Mel Blount, Troy Polamalu and Carnell Lake are just a few of the countless great Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs in the team's history. And while some great players don't always make the best coaches, Lake has done a solid job with the Steelers' secondary since he joined the staff in 2011.
The 2015 season wasn't necessarily a banner year for the back end of the Steelers' defense though, as they ranked 30th in the league against the pass. It's a big reason why the Steelers were targeting a cornerback in the first round of this year's Draft, with many rumors pointing to the team being interested in William Jackson III, who went one pick earlier at No. 24 to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Recently, Lake publicly corroborated the rumors by stating Pittsburgh was set to take Jackson at No. 25.
Apparently, Lake was addressing folks at an event called "Steelers Men's Fantasy Camp", in which the crowd included season ticket holders. One such season ticket holder relayed Lake's comments as something to the effect of "He basically just said 'Yeah, we wanted WJIII but Cincy sacked him from us, then took another [question]'".
More BREAKING NEWS FROM CARNELL: WJIII WAS going to be Steelers pick before Cin snaked him @SteelDad— Cocktails-n-Dreams (@CraigScott31) June 4, 2016
Instead of landing Jackson, the Steelers took University of Miami cornerback, Artie Burns in the first round. Though Burns is talented in his own right, most draftniks had Jackson rated significantly higher. Both teams have extremely talented rosters, but the picks show a difference in each squad's draft philosophy this year--the Bengals went best player available after receivers flew off the board, while the Steelers were adamant about getting cornerback help.
Lake's admission also adds fuel to the fire in the rivalry that has heated up greatly in the Marvin Lewis era. While it's not likely the Bengals took a player in the first round for the purpose of sticking it to a division rival, some Steelers fans may feel that that was the underlying purpose of the selection.
Regardless, the Bengals ended up with the best player on their board after four receivers were selected before they were on the clock. Meanwhile, Lake and the Steelers' staff had to be a bit exasperated once the announcement was made, but they settled for Burns.
Only time will tell which pick turns out to be the better one.