PITTSBURGH -- There are grandiose visions.
“When I get to the point where I’m that No. 1 guy and I’m an All-Pro cornerback I’m going to think back to the days when I was sad because I didn’t get drafted,” Blake said.
A lot of teams will be sad if Blake realizes his goal of becoming one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. There is, of course, the small matter of Blake having to bridge a considerable gap before he is mentioned in the same breaths reserved for the likes of Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis among others.
Blake played just four defensive snaps in 2013, and a big reason why the Steelers were perceived to have a glaring need at cornerback prior to the draft is because of players such as Blake, who lack pedigree and experience at the position.
Blake signed with the Steelers last September after the Jacksonville Jaguars did not include the 5-9, 198-pounder on their 53-man roster.
Blake established himself as a core special-teams player while learning the defense, and the Steelers are hoping he can make a big jump this season. They don’t have a long-term starter at cornerback after Cortez Allen, so the opportunity is there for Blake, who only turns 24 in August.
“I feel like they have confidence in me enough, my work ethic and abilities,” Blake said. “In time I can shock the world and show them I’m someone who will emerge from being an undrafted free agent to the sky’s the limit.”
If Blake’s skills come anywhere close to matching up with his confidence he could be quite a find for the Steelers.
His size doesn't exactly help him, especially with NFL teams coveting taller wide receivers. But Blake has excellent speed and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake told Steelers.com last week that the third-year veteran is among the fastest players on defense.
After the Steelers didn't take a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau expressed confidence in current roster players who simply need an opportunity.
When asked if he interpreted the Steelers waiting until the fifth round to draft a cornerback as a vote of confidence in him, Blake said, “It is to a certain extent, but I know I have to come out here every day and earn my keep, continue to improve on my technique because on the field it’s what have you done for me lately. One of my strong points is my speed and my ability to stay with guys.”
How far those attributes take Blake, who went undrafted coming out of UTEP, remains to be seen. But when reminded that his goal of becoming an All-Pro cornerback is a rather lofty one, Blake said, “it is but I’m going to work every day until I get to it.”