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2016 Steelers Roster, 90 in 90 Days: William Gay remains the veteran presence in the secondary

In a new feature at BTSC, we are breaking down the Steelers 90-man roster one player, one position, one day at a time. The conclusion of this feature will be the start of the 2016 season.

NFL: AFC Divisional-Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On day 4 we shift to the defensive secondary, and the Steelers number one cornerback.

Player: William Gay

Postion: Cornerback

School: Louisville


After giving up the third most passing yards in the NFL during 2015 the Steelers secondary has faced a fair amount of criticism this offseason. Because of this cornerback William Gay’s late career ascension to solid, dependable, number one corner tends to be ignored or glossed over. In a difficult position to quantify with statistics Gay charts well above average at Pro Football Focus, but be careful what you read into his ranking outside the top 40. As the Steelers only real option against number one receivers he drew tough assignments week after week, and many of the DB’s ahead of him faced much lower competition. That makes the fact that he was the only CB in the NFL to not surrender a touchdown in 2015 all the more impressive.

If you demand some more accurate analytics the folks over at football outsiders do an interesting CB charting project where they group number one corners together to get a more detailed reading about how cornerbacks compare. While the 2015 numbers aren’t complete Gay did exceptionally well in 2014 finishing 9th among number on CB’s in the NFL with an adjusted success rate of 56%.

The tradition of Steelers defensive backs excelling in run support certainly continues with Gay. While his lack of size hinders tackling ability at times it’s clear on tape that he reacts and disrupts run plays quickly. He seems to arrive almost desperately fast at times lunging into ball carriers, but even when he does not make the play he often does enough to allow the linebackers to polish off tackles.

Consistent positioning in zone defense
Reads routes effectively
Reacts to run plays as fast as any cornerback in NFL
Excellent ball skills and ability to make "splash” plays

Lacks the size to shed receivers at times in run game
Arrives quickly in run support, but can lack arm strength to make open field tackles

Chances of making team: 100%