With the 2021 NFL Draft fast approaching, it is a good time to take a step back from looking at just individual players and instead look at position groups as a whole. The depth and talent at each position varies year by year, so each draft will have certain players taken earlier or later than expected due to the value the Pittsburgh Steelers may or may not be able to get later in the draft.
Here we are taking a deeper look into the cornerback position for the upcoming draft.
Top Tier Talent: A-
The top of the draft features several guys who have potential to be stars very early in their career as shut down corners. With 5-6 corners potentially going in the first round, as well as the possibility that two go within the top 10, it is hard to argue that this is another very good cornerback group at the top.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if the Steelers select a cornerback at some point in the draft, but it would surprise some people if it was in the first round. There are some guys in this group that would be absolute difference makers immediately in their secondary, so while I don’t think it is where I’d put my money, I wouldn’t bet against one of the top guys falling to the Steelers at #24.
Middle Round Talent: B-
The mid round talent in this draft leaves something to be desired. While there are some guys with potential, a lot of them seem to have a legitimate reason they aren’t in the top group of corners. However, if you’re looking for a slot corner or guys with positional versatility, then the middle rounds has some really solid options this year.
After losing multiple defensive backs this offseason, it is key for the Steelers to add at least one in the draft. There are multiple players in the middle of the draft that have position versatility, whether it be inside/outside or slot/safety, that should be on the Steelers radar.
Late Round Talent: B-
When teams look to add a player late in the draft, they tend to focus more on individual traits a player can build on. With corners, that tends to be guys that are great athletes, have prototypical size, or good ball skills. This year there are some guys like that, but it seems the picking is a little slim compared to years past.
With that said, it wouldn’t be the worst decision for the Steelers to add someone late in the draft. They have more needs than normal this season, so waiting until round 5-7 might be forced depending on where players fall.
Potential Early Round Targets: Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley, Greg Newsome II, Asante Samuel Jr.
Surtain might be a bit of a stretch, but I included him because there is a chance he falls. The rest of the guys listed are definitely in play with one or two getting sniped beforehand. Farley excels in zone but he has the physical tools, he should be able to become a great man corner as well. Samuel Jr. is probably the most versatile one in this group, but may also be the lowest rated by most. The Steelers couldn’t go wrong with any of these guys early on.
Potential Mid-Round Targets: Jevon Holland, Aaron Robinson, Elijah Molden, Kelvin Joseph, Benjamin St-Juste, Ifeatu Melifonwu
The Steelers could definitely get someone in the middle rounds who can step in and contribute early in the season as a lot of the names here play either multiple positions or in the slot. The Steelers biggest hole currently is in the slot, so that is why there has been a focus on players that can move there. Holland, Molden, and Robinson all can play in the slot while the first should be good safeties as well if needed. Both Joseph and Benjamin St-Juste profile as very good outside corners with some development, but should be used in sub packages more than every down starters early on. This group is where I think the Steelers are most likely to select someone.
Potential Late Round Targets: Thomas Graham Jr., Keith Taylor, Tre Brown, Camryn Bynum
These guys listed all have their holes and deficiencies, but they each have certain areas they excel and possess upside. Both Taylor and Bynum are long, physical, outside corners that have some questions about being too physical at times and with their long speed. Graham Jr. and Brown both are gritty corners that have made a living on the outside despite being small for the position. Both have questions if they can hold up outside in the NFL, so a move inside likely gives them the best chance to succeed.
Overall the 2021 Draft Class possesses some good players at the cornerback position that can help the Steelers improve their depth and playmaking in their secondary. However, people might be surprised with how big of a need the team sees it as a lot of people don’t seem to have them choosing one until late.
Let us know if you think the Steelers will target a cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft and where you see them looking to draft one!