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    Default Secondary decisions

    Secondary decisions
    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    The Steelers said Monday they will approach this week's NFL Draft assuming their top cornerback, Ike Taylor, won't be back for the 2011 season.

    "We are going to draft on the basis of the team that we know we have at this point," director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday. "The guys that we have are the guys that we have."

    [IMGL][/IMGL]Taylor is an unrestricted free agent, and the sides were unable to come to an agreement last month before the lockout shut down NFL operations. The Steelers opted not to place a transition tag on Taylor that would have paid him the average of the top 10 salaries at his position ($8.1 million for one year).

    It's possible the Steelers could sign Taylor to a long-term deal, but the organization cannot count on that.

    "We are going to pick based on our team as it currently stands," Colbert said.

    The Steelers hold the 31st pick in the draft, which begins Thursday, and could use that selection to choose Taylor's long-term replacement. They haven't selected a cornerback that high since 1997, when they took Chad Scott 24th overall.

    None of the team's corners last season -- Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler, Donovan Warren and unrestricted free agents Taylor, Anthony Madison and William Gay -- were selected higher than the second round.

    McFadden was taken in the second, Lewis the third, Taylor the fourth, and Gay and Butler the fifth. Madison and Warren were not drafted.

    Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said this might be the ideal year for a team needing a cornerback but not wanting to use a first-round selection to get one.

    "It is one of the deepest positions in this draft," Kiper said. "You are going to get some guys, for a variety of reasons, in the second and third rounds. It is a very intriguing cornerback group from top to bottom."

    LSU's Patrick Peterson, Nebraska's Prince Amukamara and Colorado's Jimmy Smith will be off the board by the time the Steelers pick, leaving the organization a decision of whether it could get better value selecting a cornerback in a later round.

    "They don't have to pick one in the first round," Kiper said. "Ike Taylor wasn't a first- or second-round pick. You think about Ike Taylor and even some of the other corners in the NFL, and a lot of them weren't taken in the first round."

    Philadelphia's Asante Samuel was taken in the fourth round, Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan in the seventh and New Orleans' Jabari Greer was undrafted. They are considered among the top corners in the NFL.

    Kiper points toward a couple of cornerbacks he had high on his draft board but since have dropped who the Steelers could take in later rounds.

    Miami's Brandon Harris, Utah's Brandon Burton and Virginia's Ras-I Dowling could be steals as second- or third-round picks.

    "A lot of teams have been very effective getting corners that weren't early picks," Kiper said. "It doesn't have to be the first round. I just say that corner has to be a draft pick, (but) it doesn't have to be with the 31st pick."
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    Default Re: Secondary decisions

    Colbert to 'corner' market?
    April 26, 2011 12:05 am
    Mike Bires

    PITTSBURGH - Most draft experts predict that the Steelers will take a cornerback with their first-round pick. If those projections come true, it could be Texas' Aaron Williams who's the choice at 31 overall.

    Director of football operations Kevin Colbert understands why so many draftniks believe the Steelers will take a corner in Round 1.

    "It's an unknown," Colbert said when asked about the current cornerbacks on the Steelers' roster.

    One reason for the uncertainty is the unknown future of Ike Taylor, a talented veteran who's clearly the Steelers' best shut-down corner. Taylor is an unrestricted free agent who is likely to get plenty of interest once the NFL's labor issue is resolved. But because of the ongoing labor impasse, there has been no free agent activity.

    "Can't comment on any potential free agents," Colbert said when asked if he still considers Taylor a Steeler.

    If and when the labor dispute ends, the Steelers could lose three cornerbacks who were on their roster last year. Beside Taylor, William Gay may also be a free agent pending terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Anthony Madison, a strong special teams performer but a liability when he has to play defense, is also a free agent.

    And Keenan Lewis, a third-round pick in 2009, and Crezdon Butler, a fifth-round pick last year, are unproven commodities.

    "Will they or will they not produce once given the opportunity? I can't answer it," Colbert said of Lewis and Butler. "I do know you feel good about the potential. But that's the same thing we are talking about with any draft pick. We aren't going to know until they get out there and get extensive playing time. So it's an unknown."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Lockout fallout[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    With NFL owners and players still trying to iron out a new CBA, Colbert said that teams are no longer able to sign undrafted free agents as they've done in the past the day after a draft. Steelers on the current roster who were undrafted free agents include linebacker James Harrison, running back Isaac Redman, nose tackle Chris Hoke, guard/center Doug Legursky, guard/tackle Ramon Foster, Madison and free safety Ryan Clark (with the New York Giants in 2002).

    Also, any draft-day trades can only involve draft picks. No player currently on an NFL roster can be involved in a trade.

    Finally, there is no telling when coach Mike Tomlin and his staff will be able to work out the rookie class of 2011. Usually, rookies report to mini-camp right after the draft. But with the players being locked out by the owners, there are no plans for mini-camp right now.

    "We can still bring our picks in once we pick them, up until the end of the draft, which will be approximately four o'clock Saturday," Colbert said. "But they can only come in for media and marketing opportunities."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Trading places[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Since becoming Steelers director of football operations in 2000, Colbert has engineered three draft-day trades involving the first-round pick.

    In 2001, he traded down three spots with the New York Jets, from 16th to 19th, and then picked nose tackle Casey Hampton.

    In 2003, he traded up 11 spots with the Kansas City Chiefs, from 27th to 16th, to secure strong safety Troy Polamalu.

    In 2006, he traded up seven spots with the New York Giants, from 32nd to 25th, to get wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

    This year, Colbert will listen to any and all offers about trading up or down and react accordingly - even if it means trading out of the first round.

    "It depends on who is left when we are picking at 31," he said. "The pro scouts are going through their calls, they will call and touch base with every team to see who is interested in trading up and trading down. We always tell them we can go either way depending on who is still available."
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    Default Re: Secondary decisions

    I get the Feeling Aaron Williams will be the pick if he falls that far.

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    Default Re: Secondary decisions

    I know I'll probably get blasted for this and it is all on the assumption that they can make the money work but, they played Max Starks big dollars to retain him when, I don't believe they even had him penciled in as a starter at the time. Do I recall that correctly ?
    Anyway, with Ike demanding or deserving the 8 mill per year why, would they not give it to him ?

    I guess it's because we have so many guys ready to move on be it contracts or age. Woodley is a player to keep also plus many more. Who knows, the Steelers may find theirselves in a rebuilding situation for the next couple of seasons.
    I read someplace that a safety might be high on the list and if they do pick a safety first round and allow Taylor to leave then, we are headed for a big change up and they'll be looking for a FA corner or they are all ready looking past this season and they'll try for a higher draft pick for a corner next season.
    Just spit balling with off the wall scenarios. I will say one thing, Kevin Colbert has made a lot of good calls, moves and dealed very well over the years and maybe he has something up his sleeve or sees the bigger picture down the road or after these labor talks clear up.

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