View Full Version : Cornerback is the Steelers' biggest weakness

03-26-2011, 02:03 AM
Cornerback Steelers' biggest weakness

The Sports Xchange
March 25, 2011

The Steelers haven't had a Pro-Bowl cornerback since Rod Woodson made it for the seventh time after the 1996 season. The only other cornerback to consistently make the Pro Bowl since the NFL merger in 1970 was Mel Blount, who made it for the fifth time after the 1981 season. J.T. Thomas made it once, after the 1976 season and that's it for Steelers Pro-Bowl cornerbacks.

They believe Ike Taylor is of that quality, but he's now 30 and he's an unrestricted free agent. Taylor wants to return and they want him to return but that remains to be seen. He has the size they prefer in their corners and he's also their best coverage man. He has good ball awareness but has no hands as his 11 interceptions in eight seasons will attest.

Even if Taylor does return, they need a cornerback badly. Bryant McFadden returned to start on the left side for them last season but he has severe shortcomings and was picked on aplenty, especially in the Super Bowl. William Gay lost his starting job from 2009 to play nickel last season and is below average. After that they have Keenan Lewis, a third-round draft pick in 2009 who has done little in two seasons. Crezdon Butler has some promise after playing sparingly as a rookie.

If Taylor signs elsewhere, the Steelers would be in dire straits at the position. Their whole defensive scheme relies on them getting pressure on the quarterback and they are among the best at it. It's why they succeed. But a quarterback with a quick release can kill them, as Tom Brady and Drew Brees did last season. An injury to Taylor would also be devastating.

So they need to draft a cornerback and that likely will be done in the first round this year. But who? Director of football operations Kevin Colbert says this draft is deep at the position and a good one should fall to them at No. 31.

The best might be Jimmy Smith of Colorado but the Steelers may already have taken him off their draft board because of character issues and what is seen as a poor attitude.

Patrick Peterson of LSU and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska will be long gone, probably in the top 10 for both.

That leaves Brandon Harris of Miami and Aaron Williams of Texas. Both have the qualities the Steelers covet in cornerbacks - good in coverage, good against the run. One may be drafted before the Steelers' turn at No. 31 but they're not both likely to go.

So, which one? Harris is the more physical of the two but they are both aggressive. Harris is a couple inches shorter at 5-10 but stockier and with excellent speed. The Steelers won't have to move up in the round to take one or the other and then they can get their offensive lineman in the second round and still have a third-rounder to perhaps go for another cornerback.

You can't have too many corners and the Steelers right now don't have enough.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/repo ... t-weakness (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/report/PIT/14857536/cornerback-steelers-biggest-weakness)

03-26-2011, 11:42 AM
Corner is a big problem. Problem is that there aren't any top corners at the bottom half of the first round. they are all reaches.

03-26-2011, 02:17 PM
Steelers absolutely MUST address corner in a big way. Whether it is with a very high draft pick (no later than second round, preferably first), re-signing Ike, or picking up a very significant FA, the Steelers can not even expect to compete next time they actually see the field without making at least one - if not two - of these moves.

03-27-2011, 01:16 PM
We will sign at least one FA corner. Maybe Ike and Gay. Maybe one or two other guys. We still need to draft one. But, he doesn't have to be a first rounder. I'm liking the late first round corners less and less.

04-02-2011, 10:36 PM

Well, itís almost April. The NFL Scouting Combine is over. The owners have locked the players out. I guess itís time to start talking about the draft.

Before we start talking about who the Steelers should draft, itís important that we first evaluate how the team currently looks. Specifically, we need to define their strengths and weaknesses.

Despite the fact that the Steelers participated in the most recent Super Bowl, they are actually a team with quite a few glaring needs.

Iím going to start on the defensive side of the ball, because thatís where I believe the teamís greatest needs lie.

Lotís of people are saying that the Steelersí greatest need is offensive linemen. I donít agree with that. In my opinion, the greatest need on the team is at cornerback.

Ike Taylor was the only cornerback on the team who even played at an average level. Ike has been the Steelersí stopper for years now. Heís a big, fast cornerback who can handle any receiver in the league. Despite that, Ike is limited. Steelers fans all know that Ike canít catch. So heís never going to generate a lot of interceptions. Ike has never had more than 3 interceptions during a season, and heís averaged about 1 interception per season throughout his career.

While being a solid cover corner is great, Ikeís inability to create interceptions is kind of like a 3-4 rush linebacker who doesnít generate sacks; heís failing at an important part of the job.

Ike will be 31 years old this year, so heís not getting any younger, and heís going to start losing a step or two soon. Moreover, Ike is a free agent this year. The Steelers didnít sign Ike to a new contract, and they seem to be content to let Ike hit the free agent market. If that happens, it could be a potential nightmare for the Steelers, since they really donít have any other weapons in their cornerback arsenal.

