Duke Dawson As The Steelers Starting Slot Corner in 2023?
At one point, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Duke Dawson was one of the top slot corners in college football.
In his senior year with the Florida Gators in 2017, Dawson proved to be a difficult assignment against opposing offenses. He would finish that season with four interceptions, nine passes defensed, and the second-lowest passer rating when targeted in the SEC Conference (37.1). Coming into the 2018 NFL Draft, many had projected Dawson to be an impact player for the New England Patriots, who took him with the 56th overall pick that year.
Since that time, Dawson has been somewhat of a journeyman in the NFL, with stints with the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and now the Pittsburgh Steelers. His most notable season came in 2019, when he played 14 games with three starts and contributed 19 tackles, two passes defended, and a forced fumble. In coverage, he registered a respectable completion percentage allowed of 75% and an overall grade of 61.3 from Pro Football Focus.
Following the departure of Cam Sutton to the Detroit Lions this offseason, the Steelers are in need of a slot cornerback. Even with Arthur Maulet on the roster, the competition at this position is still wide open. Though Dawson has not received many opportunities to prove himself, he is very much in the mix for the starting slot position.
All in all, this upcoming season represents his best chance to find some stability in his career and possibly more.