Steelers’ Secondary Named Team’s Biggest Post-NFL Draft Question By CBS Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a completely different team than they were a few months ago.

Since the 2022 season ended in January, the front office has renovated a roster that managed to finish with a 9-8 record last season in hopes of making the Steelers a viable contender in the AFC. GM Omar Khan attacked free agency in ways Steelers fans have not seen before, signing quality starters like CB Patrick Peterson, OG Isaac Seumalo, and LB Cole Holcomb to shore up their various needs with proven veterans. The Steelers also acquired veteran WR Allen Robinson II on the cheap, giving the team a proven receiver to help mentor the room as well as give Kenny Pickett a reliable target.

During draft weekend, Khan, assistant GM Andy Weidl, and the rest of the front office hit it out of the park, landing value at nearly every selection. The team drafted its future franchise LT in Broderick Jones while managing to land CB Joey Porter Jr. in the second round. The Steelers followed that up by getting DL Keeanu Benton, TE Darnell Washington, LB Nick Herbig, CB Cory Trice Jr., and OL Spencer Anderson to cap off a stellar first draft with Khan at the helm.

Following the draft, Tyler Sullivan of CBS Sports penned a piece highlighting every NFL team’s biggest question post-draft. For the Steelers, Sullivan posed the question of how the secondary with shake out after Pittsburgh’s additions with Porter Jr. and Trice as well as in free agency with Patrick Peterson.

“Pittsburgh has invested heavily in its secondary this offseason and was headlined by an NFL Draft where it came away with Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice, who were two of the tallest corners in this class,” Sullivan wrote. “With Patrick Peterson in the fold and Chandon Sullivan also coming aboard from Minnesota, the Steelers are looking at an extremely crowded cornerback room. That’s not a bad problem to have whatsoever, but it’ll be fascinating to see how a guy like Porter Jr. meshes into a secondary that has Peterson and Levi Wallace on the outside and safeties like Keanu Neal and Minkah Fitzpatrick.”

After the Steelers selected Porter 32nd overall with the top pick in the second round, DC Teryl Austin made it clear that 2023 wouldn’t be a redshirt year for the Penn State product. He will get every opportunity to show he deserves to start as a rookie, likely battling Wallace for a starting spot on the outside. Peterson has been rumored to move around more this season following the loss of Cameron Sutton to the Lions in free agency, but Peterson has primarily been an outside corner for his entire NFL career, making a potential move inside a bit of a projection.

During Day Three of the draft, the Steelers signed CB Chandon Sullivan, who played the most slot snaps of any corner in 2022, suggesting that he may be their guy on the inside to pair with Arthur Maulet. Trice, a seventh-round pick, will likely be a reserve and special teamer should he make the team out of training camp. The future of Ahkello Witherspoon is up in the air given the fact he had an injury-riddled 2022 campaign. He could be a cap casualty.

The Steelers currently have 11 CBs on the roster, making for a crowded room as Sullivan mentioned above. Players like Trice, Witherspoon, Maulet, and James Pierre shouldn’t be considered locks to make the 53-man roster while the status of who earns the starting jobs outside of Peterson are up in the air as well. It will be fascinating to see how this room shakes out, not only regarding who starts but also who secures a roster spot. This is shaping up to be the fiercest training camp battle when Pittsburgh reports to Latrobe, and all of yinz should be tuning in to see who seizes the moment.

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