The Steelers traded a 2018 sixth-round pick for cornerback Justin Gilbert over the weekend and the price they had to pay for Gilbert illustrated how far Gilbert’s stock has fallen over his first two NFL seasons.
Gilbert was the eighth overall pick of the 2014 draft, but he had on-field and off-field issues that kept him from living up to the potential that caused him to come off the board as early as he did. On Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that the issues Gilbert had with the Browns were of less importance to him than the fact that “we had a great deal of respect for” Gilbert when he was entering the league.
“We don’t care what happened in Cleveland, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said, via the team’s website. “We’re not asking a bunch of questions in that regard. We simply acquired a young cornerback that another team didn’t want or need, and we’re putting him in our environment and starting the process of going to work on a day-to-day basis and see where that leads us. I know he’s excited about being here. He had a good day of work [Monday], but we’ll live it day-by-day and we’ll see if his story can become a similar one to Ross Cockrell’s, for example.”
Cockrell was a 2014 fourth-round pick of the Bills who got released last summer and then signed with the Steelers. He was a useful member of their secondary last season and is ticketed for a big role again this year. As Tomlin said, Gilbert’s role is yet to be determined but the makeup of the cornerback group will give him a chance to make a more positive impression in Pittsburgh.