Zero, ladies and gentlemen of Steeler Nation.
Zero is the number of combined starts Curtis Brown, Antwon Blake and Isaiah Green have under the belts at the professional level.
Although Pittsburgh’s top three cornerbacks on their depth chart possess much more experience than the aforementioned backups, the franchise is by no means set at that positional unit.
Ike Taylor allowed more passing yards than any cornerback in the NFL last season, Cortez Allen had an up-and-down 2013 campaign and William Gay has been a better sub-package cornerback over the course of his career. What could potentially make matters even more stressful for Pittsburgh’s brass is the fact that Taylor and Allen are only signed through the 2014 season while Gay is only under contract through 2015 campaign.
Make no mistake, I have and will continue to be a strong advocate of Pittsburgh using early round selections on a wide receiver and a tight end, something must be done during the upcoming offseason about the lack of experienced depth at the cornerback position.
If the Steelers’ brass are unable to collect some cornerbacks on the free agent market, it might behoove them to double-dip at the position during the 2014 NFL Draft. Although the franchise has not selected a cornerback in the first round of an NFL Draft in over a decade and a half (Chad Scott, 1997), that trend could very well change this May if Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State or Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State are around when Pittsburgh goes on the clock at number 15 overall.
Even if the team waits until the following day to address their cornerback needs, there should be plenty of talented players available. Bradley Roby of Ohio State, Louichez Purifoy of Florida, Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech, Aaron Colvin of Oklahoma and E.J. Gaines of Missouri could all
be on the radars of Pittsburgh’s brass, and they could all add some much needed depth to the team’s depleted secondary.
On the draft’s final day, Pittsburgh could even take shots on some smaller school prospects like Pierre Desir of Lindenwood or Marcus Williams of North Dakota State. Antoine Exum or Virginia Tech, who spent the 2013 campaign recovering from a knee injury, might even be worth a mid-late round gamble due to his size and versatility as a potential safety.
If the Steelers are going to compete with the AFC’s best teams, they need to add more competent depth at the cornerback position. In a pass-first league, adequate and competent depth in the secondary is paramount on the defensive side of the ball.
Pittsburgh lacks experienced depth behind their top three players at that positional unit, and upgrades will need to be found through the upcoming draft. Whether the scouting department, coaching staff and front office select the prospects early or late in the process is definitely up for debate.
What cannot be disputed is the fact that the Steelers’ brass must find some solutions to their cornerback depth problems sooner as opposed to later.