View Full Version : 14 Years of Steelers Cornerbacks and the Draft

03-03-2011, 03:09 PM
14 Years of Steelers Cornerbacks and the Draft

Posted on March 3, 2011 by adam

Poll any number of Steelers fans about their teams biggest need leading up to April’s draft and I’d guess the majority of them point in the direction of cornerback — and that’s even if Ike Taylor re-signs before testing the open market. If Taylor leaves via free agency the position goes from being a need to something along the lines of Threat Level Midnight. Absolute chaos.

Whether it’s in the first round or not, it’s a good bet the Steelers are going to address the cornerback position at some point in the upcoming draft. Going back to the selection of Chad Scott in 1997, the Steelers have selected 13 cornerbacks over the past 14 years with varying degrees of success. Here’s a round-by-round look back at each player.

First Round: Chad Scott (1997) – By the end of his Steelers career, Scott, along with his partner in crime, DeWayne Washington, were the two biggest whipping boys in town. And while he may be best remembered for mediocre (at best) play from 2002-2004, he was actually a pretty solid corner the first four years of his career (he also missed the entire 1998 season due to a knee injury). The fifth cornerback off the board in ’97, the Steelers snagged him with the 24th overall pick and after the following defensive backs were selected earlier: Shawn Springs (No. 3), Bryant Westbrook (No. 5), Tom Knight (No. 9) and Michael Booker (No. 11). With the obvious exception of Springs, it’s safe to say that Scott had the best career of any of the corners selected in the first round that year, making an immediate impact as a rookie, even if he ended up lagging behind some other notable corners selected in the rounds after him, a list that includes: Ronde Barber (third round), Sam Madison (second round) and Al Harris (sixth round).

Second Round: Ricardo Colclough (2004), Bryant McFadden (2005) — The 2004 draft netted the Steelers a franchise quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) and a solid starting offensive tackle (Max Starks) in the first and third rounds respectively. Sandwiched in between them was Colclough, a player the Steelers traded up to select in the second round from Tusculum. It was easily one of Kevin Colbert’s biggest first or second round whiffs. A great athlete, he made most of his impact, such as it was, with the Steelers as a return man. It was an experiment that came to a screeching halt in Week 3 of the 2006 season when he muffed a late fourth quarter punt inside his own 10-yard line in a 28-20 loss to the Bengals.

McFadden, on the other hand, has had a bit more success in his two stints with the Steelers. As a rookie he was a huge contributor to the Super Bowl XL team, coming up with a big interception late in the fourth quarter of a regular season game against Jacksonville (the infamous Tommy Maddox game), and then making two game-saving plays late in the Divisional Round playoff game in Indianapolis.

Third Round: Hank Poteat (2000), Keenan Lewis (2009) — We still don’t quite know what we have in Lewis, but it still amazes me that Hank Poteat managed to play 10 years in the NFL. During his rookie season he was one of the better punt returners in the league, and even scored a touchdown in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium. So he has that going for him. He was also part of the 2002 secondary that was torched beyond all recognition by Browns quarterback Kelly Holcomb in one of the greatest playoff games ever played. JJ once mentioned during an earlier Podcast how that game earned Holcomb another five years in the NFL. I can’t disagree with that.

Fourth Round: Deshea Townsend (1998), Ike Taylor (2003) -- If you’re a long-time reader of Ryan’s other Steelers site, Heels Sox & Steelers, you might be familiar with his Captain Pantload Watch, a dedication to the worst of the worst in sports writing. A perfect example: This Mark Madden column shortly after the 2003 draft where he claimed the Steelers made their worst draft pick ever, using the space to call Taylor an idiot and ask why, if he was any good, he had to play his college ball at Louisiana-Lafayette instead of a real football school. The Internet never forgets.

Taylor’s biggest flaw as a player is that he can’t consistently catch the football, but what he lacks in hands he more than makes up for in coverage ability, speed, physicality and toughness. He’s been a regular in the Steelers defensive starting lineup over the past six years, and a damn good player.

Townsend came to the Steelers in the same draft class that produced Alan Faneca and Hines Ward, playing 12 seasons in Pittsburgh. The only Steelers defensive back to record more sacks in a career is Carnell Lake, while the only other Steelers player with at least 20 interceptions and 10 sacks in a career is Rod Woodson. (Admittedly, this is a flawed stat as sacks weren’t officially recorded until the early 80?s, but it’s still nice company.)

