Steelers Draft History Under Tomlin – Cornerback

With the 2014 NFL Draft coming up in a bit, and having finished taking stock of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, it’s now time to look back and see how the team assembled the roster they currently have through the draft.

It would be most simple to set a dividing line at 2007, the year Mike Tomlin took over at head coach, so we will revisit the past seven drafts, encompassing 59 selections, to see how the team treated each position, and look into why that is.

The next position we’ll revisit is cornerback. As you can see, there’s been no shortage of them, yet only two remain on the roster, and only one of the six departures was due to playing well enough to score a nice contract in free agency.

2007 – William Gay – 5th round (170)

When all is said and done, William Gay may have been one of the Steelers’ best draft picks under Tomlin, in terms of value, production, and longevity. Already entering his eighth season and having never missed a game, Gay has had his ups and downs, but had one of the best years of his career in 2013, including a pick six. His ability to start or play inside is quite valuable, as proven by last season’s course of events.

2009 – Keenan Lewis – 3rd round (96)

Keenan Lewis, on the other hand, was the best cornerback that Tomlin has yet to draft, but they’re likely hoping to change that on Thursday. Lewis took a while to get his career off the ground, however. As a rookie, he was in over his head, and couldn’t even get out of his own way on special teams.

By his third year, however, he was coming in during sub-packages and playing outside cornerback, with Gay moving into the slot. In 2012, he entered the starting lineup, and by year’s end was perhaps the best player on the defense. He continued his strong showing last season with the Saints, his hometown team.

2009 – Joe Burnett – 5th round (168)

Joe Burnett actually played ahead of Lewis during their rookie season, but unlike Lewis, he didn’t make it to a second season. He struggled, naturally, most notably in the game against Green Bay that ended up being a shootout. He’s since found success, however, in Canada, leading the league in interceptions in 2012 with six.

2010 – Crezdon Butler – 5th round (164)

Crezdon Butler was yet another fifth-round cornerback that saw just one season with the team. You’ll see later on how, after Gay, that hasn’t been a very favorable round for the Steelers to draft a corner. Butler appeared to have some potential—I believe he had a pick six in the preseason—but after drafting two cornerbacks the following year, Butler lost out in a numbers battle. He was on his fifth team last year, appearing in 12 games for the Chargers, though with only 24 snaps on defense.

2011 – Curtis Brown – 3rd round (95)

Three years in, the Steelers determined that Curtis Brown was a bust, and I still believe his problem was mental more than anything. He seemed to lack confidence in himself in the rare instances that he actually saw playing time. Despite showing himself to be a strong special teams player, he even got benched from that for a stretch last season. He ended up tearing his ACL and the team waived him injured, ready to move on.

2011 – Cortez Allen – 4th round (128)

The Steelers got just about everything out of Cortez Allen, however, that they were hoping to get out of Brown. Considered a raw project coming out of college, Allen played dime his rookie season, moving up to nickel in year two, and finally to the starting lineup last year. While he had his issues with injury and struggles on the field, he was back in the starting lineup at the end of the year. I expect more consistency out of him in 2014.

2012 – Terrence Frederick – 7th round (246)

A late-round flyer, nothing much was ever expected out of Terrence Frederick, and nothing much was received either. He didn’t make the roster and they weren’t interested in him for the practice squad either. He played some for the Giants and then the Saints over the past two seasons.

2013 – Terry Hawthorne – 5th round (150)

Thinking they were possibly landing a steal, Pittsburgh seemed happy to take Terry Hawthorne in the fifth round last year. He was considered a high prospect the year before, but his team had a bad year, and he was dealing with injuries, and that hurt his draft stock. He continued to face injuries in training camp, however, and in the end, he didn’t make the roster or even sniff the practice squad.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • dgh57

    The above is a excellent example of why we are in the situation we are in today at CB and therefore we have to go CB with our top pick! When we aren’t busy missing on picks we let good players like K. Lewis go. Then some would argue C. Allen has proven himself and W. Gay is getting long in the tooth and his contract expires(I think) after the 2016 season. Hopefully this changes in this draft and we select a solid CB!

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree with ya…if one is still there worthy of that pick. Perhaps Fuller.

  • steelster

    The steelers need to draft 2 cb’s this year and may have to draft a cb in 2015.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Wouldn’t surprise me, honestly. The more I think about doubling up on CBs this year, in fact, the more I like it, especially if they can get a guy like Ross Cockrell late.

  • Matt Manzo

    That wasn’t as bad as I thought! I almost didn’t want to read the article! Considering most were late rounders I’ll let Tomlin off the hook. Still think Butler should’ve been given more chances!
    Tomlin and Co. can turn this around this year! Let’s hope we leave with 2 DBs that will provide for this team for years to come!

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    To me cb is just as important to def as qb is to off its deserving 1st to 2nd rd talent being picked with certain skill set very rare you’ll find a diamond in the rough i.e.(brady 6rd),(sherman 6 rd) if you want talent at that position you have to get it in 1st and second rd

  • Steelers@2010

    The NFL is a passing league; you need four CB’s on your team that can contribute. Curtis Allen, William Gay should be locks; I’m not sold on Ike Taylor contributing much of anything in 2014, I think his goose is cooked. I think The Steelers should prepare to bring in 2 DB’s this wknd on day 1 and 2. If you want quality, they need to do it right this year. Finally get it together. C’mon Kyle Fuller or Justin Gilbert.

  • Steelers@2010

    Dude! I’ve been preaching this same sermaon for three yrs now. “Get It Right in 2014 Colbert/Tomlin. Can you please do that?”