This is the slide I have been most anxious to write. Where many people see the Steelers secondary as a weakness that is going to cost the Steelers championships, I see this unit as one of the best in the NFL in just a few short years.
When it comes to Dick LeBeau and his defense, it is THE most complex defense in the NFL. It is not very often that the Steelers sign defensive free agents, and it is because they need to develop into the system and fully understand it prior to getting in the games.
Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden are both solid players. Taylor would be one of the best in the NFL if he could learn to catch a football. At 31, that probably isn't going to happen.
The Steelers traded for McFadden because he already knew the system. Though many would not consider him even in the conversation of top 20 in the NFL, he does a decent job at the No. 2 slot.
The infusion of youth at the corner position has me excited unlike many years in the past.
Crezdon Butler has not been able to see much of the field in his rookie season, but is talented enough that the Steelers never placed him on the practice squad for fear of another team signing him away. I expect big things from Butler in 2011, and I believe in 2012, Butler will become a regular starter on one of the corners.
Keenen Lewis, who was selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, has yet to earn the coaches' confidence to get him on the field. And when they do, his temper occasionally gets the team in trouble. I look for Mike Tomlin to have that problem resolved by 2012 and have Lewis as a solid contributor as well.
In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Steelers spent draft picks in both the third and fourth rounds addressing the position of corner.
In the third round, the Steelers selected Curtis Brown out of Texas. Many people believe the selection of Brown ended the Steeler career of Will Gay. Gay was frequently beaten and has been considered a liability against most receivers.
With the selection of Cortez Allen in the fourth round, the Steelers have covered their basis. It is believed that Allen will be the eventual successor to Ike Taylor.
With the NFL becoming a pass first league, the corner position is becoming a premium. The Steelers have set themselves up nicely for the future at the CB position. One thing that stands out the most to me is the size of the corners that are currently on the Steelers roster.
Ike Taylor - 6'2, 195lbs. 32 years old, maybe three good years left at CB. Then maybe another one or two at safety.
Bryant McFadden - 6'1, 190 lbs. 29 years old, maybe three to four good years left.
Keenan Lewis - 6'0, 208 lbs. 24 years old, six to eight good years left.
Crezdon Butler - 6'1, 191 lbs. 23 years old, eight to 10 good years left.
Curtis Brown - 6'0, 185 lbs. 22 years old, 10 good years left.
Cortez Allen - 6'1, 196 lbs. 22 years old, 10 good years left.
All of the corners that the Steelers currently have on their roster are at least six feet tall and are known to have speed. Once Taylor and McFadden are no longer in the mix, if these young players, under the instruction of Carnell Lake, the corner position is probably going to be one of the Steelers strengths.