Devil’s Advocate: Senquez Golson An Afterthought

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Assuming that he actually proves to be healthy, is cornerback Senquez Golson going to be given every opportunity to earn a regular role in the defense?

The Steelers coveted cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft so much that they even claimed after the draft that they explored the possibility of trading up to get him in order to assure that they would be able to get him.

In spite of the fact that he lacks ideal height for—really, any position in the league—what they saw in the Ole Miss product was somebody who could play up on a man and flash playmaking skills. He came out early after recording 10 interceptions in his final season.

Of course, he ended up on injured reserve for most of his first two seasons with a shoulder injury and then a foot injury. Last year, he was working as the starting slot cornerback up until he went down with a foot injury, but the team has been speaking of him differently this time.

It largely sounds as though they view Golson at this point as an afterthought, and that anything he manages to provide will be a bonus. Which really isn’t untrue, but one might be led to wonder if he could get overlooked for a role as a result of this.

Last year, there was discussion that Golson would even be given an opportunity to compete on the outside and not be limited to the slot. That seems unlikely now, but they could give him a long look back in the slot as they did last year.

He still has the ball skills that he had in college. That isn’t really something that fades away. And the linebackers last season picked off more passes than the secondary. If that isn’t reason to give him every chance to get his presumed playmaking on the field, I don’t know what is.

Of course, they already have William Gay in the slot, who was previously needed outside, so perhaps the urgency to find him a role is seen as lessened. And there’s a good chance that they draft a cornerback high in the draft that he would have to compete against for a role. They have already shown a willingness to play rookies.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • falconsaftey43

    I’d think if he’s healthy, he’ll be in the mix with Gay/Sensabaugh/Rookie to get the slot CB spot. Really not reason he wouldn’t be in the mix if he’s actually playing. I doubt they run him as the starter there at first though. He’ll have to earn it.

  • Lambert58

    I hope he surprises everyone and has a terrific camp and competes with Gay or a rookie for the slot, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    He is the #5 on the depth chart right now. Getting higher will be up to him.

  • Boots

    I don’t think there is enough talent at the position for him to be an afterthought especially after Gay showed some decline even from the inside last year. He’s going to have to show that 1. he can stay healthy and 2. the foot injury hasn’t caused a loss of speed and agility. I don’t think him needing to answer some questions means he won’t have a shot though, it just means he’s out of goodwill so to speak.

  • Sam Clonch

    As long as they draft someone this year, I think their bases are covered either way.

    Worst case: He is in fact forgotten, team drafts someone to replace him, team moves on.

    Best Case: He comes back and makes an impact. Team still drafts someone this year. Senquoz then is either re-signed, or more likely moves on, allowing this years draft pick to step up, the Steelers collect a nice comp pick.

  • Charles Mullins

    Will Gay Fell off a cliff last year. Golson has a good shot of having a breakout year.

  • Dshoff

    Since he came out early, this would essentially have been his second year in the NFL coming up. He’s too young to be given up on. Give him every chance, but draft a cb.

  • Ralph Wagner

    It’s not rocket science, the guy will attend all work-outs. The rest is up to him.

    Go Steelers.

  • walter

    Have we heard anything about his training regimen? I know it was reported that he is spending a lot of time in a rough club that gets wild and he even invested in it. Im starting to think of him as an afterthought as well.

  • Chenz33

    I think health is the only deciding factor. I loved him as our 2nd round pick two years ago and I believe that if he’s healthy, he will play his way onto the field.

  • george

    He’ll get plenty of opportunities. He was a 3-4 round talent that they reached for and took in the 2nd. I think Colbert will want him to get a shot, as we all should. I just don’t know about him staying healthy, not many 175 lb slot corners last long.

  • Kevin Artis

    I look at him as an “extra CB pick”. So, if we draft another CB we basically have an additional CB coming into camp. That’s why I think we double dip OLB because essentially we already double dip cornerback if we just take one in the draft.

  • KiJana Haney

    If he is healthy and performs cockrell will become a backup eventually. The steelers will draft a player in the draft that is tall and long enough to essentially become an outside cornerback. I am a fan of golson and think he is the future of slot and will be a cheap player to retain.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

    Stop waiting. Draft a slot CB or a outside/inside guy fairly early. If Golson shows he can at least take the field in some real games maybe he eventually takes the slot role as they expected, maybe he’s depth, if so, maybe you can trade him next offseason.

