The Pittsburgh Steelers have made it clear over the course of the offseason that they can no longer count on cornerback Senquez Golson potentially being a main contributor on defense moving forward. On Thursday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert once again drove that point home during his annual pre-draft press conference when asked about Golson, who the team drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Mississippi.
“Last year I sat here and said we would view him as an extra draft pick and unfortunately we can’t do that right now,” Colbert said of Golson, who missed his first two seasons with shoulder and foot injuries. “Again, through no fault of his own, he has been injured two years in a row and in all honesty, I worry about a defensive back coming off of a foot injury because you don’t know what he’s going to be like and we won’t know until we get into the OTAs and mini-camps, and things of that nature.
“So, I hope he does for his sake, for our sake, but it’s less predictable at this point because we’re dealing with two injuries. And two years off, I don’t think you can minimize not playing for two seasons. You have to get back. He has to re-learn a lot of football and his body has to re-learn a lot of football movement.”
Golson certainly does have an uphill battle at this point as it’s very uncommon for a player to miss the first two years of his career and return to be a major contributor. With that said, former Steelers linebacker Sean Spence was able to pull off the rare feat a few years ago when he returned to action after missing the first two years of his career due to injuries.
With all the uncertainty currently surrounding Golson, it won’t be surprising at all should the Steelers draft a cornerback this year in the first four rounds. The team entertained several as visitors during the pre-draft process and could ultimately select one as early as the first round just as they did last year.
To provide some depth at the cornerback position during the offseason the Steelers signed Coty Sensabaugh to a two-year, free agent contract several weeks ago and he can play both inside and outside. Additionally, cornerback Ross Cockrell has since signed his one-year restricted free agent tender and that means he’s almost assured a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster along with Sensabaugh, Artie Burns, and potentially veteran William Gay, who still has two years remaining on his current contract that he signed a little more than a year ago. Should the Steelers ultimately spend an early-round draft on another cornerback this year, Golson might have to battle Gay for a roster spot during training camp, or hope the team ultimately decides to carry six at the position to open the 2017 regular season.
While not a huge deal, Golson was recently in the news for being caught with a gun and ammunition in a carry-on bag he was attempting to get through TSA at an Alabama airport. While it appears to have been an honest mistake by Golson and one that could ultimately result in a heft TSA fine, the timing of the incident certainly wasn’t ideal with the draft just a few weeks away.
Hopefully, Golson can prove his doubters wrong later this summer as the Steelers certainly could use some young depth at the cornerback position and especially when it comes to the slot. Golson’s college career was a productive one and he’ll now need to show between now and the start of the regular season that he’s still the same player that he was at Mississippi.