The usual debate between Pittsburgh Steelers fans is whether the team should draft by Best Player Available strategy, or to focus on a position of need in the early rounds of the selection process. However, the debate this year seems to consist around whether the team should draft a pass rusher or cornerback in the first round.
There is certainly an argument to be made for both positions, and this argument typically leads to an “egg or chicken” type debate when it comes to which position will better improve the team defense this year. A good pass rush improves the secondary by giving the quarterback less time to throw, while a solid secondary can prevent the passing game from getting their primary and secondary options on any given play.
Either way, it is no shock mock drafts across the world wide web have been picking either a pass rusher or cornerback in almost every scenario. Our friends at Walter Football recently released their latest mock draft, and they went with the secondary option rather than going the pass rusher route.
Take a look at their pick, and their reasoning behind it:
Pittsburgh Steelers: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
The Steelers could use a cornerback to pair with Artie Burns.
White produced some huge plays early in 2016 on his way to totaling 35 tackles with 14 passes broken up and two interceptions on the year. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder is fast with the ability to prevent separation, but he can struggle with big receivers. Some team sources have said they graded White in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
White totaled 44 tackles with seven passes broken up and a punt returned for a touchdown in 2015. He had some struggles with big receivers in Mississippi State's De'Runnya Wilson and Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell that season. White played well in 2013 and 2014 with two picks in each year and solid run support. He had 55 tackles as a freshman and 33 stops as a sophomore. White showed steady ball skills over his career, batting away seven passes in 2013 and six as a sophomore.
The pick of cornerback over edge rusher isn’t the entire story here, but also the prospect selected. The Steelers need to find the most NFL ready player at No. 30, and is White that type of prospect?
White is known for his ability to play man coverage schemes, something the Steelers would gladly take in their secondary, but he does come with a general lack of physicality in run support.
Check out his strengths and weaknesses from his 2016 NFL Draft profile:
Experienced island corner with slot reps over last two seasons. Quick twitch with exceptional footwork. Uses controlled hop-steps from press for extended face-up against receivers. Patient in press and rarely commits prematurely. Uses reactive quickness for quick recovery when beaten from slot. Pattern reader will jump path of route and attack throw. Plus click-and-close burst to ball. Impressive 15 passes defensed on 42 targets in 2016. Stop-start change of direction allows him to shadow in tight quarters. Sticky coverage on crossers and intermediate routes. Rose to challenge in coverage of Amari Cooper in 2014 and Calvin Ridley in 2016. Improved willingness to attack line of scrimmage and do his part against the run. Awarded coveted No. 18 jersey at LSU, symbolizing success and selfless attitude on and off the field. Three-year punt returner with a return touchdown in each season. Was also used as a gunner.
Finesse cornerback with relatively slender frame. Physicality and play strength a concern from slot. Big-bodied slot targets will post him up in space and drive him off the line in run game. Tackles when necessary, but doesn't seek out contact. Less technique-oriented and more grabby from slot. Finished career with just six interceptions despite extensive playing time. Early anchor from off coverage caused struggles opening hips when receivers would stem and go. Recovery-quick but not recovery-fast. Texas Tech speedster Jakeem Grant gave him all kinds of vertical work in 2015 Texas Bowl.