The list of mid-round NFL Draft cornerbacks who have failed with the Pittsburgh Steelers is long.
Terrence Frederick, Terry Hawthorne, Shaquille Richardson, Doran Grant...just to name a few.
For as great as Kevin Colbert and company are at drafting wide receivers, they are equally horrible at selecting cornerbacks. But has that all changed? Has the team finally found the recipe which equates to quality depth at the cornerback position?
Some would suggest they finally have.
Heading into 2018, the Steelers cornerback depth is a solid as it has ever been under Mike Tomlin.
Gay could have played his final play with the Steelers, as age has certainly caught up with him after over a decade in black-and-gold, but the team could be set up for Gay to leave the team, and their not be a gaping hole in his place. Sensabaugh also could see his time in Pittsburgh as a one-and-done experience.
However, Hilton burst onto the scene this year after turning a reserve/future contract into a starting role on the defense, and Sutton did more than enough in his limited playing time to make fans feel as if the team’s cornerback situation is in a good place.
As for Allen, he was relegated primarily to special teams duty in his rookie season, often being inactive on game day, but the team kept him around for a reason.
“For my first year, I feel like I have definitely learned a lot, being around some of the guys,” Allen told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Will Gay giving knowledge. Joe (Haden) coming in and bringing knowledge, even Artie and (safety Sean Davis), all those guys who have been here, teaching me the ropes and showing me everything about being a pro.”
When it comes to Allen and Sutton coming into the NFL together, the two have begun learning and growing, as professionals, together.
“Me and him spill our ideas off each other, how we would play certain things,” Allen said. “Just that constant communication, you can tell that he’s all in, and I’m excited to see him continue to grow, and me and him — obviously, because we came in together — continuing to grow and be ready to go for a long time.”
Gay, despite possibly seeing the writing on the wall, also admits the organization might have finally gotten it right.
“The Steelers,” Gay said, “picked two capable guys [Sutton and Allen] who can play.”
Even without Gay, the Steelers’ secondary is riddled with experience. Burns is entering his third year, Haden is a vested veteran, Hilton played a huge role the entire 2017 season and even Sutton saw starting time after coming off the injured reserve list. Allen is a player whose size (6-feet, 3-inches) and speed (4.48 40-yard dash) are certainly worth keeping around for specific roles on the team.
Nonetheless, for the first time in a long time, Pittsburgh’s secondary isn’t a primary cause for concern, and a huge red flag heading into the offseason.