    Just take the field in real games first.

  • Matt

    I hope they give him a shot and wait at least until Rd 3 to take a corner. Edge rusher and ILB (or at least an ultra athletic safety/ILB hybrid) are bigger needs in my opinion. Also, if you write Golson off now it seems like that we’re basically throwing away that pic when there may be some real value there (just a guy who had some bad luck).

    I’m less worried about a corner tandem of Burns, Cockrell and Gay than I am about an OLB group that consists of a yet unproven Dupree, a great but old James Harrison, and some guys. Or worse an ILB group that consists of Shazier (who will likely have to sit out a few games with injury), Williams and a bunch of guys who really are more special teamers.

    The Steelers can pick up a corner in rd 3 and aim to develop that player. I think we need the most help NOW at OLB and ILB.

  • Big Joe

    They won’t let the definite possibility of a firm maybe on Golson affect their draft decisions. If he ultimately contributes then great. If not, he’ll likely play out his contract and they’ll go from there as to whether to retain for some reason or move on. They need to draft for players who can play now and not worry about the maybe’s of health or contribution perhaps next year.

  • Rusted Out

    Perfect way to describe Golson… “firm maybe”

  • budabar

    Remember golson hasn’t played in 3 years, I saw where our outside CB’s ranked fairly well in yards given up #11 and TD’s given up #2 last year it was our slot CB and ILB’s who were in the basement picking mushrooms if Golson can come back maybe were closer than we think

  • Bradys_Dad

    I think Golson gets one more shot before he becomes the next Shamarko Thomas (always injured and little contribution shy of Special Teams). I hope that I’m wrong.

  • will

    If he is an “afterthought” and will not be “given every opportunity to earn a regular role in the defense.” Then I believe that the Steelers should cut him now. (or after that June 1 thing…)

  • Shane Mitchell

    Golson said he was cleared by doctors 100 percent to return to football activities in a recent interview, I dont know if that means he is 100 percent recovered or what, I dont think Colbert dismisses his ability just the nature of this particular injury, some people never fully recover from a Lis franc fracture. If he has recovered, I expect big things from him this season. He has great instincts in coverage and is an aggressive sound tackler. I am excited to see what he can do this season, I think he can be a difference maker. Certain people didnt like him as a draft pick so they are dismissing him and pounding on the table for another high CB pick, I dont think thats a good idea, if he is truly recovered we dont need to spend another pick on a CB right now, its not like this draft is filled with a bunch of CBs that are better prospects than Golson, he was one of the best zone CB I have ever seen in college football, and Mike Mayock said he was the best he saw in 5 years of tape study. I for one would rather spend that pick on a TE, WR or ILB than another CB right now, lets see what he can do before we jump the gun and draft another CB early.

  • Shane Mitchell

    How exactly did he fool anyone, you people act like he got injured on purpose or something.

  • ATL96STEELER

    You obviously missed (or didn’t care for) my little attempt at humor.

    Reality…The Steelers have been counting on this kid (reason they took him so high, Right?).

    Of course he’s not injured on purpose. Much like Green and his concussion issues…of course it’s not his fault, but as a team…what do you do? Keep holding out hope? No, as Tomlin recently said about Bryant, the train keeps on moving.

    I’d love to see him fulfill the role they drafted him for, but it’s Golson’s job to be available to play…if he can’t, the reasons don’t matter that much.

  • stan

    There’s really no reason to do that. They aren’t going to be able to use his roster spot on anyone better at this point and the dead money in the salary cap will hurt us down the line. It think its best to think of him as a lottery ticket who might be a good nickel back for us.

  • Rocksolid20

    Anything he does will be considered a breakout year .

  • Rocksolid20

    Not sure which one I’m more tired of hearing about ? Golson , Green or Bryant .
    Get on the field or get out of Dodge .

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The team certainly wouldn’t have “forgotten ” about him so he will be given every chance to succeed. But, is he ever behind the 8 ball. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s still basically a green rookie. Yes he’s been watching film but that’s nothing compared to being on the field. And if he were to get injured again this year that could be the last anybody ever sees of him.

