I’m hoping that the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t see fit to making this article look foolish later on in the day, but it would not completely surprise me if the team was able to get rookie cornerback Brian Allen on the field at some point this season, even if it would have to come in a select, specialized package.
The Steelers have a bit of a history of getting more out of raw cornerbacks during their rookie seasons than was anticipated, even in spite of their reputation of being poor drafters at the position. Two obvious examples of this would be Artie Burns and Cortez Allen, the latter of whom is the better all-around comparison.
The selection of Burns in the first round a year ago, though, was viewed more as a long-term investment rather than an immediate one. That he managed to enter the starting lineup on a full-time basis in the middle of the regular season was a surprise for most on the outside and took them off-guard.
Several years earlier, the Steelers put another raw cornerback on the field in a special dime sub-package. That was Cortez Allen, a product of The Citadel, where only so much focus is on football.
Many wondered if he would even make the 53-man roster, but despite being banged up in the preseason, they carried him, and then they unleashed him against the Patriots, seeing time covering Rob Gronkowski, in the only recent victory the Steelers have over them.
Considering this history with Cortez Allen and cross-referencing that with how they utilized Justin Gilbert and Al-Hajj Shabazz at times last season, it would seem that it really isn’t all that far-fetched for the team to consider using Brian Allen as a dime defender to cover bigger-bodied opponents.
The fact of the matter is that the Steelers have not frequently over the years had access to these bigger-bodied cornerbacks that they could unleash in this type of role. Yet when they have had them, they have made use of them, even a somewhat random guy like Shabazz.
Allen is raw, no doubt. Perhaps even more raw than anybody else that I named in this article. But within the confines of a very specific scheme and drawing a direct man-on-man assignment, it just wouldn’t surprise me at all if we end up seeing him on defense at some point during the course of the year.
That, or he could be waived today in order to make room on the 53-man roster for Le’Veon Bell and J.J. Wilcox with the hope of moving him to the practice squad. Personally, I hope this is not the approach that they have in mind, but it’s well within the realm of possibility. After all, they have seven cornerbacks and 12 total defensive backs right now.