You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.
In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.
When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.
Topic: Will Brian Allen be prepared to contribute on defense during his rookie season?
This is a question that many have already seemed to be pondering, even if it might be putting the cart before the horse a bit. The question of whether or not Brian Allen will be able to contribute on defense during his rookie season first requires a positive response to question of whether or not he will make the 53-man roster.
The second of two cornerbacks that the Steelers drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, Allen is a 6’3”, 215-pound player who naturally has some ball skills, given that he was formerly a wide receiver, making the conversion to the defensive side of the ball just two seasons ago.
The problem with his background is that it also shows when you watch his college tape, because he is very raw and struggles as a tackler. He obviously has the potential to develop into a good cornerback, but even if he does so eventually, it’s difficult to say that he can do it immediately.
Similar things were said about the ability of Cortez Allen to contribute as a rookie as well, however, and he did so. And the Steelers showed last year that they are willing to get rookies on the field. They have also shown that they are interested in using the dime defense.
The team at times even had a role for taller, larger cornerbacks in the slot to cover tight ends, a role executed by Justin Gilbert, a veteran player that they traded for in August, and Al-Hajj Shabazz, who was a first-year undrafted free agent.
No matter how many tangibles may fall in his favor, however, it ultimately comes down to how quickly Allen can gain the coaches’ trust and show that he can be something other than a liability. Equally important is trying to climb the depth chart. He will have to get ahead of William Gay and Coty Sensabaugh, at least, to find a role.
Which side do you lean closer toward?