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Cornerback Options For The Steelers In The NFL Draft

As we know, the Steelers are currently thin at the Cornerback position and have been for years if we’re being honest with ourselves. Until Joey Porter Jr came along, the Steelers couldn’t draft a cornerback to save their lives. Thanks to Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears, Porter Jr resides in his hometown of Pittsburgh, waiting for help in the cornerback room. Luckily, this draft class has some guys who could help him out. 


Nate Wiggins


Coming from Clemson, Nate Wiggins is one of the higher-ranked corners in this class and will likely go pretty early in the draft. If the Steelers are willing to spend pick 20 on a corner then it could be Wiggins. He has already had a pre-draft meeting with the Steelers. 


Wiggins is only 20 years old and spent three seasons at Clemson, making First Team All ACC last season. Back in 2022, Wiggins finished second in the ACC in passes defended and third in interception return yards. He also had a 98-yard pick-six in the ACC Championship game against North Carolina in 2022. In 2023, when Wiggins made First-Team All-ACC, he played 10 games and made 23 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack to go with his two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. 


Standing at six foot one and 173 pounds, the speedster Wiggins ran a 4.28 40-yard dash to go with his 36-inch vertical jump. His NFL Player Comparison is Tyson Campbell. Scouts have raved about his rare recovery speed at his size and silky smooth lower body movement, allowing him to mirror releases and trace routes effortlessly. One NFC Scout even thinks he’s a better prospect than Devon Witherspoon, who we saw get drafted fifth overall in last year’s draft. 


Terrion Arnold


Another guy the Steelers would have to spend their first-round pick on, Terrion Arnold, is one of the two Alabama corners in the draft that people have been raving about. Arnold is 20 years old, just like Wiggins. Arnold is coming off a monster season. He was selected for First-Team All-SEC and First-Team All-American. He led the SEC in interceptions with five. In 2023, Arnold played 14 games, making 40 solo tackles and six and a half tackles for loss with five interceptions on 12 passes defended. 



Arnold is six feet tall and 189 pounds. He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and scouts pinned him as a Twitchy Man-Cover Corner with outstanding athletic ability and an urgent ball challenger. Some have even said he draws comparisons to former Steeler Joe Haden. According to NFL.com, his NFL Player Comparison is Marshon Lattimore, though, which is certainly exciting as Lattimore is a premier corner in the NFL. 


Kool-Aid McKinstry 


Now we turn the page to the other Alabama cornerback, Kool-Aid McKinstry. Before you ask, no that’s not his real name, but that’s what he’s known as. His real name is Ga’Quincy McKinstry, but has coined the nickname Kool-Aid from his grandmother, who gave him the name because she said his smile reminded her of the Kool-Aid man, and let’s be honest, the name rocks. 


McKinstry didn’t get to test at the NFL Combine due to a fractured right foot, but he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at Alabama’s Pro Day with a broken toe. Not bad. He made First Team All-SEC in 2022 and 2023 and was named a First Team All-American in 2023 along with Arnold. He can return punts too, as he led the SEC and was second in the NCAA in punt return yards in 2022. 


Kool-Aid’s NFL player comparison is AJ Terrell of the Atlanta Falcons and scouts say he’s a smart football player and a good communicator. He does a nice job of reading the receiver’s eyes and has good athleticism and balance. 


Kamari Lassiter


Another SEC boy, Kamari Lassiter, comes from Georgia, a school from which the Steelers have had a lot of success drafting lately. Lassiter is a two-time College Football Playoff Champion and was Second-Team All-SEC at Georgia last season, but he was unable to make the first team due to Arnold and McKinstry. 


In 2023 at Georgia, Lassiter played 14 games and made 21 solo tackles with three and a half tackles for loss and eight passes defended, good for sixth in the SEC. He played 44 games in his career at Georgia. 



Scouts say his NFL player comparison is Deandre Baker. Scouts have also said he has the goods to play inside and outside. Something the Steelers would love. Lassiter also has the athleticism to live in press-man and can also play all forms of zone. He’s versatile. Scouts have also said he is wired correctly for NFL run support and he plays tough. One NFL team is going to be very happy they selected this guy. 


Khyree Jackson


This Oregon and former Alabama cornerback has a similar feel to Porter Jr. Khyree Jackson, who is six foot four and 194 pounds, while Porter Jr is the same weight but two inches shorter. Jackson spent a year in JUCO before two seasons at Alabama and one at Oregon. His time at Alabama was cut short after he was benched and suspended by Nick Saban for unknown reasons, leading to Jackson hitting the transfer portal. It led to Jackson having a good season with Oregon, grabbing First-Team All-PAC 12 honors. 


Last season at Oregon, Jackson played in 12 games and made 25 solo tackles and five tackles for loss to go with two sacks. He also grabbed three interceptions on seven passes defended. The kid can play. 


The Scouts have pinned Jackson’s NFL player comparison to Brandon Facyson. Scouts have also said that Jackson has the size and physicality of a safety with good length and strength helping him have such an expansive tackle net. Jackson ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and could be a match made in heaven with Porter Jr. 


Mike Sainristil


Coming off a National Championship with Michigan, Mike Sainristil will now look to lend his services to an NFL team. He spent five years at Michigan, and it’s safe to say it paid off. He came to Michigan as a wide receiver and, in leaving, is a cornerback that many teams should want in the early-ish rounds of the draft. He was a First-Team All-American in 2023 and first-team All-Big Ten. 


Sainristil was a captain for Michigan in 2022 and 2023. In 2023, he played 15 games for the Wolverines and recorded 26 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, two pick-sixes, and two forced fumbles. He even had an interception in the National Championship game. He was a big-game player. In 2023, he led the Big Ten in interceptions returned yards and pick-sixes. He was also third in the entire NCAA in interceptions. 



Sainristil has an interesting build, standing at five foot nine and 182 pounds. He has said before that he models his game after former Steeler Mike Hilton, the type of player the Steelers would love to have again. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical jump. Scouts have pegged him as an explosive athlete. 


Steelers Track Record


As mentioned before, drafting Cornerbacks hasn’t been the Steelers' forte. There are lots of misses in the draft. Look at the Killer B’s era, they were trotting out Mike Mitchell and Ross Cockrell. Things were bleak in that department until Omar Khan came along, and nailed his first drafted cornerback, Joey Porter Jr. If Khan and company can make another good selection at the position this year, the Steeler's defense will be more deadly than it already is. 



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