The NFL draft is right around the corner and there’s a lot of options and needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year.
There is a lot of speculation as to what position the Steelers will address in the first round. There’s wide receiver, cornerback, defensive line and even tight end. The biggest need is cornerback. The secondary needs to improve.
While there’s a lot of focus on the first round, let’s hypothetically say the Steelers steer away from drafting a cornerback in the first round, which is likely considering the team hasn’t signed a a corner in the first round since Kevin Colbert became the general manger. If the Steelers take a “best available” with the fifteenth overall pick then picking up a corner may have to wait to a later round.
The high-end corners in the draft include Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard and Jason Varrett all of which will most likely be taken in the first round and if not falling to the fifteenth pick they won’t be wearing the black and gold. Let’s explore other corner options in later rounds who could help the Steelers’ secondary concerns.
Florida corner, Louchiez Purifoy, is projected to go anywhere from the third or fourth round. Purifoy has a lot of raw talent along with being very versatile. Although he lacks the specific skills there’s a lot of potential there for development. If any team can mold him, the Steelers are one of them. He’d be a nice pickup in a later round.
Another corner is Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska. Jean-Baptiste is a big, tall corner whose size allows him to break up passes consistently. He led the Cornhuskers last season in pass breakups with 11. He also reeled in four interception tying for most on the team. His large frame is ideal for the Steelers and although he’s a big guy he still needs to improve strength wise but that can be easily taken care of once entering the NFL.
Along with Purifoy and Jean-baptiste there’s Lamarcus Joyner out of Florida State. Joyner is projected to go in the second round which makes him a promising prospect. The Steelers could pull the trigger on him in the second round should he be out there as he’ll be sure to be picked over quickly.
Joyner isn’t the biggest corner but he’s quick and plays aggressive. One breakdown of Joyner pegged the cornerback as “overly aggressive” but that’s a stat you kind of want to see. Overly aggressive can be tamed but playing with high intensity is something every team wants. Joyner would be an excellent addition and with time, could develop into a well-rounded cornerback.
This draft is deep at several positions and cornerback is one of them. The Steelers may avoid one in the first round but they can grab one in a later round and still have a valuable player.