  • Bill

    If he has his gun on the field, he should be pretty tough. Seriously though everybody likes his attitude and love of the game. But man, he is really small at 5’8″. He is a CB not a kick returner! With the league trending toward big receivers, his battle will be up hill for sure.

  • steelmann58

    The Steelers have a few questions like will even if he stays healthy as well as Green and will Bryant be reinstated and stay clean

  • Delboka

    Get rid of gay. I like him and all but we dont need to treat him like ike. Kept him way too long.
    Also it pisses me off when he dances and gets personal fouls. He should be a leader instead of the old guy that tries to relate with the young ones by dancing like a jackass.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Which side do I lean closer towards? Golson is now going to have to EARN his stripes. And instead of him having the luxury of being treated as a 2nd round pick, he’s basically on par with a late-rounder or even an UDFA. Why do I say that beyond the obvious? Because I fully expect that we draft a CB in this upcoming draft, and if we draft 2 like I hope, or draft a Slot specific guy, he’s then in real trouble, unless that guy is a late-rounder as well.

    I’m hoping Golson stays healthy and looks like a 2nd round talent in Camp this year. But I’m with the Steelers: “Anything he shows or gives us at this point, is simply a bonus.”

  • Zarbor

    The best we can hope from Senquez is a Spence scenario. I didn’t like the pick and I still don’t like it now with all of his injuries.

  • Darth Blount 47

    “… its not like this draft is filled with a bunch of CBs that are better prospects than Golson.”

    Uh… yeah there are.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Nah, Golson is a better zone CB than anyone in this draft and it isnt close, direct me to someone that has better tape than Golson in this draft, you wont be able to do it, go ahead try, i want to hear it.

  • Darth Blount 47

    First off, I could have swore Tomlin said he’s wanting to play more Man. Which if true (IF), makes guys who are 98% Zone guys, kind of a bad fit all of a sudden… So that makes the 2nd part of your answer a bit loaded. Especially since this is NOT a heavily-Zone loaded class. Which is either really good for us now, or really, really, bad. Not sure.

    Golson looks good on tape, because he caught so many picks. But at 5’8, and perennially injured, and slower than 17 of the DB’s in this class at the Combine, and a worse 3-Cone than many of the guys who participated, (not to mention a worse Vert and Broad than most as well) he simply gets overshadowed by what is a very deep and good DB class.

    For instance, you pulled that Mayock quote off of NFL dot com, which ranked Golson with a 5.61 rating. Want to know how many CB’s beat that ranking in THIS year’s class?? 16. 16 guys.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I know what he said but that was for one game, and he also said he isnt going to make changes to the scheme specifically in regards to the Patriots, so as usual he is talking in circles. I doubt we go Man heavy, it comes with some major drawbacks , puts more pressure on our safeties who are not that instinctive to begin with, takes the DBs out of any run support, so we will give up more rushing yards for certain. I cant imagine how many big plays we would give up against the run, scrambling QBs and passes to RBs, we cant make a damn tackle with 6 guys running to the ball in the secondary in zone, and we are going to be better if all the CBs are running down the field with zero run responsibility? who is going to make the tackle?

    Golson runs 4.46 same as Artie Burns but plays about 4.2 on the field because it isnt how fast you run, it is how fast you read,a guy that can read that runs 4.6 he will be 4 steps closer to the play than the 4.3 guy that doesnt have the same natural instincts for the game. There is this big guy named OJ Howard in this draft and this little guy named Senquez Golson both go up for the ball and one comes down with it to win the game, so I dont think height is an issue if a player has excellent instincts for the game, he will make more plays than any CB will get from being taller but not as instinctive. I guess height could come into play if the CB is running down the field beaten and the ball is underthrown and hits him in the back of his big tall head. dont get me wrong I would love a tall CB but if he has no instincts and cant tackle well it wont help us much right now.

