SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Defensive Back coach Carnell Lake of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches warm ups before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
It's only the second round, but it's already interesting to see how the three of us are building in different ways. Neal doubled down on the offensive side by pairing Hines with Ben, while Tony filled out the front of his defense with Keisel.
I get the reasoning for both picks, as both Hines and Keisel were on my big board as well, but I'm not looking at either of them this early. I'm still focused on building the smartest and most adaptable defense that I can, and there are only so many tall, rangy guys that can cover and catch (sorry, Ike).
I have Rod Woodson, and now I'm homed in on one of his old teammates...
If the draft had snaked and I had gotten to make another pick immediately after Woodson, it would've been Lake. That's how much I wanted him. Having to wait for two picks to go by definitely had me on edge, so I was absolutely ecstatic that he made it through and I could still scoop him up.
Lake was an All-American outside linebacker at UCLA, converted to safety upon arriving in Pittsburgh, and then molded himself into a cornerback after Woodson tore an ACL early in the '95 season. Damn right I want a guy with that kind of athleticism, versatility, and wealth of experience at a multitude of positions on my team.
There was an ulterior motive to this as well - I had to get this pick in before Neal did.
In last year's edition of the Maple Street Press Steelers Annual (and what proved to be the final one before the company went bankrupt), Neal penned a nice piece on Lake rejoining the Steelers as our new secondary coach. The article began with a memory of playing some neighborhood pickup football, and how young Neal did his best to emulate his hero, Carnell Lake, as they ran around in that park. We all like Neal writing new stuff, so I wanted to save him from the temptation to just copy and paste an excerpt of that article for his 3rd round pick write up.
And since we've broached the obvious - that I just drafted our current secondary coach for my team - let's briefly address how Lake should help the other guys that'll be playing with him.
This is what happens when a wide receiver tries to operate in coverage without properly understanding what he should be doing. I know it was just the Pro Bowl and all, but seriously, that was absolutely awful work from Antonio Brown. This is why I'm stocking up on DBs early: I figure that as long as he can catch (again - sorry, Ike), a DB can pretend to be a receiver better than a receiver can pretend to be a DB. I'm sure I'll still be able to find a top-flight receiver or two later, but there are only so many top-notch cover guys to go around. And only so many of them are good at teaching what they know.
Rod Woodson tried his hand at it with Oakland last year, and he got rolled up in the Raiders' wholesale house-cleaning after their late-season collapse. While Woodson probably was not one of the guys that should shoulder most of the blame for that, he still has yet to be picked up for a new coaching gig.
I already had Woodson, but that does not relegate Lake to just a luxury pick.
To borrow a line from Neal's article last year: "Woodson is the prodigy, but Lake is the straw that stirs the drink."