Steelers Linked to 2 Former Pitt Stars

M.J. Devonshire

Getty's All Steelers' Stephen Thompson hyped former Pitt defensive back M.J. Devonshire as a great fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Questions about who the Pittsburgh Steelers will find to start at center and wide receiver have dominated the latest offseason rumors and rumblings around the team. But’s Noah Strackbein noted that the team also needs to find a starter at slot cornerback. To fill that void, Strackbein proposed two former Pitt stars as possibilities — M.J. Devonshire or Avonte Maddox.

Devonshire will be available in the 2024 NFL draft. Maddox remains unsigned in NFL free agency.

Over three years at Pitt, Devonshire posted 83 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. He also had 21 pass defenses and 8 interceptions, 3 of which he returned for touchdowns.

Maddox starred at Pitt from 2014-17. He recorded 183 total tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss. Like Devonshire, Maddox had 8 interceptions, 2 of which he returned for touchdowns. He also had 34 pass defenses during his college career.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Maddox in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft. In six NFL seasons, Maddox has posted 250 combined tackles, including 13 tackles for loss. He has also registered 31 pass defenses and 4 interceptions in 64 NFL games.

How Avonte Maddox Could Fit With the Steelers

An All-ACC third-team defensive back his senior year at Pitt, Maddox has been a versatile, productive defender for the Eagles in his NFL career.

During two of his first three seasons, Maddox played more at wide cornerback than any other position. But since 2021, he’s lined up more than 50% of the time in the slot. Maddox has also received significant playing time at free and box safety.

During 2023, Maddox played a career-low 211 defensive snaps. With those limited opportunities, he posted the second-worst Pro Football Focus player grade of his career.

But in 2022, Maddox earned a career-high 72.2 player grade from PFF. He excelled in run defense and coverage that season.

The Steelers should value the experience and versatility Maddox could offer. In addition to various defensive positions, Maddox has also played special teams in his career.

It’s possible the Steelers could land Maddox for the veteran minimal. He’s never had a base salary of more than $1 million in his career.

Where the Steelers Could Target Pitt’s M.J. Devonshire

Devonshire didn’t play in the slot very often in college, but’s Lance Zierlein argued that Devonshire “has the athletic traits to make” the switch.

PFF projects the 2022 All-ACC second-team defender to be a Day 3 selection. But even as a late-round pick, his age gives him more upside than Maddox going forward.’s All Steelers’ Stephen Thompson would be a big fan of Pittsburgh targeting Devonshire in the later rounds.

“He’s got great speed. He’s a ballhawk as well. I think he would fit really well as a slot corner,” Thompson said on All Steelers Talk. “He’s not particularly big, neither height nor weight, but he’s got some nice long arms. He’s sticky in coverage.

“I think M.J. has really impressed a lot of people with his physical attributes at the combine and at his pro day.”

The Steelers possess four picks on Day 3 of the 2024 NFL draft. They have a fourth-rounder, fifth-round pick and two selections in the sixth round.

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