Fifth Round: Jason Simmons (1998), William Gay (2007), Joe Burnett (2009), Crezdon Butler (2010) – Like Keenan Lewis, the jury is still very much out on Butler after what was an impressive rookie training camp. Burnett is already gone and best known for dropping a potential game-clinching interception in the 2009 Bruce Gradkowski game against the Oakland Raiders.

William Gay emerged as a strong nickel back during the 2008 Super Bowl season, allowing the Steelers to let McFadden walk as a free agent. McFadden’s exit allowed Gay to be inserted into the starting lineup in 2009 and it was quickly and painfully obvious that he was in over his head, leading to the eventual return of McFadden via trade at the 2010 draft. Gay returned to his nickel role and seemed to be more comfortable than he was a starter.

Sixth Round: Daryl Porter (1997) — Never played a game with the Steelers but did play 55 games over five years with the Lions, Bills and Titans.

Seventh Round: LaVar Glover (2002) – Never played a game with the Steelers. Played two games with the Bengals during the 2002 season.

http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/03/1 ... cks-draft/ (http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/03/14-years-steelers-cornerbacks-draft/)

03-03-2011, 04:35 PM
The Steelers should draft a corner back in the 4th round based on this analysis of the previous drafts beginning in 1997. :D


03-03-2011, 04:42 PM
The Steelers should draft a corner back in the 4th round based on this analysis of the previous drafts beginning in 1997. :D


That should be the second DB they get in this draft. They need to get at two in this draft like they did for LBs with Timmons and Woodley in the same draft

03-03-2011, 10:58 PM
2003 was the same draft that we moved up using our 3rd and 6th rounders to grab Troy. Not a bad haul for the secondary huh? Troy and Ike. Almost makes up for the pick of Alonzo Jackson in the second. :lol:

As an interesting side note, the third pick of the second round that year was Charles Tillman from Louisiana-Lafayette to the Bears. He played CB opposite Ike in college and was the vastly more polished player. Taylor, a one year CB after moving from RB, was a raw project with outstanding athletic ability. Tillman is a fine player to be sure, but which player would you have rather had?

So - the biggest question looming after all of that.......how does an ex-RB have such awful hands??? :lol:

03-03-2011, 11:47 PM
(* - pro day)

Ricardo Colclough
Height: 5105
Weight: 194
40 Yrd Dash: 4.49
20 Yrd Dash: 2.59
10 Yrd Dash: 1.56
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 08
Vertical Jump: 39 1/2
Broad Jump: 10'07"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.28/4.34*
3-Cone Drill: 6.76/6.81*
Arm: 32 1/4
Hand: 9 1/2

William Gay - pro day only
Height: 5101
Weight: 187
40 Yrd Dash: 4.48
20 Yrd Dash: 2.55
10 Yrd Dash: 1.51
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 16
Vertical Jump: 38 1/2
Broad Jump: 9'10"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.15
3-Cone Drill: 6.89
Arm: 31
Hand: 8 1/2

Keenan Lewis
Height: 6007
Weight: 195
40 Yrd Dash: 4.47
20 Yrd Dash: 2.58
10 Yrd Dash: 1.53
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 19
Vertical Jump: 33 1/2
Broad Jump: 10'3"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.40*
3-Cone Drill: 6.89*
Arm: 32 3/4
Hand: 9 3/4

Anthony Smith - pro day*
Height: 6001
Weight: 194
40 Yrd Dash: 4.71
20 Yrd Dash: 2.72
10 Yrd Dash: 1.63
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 18
Vertical Jump: 41
Broad Jump: 10'05"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.35
3-Cone Drill: 6.76
Arm: --
Hand: --

Bryant McFadden - pro day*
Height: 5116
Weight: 193
40 Yrd Dash: 4.44*
20 Yrd Dash:
10 Yrd Dash:
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 23
Vertical Jump: 38 1/2
Broad Jump: 10'10"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.04
3-Cone Drill: --
Arm: 32
Hand: 9 1/8

03-04-2011, 01:35 PM
I had to go back and look up that Madden article. What a hack. Hard to believe he actually had a job at a reputable city newspaper once upon a time. Liked the figure-four leglock quote though. You can take the blowhard out of wrestling, but you can't wrestling out of the blowhard. :lol:

Mark's Madness: Steelers make history with worst draft pick ever

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Steelers made history Sunday. They made their worst draft pick ever.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I like a good bad draft choice. I derived as much enjoyment from the reigns of error provided by Troy Edwards, Jamain Stephens and Deon Figures as I did from the Super Bowl years. Being indescribably bad is often more intriguing than being incomparably good.

