We are now at a point during the offseason in which we find ourselves looking at training camp just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
We are most of the way through the Steelers’ 2017 NFL Draft class now, having gotten through the first four rounds, and the first five draft picks. Only three players remain, and we start off with their fifth-round draft pick, and their second cornerback chosen, Brian Allen, a raw prospect who has some intriguing qualities.
Listed at 6’3, 215 pounds, Allen possesses rare size for the cornerback position, and he actually has some solid athleticism to him as well—although that could depend on which numbers you look at. He improved upon some figures, particularly his short shuttle time, at his Pro Day after posting below average numbers at the Combine.
It goes without saying that the most intriguing aspect of the Utah prospect is the fact that he was a wide receiver not long ago. This is notable for two reasons, one of which being that it means he has at least a reasonable amount of ability to catch a football. That is always a plus in a cornerback.
The other intriguing aspect of this transition is the fact that it was fairly recent. He only began playing cornerback two years ago, having never played on the defensive side of the ball before in his life, according to him, even going back to his earliest playing experience.
Allen has a lot to learn not just about playing the cornerback position, but playing the cornerback position at the NFL level, and he will be trying to accomplish both simultaneously. Of course, the process of the latter includes much revisitation of the former by its nature.
But there is a long road ahead of him as we sit here on the eve of training camp. To the best of my knowledge, he has gotten no higher quality reps during the spring than with the third-team defense, which means that at least six cornerbacks are playing ahead of him.
The ultimate decision on Allen will be an interesting one with the understanding that he is a long-term prospect. Do they risk sticking him on the practice squad if they really feel good about what he can be in a year or two from now?