Steelers Likely To Go Small School Shopping Again For Cornerbacks

With less than a month to go until the 2014 NFL Draft, it is obvious that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be addressing the cornerback position yet again and it will be surprising if they don’t double-dip. During the Kevin Colbert era, however, the Steelers haven’t had much success when it comes to drafting that position and that really needs to change this year.

As you can see in the table below, 13 cornerbacks have been drafted by the Steelers dating back to 2000 and only five of them ever started games. Of those five, three measured in at over six feet prior to them being drafted and of those three, two, Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen, came from small schools.

20135150Terry HawthorneIllinois51161954.3135.59’8″1300
20127246Terrence FrederickTexas A&M51011874.4435.010’1″1600
20114128Cortez AllenThe Citadel60121974.5037.510’9″184410
2011395Curtis BrownTexas51151854.5139.510’8″10340
20105164Crezdon ButlerClemson51161914.4339.510’1″1740
2009396Keenan LewisOregon State60071954.4733.510’3″194517
20095168Joe BurnettCentral Florida50931924.5835.59’10”22150
20075170William GayLouisville51011874.4838.59’10”169648
2005262Bryant McFaddenFlorida State51161934.4439.511’3″238035
2004238Ricardo ColcloughTusculum51051944.4939.510’7″8360
20034125Ike TaylorLouisiana-Lafayette60041914.3342.010’09N/A16935
20027212LaVar GloverCincinnati50941774.5937.09’9″1100
2000377Hank PoteatPittsburgh50971974.5737.010’6″16410

Unless Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert falls to the Steelers in the first round this year, there is a pretty good chance Colbert and company might have to go small school shopping once again if they are looking for a player that measures in at 5’11” or taller and runs a sub 4.55. Luckily, there are a few that fit that criteria.

Pierre DesirLindenwood – Desir is a name that all of you should be familiar with by now. While he certainly looks the part at 6’1″, 198 pounds, the biggest knocks on him are his long speed (4.52), tackling ability and the competition that he faced in college. If the Steelers are wanting to draft Desir, they will likely have to do so at the end of the third round or in round four, assuming he last that long. He’s raw like Allen was when he arrived in Pittsburgh and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

#3 CB in video below

Phillip GainesRice – Like Desir, Gaines is probably a name that you are already familiar with. He had an outstanding 2013 season at Rice where he was a four-year starter and two-year team captain. While he needs to work on the tackling and run support areas of his game, he only allowed 13 receptions in 40 targeted throws his direction last season. Like Desir, the Steelers might need to draft Gaines at the end of round three if still on the board. If he last until round four, it should be considered a gift.

#15 CB in video below

Walt AikensLiberty – Aikens is a kid that certainly measures up when it comes to looks and he has already drawn some comparisons to former Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis. Aikens, who had a good showing at the Senior Bowl, also reportedly showed well at his Pro Day after not being invited to the scouting combine. While it is hard to judge his draft stock, the Steelers might be able to nab him in either the fifth or sixth round. He does have some character issues, however, that need to be looked at closely.

#19 LCB in video below

Travis CarrieOhio – Carrie might be a name that you’re not too familiar with but the Steelers certainly know something about him being as their doctors repaired his torn labrum in 2012. He is already 23, however, as medical issues resulted in him spending six years in college. He is smart, physical and fast, but still very raw. In 2013, Carrie was an All-MAC First Team punt returner and a Third Team cornerback. He also served as a team captain. Carrie figures to be a day-three prospect that could potentially go undrafted.

#18 CB in video below

Those are my four small school cornerback prospects that I believe the Steelers should consider drafting so now it is time for you to add a few more in the comments.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I would think the Steeler should be happy to get any of these guys, especially Gaines from Rice. I’ve heard some good things, too, about Brandon Dixon from NW Missouri St, Nevin Lawson at Utah State and Kendall James at Maine. They all seemed to have good pro days. They are all fast, but under 6 feet. I think they will draft two CB’s in the draft without a doubt.

  • srdan

    Great article! Very informative. Knowing our admnistration, I wouldn’t be surprised if a guy on this list is drafted. I kind of like the strategy as well.

    But man, looking at the list we drafted, one thing pops out. Ike taylor is an athletic freak of nature.

  • steeltown

    Pierre Desir would be a welcomed addition for sure, but man if they can get a player like Aikens in the 6th Rd that would be pretty awesome

  • Callentown

    Have a feeling we’re going to get a Gator as well as small school.

  • Chad H

    I like the Gaines kid. Thanks for the video. He shows a lot of potential and upside.

  • unnknown

    Are we to assume we’re not targeting Dennard or Fuller?

  • DoctorNoah

    This is random, but ESPN reporting that Rams are shopping #2 pick. What do you think the Steelers would give to get Jadeveon Clowney at the number 2 spot? Holy smokes!

  • CW

    Never going to happen. If Clowney is there the Rams will want at least 2 first round picks plus more and as good as he might be, he isn’t worth gutting the future of the team over.

  • CW

    Personally I like Bennett Jackson as a later round flier at cornerback. He’s not a small school guy, but he does play special teams well and is still developing as a cornerback after starting out as a wide receiver in college.

  • cencalsteeler

    Maybe Tomlin and Colbert should be taking the Seahawks draftniks out to dinner?

