We are just a couple of weeks removed from the 2023 NFL Draft, and several media outlets are already putting out big broads, mock drafts, and prospect pairings for the 2024 NFL Draft class. Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report recently published an article, attempting to predict the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2024 NFL Draft big board. However, Tansey mentions only the cornerback position in his piece stating that Pittsburgh’s work is far from done in its secondary.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers could overhaul their secondary depth chart next year,” Tansey wrote. “Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2023 NFL season, per Spotrac, and Patrick Peterson could be deemed too expensive to keep around for the second half of the two-year deal he signed this offseason. Pittsburgh will have other needs come to the forefront of the draft discussion before next April, but it is already clear it might have to get younger in the secondary.”
Tansey lists Penn State’s Kalen King, Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, and Georgia’s Javon Bullard as names to watch as potential first-round prospects at CB Pittsburgh should consider selecting.
While Pittsburgh could look to retool its CB room next season with Witherspoon reportedly out the door and Wallace slated for free agency, I would personally consider it unlikely that Pittsburgh would allocate a first-round pick to a CB as we sit here today. Sure, Peterson is getting old, but he hasn’t fallen off a cliff yet and should prove to be a good mentor to Pittsburgh’s younger CBs. The team invested what normally would be a first-round selection in Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr., who hopefully becomes a starter for the Steelers on the outside at some point this season and beyond. They also have Cory Trice Jr., who has the traits to develop into a starting-caliber player on the outside.
Given this team’s potential needs for a long-term solution at ILB, SS, RT, and even the DL, using a top pick on a CB may not be the most sensible decision as we sit here today. Sure, if the value is there and a top CB like say Devon Witherspoon is staring you in the face like this season, you take it. However, the opportunity cost of retaining Wallace or signing another veteran rather than drafting a rookie CB for another position of need may make the most sense for Pittsburgh as it continues to try and load up the front seven on defense and likely attempt to find a running mate with Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end of the secondary.