Cortez the Killer

Carnell Lake got his project in fourth-round draft pick Cortez Allen, a raw but physical cornerback from The Citadel.

Pittsburgh – One dynamic persists: The new assistant coach gets the new players.

Makes a little sense, wouldn't you say?

Carnell Lake made a second consecutive appearance in the media room this draft weekend to introduce his second new cornerback, Cortez Allen.

Three hundred and four passing by an opposing quarterback, in a Super Bowl, will do that.

The Steelers drafted cornerback Curtis Brown on Friday night with their third-round pick, and then started up again yesterday with Allen, a 6-1½, 196-pounder from The Citadel.

Was Lake aware he was due this personnel upgrade when he was hired to coach the secondary a couple months ago?

"I was hoping that would be the case," said Lake.

In Brown, the Steelers found a cover corner who can help their third-down defenses right away.

In Allen, they found a raw but physical corner Lake can mold to fit the Steelers' prototype at the position.

"Pretty quick, pretty fast," Lake said. "He plays physical. He can play both bump and off coverages well. He's not experienced but he promises a lot of upside.

"I think we got a real deal here," Lake added. "For somebody with limited experience, he looks awfully comfortable at cornerback."

Allen played only one year of high school football back in his hometown of Ocala, Florida, but he was an All-State defensive back that year and ended up at The Citadel, a military school.

Lake believes the rigors and discipline required of Citadel cadets cost Allen time on the football field, but Allen said "I don't think it hurt me at all. If anything, it's made me a better person for managing all of that."

Allen moved into The Citadel's starting lineup midway through his sophomore season. He manned the run-oriented "boundary" corner for the next 2½ seasons and allowed only 35 percent of passes targeted to his receiver to be caught. The team captain had five career interceptions.

After his college days, Allen distinguished himself in front of scouts at the East-West Shrine Game practices, and at the combine ran a 4.45 40 with an exceptional 19 reps on the bench press. He also posted a 6.74 3-cone time with a 36½-inch vertical jump.

"I see him as being a versatile player who's not afraid of contact," said Lake. "With a little more experience, he's going to do well."

And with a little more in the secondary, so will Lake.

Is the new coach expecting another CB? Perhaps a linebacker to convert to CB?

"Not unless he runs a 4.3," said the LB-SS-CB who once ran a 4.3.

And Lake just smiled with satisfaction and left the room.

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