  • CW

    Big part of Pete Carroll’s advantage was having coached in college against a lot of the players he took early on in his time with the Seahawks and taking advantage of personality clashes between those players and their coaches in college. Richard Sherman was only there in the 5th round because Harbaugh hated him for some reason at Stanford and gave him a terrible review when Sherman was going into the draft.

  • Doug Sawyer

    I like Benjamin #1 Varrett #2 McCullers#3 P.Gaines#4

  • Jollyrob68

    J. Watkins

  • Johnny Loose

    huh, wonder why Harbaugh hated him? : )

  • Toddy Bravo

    Yes, sir. I think Watkins is the best 2nd round CB option. Some people have him falling to round 3, but I seriously doubt it. If Lamarcus Joyner was 2 inches taller, he’d be my pick in rd. 2 all day long. Then again, he’d probably be a 1st rounder if he was taller.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I think Varrett is going to go in the gap between our #15 and #46. I just can’t see any way he makes it to us at 46. I love his game though. Just like Lamarcus Joyner, he’d be a lock 1st rounder if he was a little taller.

    Joyner is an option at 46, but it scares the hell out of me to have Shamarko and another short guy in our defensive backfield at the same time, especially with AJ Green in our division.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Could it have anything to do with him being a total d-bag? Then again, so is Harbaugh.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I think there’s zero chance we’d trade up, but if we did I don’t think it would be for Clowney in the top 1-3 picks. It would probably be to trade up 4-5 spots in case someone like like Sammy Watkins or one of the top OTs unexpectedly drops. I don’t think anyone else is worth trading up for.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Great article Dave.

    When you look at Colbert’s “pattern” of drafting CB’s. It’s not a coincidence he likes the small school/big/fast/athletic CB. I think it’s a lot more likely that he sticks to his pattern than suddenly varies away.

    That’s not to say he doesn’t want a big school CB in the 1st round. It’s just that he probably feels like he can get just about as good of a small school prospect in the middle rounds.

  • MC

    Man the steelers have missed on a lot of CB’s over the years. I remember getting excited about players like Coclough, Poteat and Mcfadden….Man was i dissapointed, although McFadden did contribute in teh superbowl year but you expect more out of a 2nd rounder.
    With all the misses, why don’t they buck the trend and go CB in round one??
    Who was the last one? Rod Woodson?
    I put a lot of trust in the front office but man i get fed up with how they appear stubborn in their tactics.
    They’ll probably draft a WR in the first which in my mind isn’t ideal given the depth at WR in the draft, therefore Dennard or Gilbert sounds better to me.
    For once i’d like a guaranteed starter at CB come draft day!

  • GoSteelerz

    From what I saw, I would take none of these guys. Well, Desir looked ok in coverage, and Carrie did make one nice play for the int. Otherwise forget it. Is it me, or don’t DB coaches teach their guys how to shed blocks? These guys are getting blocked and pushed all over the field. Anyone out there remember a little DB named Pat Fischer? A 5’9″ 165lb corner who was a force against the run. He was known for beating O-Linemen and stuffing people in the backfield. And he was one of the better cover guys in the game with 56 career int’s. These guys can’t even shed a block from a receiver, let alone a lineman. Very disappointing. Maybe they were having an off-game or something. One thing’s for sure, we need to really hit on our draft picks this year, especially CB draft picks.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    No. The last one was Chad Scott (CB) (1st round) (1997).
    And before him, Dieon Figures (CB) (1st round) (1993).

    THAT, my friend, is the reason a lot of us don’t want a CB in the 1st. Not that we “hate” Dennard or Gilbert. We just see more impact at other positions. And less harm if we bust.

    I think everyone here agrees with you that we need another legit CB. But the misconception is, “Pick the best CB available at 1.15 and he will be a guaranteed starter and a perennial great player.” That’s not how it works.

    You’re right the Steelers have missed on a lot of CB’s. But they’ve missed on a ton of other positions too. I think the smartest way to fill our CB void is to draft three mid round prospects. Let them develop under Ike and Cortez. And let the best one start next year. The other two can back up.

  • MC

    I stand corrected. Man Chad Scott was a first rounder?!
    They need to do their homework more on these DB’s. I thought Hawthorne would still be around too.
    I actually agree with you with the mid round picks after reading up on the flaws of Dennard and Gilbert… but if those mid round picks do absolutely nothing in their rookie season to instil confidence in the coaching staff (don’t have to start obviously, just produce in camp and whatever snaps they get), thats when i’d go for a high CB pick next season

  • Jeff Anoble

    I do too. But his first name is E.J. and he plays for Missouri. Third or 4th.

  • 2443scott

    with the ageing cbs we still have what has to change most is the steelers cant keep going after projects and hopeing 3 or 4 years from now one them can start if they want more superbowls with in that span they cant let ben get wasted with bad cb play and keep playing catch up football we needed exp at cb and they got some from free agents so that was a short fix for this year they need to get a guy who can be ready to start next year we all know troy and taylor are one game away from injury and if that happen god forbit i am pretty sure they be released the year after so i hope this draft they dont look 3 or 4 years down road

  • Brendon Glad

    I’ve had my sights set on Gaines since the combine, and the follow-up when I saw he wasn’t even on the cbs draftboard at that time. Unfortunate but expected that he is flying up the board. I agree with the assessment below his name in the article. He looked excellent and fluid (and showed good hands) during the drills, and also had good production in between the lines. I’d be thrilled if we got him.