5 NFL Draft prospects the Steelers can pick to break first-round draft slump

The Pittsburgh Steelers' recent NFL Draft history is spotty at best. Can that change in 2024?

Michael Penix Jr., NFL Combine
Michael Penix Jr., NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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3. Steelers can turn to Kool-Aid McKinstry to elevate DB room

The Steelers' most pressing need coming into the offseason was cornerback. Pittsburgh acquired Donte Jackson from the Carolina Panthers in the Diontae Johnson trade, but the 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract. The Steelers took an interest in Jackson all the way back in 2018 when he was at LSU, but there's no guarantee that their partnership is long-lasting.

If the Steelers want to reinforce the defensive backfield and add some longevity at the CB position, Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry feels like a natural fit. The junior was one of the most dominant defensive players in college football last season. He didn't tally a single interception, but he did everything else. McKinstry forces a ton of incompletions — that is, when QBs even dare to throw in his direction. He can mirror routes, suffocate passing lanes, and operate with considerable physicality at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.

McKinstry has the tools and requisite experience to translate immediately to the next level. He would get plenty of run for the Steelers, with a chance to operate as the logical successor to the newcomer Jackson.

The Steelers won a lot of games with their defense a season ago. T.J. Watt and the D-line will put a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. McKinstry can take away those QBs' options. If the Steelers can round out the defense, that takes considerable pressure off of Russell Wilson and the new-look offense. No matter how many resources the Steelers invest in the offense, odds are defense will once again be the driving force behind their success in 2024.