By Dale Grdnic
Through four rounds, those concerns should have been alleviated a bit.
The Steelers took Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round Friday and Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) in the fourth round Saturday to improve the secondary's depth considerably. That made secondary coach Carnell Lake feel a little less uneasy today.
"There's always concern when you have so many starters leaving at once,'' Lake said. "You want to make sure you replace them and replace them with quality players, but it's my job to coach them up, whoever we bring in.
"(And) that's going to be a challenge for me. ... We've got some holes that we're starting to fill, and the Steelers have been aggressive in doing that.''
Lake described Grant as a solid, physical corner with decent speed.
"(And) he played at a very high level at a very big, national-type championship team,'' Lake added. "He played as a true freshman and played every year he attended Ohio State. ... And he's going to make tackles. He's a very tough player. He's going to help out a lot on special teams because of that.''
"But I definitely am a Steelers fan now,'' Grant said. "(And) I definitely love the way the Steelers run their program. I just love the history and championship culture there.''
Grant believed his tackling ability and football intelligence were his strongest assets. These also could make him a strong candidate to transition to safety in the NFL. Grant said the Steelers didn't mention that during their pre-draft interview, but Lake said he had that in his notes as a possibility.
While Golson matched up quite a bit during his time at Auburn, Grant played in multiple coverages at Ohio State. So, his transition to the NFL would be minimal, as the Buckeyes play a defensive scheme similar to the Steelers. The two will add depth to a cornerback group that includes starters William Gay and Cortez Allen and key backups Antwon Blake and B.W. Webb.
"I know, from talking to (Allen), that he had some issues with lower extremities,'' Lake said. "He was injured most of the year, but he fought through that. It really affected his game.
"Playing the game myself, I know it's ... almost impossible, really, to play corner. So, I give him credit for fighting through it. I think it's good that he's not around, to clear his mind to come back refreshed.''
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said recently that he wouldn't be opposed to Mike Mitchell moving from free to strong safety this year, and Lake agreed.
"If you're versatile, you're probably going to end up playing both anyway,'' Lake said. "The way things go, it causes you to rotate your secondary anyway. And, in time, you could go from strong to free safety. ... To have an in-the-box strong safety is OK, but that limits what you can do on defense.
"So, I would rather have two safeties who can do both, be a force in the run game. They can play in the box, but they can also have the versatility to cover, deep in the middle and man-to-man.''
Look for the Steelers to add safeties later in the draft or as undrafted free agents who can fill both roles.