Steelers draft capsule
This is the seventh of seven Pittsburgh Steelers position-by-position analyses for the 2019 NFL draft, which begins Thursday:
Currently on roster: Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Artie Burns, Brian Allen, Herb Waters, Kameron Kelly
Last five drafts: The Steelers have selected six cornerbacks in the last five years, and they haven’t had much success. Burns (first round, 2016) has been a major disappointment, and Senquez Golson (second round, 2015) was even worse. Shaquille Richardson (fifth round, 2014) and Doran Grant (fourth round, 2015) were also disappointments who recently were playing in the Alliance of American Football. The Steelers haven’t given up on Allen (fifth round, 2017), but he’ll need to take a big step forward this year. Sutton (third round, 2017) took that step last year and ended up moving ahead of Burns on the depth chart.
Top cornerbacks available: Greedy Williams, LSU; Bryon Murphy, Washington; Deandre Baker, Georgia; Julian Love, Notre Dame; Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
The Steelers might select: Williams, Murphy, Baker, Love, Ya-Sin, Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen, Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye, Michigan State’s Justin Layne
Analysis: The Steelers signed Nelson to a three-year contract to help ease their yearly concerns at the cornerback position. But veteran Haden is in the final year of his contract and is in his 30s now. The Steelers could use a top-notch rookie cornerback to come in and be the type of player Burns was supposed to be. Williams would seem to be the best pick among this year’s crop of corners, but he might not last until the Steelers pick in the first round at No. 20. Murphy or Baker are options in the first round, too, and might fit into the Steelers’ system real well, but they might not be the best overall available talent at that pick. We’ll see. If the Steelers go into the second round without a cornerback, players like Love, Ya-Sin, Mullen, Oruwariye and Layne come into play. The Steelers need to get one of the top corners. Picking one with a third- or fourth-round grade isn’t going to make much of an impact on the team because they have players like Hilton, Sutton and Allen who are already in that mold.
Currently on roster: Terrell Edmunds, Sean Davis, Jordan Dangerfield, Marcus Allen, Jack Tocho, Marcelis Branch
Last five drafts: Edmunds, last year’s first-round pick, and Davis, a second-rounder in 2016, weren’t stars last year but weren’t too bad either as the team’s starting safeties. Allen, a fifth-round selection last year, could figure in the team’s long-term plans. Gerod Holliman (seventh round, 2015) is a National Arena League player.
Top safeties available: Taylor Rapp, Washington; Juan Thornhill, Virgina; Deionte Thompson, Alabama; Nasir Adderley, Delaware; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
The Steelers might select: Gardner-Johnson, Maryland’s Darnell Savage Jr., Boston College’s Will Harris
Analysis: With Edmunds and Davis being two recent high selections, it wouldn’t seem logical for the Steelers to use another high pick this year on a safety. But Davis is in a contract year, and the depth is a little questionable, so those have to be factored into the equation. The guess here is that the Steelers will go after a highly-touted cornerback with one of their first two picks, rather than go after a safety. But if things don’t fall the right way in that regard, they might want to just try and add some speed in the secondary in the middle rounds with a safety like Gardner-Johnson, Savage or Harris.