Which brings us to Ike Taylor, the Steelers' fourth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Louisiana-Lafayette is technically Division I-A, but the football program's primary purpose seems to be to pick up big paydays by acting as a record-building punching bag for larger schools like, well, everybody else.

Taylor's claim to fame during his one season at cornerback for Louisiana-Lafayette was that he knocked four people out of games, two via concussive effect and two via sprains. My attempt to check if Taylor sprained the knee of Middle Tennessee receiver Tyrone Calico by using (whoooo!) the figure-four leglock proved inconclusive. Check the video? Yeah, like that game was on TV anywhere.

Taylor was a tailback at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2001, making the team as a walk-on. Taylor's draft profile on NFL.com says he did not play in 2000 because he "concentrated on academics." Before that, he was a Prop 48. Before that, he was dumb. Probably still is.

Probably not dumb enough to pick himself in the fourth round, though. This pick makes no sense. On a scale of one to 10, Ourlads Scouting Service gave Taylor a one. They projected him to be drafted when hell froze over.

But Taylor is a Steeler. I guarantee he will make the team. Taylor could lose a leg at rookie camp, have a lobotomy at minicamp and develop a heroin habit at training camp, and he would make the Steelers. When a team makes a bad draft choice, cutting him right away fairly screams the club's stupidity in all-too-short order.

At 6-foot, 197 pounds with 4.33 speed in the 40-yard dash, Taylor could turn out to be the latter-day Mel Blount. Or the black Scott Shields. I'm betting on the latter.

Said Steelers defensive backs coach Willy Robinson -- yes, someone actually admits to having that job -- "The one thing you can't do is teach a guy to be 6 feet, almost 6-1, 197 pounds and run a 4.3 like he can." How come no one ever drafted Jesse Owens?

With all those marvelous physical attributes, how did Taylor wind up at Louisiana-Lafayette? Why wasn't he at Southern California with Troy Polamalu? Wouldn't a big-time school take a Prop 48 recruit that projected as a fourth-round NFL draft pick? Absolutely. But while you can't teach anyone to be 6 feet, 197 pounds and run a 4.3, you probably can't teach Taylor to play football.

Taylor played four different positions in high school, two in college. You say that's because he's versatile. I say it's because he couldn't figure out any one position.

Taylor will be a total bust for the Steelers. The only person he hurts will be me after he reads this column.

The choice of rag-armed Boston College quarterback Brian St. Pierre in the fifth round stinks, too. The Steelers did that just for the sake of drafting a quarterback. In the seventh round, I understand the Steelers drafted a fullback. Do NFL teams still use fullbacks?

Other than that, I liked the Steelers draft. Seriously. As bad as the choices of Taylor, St. Pierre and what's-his-name are, the selections of Polamalu and Alonzo Jackson fit like hand in glove.

The Steelers needed a safety. Polamalu was the top safety in the draft.

Did the Steelers give too much to trade up to No. 16? Probably. Could they have moved up a little less high, given a bit less, and still gotten Polamalu? Probably. But the Steelers got the man they wanted. Given that, and given the need, you can't fault taking Polamalu.

Jackson was a slight reach in the second round. But he's a true pass-rushing specialist. The Steelers' defense hasn't been the same since Kevin Greene left town. Greene was far from a complete player. But he gave the Steelers an extra dimension that struck fear in foes and gave the opposing quarterback less time to make decisions.

Jackson played defensive end at Florida State. The Steelers will make him into an outside linebacker. I just hope they don't try to make him into a complete player. Don't teach Jackson how to drop back into coverage. Just let him be Kevin Greene.

Jackson will play rush end in the dime, which might turn into a nickel if Bill Cowher's post-draft comments prove accurate. I hope they do. If getting Jackson, Kendrell Bell, Jason Gildon and Joey Porter on the field at the same time means going with only five defensive backs in passing situations, so be it.

