Steelers Still Have A Massive Defensive Problem That Could Plague Them In 2024

In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers attempted to bolster their secondary by selecting two defensive backs. Using their second-round pick, they chose Joey Porter Jr., who showed immense potential in his rookie season. Later in the draft, in the seventh round, they added Cory Trice Jr. to their roster.

While Porter’s emergence is promising, the Steelers also made a notable move by trading away star wide receiver Diontae Johnson in exchange for another defensive back, Donte Jackson. This player is someone Mike Tomlin and the organization has long coveted, and when the opportunity arose to acquire Jackson, the Steelers wasted no time in making the move.

On top of that, Trice’s injury, which sidelined him for his entire rookie season, has created a lingering uncertainty at the cornerback position. While Jackson and Porter offer solid options, the Steelers face a notable lack of depth and confidence beyond them. Additionally, relying on an injured seventh-round pick adds another layer of risk to the equation.

Chris Simms addressed this concern in a recent episode of his Unbuttoned podcast, highlighting the Steelers’ vulnerability in the defensive backfield as a major area of worry.

“I’m not big on their DBs, right? Their corners, right? I know everybody likes Joey Porter Jr. and all that, but to me, my other question for them would be, can they play man-to-man against the really good offenses in football? And I’m not sold on that. Joey Porter’s got attitude. He’s certainly got a role. He had a da** good year. I get all of that. But you get to the rest of the names at DB for them. I just go, ‘Okay. Alright. So who’s covering Tee Higgins when you play Ja’Marr Chase and them, or who’s covering the other guy?’”

Simms’ perspective resonates with many Steelers fans who share concerns about the team’s depth in the defensive backfield. While Trice, a seventh-round pick, isn’t expected to shoulder a significant workload, there’s optimism surrounding his potential impact if he can return to full health.

Another player poised to have a chance to make an impact is sixth-round draft pick Ryan Watts. Although drafted as a cornerback, Watts is viewed by many pundits as a versatile safety due to his long arms and adaptability. If the Steelers don’t seek outside talent, Watts could see more opportunities in 2024.

Additionally, the Steelers added cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr. from West Virginia, an acquisition that may have gone unnoticed by many. Despite not boasting a high draft stock, Bishop is regarded as a talented corner whom the Steelers highly value. Securing a deal with Bishop post-draft left the Steelers elated and underscores their confidence in his potential contribution. Omar Khan talked glowingly about the addition of Bishop.

Steelers’ Possible Reunion Could Solve Their Problem

The Steelers entered the draft with noticeable weaknesses in certain areas. While many observers believe they addressed most of them during the draft, there’s one area where concerns linger. Simms’ sentiments echo these concerns, indicating that the Steelers could benefit from outside assistance to bolster that particular position group.

There have been discussions about the possibility of a reunion with former Steelers defensive back Cam Sutton. Sutton faced legal issues that led to his release from the Detroit Lions. However, the Steelers have always held Sutton in high regard and were disappointed to see him depart. This has led to some speculation about a potential reunion in Pittsburgh.

While the likelihood of a reunion is unknown as we sit here today, it hasn’t been entirely ruled out. Such a move would make sense for both parties. It’s worth noting that Sutton did have a meeting in Pittsburgh, hinting at the potential for a comeback. If the Steelers did bring Sutton, their secondary would get a solid boost.

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