With the 128th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Cortez Allen, a 6’1″, 197 lb. cornerback from The Citadel.
Cortez Allen has to be considered a project for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played at a smaller program, and doesn’t have the experience of playing against top-tier talent like players from more prestigious football programs do. However, there are a few things about Allen that stand out.
The first thing that stands out to me is that Allen attended The Citadel, a military school. In my opinion, that immediately eliminates any doubt as to whether he’s going to be disciplined, or if he’s going to work hard. You don’t graduate from the Citadel without lots of hard work and discipline.
The second thing that stands out is the fact that he was team captain. It’s always an honor to be named a captain for any football program. But receiving such an honor at a military academy speaks volumes about what Allen’s coaches and teammates thought about him.
As we have come to expect with Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft picks, Allen has good character. He’ll fit in well with the Steelers, and his work ethic should endear him to Steeler Nation.
It’s telling that the Steelers took a 6’0″ cornerback in the 3rd round, and then followed that pick up with the 6’1″ Allen in the 4th round. They obviously think that the team needs more big guys who can cover the taller receivers that are becoming so common in the NFL. The 5’9″ cornerbacks who used to be prominent are now at a distinct disadvantage against receivers like Calvin Johnson or incoming rookie A.J. Green.
In addition to his height, Allen is a good athlete. He’d not a track star, but he has both speed and quickness. Moreover, he recorded the best broad jump of any of the cornerbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine. Not bad for a kid from a small school.
Allen has good coverage skills. He played primarily in man coverage, and he lacks experience in zone. The Steelers play a lot of zone coverage, so he’ll have to be coached in that area. But he has good football smarts, and he should pick up zone coverage pretty quickly.
Allen did tear his ACL in 2007 and had to be redshirted his freshman year. But he’s shown no lasting effects from the injury, and it shouldn’t be a concern.
Steelers’ defensive backs coach Carnell Lake commented that players who attend The Citadel don’t have the opportunity to work on their game like players who go to more traditional football schools. He acknowledges that Allen is raw, and has not had the opportunity to fully master his craft. However, he loves Allen’s size and athleticism, and is excited about what Allen can become once he has the opportunity to place his full focus on football.
Cortez Allen is not likely to contribute this year. However, his size and athleticism made him worth drafting and developing for the future.
Analysis of all 2011 Steelers Draft picks:
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