Bryant McFadden was brought back last year, and by midway through the season, most Steelers fans probably wished he was still in Arizona.

If youíll recall McFaddenís first stint with the Steelers, he was being platooned with William Gay. McFadden was viewed as being stronger against the run, but Gay was better in coverage. Well, thatís pretty much how things still are (which is a scary thought, considering how poorly Gay covers). McFadden is strong in run coverage, but he canít cover anybody. Not even my grandmother. And sheís 89 years old.

If the Steelers cut McFadden today, I donít think there would be a single fan who would miss him.

In 2009, William Gay proved that he is not a viable starting cornerback. He was much better this year when he didnít have the pressure of being a starter on him. Gayís performances ran hot and cold. He made some really great plays at critical moments. But he also got burned badly at critical moments. I think most fans are content to see Gay utilized in nickel and dime packages, but not as a starter.

2010 was supposed to be the year that Keenan Lewis made himself a valuable member of the Steelersí defense. But sadly, that didnít happen.

Lewis has all of the physical attributes that D!ck LeBeau could possibly hope for. Heís big (6í0?, 208 lbs), fast, and athletic. When he was drafted, I envisioned him playing opposite Ike Taylor, giving the Steelers two cornerbacks who were big and athletic enough to handle even difficult receiving tandems like the Arizona Cardinals old duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Unfortunately, that vision has never materialized.

Sadly for Steelers fans, Lewisí mental abilities donít seem to match his physical talents. He can be counted on to make a silly mental mistake at the most inopportune times. Even worse, he often loses control of his emotions and draws penalties that are due entirely to immaturity and hot-headedness.

Did anyone else find it odd that in a season where the Steelers clearly struggled at the cornerback position, Lewis wasnít able to earn any increased playing time? That says all that needs to be said about what the coaches think about Lewisí development. Next year will probably be a make or break season for Keenan Lewis.

The Steelers drafted Crezdon Butler in last yearís draft. Like most rookies playing in the Steelersí defense, Butler didnít get much playing time. So the jury is still out on him. But Iíll expect to see a lot more out of him in 2011.

Those are the players who will likely battle for the starting cornerback positions next year. Now imagine what the competition will look like if the Steelers lose Ike Taylor to free agency. The starting cornerbacks would likely be Bryant McFadden and William Gay. Yikes! The mere thought of it is enough to bring you to tears, isnít it? With those two as the starting cornerbacks, the Steelers would likely go 0-16. Thatís why I say that cornerback is the single greatest need for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Frankly, all other needs pale in comparison.


04-03-2011, 09:54 AM
The question is how do you fix the need immediately?

1st round CB? Not to be too negative, but there's no guarentee that a 1st rounder has any more impact than a 3rd rounder- particularly when you consider the Steelers penchant for drafting rookies with high upside- rarely close the the finished product.

Chadman believes that FA is the key here. If the Steelers are to get any kind of upgrade, it has to come from a veteran opposite Ike. Carlos Rogers would be ideal. Maybe not likely, but ideal. Finding a CB that fits the budget & is an upgrade starter over McFadden & Gay shouldn't be too difficult. Doesn't need to be a star- just able to not get owned every other snap. Drafting a specific "Nickle CB" isn't a bad option. Rashard Carmicheal in the 3rd could fill that role, improve it over Gay, and be a 'steal' in regards to value. Coupled with a FA at CB, this might be the best, and most effective, avenue for the Steelers to take.

Eric Wright, Richard Marshall, Chris Carr- these guys could be options in FA.

04-03-2011, 09:54 AM
No doubt that this is the biggest weakness on the team. People can rant and rave about the OL but the OL played better than the secondary did and has for the past couple of years.

The secondary is a disaster waiting to happen because of the CB position. If Ike Taylor leaves then the disaster will have occurred because there is no one to replace him. Our defensive coaches have totally failed over the past 5-6 years to develop CBs. I find this especially ironic since the head of the unit is a former CB. Whether it is drafting bad players or a scheme that is flawed I don't know but something has to be fixed or any team with a good to very good QB will pick us apart again and again.

I would be shocked if after the Super Bowl that teams don't gameplan to pass first against us and just give up on the run all together. What is now a serious weakness could easily become a gaping hole on our team.

04-03-2011, 11:41 AM
Now imagine what the competition will look like if the Steelers lose Ike Taylor to free agency. The starting cornerbacks would likely be Bryant McFadden and William Gay. Yikes! The mere thought of it is enough to bring you to tears, isnít it? With those two as the starting cornerbacks, the Steelers would likely go 0-16.

Talk about absurd hyperbole!

From 12-4 plus another 2 playoff victories and an appearance in the Super Bowl with Ike Taylor to 0-16 (only accomplished once in NFL history) without Ike Taylor! That 14 game swing due solely to the loss of one guy makes Ike Taylor the most valuable player in the history of all professional sports!!! :lol: