Friday, August 5, 2022

Steelers named “ideal” fit for big-name ex-Packers starters

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The Pittsburgh Steelers could be the perfect landing spot for a notable former Green Bay Packers starter.

NFL.com analyst Marc Ross listed the top free agents still out there and mentioned the “ideal” team for each of those players. According to Ross, former Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King is an ideal match for the Steelers.

Ross argues that King will add much-needed depth to the cornerback position as Pittsburgh head into the season with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Weatherspoon as top cornerers.

“The Steelers are rolling into 2022 with Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace as potential cornerbacks in the starting XI,” Ross said. “That’s a concern no matter how good the pass rush is in Pittsburgh. King is a tall, lithe and fast player who would fit right into the game and – at the very least – add depth to the position. The former second-round pick sadly missed seven games in 2021 but otherwise played well after laying an egg in the 2020 NFC title game.”

King had served as a cornerback for the Packers during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also entered the 2021 season as a starting corner before losing his job midway through the season. Despite King starting just six games last season and appearing in just 48 percent of defensive snaps, he still posted a solid 70.6 defensive score last season, according to Pro Football Focus. It was actually the highest defensive grade of his career.

Considering King’s experience playing deep in the postseason — the Packers rose to the NFC Championship Game as a starter in each of his two seasons — he could be a valuable addition to the Steelers.

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The Steelers lost veteran Joe Haden when they allowed him to go freehand, meaning Pittsburgh doesn’t have a very experienced depth after Witherspoon and Wallace. Wallace — who signed with the Steelers after spending time with the Buffalo Bills — posted a defensive grade of 62.8 last season and ranked just 58th out of 116 qualified cornerbacks, according to the PFF.

Meanwhile, Witherspoon excelled in a smaller role last season, earning a 75.8 defensive grade. However, he appeared in just nine three-start games because he only played in 57 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in those games. While obviously not a starting corner, it’s impressive that Witherspoon allowed a ridiculously low 35.1 quarterback rating and a 37.8 completion rate against opposing quarterbacks.

Nevertheless, the competition after these two corners is not exactly great. Cameron Sutton, Arthur Maulet, James Pierre and Justin Layne are the next top cornerbacks. None of these cornerbacks posted a defensive grade higher than a 59.3 last season, with Sutton ranking 77th among all cornerers as the highest-rated.

Considering the Steelers likely have less margin for error this season without Ben Roethlisberger as franchise quarterback, Pittsburgh needs to ramp up their key positions as much as possible. The addition of King – who earned just $5 million last season – can only help Pittsburgh’s quest to compete in a really tough AFC North division.

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