Despite the fact that he only returned from a minor knee procedure earlier last week, Cortez Allen performed well enough in his first preaseason game of 2013 to earn a spot on Will Brinson’s “Bull Market” list in his most recent installment of “NFL Stock Watch” on CBS Sports.com.
Like Brinson and Ryan Wilson alluded to in the article, there is plenty to like about Allen and his potential. At only 23, the former fourth round pick is only scratching the surface of his potential with the Steelers.
After a first season spent on special teams coverage units, Cortez blossomed last fall as Pittsburgh’s number three cornerback behind Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis (55 tackles and 10 passes defended). In fact, Allen played some of his best football down the stretch for Pittsburgh outside of the team’s Week 14 loss to the Chargers.
Allen recorded six takeaways (two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery) during the Steelers’ final two regular season games, and his overall development and play late in the season allowed Pittsburgh’s brass to let Lewis walk as a free agent in March.
Another year of improved production should put Allen in line for a contract-extension as early as next spring, and the Steelers will likely need someone to take over for the now 33 year-old Ike Taylor when the veteran’s contract expires after the 2014 campaign.
Many wondered how well that the inexperienced Allen would handle the spotlight of being Pittsburgh’s first-man off of the bench in 2012. With that challenge met and bested, the third-year cornerback will now have to step into a starting role this fall and try to boost his “stock” even more. While it will not be a picnic for Allen to meet and hopefully exceed the types of high expectations which have been placed upon him, he has the physical tools (6’1″ 196 lbs.) and talent to develop into a formidable force in the Steelers’ secondary for years to come.
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