PITTSBURGH (TNS) – It took them nearly two decades, but the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night finally drafted a cornerback in the first round when they chose Artie Burns of the University of Miami.
He became the first cornerback selected by the Steelers in the first round in 19 years, since they selected Chad Scott No. 1 in 1997. The Steelers took Burns with the 25th overall draft pick.
Burns (6-0, 193) runs the 40 in 4.42. The Steelers took Burns after the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed cornerback William Jackson III with the 24th pick.
Burns is a former track star who intercepted six passes last season as a junior and was impressive in all of his post-season drills.
Burns should have a chance to start quickly in a defensive backfield that was part of the NFL’s 30th pass defense.
Three corners have left them since the end of last season, including starter Antwon Blake and nickel Brandon Boykin, who left as free agents, and Cortez Allen, who was cut. They have returning starter William Gay, backup Ross Cockrell and rookie draft picks Senquez Golson and Doran Grant. Golson had shoulder surgery and did not play last season and Grant managed just one play on defense.
The Steelers have not had a Pro Bowl cornerback since Hall of Famer Rod Woodson made it after the 1996 season for the seventh time with the Steelers.
Three cornerbacks were chosen among the first 11 draft picks – Jalen Ramsey (Jaguars), Eli Apple (Giants) and Vernon Hargreaves (Bucs).