The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason. With free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2021 roster, and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. With the NFL combine and player pro days appearing to be back on the table in the coming months, there will hopefully be more information in regards to draft prospects this year.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available, rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest one-round mock draft by CBSSports.com, they have the Steelers adding to the cornerback position. With the Steelers having two of their top players in the position group no longer under contract, there is a need to add players either through free agency or the draft. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 20th pick:
20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Trent McDuffie| CB | Washington | Junior |
Being early in the draft process, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of McDuffie according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Trent McDuffie is a very good athlete with good lateral agility and overall quickness in coverage. In the run game, he is an aggressive tackler who seemingly enjoys the physical aspect of the game. He seems to relish when he is the force player in zone, so that he can be a willing participant in the run game. In the passing game, although he plays the game from “bail” technique more often than not, he demonstrates good hips and feel to stay in phase in coverage. He is always close in coverage and is rarely out of position. In zone, he demonstrates good instincts, easily passing off routes. He easily identifies when the opposition threatens his zone and knows how to utilize his help. I wish he were consistently more effective as a re-router in press situations. On third downs, he can play inside or outside but may have more value inside at nickel—it’s there that he can use his physicality, instincts, and lateral agility to excel at this position.
Ideal Role: Starting Cornerback
Scheme Fit: Skill set fits any scheme. Inside or outside.
For all you who are finding yourself diving more into draft analysis, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking McDuffie with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group or do you believe he will not be available when the Steelers make their pick?
Personally, I’m on the side of adding players at the cornerback position in free agency. Whether it be the return of Ahkello Witherspoon, Joe Haden, or another player coming in from another franchise in free agency, I just have a feeling this is where the Steelers will look to fill their holes at cornerback. I know many feel this way because of the Steelers’ history of drafting cornerbacks in the first round, but I’m not taking it that far.
As for McDuffie himself, I would be more than fine with this selection if this is the way the Steelers choose to go. If they did want a cornerback in the first round, I think he appears to fit a good mold that would be useful to them in helping with the running game as well. Additionally, if he’s someone who slid into the slot, he apparently has the physicality the Steelers may have been lacking there in 2021. But if the Steelers are going to go cornerback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they need to be addressing a number of other positions, particularly the offensive line, in free agency.