Are things looking up for Steelers’ CBs with new leader Joe Haden?

The Steelers cornerbacks have been a mess for years. They struggled to find consistency and high level talent for almost 5 years straight and it has held the team down. Even when the offense was flourishing, the defense was struggling enough to prevent the team from making it to the big game.

The Steelers really began looking to fix their secondary when they took Artie Burns and Sean Davis in 2016. By the end of that year, things were looking up, as Burns seemed talented, and Davis was solid. Cornerback Ross Cockrell was inconsistent but showed upside as well. Then, that offseason, the Steelers came away with CBs Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen through the draft. And just before the season began, the Browns released veteran Joe Haden, who was picked up by the Steelers shortly after. Cockrell was traded and Coty Sensebaugh added, making the depth chart to be: Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Coty Sensebaugh, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, and William Gay. Breakout corner Mike Hilton was added after exceptional preseaon performances.

Burns had another up-and-down season, Sensebaugh wasn’t great, Sutton was injured for the majority of the season, Allen was a project who only really saw special-teams time, and Gay was solid but not starter-level. There were only two pieces in the CB room who proved themselves. Mike Hilton, who was extraordinary but is limited to slot corner, and Joe Haden, the “burnt-out” corner who wasn’t good enough for the worst team in football history.

Haden was very good last year, though many still thought he was worse than ever before. On the contrary, according to PFF, Joe Haden was allowing the least yards per coverage snap in his career. In many aspects, especially with the surrounding defensive help, he’s playing better than back when he was considered a top 3 corner. Though he has been injury prone in the past, missing 5 games is not a deal breaker. In addition, while he was on the field he was a game changer and held a weak safety core from falling to pieces.

Now, with a roster including Haden, Burns, Hilton, Sutton, and Allen, who have all shown potential, the Steelers’ CBs may impress more than expected. Specifically, Sutton, who was quite good when given playing time, and Allen, who is extremely talented and receiving good reviews from coachers, are two players who may standout. With incoming Safety help like Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds, and Marcus Allen, the secondary may be considerably better than it has been in the last few years.

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