Despite the Pittsburgh Steelers preparing for their AFC Divisional Round game against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Playoffs, the majority of NFL teams have begun their offseason preparations. Other than free agency, the draft process is certainly paramount with teams looking add quality talent to their team at specific positions.
It is no mystery the Steelers need help in the secondary, and one of the biggest reasons for this concern is the fact the majority of their secondary will be free agents at the end of the season. William Gay, Antwon Blake and Brandon Boykin will all hit free agency, if the Steelers don't lock them up, and if they all leave for greener pastures, the team will be looking at Ross Cockrell, Senquez Golson and Doran Grant as the only returning defensive backs with experience in the Steelers' system.
With all that said, it should come as no surprise that many are projecting the Steelers to address the cornerback position in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. I know what you are thinking, "But the Steelers NEVER draft a cornerback in the first round." This is true, but it didn't stop ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. from having the Steelers do the unthinkable with their first pick in the draft.
See who Kiper had going to the Steelers, and his analysis:
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
*Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Steelers have been a mess on the back end for much of the season, and could add multiple cornerbacks in the draft. (Remember they will get back Senquez Golson, however.) Fuller comes from a line of NFL players (his brother is a cornerback for the Bears) and has tremendous talent. He missed much of 2015 after trying to play through a cartilage injury in his knee, but should be in great shape for the draft process.
(The asterisks by Fuller's name signifies he has one year of eligibility remaining.)
Could the Steelers break their growing trend of delaying drafting defensive backs until the early-to-mid rounds of the draft? There are other areas of need which certainly could trump the secondary, as difficult as that may be to read for most fans. Nonetheless, regardless of how you view the Steelers' potential draft needs, the team will likely follow the "Best Player Available" philosophy which has helped them land some tremendous players in recent draft classes.
Kiper has the Steelers drafting No. 24, but I'm sure all would agree the hope is they draft with the No. 31 position and the serious draft talk doesn't start until Mid-February after the Steelers bring home their 7th Lombardi trophy.