheduled to select at 17?
There are three schools of thought as it pertains to the Steelers’ first-round draft pick. There are those who believe it should ideally be an offensive tackle, and those who believe it should ideally be a cornerback. The final group consists of those who are wrong.
I’m joking, of course, but largely a consensus has formed over the past couple of months that cornerback or offensive tackle would make the most sense, all other things being equal, for the Steelers in the first round.
We’ve already considered the question of tackle and who might be available by the time Pittsburgh selects, assuming that the team does not trade up or down. It is only fitting that we now do the same for the cornerbacks.
With cornerback, there is a fairly clear hierarchy near the top, though some rate Christian Gonzalez slightly higher or Devon Witherspoon. Either way, it seems rather unlikely that either will be available more than halfway through the first round. But you never know.
Most seem to have Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. pegged as the number three cornerback in this class and a realistic option at 17, though there is a distinct possibility that three cornerbacks could be off the board by then as well.
It is also possible that that third cornerback will be Deonte Banks instead of Porter. It’s easy to make judgements in a vacuum but every team has its own scouting team and different priorities for what it looks for in a given position, so there are always minor “surprises”, or moves seen as such by those on the outside.
If the top tier of tackles and cornerbacks are both gone by the time the Steelers select at 17, then they will have a decision to make. Do they draft the next-best player for need? Do they go to another position for a player of greater value? Do they trade down?
Or will they avoid the situation entirely and trade up to get the guy they want? General manager Omar Khan did talk about how important he believes it is, perhaps somewhat in contrast to his predecessor, to get a feel for what other teams might be thinking.