Steelers mailbag: Why no upgrades at cornerback?

Here is the first part of the Steelers' mailbag. The second one will run tomorrow and thanks again for all of the great questions. If you have a question please send to @ScottBrown_ESPN.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I hear you, but signing a cornerback just to sign one isn't going to solve issues at the position. The Steelers simply weren't willing to overpay for one of the better cornerbacks in free agency because prices at that position are always inflated -- and were especially so this year, given the dearth of quality players available on the open market. I was a little surprised the Steelers let Brice McCain get away, as he only signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. But I'm thinking that the Steelers believe they have the same player in Antwon Blake, who will only cost them $1.542 million this season, as they had in McCain. The Steelers are counting on Cortez Allen bouncing back and fulfilling the promise that compelled the team to sign the fifth-year veteran to a four-year, $24.6 million contract last September. The Steelers' plan is clearly to get Allen right after a disastrous 2014 season and add young talent at cornerback through the draft. Is it risky? Of course. But I don't think anything in free agency, other than Darrelle Revis giving the Steelers a huge hometown discount, would have really addressed the issues the Steelers have at cornerback. It isn't something that is going to be fixed overnight, which is why there is a need to draft two cornerbacks this year.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I assure you that re-signing Darrius Heyward-Bey did not compromise any plans the Steelers have to upgrade on defense. He signed a veteran minimum contract and his one-year, $825,000 deal counts just $635,000 against the salary cap. I know the signing is far from a sexy one, but Heyward-Bey is a valuable - and more than willing - special-teams player. He also gives them speed and depth at wide receiver as well as a veteran presence at the position. I have no problem at all with the re-signing of Heyward-Bey. Those kinds of cost-effective deals are necessary in the salary-cap era, and Heyward-Bey will give the Steelers solid return if he again gives them quality play on special teams.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: Tight end jumps out, as Heath Miller is going into his 11th NFL season and the Steelers need young talent at the position. The tight end class is not a particularly strong one, and Minnesota's Maxx Williams is probably the only player at the position who is worthy of first-round consideration. He blocks and is a good receiver and is only 20 years old, so he still has a lot of growth in front of him. The Steelers, however, would have to like Williams an awful lot to take him at No. 22 overall and not a cornerback or outside linebacker. General manager Kevin Colbert insists that the Steelers never reach for need in the draft, so I won't discount them taking Williams or even an offensive tackle. But I think they go defense in the first round, even if it is not a cornerback or a pass-rusher.

From @Curlygrn on Twitter: In what direction is the draft headed?

@ScottBrown_ESPN: Defense, defense and more defense. Every starter returns on an offense that finished second in the NFL with 411.1 yards per game last season and the Steelers shored up running back behind Bell when they signed DeAngelo Williams. I think they will draft a tight end and wide receiver, and a tight end could be in play early. But it is another deep draft for wide receiver sand the Steelers can find one later In the draft. The Steelers have to make cornerback a special priority in this draft. They have waited until the fifth round in the last two drafts to take a cornerback, and neither Terry Hawthorne nor Shaquille Richardson lasted a year with the organization.