By Dale Grdnic
With three productive defensive backs selected in cornerbacks Senquez Golson and Doran Grant and safety Gerod Holliman, the Steelers went a long way toward reaching that goal.
"We knew we had more holes to fill defensively, when you just looked at our roster, and when you get into this (third) day you look at who has the best chance to make your team,'' Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said.
"(And) we thought it was going to be a 6-2 ratio (defense to offense), and if it was close we were always going to favor the defense. And when it wasn't close, we took that offensive player. (And) the players we took were clearly better than the defensive players we could have taken in those rounds.''
There certainly are questions about those three players. Golson is small at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. Grant isn't as strong in man-to-man coverage, and Holliman is a poor tackler. But their productivity can't be discounted. Holliman and Golson led NCAA Division I-A teams with 14 and 10 interceptions, respectively, while Grant had five for the defending national champions.
"We wanted to improve our competition and playmaking ability in the secondary,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "And we did that. ... So, we really feel good about those three guys, the tangible evidence that these guys were good players, as opposed to the hypothetical evidence or upside and things of that nature.''
Tomlin also addressed why he believed Golson and Grant would be successful despite their deficiencies.
"I think in both instances, their above-the-neck play allows them to do some of the things that they've done at corner,'' Tomlin said. "Senquez, we feel like, has as good of ball skills as anybody in the draft.
"Doran is as solid a tackler as anybody at his position in the draft. (And) both guys are very good instinct football players, seeing things and anticipating and taking the calculated risk associated with the position.''
Colbert added that the Steelers were going to "interject offensive players at a point when we felt they were too good to pass up,'' he said. "Sammie Coates is big, strong and fast, and he has good hands. He's dropped some balls. Of course he has, but who hasn't. Believe me. He has good hands and big-play ability. (Jesse) James is a gifted athlete who has growth potential in his game. (And) he can block a defensive end.''
The Steelers expected to secure 10-12 undrafted free-agent signings to fill out their remaining spots this spring.