The Steelers’ cornerbacks are a lot better than most people seem to think.
The Steelers lost starting cornerback Keenan Lewis to New Orleans by way of free agency. The Steelers didn’t even bother to offer Lewis a contract. This of course, enraged many fans. Many pondered as to why the Steelers would not even try to negotiate with Lewis. Maybe, just maybe the Steelers felt they didn’t need Lewis. And I’m starting to see that they in fact do not need him.
The Steelers went on to sign William Gay before free agency started. Gay will reprise his role as the starting nickelback in the Steelers defense. Gay really played well in 2011. Putting Gay back in the nickel will set him back on the right track after assuming a starting role in Arizona last season. The signing of Gay is definitely the best move the Steelers made all offseason.
With Gay taking over the nickel, Cortez Allen will become the starter opposite of Ike. Allen showed flashes of greatness towards the end of the season when forced to start due to Ike Taylor being injured. Matt Miller posted his list of the top 100 cornerbacks of 2012 a while back. In this list, Cortez Allen ranks higher than both Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis.
I decided to go back myself and view Allen’s performance in 2012. Watching these games over again made me realize that perhaps Matt Miller isn’t that crazy.
Allen does a lot of things you don’t notice while watching games live. Allen does a nice job of limiting receivers from taking off and running after the catch. He’s very good at anticipating passes as well.
You also can’t forget that he forced 5 turnovers in the last 2 games of the season. Allen may develop into a defensive playmaker, something the Steelers haven’t had at CB for a while. I’m not ready to rate Cortez Allen with the best in the league, but the future does look promising. The cornerback position is looking good, especially with the addition of Terry Hawthorne.