All the talk surrounding the 40th anniversary of the Steelers 1974 Hall of Fame draft class appears to have brought the Steelers amazing luck in this year’s NFL Draft.
The Steelers have managed to use pick after pick to fill their immediate roster holes. Their fifth-round selection of cornerback Shaquille Richardson is no exception.
Richardson was initially signed to play for Carnell Lake at UCLA but was cut before his freshman season due to an arrest for felony theft. He was picked up by the University of Arizona and had over 35 starts in his Wildcat career without issue.
Richardson is an experienced corner with the magic bullet: speed and length. He meets the Steeler standard cornerback height at 6-feet and blazed the 40 in 4.43 seconds. He relies on his speed to stay with receivers, but has the agility and leaping ability to break up the pass. He had 14 break-ups in 2012.
The Steelers were apparently not scared off from their recent string of disappointing late-round corners. GM Kevin Colbert said this was a deep draft at corner. And on film, Richardson looks to have way more value than last year’s fifth-round bust Terry Hawthorne.
Dick LeBeau believed people underestimated the depth in the Steelers secondary. And the comfort with waiting until Round 5 to draft them help indicates the need wasn’t as high as predicted.
Last year’s fourth-rounder Shamarko Thomas is capable as a safety/corner hybrid; however, I don’t see him starting at CB if Ike Taylor or Cortez Allen struggle again. But William Gay could. And Thomas is a perfect fit to replace Gay in the slot.
LeBeau and secondary coach Lake are shuffling the deck with double-sided cards. Richardson gives them a Taylor-type corner to groom. And his talent gives the Steelers a potentially stacked deck.
THE GRADE : Talent and Need
|X||Athlete with Potential||X||Depth|
|Smart/Good Character but ?Athlete||Project|
Analysis: B for Value
If Carnell Lake has the time to fine-tune the athletically-gifted Richardson, no one will care the Steelers waited until Round 5 before addressing their corner depth. Richardson is an agile and fast corner who covers the ball well. Needs to be a better tackler and improve technique.