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Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Sean Davis, continue building secondary

Hard-hitting, athletic safety is Steelers' second-round pick, and Carnell Lake appreciates the brass' attention.

PITTSBURGH -- Sean Davis had always wanted to "go to the U" because his idol, Sean Taylor, had played there.

"He wore No. 21 and his name was Sean," the newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers said back in February from the NFL Combine.

"Man, I idolized him. I loved everything about him. Real quiet dude just like me."

So it was with great joy then that Davis -- No. 21 at Maryland -- was (intentionally) confused for Taylor when he picked up the phone to talk to the Pittsburgh media Friday night.

The 6-1, 201-pound strong safety from Maryland, the Steelers' second-round draft pick, let out a hearty laugh after being called Sean Taylor.

"Yeah," said the deliriously happy Davis. "Thank you. Thank you."

It's probably what his father, Sean Davis Sr., was saying in the background, as dad watched son discuss a future with the Steelers.

"My dad loves the Steelers," Davis Jr. said. "This is awesome. I couldn't have hoped for anything better. It's the perfect situation."

Born and raised in Washington D.C. as a Redskins fan, Davis said his dad "just loves Coach Tomlin, and there's something about that black and yellow. He's always seen me as a Steeler, for real."

What did dad say?

"Aw, man, I'm lookin' right at him," Davis Jr. said with a laugh. "He might be happier than me. He's got his cool face on, even though I know deep inside he's going crazy."

As was Davis' new boss in Pittsburgh, secondary coach Carnell Lake, who ripped off Davis' astounding Combine numbers off the top of his head.

"He was third in the 20-yard shuttle (3.97) for all defensive backs," Lake said. "He had a 37 1/2 vertical, 21 on the bench, which was second of all defensive backs in the draft. This guy is an exceptional guy. We are excited to have him. He is kind of everything you are looking for when you are talking about versatility for defensive backs."

There were also Davis' 6.64 3-cone time, his 4.46 40, 1.56 10 and a 10-6 broad jump.

Lake was understandably happy to get such an athletic safety, and one who was used at cornerback last season at Maryland, where he finished his career with 306 tackles (213 solos).

"I'm excited," Lake said. "I've been coaching here for six years. It's been a long time, as you know, since we've had a first-rounder. Now, in back-to-back years we've had (that and) two second-round players. It's coming together. It feels good."

Prior to last year's selection of Senquez Golson in the second round, the Steelers had drafted only one player, Curtis Brown, as high as the third round during Lake's tenure as secondary coach. But Golson, together with this year's first-round choice of Artie Burns, and now Davis, give the team a nucleus upon which to finally reconstruct a secondary that had consisted of veterans throughout the three recent Super Bowls.

Here's Lake's vision for -- and he didn't correct the questioner -- free safety Mike Mitchell and strong safety Davis on the Steelers' back end:

"When you have offenses that spread you out ... to create mismatches," Lake said, "they will put a player like (Rob) Gronkowski out wide and force you to match up with either a linebacker or a safety on Gronkowski. Well, you have to have a guy that has the size and can cover. He provides that coverage for us. That's one of the exciting parts of Sean Davis that we like."

A baseball star in high school, Davis didn't play football until his junior year. As a freshman at Maryland, he started only two games, but the next year, 2013, he started all 13 games at free safety.

In 2014, as a junior, Davis started 11 games at free safety and two at cornerback, and then was moved to cornerback for his entire his senior season.

Overall, Davis intercepted five passes and forced seven fumbles. He also has another pretty good stat on his resume.

"He speaks three languages (English, French, Chinese)," said Lake. "So I'm not worried about his ability to adapt to our playbook."

Lake, the former star strong safety who filled in at cornerback for one Super Bowl run with the Steelers, was asked if Davis is "the closest thing to Carnell Lake that you've had?"

"I like what he's brought to the table," Lake said. "I think he has some exceptional qualities. Versatility is one of them. I think he and Mike Mitchell will work well together in the secondary."

Would Lake play Davis at cornerback in an emergency?

"I would not hesitate," Lake said. "Playing corner at Maryland, he knows the position. It will just be a matter of him dialing it down."

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