Can Darius Rush be a future starter for the Steelers at cornerback?
The Steelers have made an impressive amount of under-the-radar signings this offseason, and, while not all of them have turned out perfectly, it has shown the eye this front office has for true football talent. This week, the front office showed that eye once again.
With Anthony McFarland and Diontae Johnson returning from injury, roster moves were expected this week. However, I do not think anybody foresaw the release of defensive back Desmond King, who was a cheap signing many fans expected big things out of. King was one of the players released this week, but the team did bring in a new defensive back that may be even more intriguing.
Cornerback Darius Rush was a popular name this past Spring, as he shot up draft boards following his excellent performances at the Senior Bowl and Combine. In fact, there was a time when many projected him to be selected in the latter portions of the first round or, at the worst, mid second round. Being one of the most surprising fallers on draft weekend, Rush fell to Round 5, being selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 138th pick. Surprisingly, Rush did not remain with the Colts, as he most recently spent time with Kansas City on the practice squad.
This week, it was announced that Pittsburgh was signing Rush off the Chiefs practice squad. What may be a minor deal to most people is a major deal to those of us who had our ear to the ground during the pre-draft process. Rush was a player Mike Tomlin spent time with and seemed really high on, but after Joey Porter, Jr. fell all the way to 32, the need to select another corner was not enough for the Steelers to pull the trigger on him afterward. Pittsburgh waited until Round 7 to select Cory Trice, who looked promising before a season-ending injury.
Trice could still come back and have a future with this team, but with Darius Rush also in the picture now, it is worth asking the question: could Darius Rush be a future starter for the Steelers?
As it pertains to athleticism, Rush has everything it takes to become a star. At 6’2″, 195 pounds, and over 33″ arms, Rush recorded a 4.4 40, 35″ vertical, and 121″ broad jump. Despite recording 2 interceptions and 7 passes defended during his final season at South Carolina, he was often overshadowed by the Gamecocks number one corner Cam Smith, who was drafted in the second round by the Dolphins.
Here was the scouting report for Rush on the 2023 Big Board:
Noah_E.: After a great showing at the senior bowl and an even better combine, Darius Rush has been one of the biggest risers in the draft over the last few weeks. He was a receiver when he came to South Carolina and only switched to the defensive side of the ball during fall camp before his Redshirt Freshman season. His background as a receiver has benefited him greatly as he has incredible ball skills and seems to know where the ball is going before the receiver does. He has NFL-caliber length and athletic ability. Rush does a good job mirroring his man and is sticky in man coverage. He does need to be smoother in his transition and he doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up with twitchier guys. Rush won’t be talked about with the premier guys in this class, but he’s going to make a team very happy.
Rush is still unproven, but the potential is there, and the Steelers are an ideal place for him to grow. Teryl Austin’s track record with athletic corners is a good one, and a veteran corner like Patrick Peterson will be a wealth of knowledge for Rush to glean from.
What do you think about the signing of Darius Rush? Do you think he could be in the Steelers future plans at corner? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!