A look at the Steelers' success and failure with the secondary in the draft and free agency since 2003 ...
.701 – Steelers winning percentage since 2004 when Troy Polamalu starts (80-34)
.567 – Steelers winning percentage since 2004 when he doesn't (17-13)
Draft: Trivia question: what does Larry Johnson have to do with Troy Polamalu? Besides pulling him down by the hair once in a 2006 game, Johnson was selected 27th overall by Kansas City in 2003 – a pick they had swapped with Pittsburgh who moved to no. 16 to take their all-everything safety of the last decade.
Ike Taylor was chosen in the same draft forming one half of what became a two-time Super Bowl champion secondary. Bryant McFadden, selected in 2005 was also a crucial component to the Steelers' two championships. Now with Arizona, 2007 pick William Gay eventually developed into a starter as did 2009 selection Keenan Lewis who stands to get a big raise, either with the Steelers or elsewhere.
Cortez Allen is being groomed as a potential replacement for either Lewis or eventually Taylor and Curtis Brown has seen regular action on special teams.
However, even with an impressive drafting track record in the secondary, plenty – like Ricardo Colclough, Anthony Smith, Joe Burnett and Crezdon Butler – couldn't stick.
Free Agency: Ryan Clark is easily among the best free agent signings of the Kevin Colbert era. Tyrone Carter and Will Allen have provided "starter capable" – to borrow a Tomlin-ism – depth at safety. McFadden was reacquired after a year in Arizona and started every game in 2010. Anthony Madison, and undrafted free agent in 2006, is on his third stint with the team as a special teams specialist. Justin King, Josh Victorian, Robert Golden and Demarcus Van Dyke have all also been added over the past year.