New Steelers safety Gerod Holliman was expecting to be selected earlier than the seventh round when he declared for the NFL draft with two years of eligibility remaining at Louisville. With 238 players picked before him, Holliman is now out to prove his worth.
"I was a little surprised I didn't get drafted earlier, but that’s not something I had any control over," Holliman said Friday after his first rookie minicamp practice with the Steelers via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "God has a plan for me. I ended up being in the right place, so I’m happy."
Holliman led the nation with 14 interceptions last season, his first and only as a starter. His ballhawking skills drew comparisons to Ed Reed from one NFL scout, while another called him "horrible," unable to "make a tackle to save his life." Another draft report called him "tackling averse."
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"I don’t pay attention to it," Holliman said of the critiques. "I know I’m a great player. I just take the criticism from coaches to make myself better and find out what they want from me."
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says 14 interceptions in one season is no accident. "This kid has great instincts and awareness.
"He’s a film studier and you can just see him making breaks on the ball before the quarterback throws it," Colbert said. "He's got the great hands to finish it. This kid is a ball-hawk and knows how to make interceptions."
Mike Tomlin acknowledged that Holliman's tackling needs improvement, but praised his instincts in coverage.
"He does have a distinguishing characteristic and that is his ability to anticipate and find angles to the ball and to finish those plays," Tomlin said. "That is something that you can build his game around. We are excited about that. But he does have room for growth and development [as a tackler]."
Holliman says he would be coming to camp with a chip on his shoulder even if he was a first-round pick. "I'm coming in to earn a spot whether I’m a first-rounder or seventh-rounder. This is something I have to do to be a good player here."