Our Ron Lippock talked to Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson, who signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason after starting his career in Kansas City.
First, tell me a bit about the free agency process. Why choose Pittsburgh over other interested teams? Any players help influence you?
Well, the process was pretty smooth. A couple of teams were interested – the Bills, Texans, Denver – the Chiefs were in the mix, and the Jets too. The Steelers came in late actually. The Steelers I think knew me well. We played against them in some big matchups, including the playoffs. It’s cool they came through.
There were a lot of factors that came into me choosing to sign with Pittsburgh. It’s a great football atmosphere and they’ve won a lot of championships. It’s a great opportunity for a guy like myself to go from a good organization to a great organization.
You had a pre-draft visit with the Steelers actually – what do you remember from that and did that experience help influence you’re decision to sign now?
I kind of knew they’d be a team down the road to show interest because of that. The pre-draft visit was like four or five years ago – but it helped me to learn a lot about Pittsburgh.
How much fun was it to be recruited again like college? Did you enjoy the free agency process or was it more stressful?
It was fun, but it is a strange process, as a lot of guys say. You don’t know going into it who will show interest in you.. The Steelers came in at the end. It reminds me a lot of the college recruiting process – its pretty much like that.
When you’re drafted though, you get no decision on where you go. You get no say so. So it was nice being able to decide that in free agency.
How on a personal level do you handle all of the changes – new city, team, money. How do you stay even-keeled through all of this?
It is a lot of change, but I’ve been around all over the country and handle that all well. It’s really nothing to me. Knowing some of the teammates in Pittsburgh helps – guys I know from playing them over the years. I feel like I fit right in in this organization. It’s a great organization. And I’m a pretty laid back guy so that other stuff doesn’t really affect me.
You worked your way up the depth chart in KC to become a top CB there. That seems to be a thing with you – you did that in college too. How did that process help you and prepare you better for this next step in your career?
I feel like throughout my life, I’ve always had to do that. To obtain success you have to overcome obstacles – that’s my outlook in every situation, no matter how small. That was true in high school and in junior college where I had to overcome that. I had to prove myself to division one universities from there to finally get into Oregon State
When I was drafted in the third round, I thought maybe I wouldn’t have to prove myself anymore. But that was a false statement. You always have to prove yourself. There’s always someone coming in to take your spot.
Close to or know any of the guys on the team like Haden? What insight have you received so far about the team, locker room, and the city itself since you signed?
I know Bud – he and I grew up in the same area and chat with each other every so often. And I know some of the wide receivers from going against them over the years, Some of the guys I knew have left the organization. Markus Wheaton I knew because he went to Oregon State too. I knew Robert Golden too. And all of those guys I spoke to had great things to say about the organization.
One thing the defense sorely lacked was turnovers. What makes you so successful in making plays on the ball – you had success in the regard since high school?
It’s about being able to put yourself in the right situation – the right place on the field. I feel like it comes down to my work ethic. Watching extra film and critiquing myself over and over. Not everyone likes to do those things. It gets boring sometimes, but it pays off for you on the field. I’m a perfectionist in everything I do, so doing that extra work is important to me.
Knowing much of the Steelers defense relies on pressure from blitzes, that can put you more on an island as a CB. Does that affect your ability to be aggressive and make plays on the ball?
In Kansas City, 98 percent of the defense was man-to-man. Talk about being on an island. Pittsburgh mixes it up. It’s actually the right situation for me – exactly where I wanted to go and how I want to play. People don’t know what a real island is. In Kansas City we had no help. Pittsburgh is a beautiful situation. Great coaches and great players – I’m excited about it.
The Steelers are big on run support from their cornerbacks. That seems to suit your physical play – what do you enjoy about that part of the position?
That’s another aspect of my game that I feel I do very well. Tackling is something that is a lot about effort. I’m a guy who likes to run to the ball no matter what. I want to show that extra effort. There aren’t a lot of willing tacklers at cornerback. But tackling is something I take seriously and think I do very well.
Ok – last one – on the lighter side, what should fans know about you that has nothing to do with football. Any hobbies? Interests?
Right now I am really enjoying the outdoors. Going outside – fishing, hiking, whatever. I just like to do normal things like spending time with my family. I’m a pretty laid back guy.
No Fortnite with JuJu?
Ha. No – I’m not a Fortnite guy. But talk to me about sports games like Madden – we can set that up!