The Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest perceived weakness this season is at cornerback. After losing Cameron Sutton in free agency to the Detroit Lions, and possibly starting a rookie in Joey Porter Jr., there are valid concerns about how the cornerback room will shake up this season. However, the Steelers may have a crafty corner locked in the back of the room: James Pierre.
Pierre is a player who has often been talked about as having potential, but after a poor 2021 season, including a horrible performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was largely forgotten by fans. But in his brief cameos last season he played very well.
Pierre saw 31 goals last season and allowed a completion percentage of just 41.9. in a The33rdTeamFB tweetthis was second best in the NFL with a minimum of 30 goals.
Pierre only saw 24 percent of the snaps on defense last year, and with Pittsburgh drafting Porter and Cory Trice Jr., he may not be in the team’s long-term plans. But I do think there might be something there with Pierre. He showed potential in very limited appearances in 2020 and last season he was legitimately good when he played. One standout game was when he started against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and allowed two catches on eight targets while a backup secondary helped beat Tampa Bay.
This season, the secondary situation looks a bit murky, which may give Pierre a chance to see more playing time. After Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace and Porter, the room is very unknown. Trice, a seventh-round pick, may not be ready to see the field in the first year, and with Peterson Possibly Seeing Plays at Slot Cornercould generate more outside plays for Pierre.
Sutton’s loss to Pittsburgh this season will be huge, as he allowed a completion percentage of just 47.9 on many more targets. Pierre doesn’t play inside like Sutton did, which means there’s no way he can replace what Sutton did on the pitch. It will be interesting to see how the loss of Sutton impacts Pittsburgh this season, as his versatility was something no player can replicate.
I hope Pierre has a chance this season. He’s not only a very good special teams player, but he’s shown that he can hold his own on the field. While he doesn’t have elite tools like Porter or Trice, Pierre has shown the ability to be very sticky in coverage. Unfortunately, I don’t think he gets another chance to be an all-down starter or close to it. It sounds like he’s not in Pittsburgh’s long-term starting plans, but if the team needs to go to Pierre in a pinch, he’s certainly capable of providing solid coverage as he demonstrated last year.