Play your best athletes. Leaving Bell off the field for passing downs last season was criminal.

I'm chock-full of enthusiasm about the ridiculous choice of Taylor. Just as this generation of Steelers fans (cough) deserves its own Super Bowl team, it also deserves to experience a replay of the shame of 1989, when the Steelers' 1-2 first-round punch of Tim Worley and Tom Ricketts ultimately made grown men weep. And drink.

Of course, I'm hardly infallible when it comes to judging this sort of thing.

I liked the choice of Edwards in 1999. Hey, gotta get a receiver, right? Wrong. I also spoke glowingly of Shields' physical skills when the safety from Weber State was chosen in the second round that same year. Conversely, I decried the choice of Antwaan Randle-El in the second round last season.

But I stand by my condemnation of Ike Taylor. Ike Turner would have been a better choice. Talk about a big hitter.


Mark Madden is the host of a sports talk show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).


03-07-2011, 02:52 PM
Cornerbacks, Time Machines and the Draft

Posted on March 7, 2011 by ryan

Because I can’t help myself, a little Draft Day Time Machine: Cornerbacks Edition. In case you missed it, I did a comprehensive review of the offensive line last fall. Usual rules apply here (basically: only players available after the Steelers’ original selection are up for consideration), but this time we’re looking at which cornerbacks* the Steelers might have had with their previous first-round selections. Because the last time Pittsburgh drafted a CB in Round 1 it was 1997. And his name was Chad Scott.

(* I could have included safeties, but with Polamalu and Chris Hope, and later Ryan Clark and, ahem, Anthony Smith, this position hasn’t been at the top of the personnel to-do list for some time.)

Let’s get to it…

1998: Took Alan Faneca, 1.26. Could have had R.W. McQuarters (1.28).

Faneca wins.

1999: Took Troy Edwards, 1.13. Could have had Antoine Winfield (1.23), Fernando Bryant (1.27), Dre’ Bly (2.41).

Just about anybody would have been better than Edwards. Except for the guy the Steelers took at 2.57: Scott Shields. Moving on…

2000: Took Plaxico Burress, 1.8. Could have had Deltha O’Neal (1.15), Ahmed Plummer (1.24).

Even taking into account Plax’s first professional catch-and-spike, Burress is the guy here.

2001: Took Casey Hampton, 1.19. Could have had Nate Clements (1.21), Will Allen (1.22), Jamar Fletcher (1.26).

You could make a case for Nate Clements, but using Pro Football Reference’s weighted career approximate value (CarAV) metric, Casey gets a 66 and Clements a 55. (CarAV is explained in great detail here.) It’s not the end-all, be-all, but without a fat body anchoring the line we’d probably now be whinging about Pittsburgh’s inability to stop the run.

2002: Took Kendall Simmons, 1.30. Could have had Sheldon Brown (2.59).

The karma gods hosed Simmons. After a great start to his career, knee injuries and adult-onset diabetes turned him into Darnell Stapleton. Brown has a higher CarAV (44 to 31), but it’s a cumulative stat. I’d still take Simmons here.

2003: Took Troy Polamalu, 1.16. Could have had Andre Woolfolk (1.28), Sammy Davis (1.30), Nnamdi Asomugha (1.30), Charles Tillman (2.35), Rashean Mathis (2.39), Drayton Florence (2.46).

Hmm. Anybody take Nnamdi over Troy here? I wouldn’t but before I looked up players selected after Troy I almost just wrote, “Yeah, Polamalu. Nothing to see here.” Well, any other year and there would be some tough decisions to make. Asomugha clearly improves the Steelers secondary, and so would Peanut Tillman (added bonus: he’s Ike’s college teammate!). That said: you have to take Troy.

2004: Took Ben Roethlisberger, 1.11. Could have had Ahmad Carroll (1.25), Chris Gamble (1.28).

I don’t like to brag about it, but at the time, I was pushing for the Steelers to take a cornerback in the first round. I distinctly remember buying into the predraft hype on DeAngelo Hall, too. It’s not my proudest moment. It could have been worse: I could have been pimping Ricardo Colclough, the dude Pittsburgh traded up to get in Round 2.

2005: Took Heath Miller, 1.30. Could have had Stanford Routt (2.38), Corey Webster (2.43), Ronald Bartell (2.50), Darrent Williams (2.56), Justin Miller (2.57), Kelvin Hayden (2.60).

