Getty Pittsburgh Steelers CB Steven Nelson defending versus Odell Beckham Jr. in 2019.

Last September the Pittsburgh Steelers traded a first-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for security Minkah Fitzpatrick. So far, it seems an outstanding trade for the Steelers, as Fitzpatrick intercepted 5 passes in 14 games and was named First-Team All-Pro in 2019, the team’s first defensive back to earn that honor because Troy Polamalu in 2011.

However Fitzpatrick’s immediate effect on the group’s defense eclipsed the efforts of some of his fellow protectors, including 2 cornerbacks, one being Joe Haden, who tied Fitzpatrick for the group lead in interceptions in 2019.

However another 2019 acquisition also played an essential role in the success of the Steelers’ defense in 2015, one that has not gone undetected by Pro Football Focus (PFF), which just recently called cornerback Steven Nelson the Steelers’ most underrated player (even as it selected a ‘most underrated’ player on every other NFL team).

The Steelers signed Nelson to a three-year $25.5 million agreement in March 2019, bringing him over from the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was the No. 33 ranked cornerback in the NFL in 2018, according to PFF. It looks to be an inspired proceed the part of basic manager Kevin Colbert, as Nelson was even much better during his first season in Pittsburgh.

“By the numbers, Nelson was among the league’s best cornerbacks last season,” noted PFF author Ben Linsey. “Playing opposite Joe Haden, his 80.5 overall grade ranked 6th amongst all cornerbacks in 2019, and he allowed just 33 receptions on over 500 protection snaps all year.

“Another season with numbers like that and people are going to start taking notification,” Linsey kept in mind.

Certainly the short-term outlook is bright for the Steelers’ secondary, which also employs former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds and slot cornerback Mike Hilton, among others.

It has actually ended up being apparent that head coach Mike Tomlin is likewise excited about the capacity of second-year cornerback Justin Layne, a Michigan State item who was drafted in the third round in 2015.

In a current conference call with Steelers’ fans, Tomlin particularly highlighted Layne’s advancement in the wake of speaking about Devin Bush, who himself is one of 2 Steelers on PFF’s list of possible ‘breakout’ players for 2020.

All the young skill– not to mention the return (from injury) of defensive end Stephon Tuitt– could allow Pittsburgh’s defense to improve on its efficiency in 2019, when it had the third-best pass defense in the NFL in regards to yards allowed and ended up tied for fifth in points allowed.

In case you’re wondering, PFF called running back Gus Edwards as the Baltimore Ravens’ most underrated player, with Olivier Vernon and Carlos Dunlap earning the same honor for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.

Other significant names on PFF’s list consist of Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Los Angeles Rams protective lineman Aaron Donald.