Objectively, whether Darrius Heyward-Bey is on the roster come Sep. 7 is anyone's guess. With Brown, Wheaton, Moore locks to make the roster, the Steelers are probably going to have to make some tough choices. If Bryant shows anything in camp, he's #4, leaving Brown, DHB, and Moye to battle it out for the last spot. Moye and Brown have the upside on their sides, but (if I'm not mistaken) are practice squad eligible. I won't be surprised if the Steelers take their pick between the two, and keep him on the PS for another year.
This would leave DHB as the 5th option, which isn't so bad considering he was a starter in Indianapolis for much of last season. After being demoted, he showed himself to be a willing and capable gunner on ST, making use of his 4.25 speed. If Steelers' brass deems he can handle the #5 spot and ST he's got his roster spot - making an unlikely scenario vaguely possible. Why not try DHB out at DB?
It would be an unorthodox career trajectory to say the least. Maybe even crazy, but I will let you, the reader, make that argument. Here is why I'd like to see Carnell Lake get a stab at it:
1.) The man is a physical freak. At 6'2", 220 and sub 4.30 speed, he's got all the measurables you could want. The big question is, can he backpedal? He seems to be fluid enough as a runner to turn his hips, but this too is a question mark, albeit a lesser one.
2.) After 5 NFL seasons, he's got a handle on the game. He knows the route trees and has been coached on how to beat CBs. Why not put that coaching to use? Hands of stone, yes, but Ike has shown you can be a solid CB while being completely incapable of intercepting a pass.
3.) You probably haven't heard, but the Steelers have depth issues at CB. Although these may be exaggerated, there's definitely something to it. Behind Ike and Cortez, there's not much there. I'm probably higher on Gay than most, but still concerned what an injury would do to the unit. At 5'9" there's cause for concern with the possibility of McCain or Blake having to match up against bigger wide receivers. As mentioned earlier, this scenario assumes DHB won a roster spot as a WR and ST gunner, meaning the Steelers are not wasting a roster spot on a project that may likely go nowhere.
4.) He doesn't need to be a great CB for this experiment to pan out. As long as he's already making the team, there's really no cost, with potentially a lot of upside. If he is able to outplay McCain and Blake, fantastic. That's a ton of size and speed for a fourth or fifth CB. If he he can add depth behind them, the Steelers still improve. I don't expect him to be the second coming of Rod Woodson, but added depth would be a plus.
5.) He's played on the other side of the ball. In high school, he played on DEF as a linebacker. More telling, he showed he can get after the ballcarrier on ST last year, inspiring confidence in his ability to help add range in run support.
I've heard enough local sports radio to know a crazy homer plea when I hear one. Try a 34 year old Hines Ward at SS?Yeah, that's laughable. And maybe this is, too. However, he's a 26 year old physical freak who's greatest problem has been an inability to catch the ball. Why not give it a try? In the past few years, there has been plenty of talk about moving Tebow to tight end or Pryor to WR. He is considerably more athletic than either of them, and arguably would be making less of transition. Thoughts?