The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted cornerback Curtis Brown in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and then took Cortez Allen in the fourth round. Normally, the Steelers take their time developing their corners and they don’t see much playing time in their first couple seasons. The most recent corners to pan out were Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Keenan Lewis and even William Gay. Players who didn’t do as well were Ricardo Colclough, Joe Burnett, Crezdon Butler, and Terrence Frederick.
With the departure of Keenan Lewis this offseason, Cortez Allen is poised to take advantage as the starter opposite Taylor. Allen has gotten good playing time since his rookie season and showed an ability to create turnovers on defense in 2012. Brown on the other hand, hasn’t been as productive in his short career. Though he was known for his speed and quickness going into the draft, Brown has been struggling in coverage to this point and has been only a special teams player.
Years ago, teams would have been more patient with players especially if they at least contributed on special teams. Now everyone is looking more and more for players to come in right away and show some kind of improvement within their first couple seasons.
The Steelers have been one of the only franchises left who will actually wait and see if a player develops but they have also been known to cut ties if they don’t feel progress is being made.
2006, 3rd round – WR Wille Reid: Cut after two seasons.
2006, 3rd round – S Anthony Smith: Cut after three seasons.
2008, 2nd round – WR Limas Sweed: Cut after three seasons.
2008, 3rd round – OLB Bruce Davis: Cut after one season.
2009, 3rd round – G Kraig Urbik: Cut after one season.
Though the team almost never misses on first round picks, they have not had the same success recently in the third round. This list doesn’t even count the departures of third round picks Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis this offseason.
Now I am not saying that I think Curtis Brown is definitely going to be cut this training camp but he shouldn’t expect to be handed a roster spot. Besides projected starters Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay, the Steelers currently have six cornerbacks competing for a max of two spots. That competition includes Brown, Terry Hawthorne, Josh Victorian, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Isaiah Green and Nigel Malone.
The team has shown that it likes Victorian and Van Dyke and Green showed a lot of potential during mini camps. In my opinion, the two players to win this competition are going to be Curtis Brown and Terry Hawthorne if he stays healthy.
That being said Brown needs to come into camp prepared to fight for a spot because if he doesn’t, this could be his last season with the Steelers.
Information from Pro-Football-Reference.com.