The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to sign a cornerback, but the NFL draft isn’t the only place where they expect to add to the position.
The team is counting on Cortez Allen (pictured) resuscitating his career, and if that happens it will shore up cornerback as much as anything the Steelers could have done in free agency this side of signing Darrelle Revis.
Allen, who flopped after signing a four-year, $24.6 million contract right before the start of the 2014 season, received a vote of confidence from his head coach last week.
"Players are going to have trying times over the course of their career, whether it’s competency or injury related," Tomlin said at the NFL owners meetings. "Obviously 2014 was not a good season for him on multiple fronts from that standpoint, but I am excited to watch him bounce back from that."
Allen is only 26 and is still in the Steelers' plans -- partly because they have little choice but to hope he can overcome a season in which he battled several injuries and had his confidence shattered.
Allen lost his starting job and then nickelback job -- the latter happened during a 51-34 win against the Indianapolis Colts -- and the Steelers placed him on injured reserve in early December because of a broken thumb.
Allen has the size to succeed at this level and the 6-1, 196-pounder flashed solid ball and coverage skills before the bottom fell out of his NFL career.
What really gives Tomlin hope that Allen will rebound from last season is that Ike Taylor overcame an in-season benching in 2006 to establish himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL
Taylor’s turnaround coincided with Tomlin succeeding Bill Cowher as the Steelers’ head coach in 2007. Tomlin was on the ground floor of that revival and has a good idea of how help Allen work through what appear to be confidence issues more than anything else.
"As an old secondary coach, I understand that’s potentially very much part of the process at the cornerback position," said Tomlin, who coached the defensive backs in Tampa Bay from 2001-2005 "So I have pretty good insight and understanding in that regard. I just look forward to maybe him fighting back and having the type of career that Ike was able to have. But obviously Ike is Ike and Cortez is Cortez. But the big thing is he will be given an opportunity to do so."