Corners With 'The Dog' In Them

Third-round cornerback candidates Senquez Golson and Steven Nelson may not have the size the Steelers want, but they have 'the dog' in them.

"This just gets so stupid. The NFL needs to get the body-size discrimination off its website before they get sued. You are influencing coaches right down into junior high to discriminate against short football players. And you are doing this with the full knowledge that short football players are not only starting at the positions where you claim they are too small, they are stars. They have rings. They have great careers. They are in the top 10 for the relevant stats at their positions. Look at Antonio Brown you freakin' morons. The Patriots went 16 and 0 with a starting RCB who was 5'9": Ellis Hobbs. Tim Jennings has a SB ring, and accolades like crazy as a starting CB in the NFL. He's 5'7.75". Do you want to know how many 6'1" or 2" CBs flat out suck when compared with Tim Jennings? Quit it. It's wrong. What you are doing is no different than saying black QBs are too nervous, or not smart enough. It's awful. If you said cheerleaders have to have big gazongas, it would sound exactly the same and be just as void of logic and truthfulness."

-- John Holman

I don't normally read the comments section of news stories but I was curious about the reaction to Lance Zierlein's evaluation piece on Senquez Golson at

Golson is the cornerback from Ole Miss who intercepted 10 passes and was named a unanimous All-America, or named to the All-America team by "every major outlet that has named a team."

The Steelers need cornerbacks, right? So Golson has to be a consideration.


Well, at 5-8.5 he's more than a bit shorter than they like in the early rounds.

But why not in the third round?

My dream draft to this point has been either edge rusher Owamagbe Odighizuwa or Preston Smith in the first round, and either Grady Jarrett or Michael Bennett in the second. All four of those players can probably be classified as 4-3 players and the Steelers -- or at least most of the media covering the Steelers -- still believe the defense will be a 3-4 without Dick LeBeau as coordinator any longer.

There are a variety of reasons why I'm partial to those players, and there's a reason why I would follow them up in the third round with cornerbacks such as Golson or Steven Nelson, who are shorter than their desired prototype: They are tough ballhawks regardless of their height.

As Mr. Holman put it so elegantly above, "this just gets so stupid," particularly if one ignores either player because of height.

"Man it just took a lot of studying, a lot of film work, knowing what's going on and paying attention to detail," Golson said of his exceptional senior season. "I just wanted to get better. Spent extra time in the film room and watched film with my coach. Just simple things."

Golson was an outstanding three-sport star in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He was named to The Clarion-Ledger's Dandy Dozen team in football, was named to the Rawlings All-America team in baseball, and was the big-school 100-meter track champ with a time of 10.66 seconds.

That summer, Golson was drafted in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Boston Red Sox as a go-get-'em center fielder, but turned down the Red Sox, and the Alabama and Florida State football teams, to play football and baseball at Ole Miss.

He stopped playing baseball after hitting .204 as a freshman, and nearly stopped playing football after a freshman season in which he was infamously embarrassed on tape by Trent Richardson. Golson persevered but took a long look in the mirror after he was arrested last June for disorderly conduct after refusing to cooperate with police while walking down a street at 5 a.m. in the deep south of his home state.

The charges were dropped and Golson turned his focus up a few notches. In fact, he opened eyes with his fourth interception in three games, this one a leaping interception in the back of the end zone over 6-6 tight end O.J. Howard to clinch an upset win over Alabama. Golson intercepted six more passes to finish with 10, or three more than any other cornerback in the nation.

"I just like the ball," he explained at the combine. "I just want the ball. That's basically how I am. I would just say I'm a playmaker, a ballhawk."

Has playing center field helped?

"It does make a difference," Golson said. "Just being able to adjust to the ball in the air is second nature to me. It's simple."

At the combine, Golson weighed only 176 pounds but did a respectable 15 bench reps. He ran a 4.46 40 with agility times of 6.81 in the 3-cone and 4.20 in the short shuttle. His vertical jump was 33 1/2 inches, and his shining moment was probably the gauntlet drill, in which his movements were smooth and economical and his hands were as soft as a baby's whisper.

Golson said he met with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin at the Senior Bowl, and called him "a great guy, man."

The other question for Golson at the combine went like this: Was it hard to turn down the $1.1 million offer from the Red Sox?

"Definitely," he said. "I was up there in Boston and you'd look down at the paper and you got all them zeroes. It definitely was a hard decision."

Nelson had an equally difficult decision after being forced to leave his home state of Georgia for College of the Sequoias in California. He didn't have the grades to accept a D-1 scholarship, but after one season in junior college he accepted a scholarship to Georgia. But the track coach at The Sequoias called Oregon State DB coach Rod Perry, who played for the Los Angeles Rams with The Sequoias head coach Irv Pankey, and raved about Nelson and his passion for football. There was an opening in Oregon State's secondary that wasn't in Georgia's secondary and Nelson made the decision to stay on the west coast.

It was money.

Nelson was in the starting lineup early in the season and intercepted four passes in his first three starts, one turned into a game-clinching touchdown return against San Diego State.

Nelson finished the season with six interceptions, and last season only intercepted two passes as Pac-12 quarterbacks repeatedly looked the other way.

At the combine, Nelson measured 5-10.1, 197 and ran his 40 in 4.49 with 19 bench reps, a 34 1/2 vertical jump and agility times of 6.88 in the 3-cone and 4.07 in the short shuttle.

In his interview with the media, Nelson, who majored in Sociology, came across as far more intelligent than his high-school transcript would have anyone believe. And his passion for football was obvious.

"My aim is to be flexible, number one. I play all over the field," he said. "But I'm a competitor, technical, real physical. I feel I can run with the best of them."

In his Oregon State bio, Nelson wrote that Charles Woodson was his favorite athlete. He mentioned another player at the combine.

"I look at a guy like Joe Haden, a guy like that just has that dog in him to want to never get beat. You know what I mean? I look at a guy like that," Nelson said. "You've just got to go out there with a mindset that no matter the size (of the receiver), you're the bigger person out there. It doesn't matter about the size. You've just got to compete."

No doubt that NFL teams will agree. Pittsburgh Steelers fans should hope their team is one of them.

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