One of the top needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers come the 2023 NFL Draft is at cornerback. Early in free agency they added Patrick Peterson, but there is still a hole at cornerback as Ahkello Witherspoon is a question mark and Peterson himself is getting older.
Because of this a cornerback is very likely to be taken in one of the Steelers first three draft picks. However, today on the All Things Covered Podcast on YouTube, Peterson said he likes where the cornerback room prior to the draft.
“I think we are in a pretty good position as far as you just said a lot of guys with a ton of experience,” Peterson said. “A lot of those names that you named are guys that are interchangeable, they can kind of be lined up all over the field. So you got a bunch of wild cards in the room as well, it makes us that much more dangerous because you never know where that somebody is going to be.”
Names like Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, and Arthur Maulet fill out the rest of the projected starting cornerbacks. Maulet has filled the slot cornerback role in his time in Pittsburgh, being a Mike Hilton-esque player coming off the edge to blitz.
Peterson is the biggest name in the cornerback room, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the guys can’t play. Witherspoon had a great end to the 2021 season, and if he can get healthy and regain his confidence he can potentially be a good starting cornerback opposite Peterson. However, to be fair that is a huge question mark.
Wallace played well last year, intercepting four passes and allowing a passer rating against of only 73.0. His issue is that he simply isn’t the most athletic cornerback. He plays well most of the time, but when matched up against very athletic receivers he struggles. He’s a good CB2/great CB3 but you can’t trust him to lock down the elite WRs in the NFL.
Peterson at his age likely can’t either, which is why a rookie cornerback can potentially turn this from an average/above-average room to a good room. This year’s draft is very deep at cornerback so the Steelers will likely be able to get a quality player early in the draft.
If Pittsburgh is going to make a deep playoff run, it will need its secondary to hold its own. If the Steelers get to the playoffs they will likely see great quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen. Pittsburgh has a good pass rush but needs its secondary to be equally as good. Peterson believes they have a good room now, but there is certainly still room for improvement.