Previously, I had talked about top-level cornerbacks the Steelers could target in this year’s NFL Draft, and whether Pittsburgh feels the position is a need. (They should.)
There are two different styles of cornerbacks, a nickel or slot corner, and your prototypical boundary corner (both were defined in the previous article as well).
In this column, I would like to point out the remaining cornerbacks who could be on the board when the Steelers are on the clock in round three and beyond. I believe this is a deep draft for the position… so much so, I felt doing a “Crop” and a “Dregs” was unfair for these incoming pros. Nearly every player could fit into the “Cream” category.
That’s another reason I feel Pittsburgh could find value in the later rounds. Let’s take a look at these guys and see who the team could pick on draft day.
If there is a run on cornerbacks, some of these guys could still go on day one. Most are likely to be day two guys. There is strong, starter level talent here. Maybe even future Pro-Bowl selections.
Each of these players has a little more risk than the Cream corners, but are still solid, quality players.
This “Crop” includes:
- Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)
- Desmond King (Iowa)
- Rasul Douglas (West Virginia)
- Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)
- Cameron Sutton (Tennessee)
- Jourdan Lewis (Michigan)
- Quincy Wilson (Florida)
- Shaquill Griffin (Central Florida)
Cordrea Tankersley reminds me of Dre Kirkpatrick. He’s a lockdown corner, and he has the tape to prove it. But he also gets flagged for PI a lot (8 times in two seasons) and is inconsistent looking back to find the ball. He won’t be around at 62, so if the Steelers want him they’ll have to take him at 30.
King was a corner in college who projects to safety in the pros. I didn’t profile him in that piece because he’s still categorized as a corner, but his lack of size and speed scream transition. I don’t think he’s going to be on the Steelers radar because if they want him to play corner, he really is more of a zone corner, and if they are looking for man skills, he’s not the guy.
This quote from an AFC scouting director on Marlon Humphrey’s NFL.com profile page says it all about why he’s here and not in the Cream:
“There are some things on tape that really worry you. If he has trouble playing the long ball it is going to be bombs away against him and his team might have to change how they cover because of that. Those issues usually don’t go away.”
He has upside, but he has some real downside as well. His measurables at the combine were pretty good, but he needs time to develop, and time to develop does not equal “Cream”. I think he’s a guy the Steelers pass on simply because they need immediate contributors, not developmental guys in the secondary.
Cameron Sutton ran a little slow at the combine and while he is a man-cover corner, he needs to add muscle. I’d still consider Sutton in the third or fourth but not before.
Douglas and Lewis both have potential. They also both come with risk. I think if the Steelers want them they would have to use pick 30, and I don’t think they warrant that high of a pick. Douglas doesn’t have the speed you want in a corner, but his height will make some GM’s drool. Lewis also ran a little slower than I would have liked for a guy who I see as being more of a slot because of his size issue.
Quincy Wilson and Shaquill Griffin are both guys in this group that I would definitely take in the second round if available. Wilson is a potential first-rounder, but he’s a little sloppy in coverage, but many scouts like him a lot more than Teez Tabor because of his toughness and size. He’s another potential safety transition, which kind of takes him off the board for me unless we take him to be a safety.
Shaquill Griffin, on the other hand, I’d consider taking in the second. And he might be. He’s not even on some draft boards and could be a real sleeper. He’s a slightly shorter Ike Taylor who can catch.
I felt bad enough about the guys in the safety group being called “Dregs”, but if possible I might feel worse about these guys. There are guys in here who, except for potential injury issues, could have been day one picks. If the Steelers are still in the market for a corner in round three and beyond, these are solid players who could contribute:
- Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado)
- Howard Wilson (Houston)
- Fabian Moreau (UCLA)
- Kevin King (Washington)
- Corn Elder (Miami)
- Marquez White (Florida State)
- Damontae Kazee (San Diego Stat)
Fabian Moreau is an ex-running back who transitioned to corner. He had a Lisfranc injury in his left foot and that is concerning, but he performed well at the combine. I almost moved him back up into Crop because of it. As an ex-running back, it’s hit or miss as to how much he was asked to catch the ball, so hands could be suspect. Still, in the fourth, I’d be looking long and hard at him.
I like Howard Wilson from Houston too, but he may be more developmental. I’d look at him from the fourth round and later. I think the Steelers will have addressed this issue by then if they are going to. Corn Elder is another good looking prospect, more a slot guy than an edge guy, but could be a mid-to-late round pick.
Corn Elder is another good looking prospect, more a slot guy than an edge guy, but could be a mid-to-late round pick.
This group contains more guys who need time or are probably relegated to slot duties. Wilson, Moreau, and Elder all intrigue me, and I’d consider them later in the draft.
There are so many corners I’d love to see the Steelers get ahold of in this draft. In fact, I’d count on the Steelers taking a corner in either the first or second rounds, or third round at the latest. That’s too bad for all those mid-level guys, but the Steelers need “now” guys, not “maybe tomorrow” guys.
It’s possible that the Steelers can’t get the guy they want, where they want. As a result, they might not pick up a corner in this draft, but I think that’s unlikely. There will be value left at pick 30 and at pick 62. If one of the top guys slide, look for the Steelers to go corner in round one, regardless of if it’s their primary need.
If not, then I would guess they take the best corner on the board at 62 unless it’s a reach.
I say there’s an 80% chance one of these guys on this list might be in Black and Gold next year.