Thursday, April 3, 2008

Draft Prospect Profile: Aqib Talib

With the NFL Draft now just about a month away, the Steelers are beginning to bring in prospective draft choices to their South Side facilities. If you look back at past first round Steelers draft choices, almost all of them (Simmons, Polamalu, Roethlisberger, Miller, Timmons) visited with the team prior to the draft. The lesson here is that the Steelers first round pick will almost assuredly be someone who comes into Pittsburgh for a visit. With that said, over the next few weeks I will be providing brief profiles of those players who will most likely be picked in the first round and come into Pittsburgh for a visit. Chances are, one of these players profiled will be the team's first round selection in April. Today, it's Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib, who according to the Post-Gazette has already visited with the Steelers.

Player: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

Height/Weight: 6'2'', 205 lbs.

Overview (courtesy of

It was no surprise Talib left school early for the pros. Few collegiate corners have his mix of size, athleticism and explosiveness. The All-American made 13 interceptions and broke up 43 other passes during his three years at Lawrence. He even played a bit of receiver the past two, and opponents clearly game-planned for him. There's no reason to think his new team won't try him as a punt and/or kickoff returner, even though he only attempted a handful in college. At least until he proves too valuable a cover man to leave on special teams.

Wannstache: On the surface, it may not seem like the Steelers have a need at cornerback. Ike Taylor is entrenched as one of the starters, with Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden likely to battle again for the other spot. William Gay rounds out a solid group. Consider this, though. Townsend will be 33 years old when the season begins, McFadden will be a free agent after the ’08 season, and Gay’s future is probably as a nickel back. This explains why the Steelers are looking at cornerbacks such as Talib with their first round pick.

Talib is blessed with great height for a cornerback. You don’t see many NFL cornerbacks who are 6’1’’ or 6’2’’. The question mark regarding Talib is top-end speed. He’s not the fastest player, and he’s probably more suited for a team that runs more zone than man-to-man. His ideal landing spot would be a team like Tampa Bay, where they run a pure “Tampa 2” scheme, but he’d fit well with the Steelers also because they’re more of a zone coverage team as well. One thing the Steelers ask their cornerbacks to do is support the run, and Talib has shown that he’s willing to do that. As mentioned, he doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s a guy with great playmaking ability and superior instincts that allowed him to notch 13 interceptions during his three seasons with the Jayhawks. However, those instincts can also pose a problem at times, because he does like to gamble and that can sometimes leave him out of position. Some people say that he needs to be more physical at the line of scrimmage. But that can always be taught if needed and it wouldn’t be a problem with the 10-yard cushions we always see our defensive backs giving. For a defense that was among the worst at generating interceptions, adding a legit playmaker like Talib at cornerback wouldn’t be a bad option.

Now, Talib isn’t necessarily my first choice at pick #23, but it’s looking more and more like no worthy offensive lineman will be available when our turn to pick comes. There’s a chance Talib gets picked a few spots before us, possibly to Houston at #18 or Tampa Bay at #20. Ultimately, I feel like he’s going to be available, and he very well could be the best player left on the board. If that’s the case, and if all the worthy first round offensive lineman are taken, don’t be surprised to see Talib wearing the black and gold next fall.

Here's a video profile of Talib:

End of Post


Sam said...

Maybe I'm looking too short term, and I know the team has said they'll take the best guy available regardless of position, but don't you think we have to address the line with the first pick?

Dave Wannstache said...

Would I like them to? Absolutely.

That said, you cannot reach for a player to fill a need. It really is looking more and more likely that they go somewhere else other than O-line in the 1st round. If Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Chris Williams, Jeff Otah, and Branden Albert are all gone (and it's looking that way), I'm fine with them bypassing O-line in the first. If one of those guys is available, though, and they still go somewhere else, than maybe I'd question it.

That said, if you don't go O-line in round 1, you absolutely have to address it in round 2 or round 3.