As the old story goes, a man found a lamp. He rubbed the dust off of it and out popped a genie who told the man he would now have three wishes. Were that man Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert his three wishes would have likely been for good and healthy defensive backs. Unfortunately Colbert found no such lamp and that’s why he was forced to trade for cornerback Justin Gilbert.
While I’m not a fan of this trade, I’ll be open-minded enough to see what develops. Gilbert will count $2.1 million against the cap this year and next so let’s call this a two-year “wait and see” situation.
You certainly can’t argue that the Steelers got a bargain here. For a guy with first-round talent and skills, the Steelers will give the Cleveland Browns either a sixth round pick. So why did Colbert pull the trigger on this? It comes down to three things and none of them are good.
Poor Drafting. Let’s just get to the names shall we? Doran Grant. Shaq Richardson. Terry Hawthorne. Terrance Frederick. Curtis Brown. Cortez Allen. Since 2010, only Allen saw what you could call significant time in the Steelers’ weekly lineup. If you want to put Senquez Golson on this list I really couldn’t argue with you but I’ve decided to send him to the next paragraph.
Bad Luck. For the longest time, fans grew tired of the Steelers waiting to draft defensive backs until the fourth round or lower. The strategy was always to draft pass rushers first then rely on the late-round cornerbacks to to do the job in the secondary. As you can see, that hasn’t worked recently.
Finally the Steelers in the last two seasons drafted cornerbacks in the first or second round of the draft. Golson, drafted in the second round in 2015, has yet to see even one play as a Steeler. Last year, a shoulder injury sidelined him for the whole season while this year, he’s on the shelf for at least half the season with a foot injury.
We have to acknowledge that Colbert went after talent early, but in the case of Golson the luck hasn’t been on their side.
Sub-par Coaching. I’m a big fan of Carnell Lake the former Steelers’ player. The same cannot be said of Carnell Lake the defensive backs’ coach. There’s a reason why Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been more involved in coaching the secondary the last two years and it isn’t because he missed it.
Lake is not developing cornerbacks the way he should be and when guys aren’t getting better then that typically falls on the coaching. Last year, I suggested that outside of Special Teams’ coach Danny Smith, no on other assistant is on the hot seat more than Lake and I’ve seen other Steelers’ sites suggest the same this season.
When you add up these three issues, you get a massive need for more talent and that’s why Gilbert is here. I’ve been told over a dozen times since this trade was announced that Gilbert “will thrive in Pittsburgh” and “now he’ll get the coaching he needs.”
I’m stepping back from this and I’ll believe it when I see it because I haven’t seen anything from Gilbert to make me think otherwise. If only I could find a dusty lamp with a genie inside. At least that way I guarantee you the Steelers would always have great cornerbacks.