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Cornerback should not be high on the Steelers’ 2018 NFL Draft wish list

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The Steelers have thoroughly addressed their cornerback position in recent years. And with these recent investments seemingly paying dividends (or about to), there is no real need to address the position again with another high draft pick.

Cleveland Browns v'u2020Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It seems like mock-a-mania is running wilder than it ever has at this time of year.

Yes, one mock after another has already had the Steelers selecting a whole bunch of people in the first or second round.

Without doing any real research, I already know we're well-over two months away from the actual 2018 NFL Draft. Therefore, just about every college prospect and every position could be mocked in Pittsburgh's first round slot between now and April 26 (I just looked it up).

But, regardless which players grade out near the latter part of the first round, if there's one position I'm pretty adamant doesn't need to be addressed by the Steelers this time around, it's the cornerback position.

Yes, I realize that's kind of a radical change for yours truly this time of year. After all, I spent the past five or six springs crying at the top of my lungs that Pittsburgh really needed to upgrade its cornerback spot.

This was often met with objections, as most Steelers fans seem to fall in-love with a handful of the sexiest outside linebackers/edge rushers/defensive ends at the top of the measurables chart this time of year.

Thankfully, the Steelers began to seriously look at a cornerback upgrade, starting in 2015, when they selected Senquez Golson in the second round of the draft.

Unfortunately, Golson never paid off, starting with day one, but that didn't stop Pittsburgh from continuing to work to improve at a position that, much like the offensive line from 2003-2009 (no hogs were selected higher than the third round during that time), it had neglected for many years.

In 2016, the Steelers selected Artie Burns in the first round. One round later, Sean Davis, a cornerback/safety hybrid, was the pick.

After seeing spot duty early in his rookie season, Burns made the leap to starter by the end of 2016. Davis, meanwhile, took advantage of Golson's never-ending injury problems and began his first year as the number three corner—or slot—before ultimately being promoted to starting safety during the second half of the season.

The revamping of the cornerback position continued last spring, when the Steelers selected the highly-regarded Cameron Sutton in the third round—or two rounds lower than he may have been drafted, had it not been for some injury issues at Tennessee.

Like every training camp, there was an underdog sensation that made fans giddy. I'm talking about Mike Hilton, an undrafted free-agent who spent the previous season on the practice squads of the Jaguars and Patriots.

Hilton was the talk of training camp. And, unlike some previous underdog sensations, Hilton, like Golson, an Ole Miss alum, continued to impress all throughout camp, so much so, in-fact, that he elevated himself past veteran Willie Gay and became the team's number three corner by the end of training camp.

The Steelers were super-excited about what the likes of Burns, Sutton and Hilton could bring to the corner position, but not so excited they'd pass on a chance to sign veteran Joe Haden late last summer, which they did almost immediately after he was released by the Browns.

Despite some concerns over injuries and declining play in previous years, Haden came in and quickly became a steadying veteran presence for a position now full of youth.

This isn't to say Burns, for example, hasn't had his troubles with things like tackling and blown assignments during his first two seasons.

And this isn't to say Hilton, despite his impressive rookie season that included two interceptions, six passes defensed and a whopping four sacks, should already be labeled as the real deal.

And, hey, maybe Haden, 29 in April, will regress a bit now that he's that much closer to 30.

But the good news is that Burns is, indeed, a young corner, and those guys generally struggle with consistency early in their careers.

As for Hilton, there's no reason to think he's not the real deal until he gives you a reason to.

When it comes to Haden, I'm willing to gamble that the two-time Pro Bowler's struggles in the years prior to coming to Pittsburgh were more injury-related—and Cleveland malaise-related—than talent-regression.

Yes, here we are, about 10 weeks before the 2018 NFL Draft, and I'm pretty confident the Steelers have sufficiently infused the cornerback position with enough high-end talent that any mock draft that has them addressing the position with another top pick—while ignoring a more glaring one such as inside linebacker—is a mock draft I will not take seriously.