If you believe all the chatter on social media lately, it is a foregone conclusion that the Steelers will be taking a running back in the first round. Well, we have news for you. The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 first round pick will not be a running back, they will be taking a corner first this year. All the clues are there if you dig deep enough. Let’s go through them:
In case you forgot, the Steelers cut Steven Nelson:
This fact seems to be long forgotten by Steelers fans as of late. Sure, the team could slide Cam Sutton to replace him. But then who replace Mike Hilton in the slot? Sutton’s best position is slot corner where his limited athletic ability will not be exposed. That leaves the Steelers with either Justin Layne or James Pierre as a starting corner in 2021. That is less than ideal to say the least. If Pittsburgh wants to keep this defense as a top tier unit, the move would be to draft an premier corner at 24.
Joe Haden is OLD:
Joe Haden just turned 32 years old this April. That is ancient in terms of NFL corners. He still played at a reasonably high level in 2020, but for how much longer can the Steelers reasonably expect this to continue? Not to mention that Haden is also about to enter the last year of his contract. The 2022 depth chart currently looks like Sutton at slot, with James Pierre and Justin Layne as your starters on the outside. Corner has to be addressed in this draft, and most likely in the first round.
Why else got to the Florida St. pro-day?:
Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin both made the trek to the Florida St. pro-day this year. https://steelersnow.com/steelers-kevin-colbert-mike-tomlin-at-florida-state-pro-day-for-cb-asante-samuel-jr-others/
It was a bit of a curious move considering that is not a regular stop for these two. Add to that the fact the Seminoles had basically only one first round prospect. The rest of their draft eligible players will barely crack the day three portion of the draft. And who is that day one prospect? None other than corner Asante Samuel Jr. It is clear the Steelers were doing their due diligence on corners this off-season.
Tomlin, Colbert, AND Grady Brown visit Georgia:
The fact that defensive backs coach Grady Brown went along to the Georgia pro-day is hugely significant. That school has two top tier corner prospects in this upcoming draft. Both Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell are top ten players at that position. We are particularly interested in Stokes because of his elite athleticism, and his production. This is the player we have zeroed in on as the likely Steelers first round pick. Steelers first round pick in five tries: Version two
Need versus visits:
If you follow along with the curious pro-day campaign that Colbert and Tomlin went on, corner becomes the only logical position the Steelers will draft. Center is the number one glaring need on this team, yet the duo decided to skip the Oklahoma pro-day. That despite the fact the number one center prospect Creed Humphrey being there. They did go to Alabama, but its highly unlikely Landon Dickerson gets drafted in the first round with all his injury history.
Colbert and Tomlin did got to Clemson and Alabama, supporting the running back argument. Two things with this though. First, those two schools are always on the list for the Steelers two head decision makers. Both schools are chock full of draftable prospects. Second, why skip the North Carolina pro-day? If running back were indeed a top target, Javonte Williams is right there with Etienne and Williams in this running back class.
The edge position, is still another possibility for the Steelers at 24. The position is very weak however, and the Steelers would undoubtedly be reaching on a player if they decided to go in this direction.
Taking all these clues into consideration, corner back, not running back has to be considered the front runner for the Steelers 2021 first round pick. Sure there are other needs on this team. But when considering depth of position, need, and Steelers visits, corner stands out as the most likely position. So we can stop wasting time on the running back debate. That is not where the Steelers will be going in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.