Former Steeler Levon Kirkland Wants Team to Draft NFL’s Smallest Cornerback

pittsburgh steelers nate wiggins

Getty Former Pittsburgh Steelers LB Levon Kirkland hopes the team drafts Nate Wiggins.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro Levon Kirkland hopes the team ends up with former Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins in this year’s NFL draft.

“He is about playing the game, playing aggressively, and being the best,” Kirkland said on 93.7 The Fan’s April 4 episode of “The PM Team with Poni and Mueller.” “I hope he does go to Pittsburgh. That would really make them solid as far as corners are concerned.”

Kirkland’s hope runs counter to the prevailing assumptions about what the Steelers will do in the draft.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo said on 93.7 The Fan he’s “99% sure” the team will draft an offensive lineman with the first pick, according to The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi.

Betting odds back up this assertion, with DraftKings Sportsbook currently listing “offensive lineman” at -275 to be the position of the Steelers’ first pick.

Nate Wiggins’ Draft Profile

Wiggins was impressive over the last two seasons of his college career.

After playing in only seven games as a freshman, Wiggins took over a starting spot at Clemson in his sophomore year and immediately made an impact.

While he only had 1 interception for the year, Wiggins was great in coverage. According to PFF, he allowed opposing QBs to complete just 50.8% of their pass attempts while throwing his way. He also only gave up 2 touchdowns in 2022.

He was even more dominant as a junior. His completion percentage allowed was a staggering 43.9% and he only gave up a total of 176 passing yards when targeted. He also had a pair of interceptions.

Wiggins’ impressive season earned him a spot on the All-ACC First Team.

He continued to impress at the NFL Combine.

Wiggins was the second fastest player in the draft class and fastest corner in the class, running the 40-yard dash in just 4.28 seconds.

Unfortunately, there was one bad measurement for Wiggins at the combine. He weighed in at just 173 pounds.

That would make him the smallest corner in the NFL, according to The 33rd Team.

That hasn’t seemed to hurt his draft stock, but it could be other needs for the Steelers that end up preventing them from drafting him.

Steelers Have Bigger Needs Than Corner

The Steelers’ corner situation is certainly far from settled.

They were one of the worst teams in the league in 2023 when it came to yards allowed per catch, surrendering and average of 12 yards.

The team hasn’t made big improvements this offseason. They don’t have a slot corner on the roster after Levi Wallace hit free agency, but that isn’t something they’d fix by drafting Wiggins.

They also let Patrick Peterson go and only brought in Donte Jackson to replace him.

Jackson wasn’t great in coverage last season. He allowed opposing QBs to complete 66% of their passes thrown his way and gave up 12.4 yards per catch.

Still, corner isn’t the team’s biggest need.

They can survive with Jackson as the CB2 because of the other talent in their secondary. The team can lean on Minkah Fitzpatrick, Deshon Elliott and Joey Porter Jr. to make up for any issues with their second corner spot.

But there is no hiding the offensive line problems they have right now.

The Steelers don’t even have a center on their roster, which is a pretty big problem for a team whose offensive coordinator likes to run the ball.

They also need to upgrade at left tackle. Dan Moore Jr. has been bad since the Steelers drafted him and it seems unlikely that he’s going to get better after his third year in the league.

He allowed 55 pressures and 8 sacks last season.

The team has options to upgrade that spot. Broderick Jones played right tackle for the Steelers as a rookie, but was drafted to play left tackle. He could easily slide into that spot if the team drafts a right tackle.

They could also just choose from one of the many left tackle options that will be available in the first round of the draft and keep Jones playing on the right.

There was a time during this offseason where drafting a corner in the first round made a ton of sense for the Steelers, but they just have bigger needs as the draft gets closer.

That means any pick the Steelers might spend on a corner should come after Wiggins has already been selected.

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