Steelers Fill Last Glaring Need in Free Agency Before Draft Ends

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't wait until the end of the NFL draft to sign a slot cornerback.

Across the board, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan has received raved reviews for his work in the 2023 NFL draft — his first as Steelers GM.

The Steelers addressed their top three needs (offensive tackle, cornerback, and defensive line) with their first three picks. With all three selections, they landed three players that were popular choices for the team in mock drafts.

Then late on Day 2, the Steelers picked high-upside tight end Darnell Washington, who surprising fell to No. 93 overall. To open the fourth round, Khan added yet another player with a bloodline to the organization in linebacker Nick Herbig.

The last significant hole remaining on the roster was slot cornerback. But with no draft picks again until No. 241 overall in the seventh round, members of Steelers media began speculating that Khan could address the hole in free agency.

That’s exactly what Khan did, as he signed cornerback Chandon Sullivan before the NFL draft even ended.

Last season, Sullivan played for the Minnesota Vikings. He has also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers during his five-year NFL career.

Steelers Sign Veteran CB Chandon Sullivan

With only seventh-round picks remaining, it’s not surprising that Khan went the free agency route to find a slot cornerback.

But the Pittsburgh general manager didn’t even wait to see who might be available in the seventh round or on the undrafted free agent market. Instead, the Steelers signed an undrafted free agent from the 2018 draft in Sullivan.

The 26-year-old made the Eagles as a rookie, dressing for five games during the 2018 season. Since then, he’s played in every regular season game — 49 contests for the Packers from 2019-21 and 17 for the Vikings in 2022.

Over the past three seasons, Sullivan has also started 10 games each year.

Sullivan recorded his best statistical season with the Vikings in 2022. He racked up 60 combined tackles, including 45 solos and 2 tackles for loss. He also had 7 pass defenses, 1 quarterback hit, and 1 fumble recovery.

During his final season with the Packers in 2021, he intercepted a career-high 3 passes. He has 5 interceptions in his career.

Over 71 career games, which include 31 starts, Sullivan has 169 combined tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits and 23 pass defenses as well. He returned his lone interception in 2020 for a touchdown.

How Sullivan Fits With the Steelers

Despite receiving multiple trade offers, the Steelers remained at No. 32 overall and selected Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. He has the potential to develop into the team’s No. 1 cornerback, but the negative with Porter coming into the draft was his versatility.

“While Porter is very good at being a press-man corner there is not a ton of versatility in his game,” USA Today’s Natalie Miller wrote. “Asking him to play in the slot would be awkward as he is a bit stiff naturally from his frame and his burst is mostly in his downfield transition, not off the ball in tight spaces.”

So even with the addition of Porter, slot cornerback remained a spot left open for Pittsburgh in the middle of Day 3.

Sullivan, though, fills that need. He played a career-high 886 snaps at slot cornerback for the Vikings last season.

Over the past two seasons, Sullivan has played 81.3% of his snaps at slot cornerback.

Sullivan will likely compete with Arthur Maulet and Tre Norwood for snaps in the slot this season.

The Steelers also added Purdue’s Cory Trice Jr. to their defensive backfield in the seventh round.

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