Steelers draft capsule
The following is the fifth of seven position-by-position Steelers 2018 draft analyses:
Currently on the roster: Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, Brian Allen, Dashaun Phillips, Antonio Crawford
Last five drafts: Burns (first round, 2016) has two years under his belt and needs to take another step forward in 2018. Sutton (third round, 2017) should get more time on the field this season with William Gay no longer with the team, and Allen (fifth round, 2017) could work his way into some type of role. Where are they now?: Senquez Golson (second round, 2015), Raiders; Doran Grant (fourth round, 2015), Bears; Shaquille Richardson (fifth round, 2014), Raiders; Terry Hawthorne (fifth round, 2013), CFL.
Top cornerbacks available: Denzel Ward, Ohio State; Jaire Alexander, Louisville; Josh Jackson, Iowa; Mike Hughes, Central Florida; Isaiah Oliver, Colorado; Carlton Davis, Auburn
The Steelers might select: Duke Dawson, Florida, in the third round; Grant Haley, Penn State; Dane Cruikshank, Arizona; M.J. Stewart, North Carolina, in the fifth round; Tony Brown, Alabama, in the seventh round
Analysis: The Steelers have gone heavily after cornerbacks in the last five years, and they don’t have a lot to show for it. But veteran Haden and Burns are a decent duo signed for two more years, and Hilton, Sutton, Sensabaugh and Allen provide depth. In today’s NFL, with how the rules favor the receivers, that’s a pretty good set of cornerbacks (if they continue to improve). If the Steelers feel the need to pick a corner in this draft, they’ll be looking at ones who can fill a nickel role, like the ones mentioned above.
Currently on the roster: Sean Davis, Morgan Burnett, J.J. Wilcox, Malik Golden, Jordan Dangerfield, Nat Berhe
Last five drafts: Davis (second round, 2016), like Burns, needs to step up this season. Shamarko Thomas (fourth round, 2013) had many opportunities to shine with the Steelers but never took advantage of them and is currently team-less. Gerod Holliman (2015, seventh round) has already been long forgotten in Pittsburgh.
Top safeties available: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Derwin James, Florida State; Ronnie Harrison, Alabama; Marcus Allen, Penn State; Armani Watts, Texas A&M
The Steelers might select: Harrison in the first round; Allen, Watts in the second round; Justin Reid, Stanford; Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest; Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech, in the third round; Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State, in the fifth round
Analysis: Free safety Mike Mitchell is gone, and nine-year Packers veteran Morgan Burnett was signed in the offseason to fill the void. With Davis not exactly a superstar at strong safety, Burnett new to the club and not great depth behind them, one would think safety is a position the Steelers will address in the draft. Fitzpatrick or James would be ideal picks, but they most likely won’t be available at pick No. 28. Harrison could be the Steelers’ man, especially if the top inside linebackers are gone by the time they pick. If not Harrison, someone like Reid, Bates or Edmunds would make sense on the second day of the draft.
Coming Tuesday: Defensive linemen
— Buck Frank