A deep draft for cornerbacks and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ need at the position sets up for the team taking two corners for the first time since 2011.
Or does it?
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert wouldn’t commit Monday to the team drafting one cornerback, let alone a pair of them. Colbert said the team won’t stray from the board it assembles in advance of the draft -- and that the Steelers won’t draft for need at any point in the selection process.
“First round, second round, third round, if we pass up a great one to fill a position of need it will be a mistake and it will bite us,” Colbert said at the Steelers’ pre-draft news conference. “Somewhere, somehow we’ll regret that move. We’ll try not to make it.”
If the Steelers are going to err on positions where they need talent pass rushers and especially cornerbacks are it.
The Steelers have not taken a cornerback earlier than the fifth round since 2011 when they picked Curtis Brown in the third round and Cortez Allen in the fourth round. Their misses at the position dating back to 2007, Mike Tomlin’s first year as head coach, are numerous.
Of the nine cornerbacks drafted since then, only William Gay (fifth round in 2007) and Keenan Lewis (third round in 2009) qualify as hits, and the Steelers let Lewis get away in free agency after just four seasons.
The Allen pick could work out for the Steelers but that is contingent on the fourth-year veteran rebounding from a disastrous season in 2014.
The Steelers have been linked with a number of cornerbacks in various mock drafts, never mind that Colbert finds as much value in those exercises as he does shoveling snow with a spoon. There is also enough depth at cornerback that quality prospects will be available later in the draft.
And if the Steelers don’t take a cornerback with any of their eight picks, something that is highly unlikely, what is the backup plan?
“If you don’t come out of a draft with a particular position, you’ll go right away into what everyone else has and what may be available via trade or a cut situation as you get through training camp,” Colbert said. “We’ve kind of exhausted what’s on the street at this point. We knew that was going to happen (and that) there may be some guys available.
"Let’s go into the draft, let’s come out, see where we stand come Sunday and then we’ll move into the offseason. There will be certain guys that get cut after the draft as well. We’ll look at those guys and of course we’ll just look at everyone else’s depth because everybody can’t keep everybody that they’ll have and there may be an upgrade over what you have. We’re never going to panic in that situation because we know we’re not going to play a meaningful game until September.”