In cornerback B.W. Webb’s first-ever collegiate game for William & Mary, he started off about as well as he could ever hope for. The small FCS school, traveling to the University of Virginia, and left with a stunning 26-14 upset, one in which Webb had a major hand in. He had three interceptions, none of which bigger than his 50-yard pick six. His hands and cover skills made him a hot commodity leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, where he’d been projected to go as high as the third round.
So what happened in Dallas? After being a fourth round pick of the Cowboys in 2013, he was released last offseason before being pulled off the scrap heap as a reclamation project for Pittsburgh. As a rookie, injuries forced him into the starting lineup, where a lot of blown coverages relegated him to the bench. The team gave up on him after just 15 career games, so now the team will look to see if defensive backs coach Carnell Lake can revive his once promising career.
A small school sleeper, the four-year starter received high praise from NFL Network draft analyst, Mike Mayock.
“He’s a guy I saw play live this year. I really loved his footwork, quickness and anticipation,” Mayock said, according to NFL.com. “At the Senior Bowl, he raised that small-school stigma. He also has value as a return man. If he can tackle consistently over the slot, he’s a starting nickel.”
At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he has good size and leaping ability, quick read-and-react ball skills and plays mean with a chip on his shoulder. He posted great measurables at the combine in 2013 too, running a 4.51 in the 40, an explosive 40.5-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump.
It’s also noteworthy he was voted co-special teams player of the year in college, which is important considering the Steelers are looking for a replacement to reduce the risk of a high-impact special teams injury to All-Pro wide receiver, Antonio Brown.
What does he have to offer Pittsburgh? Well, for starters, he has as good a chance as he’s going to get to prove he can play in this league, considering the state of the 2014 Steelers’ secondary. Subtract Ike Taylor and future Hall of Famer, Troy Polamalu and you have an incubator for young but unproven talent to grow and cut their teeth. He will have had a full offseason to learn the defense, so it can be argued he has a step up on recent draftees, Senquez Golson and Doran Grant. The team heavily invested in Cortez Allen, so he’s the incumbent starter at one cornerback spot. The other remains to be seen, but odds are it will go to veteran William Gay.
Antwon Blake current looks to have the inside track for the third man off the bench when the team uses their sub package, but Golson’s ball skills and second round pedigree could have him in the lineup sooner than later. It remains to be seen what exactly Webb can bring to the table, but make no mistake, he will get his chances. Coincidentally enough, Allen was a fourth rounder and so was Taylor. Now, perhaps Webb can be the next to make his mark.