Many throughout the media are speculating on who will replace Mike Hilton as the 'nickel cornerback' heading into the 2021 NFL season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Names like Shakur Brown, Arthur Malet, and others have been named to replace Mike Hilton, but we have not heard much about Second Year Pro Antoine Brooks Jr. who has played in four games as a rookie at the NFL level.
Steelers.com recently wrote an article 'Football-like revelations' who says Antoine Brooks Jr. is the next cornerback in line to replace Mike Hilton. That means it is his job going forward unless he loses it going into training camp. The Steelers are expecting a fierce battle heading into training camp at the cornerback position, but right now it looks like Joe Haden and Cam Sutton are the Steelers starting outside cornerbacks. Everything else seems to be up in the air and will need to play out in camp.
Brooks will need to show he is capable of bringing the blitz and playing physical football as Mike Hilton did during his time with the Steelers. Anyone who wants to take Mike Hilton's spot in Pittsburgh will need to demonstrate their capability to blitz out of the slot and although the names may be changing on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers the way that they play defense is not going to change.
The Steelers article dives deeper into the cornerback position by saying the initial plan is for Cam Sutton to play in place of Steven Nelson on the outside (which we already knew). Although the Steelers know he can bounce inside and outside as a cornerback their plan is to keep him outside in 2021. That is something I did not know before going into camp. I thought the Steelers would end up utilizing Cam Sutton as a 'hybrid' cornerback who will move inside and outside, but it looks like that will not be the case at this point.
If Sutton does end up playing inside during the 2021 season as the 'nickel' or the 'dime' then the expectation is that James Pierre or Justin Layne will play as the Steelers outside cornerback. The Steelers feel both are capable of playing well as the outside cornerback if they choose to move Sutton inside in the near future on some plays.
The cornerback position will be one of the most intriguing positions to watch during the Steelers training camp this year. There is tons of talent the organization has brought into Pittsburgh and they expect a fierce battle for Mike Hilton's spot going forward. Along with the cornerback position, there will be a battle with the center and backup quarterback positions as well. Training Camp can't come soon enough because it is going to be very fascinating to see how the 2021 Steelers team will end up shaping by the time Training Camp comes to an end.