Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Doran Grant certainly didn’t see the field much during the 2015 season after being promoted to the team’s 53-man roster from the practice squad in early November. The fourth-round draft pick played just one snap on defense during the season and 17 more on special teams. Now that the 2015 season is over, it will be interesting to see what direction the Steelers go in with Grant as it could wind up impacting the direction the team goes in as it relates to the 2016 NFL Draft.
While Grant was drafted as a cornerback last year out of Ohio State, both defensive coordinator Keith Butler and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake have since hinted that a move to safety might be in the young player’s future. Those hints started immediately after Grant was selected in the draft.
“I have that in my notes,” said Lake last May when asked if Grant could possibly be moved to safety. “I think he’s that strong of a tackler that he can easily transition from corner to safety.”
Just this past November, after Grant was promoted to the 53-man roster, Butler was also asked to comment about Grant and a potential move to safety.
“Yes. There is nothing closed on him,” said Butler. “This is the guy’s first year and we need to take time, let him play in this system and see how he does before we make a decision on him.”
If things go like I think they will this offseason, the Steelers will re-sign veteran cornerback William Gay in the coming weeks while also issuing an exclusive rights tender to fellow cornerback Ross Cockrell. Should cornerback Antwon Blake also return on a one-year deal for the minimum, the Steelers would then have Cortez Allen, Senquez Golson, Gay, Cockrell and Blake all back in training camp. Should Grant make the move to safety, the team might very well use one of their draft picks this year on another cornerback. However, if Grant stays put as a cornerback, the safety position will undoubtedly be more of a draft need as there’s no guarantee aging veteran Will Allen will be back in 2016.
While I do believe unrestricted free agent safety Robert Golden will be re-signed at some point during the offseason, he might not be the long-term answer the Steelers are looking for and it certainly isn’t looking like former fourth-round draft Shamarko Thomas is either.
Regardless of whether or not Grant switches positions, the Steelers could decide to draft both a safety and a cornerback in a few more months. However, should that wind up happening, I’m willing to bet one of the two positions is addressed after the third round.
In the coming weeks we are sure to hear from head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert and it will be interesting to see if either are asked about Grant as it relates to whether or not he’s a cornerback or safety.