    When you look at overall ratings for CBs its a bit misguided, because they are not grading slot CBs and outside CBs separately, they are grading them all like outside CBs playing man coverage, which is a mistake, if we looked at the Steelers grades on CBs it wouldnt be anywhere near the same as what you see on sites, because it requires a different skillset. lets say we are grading for slot corner, half the guys they have rated high on the NFL site dont have an overall skillset good enough to even play the slot, because they cant read and cant tackle. No one would rate Artie Burns as a better slot CB prospect for a zone coverage team over Senquez Golson, this is my point those grades are generic and dont apply equally across the board for every team in the league. Thats why you have to look at the tape #1 and what we need the guy to do in our scheme. The second part is tough right now because I dont think the Coaches even know what they want to do schematically because they sure say one thing and do another all the time.

    I didnt pull anything off of NFL site,, Mayock said it during the combine about Golson, and I thought that before I even heard him say that because Golson was one of the best CBs I saw all year watching college football, the guy made big plays every single game, every game I watched I thought this guy would be perfect in our defense, never thought a thing about his height until they went to the combine didnt hear anyone talking about his height as he was picking off passes left and right during the year.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Search for the youtube video “Defensive Back Keys & Reads” its a Tony Dungy seminar, listen to the first 5 minutes of Dungy talking about whats more important size and speed in a DB or instincts, he was DC for the steelers at the time and uses steeler videos in the seminar. He says it himself “he cuts guys that run 4.3 and are 6′ 2″ every camp” because it is not as important as the ability to make reads on the field.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I dont know where you got that 5.61 grade from but it wasnt the NFL site, he was rated 5.75 and his combine numbers are equal to or better than the mighty Artie Burns across the board if we want to go there.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’m staring at it right now…. NFL dot Com. “Grade 5.61” If I could post a link in here I would. It has that Mayock quote splashed right across the front.

    If you Goo-gle the name “Senquez Golson, it’s the 2nd entry down. After ESPN, is the NFL dot Com, site link.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’ll watch it in just a few minutes. Always like listening to Dungy.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Oh, I agree, I’m not pushing for Man. You’ve never seen me on here saying that. I love our scheme, personally. I’ve studied the Fire Zone Blitz. My brother was a D-1 college DB coach. We’ve done a ton of study on the LeBeau schemes. I’m trying to wrap my head around just what in the heck we are doing now with these Butler/Tomlin perversions of the scheme. And where in the world we are headed.

    And I agree about the clear difference between a guy who projects as a Slot vs a guy who projects as an Outside. But in this draft, some guys are such good athletes, that they can play both. And there are a few Safeties who are likely better CB’s. And for example the other way, I’d move Kevin King to FS – if I were a GM/Coach and it were my team that drafted him.

    But let’s be totally honest and clear too…. Golson actually has to start to show some “availability” before we know what we truly have got there. You are making claims about a kid who did things in college 3 years ago now. He needs to see if that 5’8 frame can handle the big boys of this league. We don’t know if his tackling due to shoulder surgery or his speed and quickness after foot surgery, is still the same or not.

  • lyke skywalker

    He will compete in camp before he gets injured.

  • Paul Duron

    He is too soft, and a wasted draft pick. I hope he proves me wrong

  • Shane Mitchell

    I see it, there is a discrepancy. because I also see an nfl page before the draft with his grade at 5.75 and the one you are talking about is after the draft and 5.61 So we are both right, I like that.

    google this and you should get a link to the one with 5.75

    “NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles – Senquez Golson”

  • Boots

    Best case scenario would be to draft a slot guy and have him and Golson make Gay expendable!

  • Jeff Burton

    I never understood this pick. Even if he does play, the 2nd Rd is too high to draft a slot CB. He’s too short and can only be used in special packages or against smaller wide receivers. It’s another Antwan Blake situation. He’d get mismatched and picked on all the time.

  • Jeff Burton

    Why? There hasn’t been a decline in Gay’s play. Having Gay in the slot is a situation most of the league would be happy with.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Hasn’t played meaningful football in what, close to three years? They’re on the hook for money spent already, so if he can add something.. great. Otherwise just a clean miss and they’ll draft someone else this year and move on.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Agreed. Could be out to pasture time.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Haha, sounds about right, lol. I like Golson. I’m rooting for him. I had him as a 3rd round pick that year not a 2nd, but clearly we wanted him. And on my mock that year, I had him gone before we picked again, so if we were gonna get him, it had to be there I suppose.

  • Delboka

    No decline? What season of football were u watching? Looked great against the Pats.