It has been well over a decade since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft. Despite fans repeatedly clamoring for the team to address the position in the early rounds, the Steelers have consistently gone elsewhere with their top pick, electing to draft a cornerback in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
The 2015 selection process saw a different trend with the team selecting cornerback Senquez Golson from Ole Miss in the second round. Prior to Golson, there have been nothing but failed mid-round picks represented on the Steelers' tainted draft charts.
The team has historically drafted the 'Best Player Available' (BPA) when their turn to pick comes around, and GM Kevin Colbert has admitted previously this philosophy won't change in the 2016 NFL Draft. For those who don't know, the BPA strategy comes with the Steelers taking the best player available, despite position, when they have the chance. This is why the team passed on Darqueze Dennard in the 2014 draft to take Ryan Shazier, and why they passed on Byron Jones to draft Bud Dupree in the 2015 draft.
The team has players ranked, and they follow their boards to a 'T'.
With the Steelers facing a draft plenty deep with defensive talent, they seem prepared to have a defense focused draft again for the second consecutive year. This is one of the reasons the team has focused primarily on the offensive side of the ball in free agency to date. The Ramon Foster, Ladarius Green and Darrius Heyward-Bey signings show the team is preparing for a defense oriented draft class.
So, will the team draft a cornerback in the first round? Colbert stuck to his guns when talking with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"We can't say we'll take a cornerback first, second or third," Colbert said. "But there are enough that we should be able to get one."
With the current state of the Pittsburgh secondary, there is a chance the team might look to draft more than one cornerback in this draft class, but the fact Colbert openly stated the team is looking for a cornerback in the early rounds is bucking a serious trend among the Steelers usual philosophy leading up to the draft.
Colbert said the team's scouting department has been tracking most of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft, and have been doing their best to see each prospect individually. Mike Tomlin and Colbert have already been spotted at Ohio State's Pro Day, where Eli Apple was working out, as well as Clemson's Pro Day, where Mackensie Alexander was doing work.
The Steelers are poised to draft a cornerback in 2016, but in which round will it take place? As always, it depends on the best player available when they select with the No. 25 pick in the draft process.