I’ve made fun of Gerod Holliman plenty the past few months that he’s been on the Steelers roster. His tackling skills are greatly flawed, which is quite pitiful for a Steelers safety. Despite this, there is no doubt he is a ballhawk.
His 14 interceptions in a single season with Louisville tied the NCAA record. He has natural instincts that lead him to be in the right spot at the right time. That’s something that cannot be taught. Holliman also has the confidence in himself needed to successfully play as a defensive back in the NFL.
The issue with his tackling isn’t about his lack of ability. He certainly can hit pretty hard. His problem is his willingness to hit the snot out of anything. He sustained 2 shoulder injuries on the same shoulder, which lead to his reluctance to tackle.
His unwillingness to tackle caused him to lose his possible first round status only to be scooped up in the seventh round.
Often, you could see him going for a tackle by leading with his head, or not even bothering to tackle at all. This obviously wasn’t going to fly with very many teams.
Yet, I’m extremely glad that the Steelers decided to take a chance on this guy. If he could only learn to tackle again, correctly at that, then this safety position could turn real deadly real quick.
With most of the attention on whether or not Shamarko Thomas can live up to his potential and Mike Mitchell blaming his less than stellar performance on a groin injury, Gerod Holliman is flying under the radar when it comes to the safety competition.
Now I’m not saying Holliman will actually get to start this season. He’d have to beat out either Shamarko or Mitchell, with Mitchell being his main target since Gerod is best utilized as a free safety. That won’t happen, yet if he continues to unravel his tackling issue, he can start performing on special teams. If he becomes a special teams stud, he can eventually earn some actual defensive snaps in sub packages.
Whatever happens, its up to Holliman to decide his fate. Will he succumb to the fear of reinjuring his shoulder? Or will he conquer his fear and become the playmaker this defense desperately needs? We’ll see in the upcoming years how he approaches.
The kid has incredible skills that can’t be coached. Don’t be surprised if he beats out Mike Mitchell in a couple years and earns the spot opposite Shamarko Thomas, assuming Thomas lives up to his potential.
Info and stats courtesy of Steelers.com and NFL.com. Photo Courtesy post-gazette.com