It only took the first day of padded practices. The injury was actually contactless. Yet the winnowing of the Steelers 2023 draft class has begun.
And its first victim is 7th round draft pick Cory Trice.
Cory Trice is a 6’3” cornerback who played in 30 games for Perdue making 5 interceptions. Trice tore an ACL in his left leg 2021, but he rebounded to post a strong season for the Boiler Makers in 2022.
Despite his injury history, Dane Brugler of The Athletic rated him as the 14th best corner in the draft and the 88th best player overall. NFL scouts felt differently. Trice didn’t go a 88, but 153 picks later. Still, when the Steelers drafted him at 241 in the 7th round, drafnics immediately pronounced him as “steal.”
Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell took stock of Trice’s medical history and draft pedigree to conclude: “They HAD to take this cornerback.”
But today the story on Corey Trice is something different and cautionary, if not darker:
- Lady Luck plays as big of a role in successful NFL drafting as does science and art.
Normally when you think of Lady Luck’s role in the draft you think of the players you could or couldn’t take. Think of missing out on William Jackson and getting Artie Burns instead. Or not getting O.J. Simpson and having to “settle” for drafting Joe Greene.
- But Lady Luck continues playing her role long after a pick reaches the podium.
All reports on Corey Trice from OTA’s, Minicamp and non-padded practices were positive. This kid looked like a keeper. Yet, on Tuesday August 1st, Kwon Alexander tackled Jordan Byrd. Corey Trice didn’t touch either man or anyone else during the play, but as soon as it was over he stood in in pain favoring his left side, having sustained an injury to his right leg.
“That’s just unfortunate,” Mike Tomlin explained, “but that’s football and life.”
Tomlin is right. Sometimes Lady Luck just ain’t fair.
In 2011 running back Baron Batch started off at St. Vincents looking like a late round steal, only to tear his ACL. Further back, 6th round pickc ornerback Barron Miles was having a very strong camp until suffering a knee injury in the 1995 Steelers preseason game against the Bills, and was lost for the year.
Batch returned in 2012 to earn 49 yards on 25 carries, but Barron Miles never played down in the NFL, (although he was quite successful in the CFL.)
Those two fared better than Senquez Golson, the Steelers 2nd round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Golson missed his rookie training camp with a torn rotator cuff, suffered a Lisfranc injury in his second summer at St. Vincents, got injured again in ’17 and after being cut he spent a few days on Tampa Bay’s practice squad and was done.
That’s three NFL careers – two would-be steals and one premium pick – all ended in the blink of Lady Luck’s eye.
- Corey Trice should remain hopeful. Lady Luck sometimes grants second chances.
Ahead of the Steelers 1987 draft Tom Donahoe spied a dominating outside linebacker in some grainy footage from Ft. Valley State. The Steelers picked Greg Lloyd in the 6th round that spring, but Lloyd tore an ACL in preseason against Washington and spent his rookie year on IR. Lloyd got injured again in the summer of 1988 and spent the first seven games in IR.
But Lloyd appeared in the final nine games of 1988 including four starts.
Here’s where things get a bit uncanny. Where did Lloyd make his first start? On November 13th 1988 at Philadelphia. Where was his last start for the Steelers? November 23rd, 1997 where he injured himself on the turf at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium during the 1997 Steelers loss to the Eagles.
It would seem that even when she grants second chances, Lady Luck certainly lacks no sense of irony.