Charles Davis Has Steelers Selecting Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard In Recent Mock Draft

The post 2014 NFL Scouting Combine mock drafts of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft are rolling out quickly and thus are tough to keep up with. One of the latest one from a major media draftnik has a cornerback going to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 15th overall selection.

In his most recent mock released this past Thursday, Charles Davis of tabs Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard as the Steelers first choice in the May draft.

Davis writes:

Steelers seeking help throughout their defense. Dennard brings talent and toughness.

Dennard measured in at the combine at just under 5’11” and weighed 199pounds. At the combine, many feel that he answered the questions about his long-speed by running a 4.51 second, 40-yard dash. Others, however, maintain that Dennard was too stiff for their liking during drills.

Dennard, as evidenced by his play on tape, specializes in press coverage and he uses his strength and instincts off of the line of scrimmage very well. Against the run, Dennard is a willing participant and he is an above average tackler for a defensive back that works through blockers consistently.

In 45 games at Michigan State, Dennard registered 10 interceptions. Four of those picks came in 2013 to go along with 10 pass breakups.

Chime in with your thoughts on Dennard below.

Michigan State
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  • Brian Miller

    He did look stiff in some of the drills, but if we draft him for what he was at Michigan St., and he plays Press Man, then he will be a good corner IMO. Just don’t ask him to play something he is not used to playing if you aren’t sure he can do it. Just ask the Cowboys with Morris Claiborne.

  • Jason White

    I like the kid. He has Steelers written all over him with his toughness and his instincts. He may not be my ideal height for a corner but he certainly plays bigger. I certainly would be pleased with him in the first round if they choose to go that way. Throw in Terrence Brooks at safety somewhere and I’ll be a happy camper.

  • Rob H

    Aside from the reports of him looking stiff at the combine, I’ve also read that he is strictly a man cover guy who has problems playing zone coverage, with our system I would think that alone would take him out of consideration at 15. Gilbert is really the only cb I would want them to take that high, other than him I would rather they take one of the offensive playmakers and wait until the second to start addressing the defense.

  • srdan

    Very good analogy with clainborne

  • