Around this time a year ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up a second-year cornerback off waivers and added him to their 53-man roster, carrying him throughout the entire season.
The Steelers released Isaiah Green, who made the roster initially, in order to make room for Antwon Blake, while Green spent the rest of the year bouncing between the practice squad and the roster, ultimately seeing some action on special teams.
Blake was a player that the Steelers were a fan of entering the 2012 draft, even though he went undrafted and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake in particular was a member of the coaching staff in his corner.
During the 2014 draft, when addressing the media following the fifth-round selection of Shaquille Richardson, Lake named Blake as a player in-house that will help the team at the position that many might not be aware of.
Not many were aware of Blake because he wasn’t ready to contribute when he was brought in. He came from a different system and needed to learn the way the Steelers conduct their business on defense before the coaching staff could trust him.
Blake spent two of the first four weeks on the inactive list, even though he was signed primarily to contribute on special teams, but once he worked his way onto the field, he quickly ensconced himself in his duties as a gunner and became a core special teams player.
A few days ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up a second-year cornerback off waivers and added him to their 53-man roster. Whether or not they carry him throughout the entire season remains to be seen.
However, B.W. Webb is yet another player that the coaching staff liked from the previous draft. In fact, he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys just one pick ahead of the Steelers in the fourth round.
As with Blake, the addition of Webb obviously cost somebody a roster spot, though it’s not clear whom. It could have been a cornerback like Green or Richardson, but perhaps more likely it was somebody like Chris Carter.
The case can be made that the Steelers wouldn’t have signed Webb had Brice McCain not injured his groin, though the effectiveness of such an argument at the moment can’t be determined until we know more about the severity of the injury. As of now, we can only speculate about the man’s groin.
As it stands, it seems that Webb may follow the same path as Blake the year before. He was a strong special teams contributor in college, though not quite as active during his rookie season as Blake was.
He may not be active right away, but the Steelers figure to get him some activity on special teams at some point down the line, and who knows, he may even see a snap or two on defense as he, too, goes through the process of learning the system. One trait that he does bring that is lacking is a bit of length, as all the other reserve cornerbacks are 5’10” or under.
Perhaps at around this time next year we may be talking about Webb in the same regard as Blake, as a valued special teams player who is ready and, presumably, able to make some contributions on defense in his second year of digesting its complexities.