PITTSBURGH — The Steelers drafted a duo of cornerbacks they affectionately now called ‘Avatar corners‘ in Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice. Possessing rare length, Pittsburgh has a clear identity that they want to embrace at the line of scrimmage, but that might not be the true reason they nabbed both players.
In the division, Pittsburgh has been terrorized by the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Amari Cooper, and others who have made plays on the deep ball against them. That is not just exclusive to them, however. The team has issues when they go outside the division and teams want to push the ball down the field.
For Brown and the defense, the hidden measure of what they are looking for is defending the deep ball. They felt they had a lot of issues with that early in the season and as the season carried on. With longer corners, the window gets even tighter and makes the quarterback utilize all of their arm strength.
“They cover a lot of ground and occupy space,” Brown said. “They’re long on the deep ball. That was an issue for us at the start of the year. When the ball is thrown down the field, long guys get even longer. So, the quarterback has to throw the ball even further. Whereas a guy at 5-foot-10, you might be able to throw it over his hand. Imagine how much longer Joey or Trice is right now. So, that’s a smaller window. If we can get them to turn their heads and play the ball, they should help us in that deep ball phase.”
Those two guys are continually learning under the Steelers’ staff. That eagerness is something that has jumped out right away to Brown on how those guys can affect what they do. However, they still have to learn the technique and all of those things. Brown is more about getting the guys in phase and allowing them to be who they are at this point in their developmental stages.
So, the Steelers will accentuate what makes those guys unique. They have their strengths, which are playing up on the line and understanding leverage. Meanwhile, they will sharpen their games in other areas to truly make everything work out as a defense. Both have impressed teammates, but they still have a ways to go.
“Listen, those guys are unique with their frames,” Brown said. “They still have to learn technique and work out their deficiencies, but they’re two incredibly talented players that are unique. You embrace those traits and put them in positions to succeed right away.”
In this business, guys with high expectations will play early on. That is simply a fact that they have accepted at this point in the cycle. But maybe more than anything, they will have veterans like Patrick Peterson to learn from as they grow as players. If they want to take on the division’s best, they will have to become well-rounded players that can defend all of those spots from different alignments.