The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a cornerback in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current secondary depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but are there some prospects, but what about the mid-round options? There are a lot of talented players who could be available to the Steelers in the mid-to-later rounds, and Shaun Wade certainly is a tough player to peg in regards to where he is expected to be taken in the upcoming draft.
There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a cornerback to bolster their depth in 2021, and if Ohio State’s Wade is available when the Steelers pick on Day 2 or early Day 3, is he an option?
I did some digging on Wade, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Wade. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Wade in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Draft Network
Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade will be a hotly contested prospect after seeing his fair share of successes and failures with the Buckeyes program. Wade burst onto the scene as a dynamic freshman and starred in a nickel corner role for a Buckeyes secondary that was loaded with talent throughout the course of his first two seasons in Columbus. But Wade’s junior season saw a transition to the perimeter and a fair share of struggles with life on the outside, calling into question whether or not Wade can play on the boundary and whether or not he’s destined for a role as a nickel or safety. Based on Wade’s 2020 play, a transition to strong safety feels like a safe bet to maximize his athletic skills, length, and hitting power without tasking him to cover too much ground or play on an island in coverage. Wade’s ceiling really shines when he’s able to be protected vertically, so even if he went into the pros as a cornerback, he’d be best suited to play in a two-deep variation. In all, Wade has plenty of potential; but after three seasons in Columbus, he feels no closer to reaching it and a position change may be his best ticket to getting there.
Ideal Role: Base defense strong safety—big nickel coverage option.
Scheme Fit: Wade has the length and athleticism to play man and trigger skills and size to play in zone. He projects favorably to multiple schemes, but defenses that utilize three safeties often feels like the best fit.
The Pro Football Network
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Ohio State
- Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 195 pounds
Positives: Physically talented cornerback who shows a physical nature to his game, mixes it up with receivers, and stays on the opponent’s hip out of breaks. Effectively brackets receivers over the middle of the field with safeties, displays a closing burst, and swiftly gets to the ball.
Consistently gets his head back around to locate the pass in the air. Forces the action upfield when focused on his game. Effectively defends the run or screen passes. Strong and easily brings opponents down at the point of attack.
Negatives: Shows a lot of hesitation in his game. Played with a nonchalant attitude last year, seemed as though he was going half-speed, and gave up on plays rather easily. Inefficient and takes too many steps getting to the action.
Analysis: When breaking down Wade I saw two players on film. The first was a potentially dominant cornerback with the ability to shut down opponents with physicality as well as ball skills. The other prospect, and the one most prominent last year, played like an undrafted free agent that looked like he’d rather be elsewhere than the football field.
What I liked: Wade has ideal size/length and he plays with tremendous awareness. He primarily aligns in the slot, but he will roll back to the deep middle in some of Ohio State’s coverage schemes. He’s very disciplined as a zone defender, showing the ability to quickly read pattern combinations and position himself to make plays on the ball.
In man coverage, Wade is patient and avoids false steps. He’s a smooth, fluid mover and he can build speed to catch up down the field. He’s also a very dynamic blitzer from the slot. He disguises well and displayed the ability to dip and bend around the offensive tackle in the Cincinnati game. He earned a sack and forced a fumble on that play. He’s also a very reliable tackler. I love his overall toughness and demeanor.
Where he needs to improve: Wade flashes a physical jam in press coverage, but there are too many occasions in which he doesn’t shoot his hands and allows free access to receivers off the line of scrimmage. He was beat inside in the Penn State and Wisconsin games I studied. He also needs to improve his hands from a ball-skills perspective. He left a couple interceptions on the field in the games I watched. He was in position, located the ball, but simply didn’t finish with the catch.
Biggest takeaway: Wade has some areas where he can improve, but he likely would have been a first-round pick had he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. He’ll have an opportunity to prove he can hold up outside at cornerback this fall and that should only increase his value for the next level. He could emerge as the premier player at his position in the country. Ohio State knows how to develop defensive backs. He’s next in line.
He reminds me of: I don’t have a perfect comparison for Wade, but I see some similarities to Minkah Fitzpatrick when he was coming out of Alabama. Both guys can play all over the secondary. They possess outstanding instincts and toughness. Fitzpatrick had noticeably better ball skills, but I’m hopeful Wade will make some strides this fall to improve in that area.
Teams were split on where Fitzpatrick would best fit at the next level. Some thought he would be an elite nickel back, others liked him at free safety and a few believed he could hold up outside at cornerback. After moving around during his brief time with the Dolphins, he settled in at free safety for the Steelers after being traded to Pittsburgh early last season. I believe teams will have similar discussions about Wade. I’m hoping he will land with the right team, one that will find the perfect role for him.