The Pittsburgh Steelers chose late last week to released sixth-year cornerback Cortez Allen after three successive disappointing seasons and an inability to stay healthy, let alone to live up to a five-year, $26-million contract. An interesting byproduct of this move is that we have now fully separated the wheat from the chaff from the middle years of Mike Tomlin’s draft resume.
Between the 2010 and 2011 draft classes, only four players remain. That is out of a total of 17 players drafted, with seven from the 2011 class, and 10 from the 2010 class. The Steelers had two extra fifth- and one extra sixth-round pick from 2010.
From the 2011 class, we have two stalwart starting linemen in defensive end Cameron Heyward, drafted in the first round that year, and right tackle Marcus Gilbert drafted in the second round. Each player turned in a Pro Bowl-worthy performance last season.
The extra sixth-round pick from the 2010 class proved to be awfully useful, as the two players remaining from that class are center Maurkice Pouncey, drafted in the first round that draft, and wide receiver Antonio Brown, drafted with the team’s compensatory selection in the sixth round. Each player has gone on to have multiple All-Pro seasons and are arguably the best at their positions.
What has become of the other 13 players from that draft class? Well, for starters, only five of them remained in the league in 2015, and some of them held on only by a thread. The only player from that group making any sort of significant contribution was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, who has become a Pro Bowl player in his own right and was a starter on last year’s Super Bowl champions.
Outside of Sanders, the other rostered players were Allen, of course, in addition to offensive lineman Chris Scott with the Panthers, outside linebacker Chris Carter with the Ravens and Bengals, and cornerback Crezdon Butler with the Lions and Seahawks.
Allen was of course the only player from this group still with the team that drafted him, and the only one other than Sanders to earn a significant contract, but we have seen how his story in Pittsburgh has been resolved. It’s likely that he gets another chance somewhere provided that his health allows it.
Scott has served as a reserve lineman for the Panthers for the past three seasons, active for 13 games last season. He even started eight games in 2013. Carter was on the Bengals’ roster for 10 games and the Ravens’ for two, making 10 tackles with the Bengals, primarily on special teams, no doubt. Butler spent eight games in Detroit and one in Seattle, making one significant play to break up a pass in the end zone.
The majority of the other names on these lists have made no significant contributions, and many of them have been out of the league for years. The biggest disappointment is no doubt 2011 third-round cornerback Curtis Brown, who only ever contributed on special teams. 2010 second-round outside linebacker Jason Worilds would still be playing today, and possibly starting somewhere, had he not decided to retire, however.