As the Steelers defense began to age the past few seasons and breakdown in big moments, it became clear the biggest needs were in the secondary. Then, in the offseason, Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu retired shifting even more focus to these spots. Going into the 2015 draft, cornerback was arguably the biggest need for the Steelers. They watched as the top three corners came off of the board ahead of their selection last Thursday. When the Steelers were on the clock, they made their first round selection of pass rusher Bud Dupree. Four more cornerbacks were drafted in the meantime, which left Senquez Golson as the best selection for the Steelers in the second round.
Many fans were disappointed the Steelers missed out on their biggest need in the first round, but Dupree was a great value at a position of need as well. After the fervor died down of watching Golson's highlight reel showcasing his interceptions and ball-hawking skills, one simple fact remained. Golson is a 5-foot-9 cornerback. What was momentary excitement for fans turned to disappointment. How can a player of his size possibly match up against receivers that are seven or eight inches taller than him? It is a valid concern, but how much does height really matter?
I took a look at the 2015 Pro Bowl cornerbacks. The cornerbacks varied in size from 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-3. Five of the eight players selected were under six feet tall including: Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes, Joe Haden, Chris Harris, and Darrelle Revis. I highlighted Brent Grimes and Chris Harris because they are the shortest of the bunch, and in my mind, the closest comparisons to Senquez Golson. NFL.com also had Golson comparable as Brent Grimes. The worry with Golson is that he is too small to play outside in the NFL and he will be relegated to the slot for the Steelers.
I do think Golson starts in the slot for the Steelers, but I don't think it will take very long for him to play outside. Fans that are used to watching Grimes or Harris play know that they often play on the outside against some of the league's best receivers. Grimes had a tremendous one-handed catch last season while covering Calvin Johnson. Chris Harris in 2012 had a highlight-worthy 98-yard pick six against Joe Flacco. These are just a couple of examples of players that have a reputation for matching up against some of the league's best in some of the biggest moments. Both players have a nose for the football as they ended up in the top-20 of the league last season for passes defended. It sounds eerily similar to what Golson's strength is as well.
While I completely understand fans being worried about Golson's height, I don't think it will be an issue for him at the next level. There are plenty of cornerbacks currently in the NFL you can compare with Golson that are not only successful, but at the top of their respective positions. The fact remains that if a person can play the corner position -- especially if they are aggressive and are a ball-hawk -- technique trumps height, even at the highest level. Truly, for Golson, height is just a number.