Pittsburgh Steelers to Sign Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke

By Curt Popejoy

Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers roster was set to start the 2012 NFL season, they throw a curve ball and according to Pro Football Talk, they are about to sign cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke. Van Dyke was waived by the Oakland Raiders to make their final round of cuts to get to 53.

The reason the Steelers have signed Van Dyke appear obvious. Their secondary is for the most part mediocre. Ike Taylor is a solid veteran guy who does a nice job in coverage and excellent in run support, with questionable hands. Opposite Taylor there has been a competition ongoing for the other starting cornerback spot between Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. And while Allen seems to have won the spot, with Allen as the nickel corner and Brown in the dime(when he’s healthy), depth was certainly a concern.

To his credit Van Dyke does have the distinction of being the fastest rookie at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.  He ran a ridiculous 4.28 forty yard dash time and wowed scouts.  He also wowed the then owner of the Raiders Al Davis, who made no mystery he loved drafting elite athletes. The problem always appeared that his football skills were no where close to his athletic prowess.

A more interesting angle to this story for me, because Van Dyke while not a great football player does give them some depth, especially Brown can’t play opening weekend, is about the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. Who is going to get cut in order to make room for Van Dyke? There are two reasonable options that I can see.  One is they are going to release a running back, possibly Baron Batch because of the speedy return of Rashard Mendenhall.

But a more interesting one could be pertaining to rookie guard David DeCastro. It was originally reported that while he suffered a severe knee injury, he would remain on the roster with the possibility of him returning to the lineup at some point in the season. Now I fear that if DeCastro is put on IR to allow Van Dyke on the roster, it means his injury is worse than last reported. Either way, I hope that with some great coaching the athleticism of Van Dyke can benefit this team for however long he’s around.

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