Carnell Lake RE Doran Grant RELATED
Carnell Lake:We wanted to announce that we picked Doran Grant from Ohio State, cornerback. He is a solid, physical corner. He has decent speed. He played a very high level on a very big national title championship team. He played as a true freshman. He has played every year he attended Ohio State.
Re: Second round:
I think if you put all of the information together, then you run into some doubts about his productivity or ability to cover or stay close to the receiver. I think at this point, I think it is a very solid pick considering that he has the ability to stay close to the receivers, in the sense that he can keep up with them. He is going to make tackles. He is very tough player. He is going to help out a lot on special teams because of that. Like we talked about last night, he is starting to check off some of those boxes.
Re: Issue with man-to-man:
I think so. If you compare him to some of the others, I can't really speak for other teams. We had our eye on him early. He was someone that we thought we could get around this time. He was available so we got him.
What is the advantage of Grant coming from a big school with a National Championship?
Normally I wouldn't mention that but because there are players that come from a lot of different schools, different programs and competition levels that have made it here in the NFL and with the Steelers. In this sense, a corner that has matched up with some top-notch programs has seen a lot of receivers that have gone in probably the first, second or third round. Ohio State has seen them. They have played them in the biggest game there is in college football and that would be in the National Championship game. To have that kind of experience and step right into the NFL, gives him a slight advantage.
View photos of Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 4th Round Draft Pick, cornerback Doran Grant.
Did he cover Amari Cooper?**
He's covered quite a few. He has played both in the boundary and playing on the field. It depends on how college views it. Definitely some colleges view the boundary corner, their top corner because they get a lot of work. Then some view playing the field is their top corner because there is so much field to cover. I've seen them both; I've heard both comments and both opinions on that. We will see how that turns out here. Obviously in the NFL, those hashes are a lot different. There isn't boundary and on the field, it's all the same. There is a left hash, right hash and middle. You are talking just a few feet, a few yards I should say.
Re: Drafting field and boundary cornerback:
When you look at Senquez Golson, he was matched up quite a bit on some guys. When I talked to him when he came into the building, when we watched his film together, he said they really matched him up and left him alone. They would have him playing man-to-man coverage when they would try and rotate the zone to the side away from him. If they played man to the other side away from him, they had a bracket or a combination like a two-on-one kind of situation going on. Leaving Golson on his own, he said to me. I wanted to make sure what I was seeing was what I was seeing. Golson is used to playing more or less true man. But Ohio State they run multiple coverages with a lot of corners covered but you are going to see them playing pro style stuff as well. I don't really see much of a transition for Grant coming from Ohio State to the Steelers.
Are you getting a little concerned? You lost three starters, past defense ranked 27th last year, are you getting a little concerned coming into this draft about your secondary?
Well there is a concern when you have so many starters leave you at once. You want to make sure that you replace them and replace them with quality players. It's my job to coach up whoever we bring in and that is what I'm going to do. There will be no change in my demeanor in regard to them and we are going to be prepared. Actually, if I have to think about it anyway, I think of it as a challenge for me. How can I get these guys ready to play and get them to produce because when they line up, they are our starters? Wherever they come from, however we get them, in the end, they have to be productive and they have to play.
Are you feeling better today after getting these two guys?
Yes, absolutely. We have some holes that we are starting to fill and the Steelers have been aggressive in trying to do that.
You have got a guy now at 5'9" and 5'10", both of them productive, picking the ball off. Was this kind of a change in philosophy from the 6', 6'1" corners who maybe didn't have the ends in the past?**
I think that a lot of it has to do with who is available, to be honest. I think that it is just a matter of if you can get the player that has everything, you have to be pretty high up in the draft to get that guy. You are hoping that you can get most of the things that you want from a corner and that is what we are doing right now. We are trying to go after guys that have a lot of the qualities that we like.
Do you think the success that Williams had last year has reinforced that you can't get it to him with smaller guys in that position?
Absolutely. I think if you look, since I was playing here, we've always had somebody that was 6 foot that was on the field, with Willie Williams back in my day. Actually, I want to say, my last year here was Deshea Townsend's last year and Deshea played a long time and then current day would be Will Gay. Will Gay was here, we signed him as a free agent my first year here and actually started for us my first year and left to Arizona, did good work out there, came back and is doing great again. So I'm happy to have Will Gay. If you can't have all of the pieces, you want some big pieces and guys like Will who are very sharp upstairs, from the neck up, are just tremendous students of the game that have a lot of awareness. And they have an advantage in that sense and they can make their plays even if they are not the ideal height or whatever. They get it done and that is what we are going to do here. We are going to put together and find out what Senquez and Grant have to offer and play to those advantages.
Have you seen Cortez Allen and how do you feel about him coming back?**
I do. I know from talking to him that he had some issues with the lower extremities. He was injured most of the year and was fighting through that. That really affected his game. Playing the game myself, I know that if you can't run, it's hard to play corner. It's almost impossible really. So I have to give him credit for fighting through it. I think it's good that he's not around so far to kind of clear his mind, refresh and comes back ready and rebooted. Maybe he can out there in Arizona and Florida, I know those are two places he trains in the offseason. He gets some sunshine and kind of lets those green buds sprout and come on back. It's a new season. We're not going to talk about the old season. We're just going to talk about where you are now and let's get you back where you should be.
Re: Switching players from free to strong safety:
Free and strong especially in this system, if you're versatile you're going to wind up playing them both anyway. Offense has a lot of formation adjustments, a lot of change in strength motion. Receivers are switching from one side of the field to the other causing us to rotate our secondary. At any given time, you could go from strong safety to free safety. On the depth chart, you may see someone's name penciled in as free or strong and for the most part they may play the majority of their snaps as one position or the other. But at some point they're going to have to play them both. To have a true, in-the-box, strong safety is okay and you need a certain type for that. But the reality is, an offense can get you out of that. If you're going to play one coverage and have eight in the box and you're going to be stubborn about what you do on defense, you can certainly keep a safety in the box 100% of the time, but you're limiting yourself on defense to what you can do. To expand upon that, if I had my choice, I'd want two safeties that can do both. They can be a force in the run game. They can play in the box. But they can also have the versatility to not only cover deep in the middle, but also man-to-man. In essence what you get is some corner-type coverage safeties that are able to make strong tackles. If you can find those guys, you've got some weapons back there because you've got four guys on the field that can run, that can cover and they can adjust, and they can rotate to different positions without anyone having to leave the field or having to bring somebody on.
What niche do you have in mind for your two rookie cornerbacks?**
I really want to take my time with these guys. I want to see them move. I want to see them interact with the other guys. I want to see them pick up the defense. I just want to take my time and make sure that however we use them, we use them correctly. I won't really know that until I get them in the building.
Could Grant play safety?
That's interesting you said that. I have that in my notes. I think he's that strong of a tackler that he can easily transition from corner to safety.