The Steelers long-awaited rookie cornerback is here in Ole Miss defensive back Senquez Golson.
After drafting linebacker Bud Dupree in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Steelers rolled the dice and waited until late in the second round to draft a cornerback in Golson, who was a consensus All-American in 2014.
Here's five facts about the Steelers newest cornerback:
Golson has the gift of grab
Golson intercepted a staggering 10 interceptions in 2014 and tallied 16 interceptions over his career at Ole Miss. Golson will look to bring his ball hawking skills to a defense that tallied just 11 interceptions in 2014, with three of picks coming from now Miami Dolphins cornerback Brice McCain. Golson also broke up eight passes during his senior year with the Rebels.
Small, but strong
The 5'9'', 176-pound Golson plays bigger than his height. Despite giving up height on many occasions over his college career, Golson gave up only four touchdowns passes over his four-year career at Ole Miss. Golson is also a solid defender against the run, as his bio as NFL.com stated that Golson is "willing and effective against the run. Maintains leverage against the run and can disengage to make aggressive tackle when necessary." The bio went on to say that Golson's superior technique and ability to read quarterbacks also helps him make up for his lack of size.
Golson brings to mind former Buccaneer Ronde Barber, who was slightly bigger than Golson at 5'10'' and 184 pounds. Barber, who faced questions about his ability to last in the NFL given his smaller stature, played 16 seasons in the NFL, earned five Pro Bowl nods and three All-Pro selections to go with 47 interceptions and a Super Bowl ring in 2002. Just as Golson displayed at Ole Miss, Barber had superior techniques, impressive closing speed and the ability to make game-changing plays.
A Red Sox-turned Steeler
Golson's sterling speed and hand-eye coordination helped in star in two sports growing up. Along with football, Golson starred in baseball at the prep level and was drafted in the eighth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Soz. After making 15 starts and scoring 13 runs to go with five RBI and five steals for the Diamond Rebels, Golson opted to give up baseball in order to focus entirely on his football career.
Golson's character not in question
His draft bio on NFL.com raved about Golson's personality and football mindset, as a quote from an AFC South regional scout said the following about Golson:
"He has that love of football we look for. He turned down big money as a baseball player to lock in on football, and he plays with passion and with explosive talent."
After hearing similar things said about first round pick Dupree, it appears that a high priority of Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was quality players that are also drive, high-quality people.
Golson has the confidence of the great Carnell Lake
Like many teams, the Steelers value the opinion of their position coaches when drafting a player. And when a coach as accomplished as Carnell Lake expresses his confidence about the ability of an incoming player, that's saying something.
The versatile Lake, who earned Pro Bowl selections at both cornerback and safety during his glittering career with the Steelers, praised Golson's toughness, speed and intelligence in an interview with steelers.com.
"Any time you can get a guy who can pluck the ball out of the air he has real value in this league," Lake said on Friday.
"At this point in the draft we’re looking for someone with exceptional skills. Senquez has exceptional ball skills.
"(Golson is) very intelligent, very football aware. He’s very sharp. He won’t have a problem learning the system."