Here’s how I look at it: Heath’s one of the best tight ends in the league. Routt or Bartell or Hayden would upgrade Pittsburgh’s secondary, but then taking any of them over Miller would be the definition of reaching.

2006: Took Santonio Holmes, 1.25. Could have had Kelly Jennings (1.31), Jimmy Williams (2.37), Cedric Griffin (1.48), Richard Marshall (2.57), Tim Jennings (2.62).

Gimme Holmes, please. Primarily because Ted would kill me if I said otherwise. (Joke!) Plus, Holmes had a nontrivial role in the Steelers last Super Bowl win. Of the cornerbacks available, Griffin might be the best choice and he’s had issues with injuries. (And Williams, physically the prototypical Pittsburgh corner, needed just a few years to eat himself out of the league.)

2007: Took Juan Timmons, 1.15. Could have had Leon Hall (1.18), Aaron Ross (1.20), Chris Houston (1.41).

The name not listed: Darrelle Revis, selected by the Jets 14th overall. I’m guessing we’ll be talking about this forever. There was a time when I thought that Tomlin was so in love with Juan that he would have taken him even if Revis was on the board. JJ convinced me otherwise on the last podcast. I can’t imagine what this defense would look like with Revis Island located at the confluence, and playing opposite Ike, but that’s a secondary you’d line up opposite Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers and feel great about doing it. But, hey, it could be worse: at least Juan is good. Imagine if the Steelers had taken Jarvis Moss?

As for the players actually available, Leon Hall is the only legit candidate. Still not sure if he’s a better fit than Juan (CarAV gives Hall the edge, 31-23).

2008: Took Rashard Mendenhall, 1.23. Could have had Mike Jenkins (1.25), Antoine Cason (1.27), Brandon Flowers (2.35), Tracy Porter (2.40).

Jenkins is afraid to tackle, so he’s out (just in case the fact that he can’t cover failed to persuade you). Cason has been adequate, and I’d call Flowers and Porter above average. I’m forever beating the “Running backs are fungible” drum, so I might be willing to swap either Flowers or Porter for Mendenhall, even though I love what Rashard has done in two seasons as a starter. In terms of CarAV, Mendenhall’s 18 is slightly better than Flowers’ 18 and Porter’s 12. Make of that what you will.

2009: Took Ziggy Hood, 1.32. Could have had: Alphonso Smith (2.37), Darius Butler (2.41), Jairus Byrd (2.42), Sean Smith (2.61), Derek Cox (3.73).

Cox went to William & Mary so he’s the obvious choice. I liked Butler a lot leading up to the 2009 draft, mostly because I watched him in a couple episodes of “Prime U,” Deion Sanders’ preparatory school for aspiring NFL cornerbacks. Turns out, Butler hasn’t done much in New England. Jairus Byrd went nuts as a rookie, grabbing nine interceptions. He had one a season ago, although I have no idea if it was because teams threw away from him or he slumped. (I watched exactly one Bills game, for obvious reasons.) Smith also had a strong rookie season, but slipped in 2010.

After a quiet 2009, Ziggy played well in his second season. And while I might be willing to swap him for Byrd, we’d then be talking about all the injury-prone geriatrics on the Steelers’ d-line.

2010: Took Maurkice Pouncey, 1.18. Could have had: Kareem Jackson (1.20), Devin McCourty (1.27), Kyle Wilson (1.29), Patrick Robinson (1.32), Javier Arenas (2.50).

Wow. This is tough. McCourty was phenomenal as a rookie. He had the type of performance you pray that just one of the Steelers’ young players — Lewis, Crezdon … anybody — could put together. As it stands, Ike’s the last cornerback to pull it off. So is swapping McCourty for Maurkice worth it? Part of me says “hell yeah,” since the Steelers’ had won a Super Bowl with Hartwig. I know a lot of people were ready to see him off, but I still remember those heady Sean Mahan days; consequently, I was willing to Hartwig the guy some slack. One obvious drawback: think about what Pittsburgh’s o-line would have looked like with no Pouncey to go along with all the injuries. I’d really, really love McCourty, I just don’t think I’d be willing to trade him for Maurkice.

http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/03/c ... nes-draft/ (http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/03/cornerbacks-time-machines-draft/)