PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers fixed most of their needs during the 2021 offseason. Whether it was free agency or the NFL Draft, almost all of this team's voids are now filled, but not all are perfect.
Despite a large amount of faith in Cam Sutton, the Steelers have questions remaining at cornerback. Without Mike Hilton or Steven Nelson, Pittsburgh is looking at a group of players - many of who are undrafted rookies - to try and replace two starters in 2021.
So, what are the team's current options at slot corner?
It starts with Sutton. Mike Tomlin and Sutton both said the fifth-year corner is expected to play on the outside but could move to nickel when needed.
"It's more opportunity to impact the game," Sutton said on moving from outside to inside. "There are situations where it is a base defense out there. Then there are situations where there are situations based on what we're seeing. We're all in it together. We're all moving pieces and parts. I have the comfortability to start outside and then bump inside. That's all the versatility in the game."
It's not perfect, though. The Steelers would then need to rely on players like James Pierre and Justin Layne to play the right outside while Sutton moves to the slot. A few times a game, maybe it works out. If the Steelers find themselves in a game where sub-packages are a large chunk of their defense, it could lead to quarterbacks picking on whoever is play outside, opposite of Joe Haden.
Shakur Brown and Lamont Wade highlight the Steelers undrafted rookie class in 2021. Both present some similarities to Hilton, and adding the undrafted free agent resemblance certainly helps the storyline, but none are proven - yet.
The Steelers could look for an undrafted rookie to replace Hilton at slot, but it's hard to put your faith in a player who didn't get drafted but is expected to be an NFL starter.
Tre Norwood is also an option for the Steelers. The seventh-round pick said his true position is slot corner, but the utility piece has experience all over the defense.
If the Steelers are hoping for Norwood to turn into the next Sutton, they'll give him a chance to play this season. It's not perfect to have a late-round pick fill in across the defensive backfield, but maybe it's their best bet.
Maulet has eight games of starting experience at corner and could look to be an option for the Steelers if they believe he's better suited near the offensive line over playing safety.
Maulet's 5'10 frame does fit the mold of a slot corner, and he's shown some success in the NFL. In four years, he's played in 35 games, starting 11, and adding two interceptions to his resume over the last two years with the Jets.
The Steelers could use Maulet to manipulate the defense as well, moving Minkah Fitzpatrick around and getting creative with their sub-packages.
Keith Butler likes to move his chess pieces around, but it would certainly help to have a steady inside corner to work with. If that's not Maulet, the search would likely continue instead of banking on Fitzpatrick to move around that much.