Just thought I'd take a look at our drafting trends for Defensive players. What rounds we draft them in, what type of players we draft, etc.
First off, let's look at DB's.
Since 2000 when Kevin Colbert took over as Grand Poobah of draft ownage, the Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted fifteen Defensive Backs. Lets see how they break down by round.
1st - 1
2nd - 2
3rd - 5
4th - 2
5th - 3
6th - 1
7th - 1
Four of those selections were safeties, Troy Polomalu (1st), Chris Hope (3rd), Anthony Smith (3rd) and Ryan Mundy (6th). Troy is awesome, Hope is very good, Mundy turned out good for a 6th round pick and Anthony Smith I won't discuss at all. Only four selections in 12 drafts, and only two have been starters. We rely heavily on signing veteran Free Agents for the position, especially since we got Troy. Our system places a lot of responsibility on the FS, so it makes sense we rely on veterans who have shown they can read the play and make the right choice.
Removing the safeties we have 10 CB's chosen in rounds 2-4 and one seventh round choice, LaVAr Glover, who never played for us. Five of the remaining ten have been chosen in the last three drafts, including the two we just took.
All the CB's by round taken:
2nd: Bryant McFadden, Ricardo Colclough. McFadden has been a dependable player, yet last season was his first as a full year starter for Pittsburgh. Colclough didn't do much here and less after leaving.
3rd: Hank Poteat, Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown. Hank Poteat never became more than a returner in Pittsburgh but did stick around the league as a CB through 2009, starting 20 games for his career. Keenan Lewis has shown great potential as a DB and as a bonehead in his first two seasons, and with fresh blood at the position will need to show something for this pick to not be a bust. Curtis Brown just got picked.
4th: Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen. Ike was a great pick, an athlete who needed to learn to play the position. I still remember how great he could stick with any receiver his first couple of seasons, defending passes with the back of his helmet more than once. As a value pick it's hard to rate Ike as anything but a huge success. Cortez Allen is a slower Ike Taylor with better hands. (I'm laughing at that description because it fits 98% of the Earth's population)
5th: William Gay, Joe Burnett, Crezdon Butler. William Gay was an incredibly valuable nickel back in our 2008 SB run, his small size and lack of speed is offset by always being in the right place. He is a phenomenal help tackler, which is another way of saying he won't be bringing down Adrian Peterson in the open field, but he always gets there to help others finish off guys. Joe Burnett showed some promise, but not enough to stick around, he was a Back up for the Giants last year. Crezdon Butler showed a lot of promise last year, let's see what happens this year.
Most of these corners were considered projects when drafted. The Steelers tend to draft guys 5'11" to 6'0" who are physical and athletic but are not polished. The exceptions to that, William Gay, Joe Burnett and Hank Poteat were viewed as nickel corners or return men.
We've got four young corners coming to camp who fit the same mold that we like for our outside starters, two 3rd round picks, a 4th round pick and a 5th round pick. Hopefully two of them develop into starters soon.