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Evaluating the Steelers cornerbacks potentially on the roster bubble

The offseason is not over, and the possibility of adding a new piece to the secondary is not out of the question; but regardless of what may happen over the next couple months, it will be a crowded roster bubble, specifically in the secondary.

The Steelers currently have eleven cornerbacks on the roster, although several have the versatility to play safety. Even if the Steelers keep six on the roster, five guys in this group will not make the cut. As of right now, the only cornerbacks I would consider locks to make the roster are Joey Porter, Jr., Donte Jackson, and Cory Trice. Even if the Steelers do not add to the room before the season (which I find highly unlikely), that leaves a maximum of three spots remaining for the eight corners we are about to take a closer look at.

Here is a brief evaluation of the other eight cornerbacks on the roster along with a projected outcome for each player. Projections are based on the Steelers not adding to their cornerback room and rolling with you they currently have on the roster.

Anthony Averett

Averett is a six-year veteran who has battled injuries the past couple seasons. He is a former starter for the Baltimore Ravens, and if he is fully healthy, he has proven to have some juice left in the tank. Averett wins with speed, quickness, and feistiness in coverage, and he tracks the ball well enough to make an occasional play on the ball. I do not anticipate him seeing a large role on defense, but he is versatile enough to play inside or outside. I would not be shocked if the Steelers try him in the slot, although his preferred spot is on the perimeter.

Projection: Makes roster

Luq Barcoo

Barcoo is not the most gifted athlete, but he provides enough athleticism to compete in softer coverage schemes. Ball skills are incredible, as he racked up 9 interceptions and 16 passes defended his final season at San Diego State. However, he has a good amount of technical issues in his game that have not yet been ironed out at the NFL level.

Projection: Released before the end of training camp

Beanie Bishop, Jr.

Bishop was the most heralded undrafted free agent the Steelers brought in this year, partially due to his local ties. He is a feisty nickel corner who possesses good instincts and great ball skills, recording 20 passes defended for the Mountaineers in 2023. Undrafted rookies are always a long shot to make the roster, but Omar Khan has already stated he believes Bishop will have a chance to see playing time in Year 1. I believe the Steelers see this guy as a potential answer in the slot long-term.

Projection: Makes roster

Darius Rush

Rush was a riser in the 2023 pre-draft process but still somehow fell to Day 3. Rush has the physical traits needed to succeed in the NFL, but he came to Pittsburgh midseason, and we only saw glimpses of what he could become. Considering the recent reports that Rush looked fantastic at OTAs, I think the Steelers give him another shot, assuming they do not add another corner before the season.

Projection: Makes roster

Kalon Barnes

The incredibly fast Kalon Barnes is an intriguing developmental corner, but he is still incredibly raw. Other than world-class speed, there is nothing Barnes brings to the table at this point in his young career, and that is not enough to secure a roster spot.

Projection: Cut, signed to practice squad

Thomas Graham, Jr.

Graham is an interesting case, because he provides the versatility to play outside, inside, or even high safety. Graham saw occasional playing time during his stint in Cleveland, but he could never work his way up the depth chart, except for when injuries happened. I would like to think another team might find use for him, but I cannot guarantee that will be the case.

Projection: Cut, signed to another team’s practice squad following roster cutdowns

Josiah Scott

Scott spent the last three seasons for the Eagles, starting four games in that time span and recording two interceptions. Primarily a nickel corner, Scott could see significant attention in training camp, as the starting nickel job appears to be wide open. Unfortunately, his inconsistency as a tackler will likely take away any chance he may have at the roster.

Projection: Cut, signed to practice squad

Ryan Watts

Watts played primarily cornerback in college, but I project him at safety in the NFL, as he simply lacks the wheels to keep up with receivers one-on-one on the perimeter. His long strides allow him to close on the ball quickly, and he also displays great awareness on special teams. Nonetheless, I do not see any way he can make this roster. The only value he provides in Year 1 is on special teams, and there are other guys on the roster that can offer more.

Projection: Cut, signed to practice squad

Who do you think makes the Steelers roster at the cornerback position? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!


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