(Another in a series examining the Steelers' 90-man roster as the team heads to training camp to begin the process of cutting down to 53 players in advance of the 2020 regular season.)
ON THE ROSTER NOW: Trajan Bandy, Breon Borders, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Justin Layne, Alex Myres, Steven Nelson, James Pierre, Arrion Springs, Cameron Sutton.
ON THE ROSTER IN SEPTEMBER: During the Mike Tomlin era, the Steelers have kept an average of 5.54 cornerbacks each opening day. So that's six in a good year, five in a down year. Since there's a decent sleeper among the group, let's predict six cornerbacks this season.
STAT(S) THAT STANDS OUT: Let's go with a couple. Haden's five interceptions were the most on the team since 2010 when Troy Polamalu intercepted seven. It's the most by a Steelers cornerback since 2001 when Chad Scott intercepted five. OK, passes-defensed: Cornerbacks Haden (17), Hilton (11), Nelson (eight), and Sutton (five) combined for the most passes-defensed by a Steelers cornerback group since 2012, when Keenan Lewis led the way with an eye-popping 23. (Defensive stats courtesy of ProFootballReference.com.)
KEY DEPARTURES: Artie Burns' Steelers career came to an end with a whimper. Last year, the 2016 first-round pick was a reserve cornerback who eventually lost that job, and then a gunner on the punt team who eventually lost that job to Layne. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an unrestricted free agent on March 26.
KEY ADDITIONS: Nelson may have been the addition of the year in 2018, as he sealed up a quality unit. That unit's back five-strong, along with undrafted rookies Bandy (5-8, 180, 4.50) and Pierre (6-0, 183, 4.59), XFL player Springs (5-10, 208), and winter signee Borders (6-0, 200), who has been with five NFL teams since coming out of Duke as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Bandy is a slot corner from Miami and Pierre is an outside, boundary corner out of Florida Atlantic. Springs came out of Oregon undrafted in 2018 and had been with five different teams before signing with the Steelers.
FIGHT TO THE FINISH: Myres was a priority free agent in 2018 who had to leave camp with an illness, but he was signed back to the practice squad right away and has remained with the team since. Myres would have to make it as a No. 6 cornerback, so he would likely compete against, say, a fifth safety for a roster spot. Guy to watch.
THE SKINNY: One of the best cornerback groups with the Steelers in a long time. Haden is a reigning Pro Bowler, Nelson didn't give up a touchdown last season, Hilton and Sutton are entering the final years of their contracts as tough, versatile, experienced backups, and Layne is the 6-2, third-round pick who played well on special teams late in his rookie season. There's not much to do about a Pro Bowler and an underrated No. 2, complemented by good, tough depth and a tall intriguing project except to enjoy it.
NEXT: Inside Linebackers