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Thread: Our top-ranked pass defense needs a playmaker

  1. #1
    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Our top-ranked pass defense needs a playmaker

    Secondary primary for Steelers in NFL Draft

    By Ralph N. Paulk

    Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Defensive backs drafted by the Steelers since 2008:

    2008:S Ryan Mundy, West Virginia (6th round)

    2009:CB Keenan Lewis, Oregon State; CB Joe Burnett, Central Florida (3rd)

    2010: CB Crezdon Butler, Clemson (5th, compensatory pick)

    2011: CB Curtis Brown, Texas (3rd); CB Cortez Allen, Citadel (4th)

    Head of the class

    2012 NFL Draft prospects: Defensive backs

    1. CB Morris Clairborne, LSU

    2. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

    3. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

    4. S Mark Barron, Alabama

    5. S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

    6. CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

    7. CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana

    8. CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

    In the weeks leading to the NFL Draft, it’s difficult to imagine coach Mike Tomlin didn’t relive the final seconds of the Steelers’ stunning 29-23 overtime defeat in the opening round of AFC playoffs in Denver.

    If it wasn’t safety Ryan Mundy biting on a Tim Tebow play fake, it was Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas slapping aside cornerback Ike Taylor as he sprints toward the end zone for the game-winning 80-yard touchdown.

    On Monday, Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear the Steelers are prepared to address their shortcomings in the secondary. While offensive line might be a position of need, last year’s top-ranked pass defense needs a playmaker, considering the Steelers had only 11 interceptions.

    “Need is not a good word,” Colbert said.

    Need might be an ugly word for Colbert, but the Steelers’ pass coverage breakdowns in big games may necessitate taking the best available defensive back in the first round Thursday. If there’s any doubt, Tomlin only needs to reflect on the Mile High debacle — or Baltimore’s Torrey Smith splitting cornerback William Gay and safety Ryan Clark for a game-clinching 27-yard scoring reception to cap a 92-yard drive with eight seconds left for a 23-20 win at Heinz Field in November.

    Taylor, for the most part, was consistent in 2011. Clark led the Steelers with 100 tackles, and safety Troy Polamalu had 91 tackles and a team-high two interceptions.

    But last year’s third- and fourth-round picks, cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, were slowed by injuries. Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis were steady but unspectacular.

    “What’s going on with our current team won’t influence what we do in the draft,” Colbert said. “We’re going to look at this with the potential to add more players to the mix.”

    Brown and Allen could have bigger roles with the release of veteran Bryant McFadden and the departure of Gay via free agency.

    “There’s a possibility that we could add some competition there but we are excited about the prospects of these young men — Brown and Allen,” Tomlin said. “We drafted them a year ago with the potential of these things in mind. They’ve been a part of our program and have been given the opportunity to contribute in some ways, on special teams and even in some sub-package defense for Cortez.”

    With the 24th overall pick, the Steelers probably won’t have a chance at the top defensive back prospects — cornerbacks Morris Clairborne of LSU and Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama, and safety Mark Barron of Alabama.

    Colbert said the talent pool is deep with cornerbacks. He isn’t nearly as confident in finding safeties, particularly late in the draft.

    But if the Steelers are left without an offensive lineman worthy of a first-round pick, several defensive backs could be available — including cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina and Jayron Hosley of Virginia Tech, and safety Harrison Smith of Notre Dame.


  2. #2
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    May 2008
    This is why I'm not a big Ike Taylor fan... Ike can run with the best of them but he doesn't make QB's pay for their mistakes. You can throw bad passes Ike's direction all game long and the chances of him snatching one are slim to none.

  3. #3
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    May 2008
    Get Lewis, Brown and Allen on the field and let's see what they can do. I agree that we need a playmaker in secondary but I think we need to look at Safety before another CB. We saw the disaster that was Ryan Mundy against the Broncos.
    1. Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
    2. Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
    3. Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
    4. John Johnson-S, Boston College
    5. James Conner-RB, Pitt
    6. Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
    7. Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State

  4. #4
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    Cincitucky (Stinktown, U.S.A.)
    Pass rushers will also make our corners better. More heat on the QB always leads to more turnovers.

    What we need is defensive playmakers. Whether that is a inside nickel pass rusher, an OLB to platoon with Harrison and Wood, or a ballhawk FS or CB for the secondary doesn't really matter.
    Even if Bill Belichick was getting an atomic wedgie, his face would look exactly the same.

  5. #5
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    Hey Roger...
    I personally believe the Bronco disaster was based on scheme, having 8 in the box to stop the Tebow run and Tebow must have been coached to counter that with passes before the game even started.
    Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Discipline of Steel View Post
    I personally believe the Bronco disaster was based on scheme, having 8 in the box to stop the Tebow run and Tebow must have been coached to counter that with passes before the game even started.
    But that doesn't explain the appalling lack of turnovers forced by our defense. That's why I'm interested in guys who play fast. Speed, being in places where opponents don't expect you--that' what causes turnovers. Our guys, while skilled, are slow. Harrison and Woodley are prime examples. But you need more guys flying around the field, creating havoc. Troy exemplifies this type of player... but he is only one guy, and he is getting older. Timmons has been thought to be this type of player, but in his five years or so, he hasn't exactly filled the bill.

    It's why I prefer a guy like Mychal Kendricks to a guy like Hightower. Probably both bring equal value across the league (IMO, Kendricks is underrated). But for our needs, Kendricks and his heat-seeking missile type of play is more suited.

  7. #7
    Legend RuthlessBurgher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    But last year’s third- and fourth-round picks, cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, were slowed by injuries. Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis were steady but unspectacular.
    Wow...just wow. Was Crezdon Butler steady but unspectacular before or after we cut him in training camp and he signed with Arizona? This level of reporting almost makes John Harris look good by comparison. Congrats, Ralph Paulk.

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    4.135 CB Rasul Douglas 6'2" 209 West Virginia
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