The Pittsburgh Steelers already have one of their well-known starters for the secondary heading into the 2016 NFL season.
William Gay, the 10-year veteran, is a lock to start. He’s the only one on the Steelers roster, at the cornerback position, that has more than five years of experience. However, the starter on the other side of the field at cornerback is still up in the air.
With Senquez Golson being carted off the field with a knee and ankle injury on Monday, according to Beaver County Times writer Chris Bradford, his future is in doubt. However, the Steelers have two young, bright prospects on their hands with Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell.
Cockrell might seem like the guy who will be starting in Week 1 due to his three years of experience and his play last season. However Burns, who was drafted by the Steelers with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, could give Cockrell a run for his money.
Cockrell had a decent run with the Steelers last season, in his first year with the team. After Cortez Allen went down with injury, it was Cockrell who split up playing time with Antwon Blake, who is now with the Tennessee Titans.
Cockrell appeared in 15 games last season, in which he started seven. He finished the season with 44 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In the AFC Divisional Round game against the Denver Broncos, Cockrell also had a fumble recovery off a Ryan Shazier play.
As for Burns, in his junior season at Miami University he led the ACC in interceptions with six. He recorded 36 tackles in his 12 starts for the Hurricanes. He also recorded five pass breakups and had one fumble recovery.
Both men are almost identical with their stature; both players are 6-feet tall, while Burns weighs 197 pounds to Cockrell’s 191 pounds. Cockrell might have the experience on Burns, but this training camp, time will tell if experience is enough to start alongside Gay in Week 1. If the Steelers cannot reach a decision, a rotation could be the answer for Burns and Cockrell.