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Meet The Steelers' Secondary

by Ryan Lang

Photo courtesy of Touchdown Alabama.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers about to begin play in 2023, Draft 412 will review each position, its depth and potential.

Today, the Steelers' secondary group goes on the clock:

Left Corner Back

Levi Wallace - 6’0” 179 lbs.

Wallace spent his first four years in Buffalo where he started 62 games. He signed with the Steelers in March of last year and set a career high in interceptions with 4 and also had 13 passes defended. Wallace is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but most likely will cede that role and become the backup to second round draft pick, Joey Porter Jr.

Joey Porter Jr. - 6’2” 193 lbs.

Porter Jr. was drafted 32nd overall by the Steelers in this year's NFL draft. He is the son of former Steeler, Joey Porter and knows the “Steelers Way.” He has star potential, and playing with a future Hall of Famer like Patrick Peterson will surely help him in his career. Though he is not listed as a starter, it is hard to see any scenario where he does not become the starter sooner rather than later.

Madre Harper - 6’1” 196 lbs.

Harper is entering his third year in the NFL. He has minimal NFL game experience, playing in 12 games total, mostly on special teams. He spent last season on the Panthers' practice squad before signing a futures contract with the Steelers in January. Harper could stick as a special teams player and add some depth to the secondary.

Free Safety:

Minkah Fitzpatrick - 6’1” 207 lbs.

Fitzpatrick was drafted by the Dolphins 11th overall in the 2018 NFL draft. After two seasons with the Dolphins, the Steelers acquired him in a trade and he made an instant impact. He is without a doubt the leader of the secondary and one of the top safeties in the league. At only 26-years-old and signed through the 2026 season, he has a lot of all-pro football ahead of him.

Tre Norwood - 6’0” 194 lbs.

The Steelers drafted Tre Norwood in the 7th round of the 2021 NFL draft. He has started 3 games each year since and has been a competent backup and dime package rotational player. He could see the field more this season following the departure of Terrell Edmunds and will be a valuable backup in several secondary positions.

Kenny Robinson - 6’2” 200 lbs.

Robinson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Panthers. He ended up going to the XFL for a year before signing with the Steelers. He has been turning some heads in training camp and has an outside shot of making the 53-man roster.

Strong Safety:

Damontae Kazee - 5’11” 174 lbs.

Kazee was drafted by the Falcons in 2017 and split time with Atlanta and Dallas before signing with the Steelers to a one-year deal last year. He played well enough last year and with the loss of Terrell Edmunds, it made sense to bring him back. He is battling Keanu Neal for the starting job.

Keanu Neal - 6’0” 211 lbs.

Neal was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons back in 2016. He spent 5 years in Atlanta before spending a season in both Dallas and Tampa Bay. Neal signed a 2-year contract with the Steelers. Neal is battling Damontae Kazee for the starting job, but even as a backup, we will be seeing a lot of him in 2023.

Jalen Elliot - 6’1” 205 lbs.

Elliot spent his first NFL season with the Detroit Lions and played in 8 games after going undrafted. After bouncing around in the Raiders organization, the Steelers picked him up in early August in search of more depth following an injury. He has the potential to stick on the 53 man as one of the last depth pieces.

Miles Killebrew - 6’2” 222 lbs.

Killebrew was drafted in 2016 by the Detroit Lions in 2016. He played with the Lions until 2020 before signing with the Steelers. He has played in Pittsburgh since 2021 and hasn’t made a big impact at safety but has made a difference on special teams. More of the same is expected out of Killebrew this season.

Right Cornerback:

Patrick Peterson - 6’1” 203 lbs.

Patrick Peterson was drafted fifth overall in the 2011 draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He spent 10 seasons there before playing the past two seasons in Minnesota. He signed with the Steelers this offseason to a two-year deal worth $14 million. He is getting up there in age, but he still played well enough to garner that contract. He should be a great mentor for the younger guys while still being able to produce at a high level.

James Pierre - 6’2” 185 lbs.

Following the 2020 NFL draft, the Steelers signed Pierre, and he has spent all three years of his NFL career here. The Steelers just signed him to a one-year extension this offseason. The return of Pierre was a nice shot of depth, especially when up and coming rookie Corey Trice was lost for the season in training camp.

Chris Wilcox - 6’2” 195 lbs.

Wilcox was drafted in 2021 in the 7th round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wilcox signed a future contract this January with the Steelers and could make the roster this year because of lack of depth at the position.

Luq Barcoo - 6’1” 180 lbs.

Barcoo hasn’t played an NFL game since 2020 when he played 3 games with the Jaguars. This trend will likely continue because of the talent ahead of him at corner, and he will likely be on the practice squad this season.

Draft 412 Analysis

The secondary has a good mix of veterans and youngsters and should be noticeably better in 2023. Joey Porter Jr. will have a lot to say with how good this unit can become.

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