Steelers: Holliman is the diamond in the rough the secondary needs
It took the Pittsburgh Steelers and seventh round draft selection Gerod Holliman a month to agree on a rookie contract, but the deal is finally done. The four year, $2.34M deal will keep the interesting prospect with the Steelers until after the 2018 season.
Seventh round players arent expected to hit the field and be an immediate impact by any means, but shouldnt just fill a roster spot, either. With that deep of a draft selection its usually a toss up. You can end up with a Brett Keisel from time to time, but normally you have to settle for a Dallas Baker or a Doug Worthington.
To say the least, it is a selection that can drastically improve your team or not affect it at all. In the case of Holliman there is plenty to get excited about in terms of progression – something the Steelers desperately need in their secondary. Holliman has the perfect opportunity to be this year’s diamond in the rough player.
Last year’s was, without a doubt, Martavis Bryant. 2014’s fourth round pick was absent from the field until week seven, and wasnt expected to have the coming out party that he did. With Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton slated as starters, Justin Brown slowly progressing (very slowly, for the record) and Lance Moore expected to be the veteran slot receiver that Jerricho Cotchery was a year before, the wide receiver position seemed locked in for the season.
All that was thrown out the window when Bryant made his first NFL catch a touchdown against the Houston Texans and didnt look back. He ended his rookie campaign with 549 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns and will be challenging Wheaton for a starting spot this year. As for Justin Brown and Moore? They are attempting to secure roster spots with the Bills and Lions, respectively.
What makes Holliman a wildcard this year is the state of the Steelers’safety situation. Disarray would be a perfect way to describe it. Troy Polamalu has hung up his cleats, Shamarko Thomas is unproven and has been injured for the past two years, we have yet to see how well Mike Mitchell can play when he is not injured, and there is not much promising depth should those two stay injured.
If you thought there were issues with the linebackers or cornerbacks, you would have a hard time arguing the fact that the safety position is the weakest this offseason, where the two aformentioned positions were addressed immediately in this year’s draft.
Neglecting to address the safety position would lead to assumption that defensive coordinator Keith Butler and defensive back’s coach Carnell Lake are content with Thomas and Mitchell as their starters heading into the new year. Mitchell has experience and is a hard hitting safety that plays his position well, but there is no one with proven starting caliber talent beyond that.
The Steelers need solid depth as they rebuild their safety corps, and Holliman provides them just that. Robert Golden or Ross Ventrone cannot be relied on to step in if one of them were to be injured. Holliman oozes with talent, and it is only a matter of time before he starts making plays.
The safety position accounted for zero of the Steelers’ interceptions last year. Something that is very uncharacteristic of the position. Even if he is just appearing in Nickel packages, something Thomas did in his first two seasons, his prescence on the field gives the Steelers an athlete that has a nose for the ball.
Sep 27, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals safety Gerod Holliman (8) intercepts a pass intended for Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver E.J. Scott (17) during the second quarter at Papa John
Holliman recorded 14 interceptions in his junior year at Louisville. This staggering number proves that he is the ball hawking safety that the Steelers need in their secondary. He has been knocked for his inability to tackle, but that can be refined and improved on. The instincts that Holliman possesses cannot be taught. It is a natural gift that has aided many in his position for decades.
He has the height and frame that you would want to see in your starting safety, and could prove invaluable should either starter be sidelined due to injury. Whatever way he is utilized, it is highly likely that he will make his prescence felt.
The 2015 regular season steadily approaches, and we will find out very soon if Gerod Holliman is the diamond in the rough player the Steelers need to rejuvinate their secondary this season. Until then, we can only hope he has a repeat performance of his final season in college for years to come.
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