It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary had some struggles last season. The safely position produced zero interceptions and the play of long-time starting cornerback Ike Taylor slipped. But there is hope in this off season to improve against the pass and create more turnovers.
Looking into the cornerbacks who will be hitting the free agent market, one who stands out to many Steelers fans is Bryon Maxwell who has spent his last four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Maxwell was the fourth member of the “‘Legion of Boom” defense, and has shown the ability to play press and zone coverage extremely well. At 6’1″, 207 pounds, Maxwell has the size, experience, and credentials to be the Steelers’ next number one cornerback considering the fact that Taylor may not be re-signed.
Between free agent corners Antwon Blake and Brice McCain, its likely only one will be re-signed. Both will likely test the open market, and Blake (24) being younger then McCain (28), is very likely to receive more lucrative offers.
Draft prospects Marcus Peters and Trae Waynes certainly will be players to watch during the draft process. Peters has great hands and zone coverage skills, but also has some question marks after being dismissed from the Washington Huskies football team. Waynes is truly a press-cover specialist.
Safety Troy Polamalu could very well retire this offseason. His replacement could come via the draft, free agency, or from within. As of right now, the likely candidate to take his spot is third year safety Shamarko Thomas. Thomas has made splash plays, but has not been able to stay healthy and make significant contributions on defense.
A free agent to keep a close eye on is safety Marcus Gilchrist. Gilchrist has the coverage skills of a cornerback at safety, has excellent range and can be very physical at in the run game. The Steelers most likely will draft at the safety position to add depth and to push Mike Mitchell, who was a disappointment last season. Mitchell’s return could be in question as well.
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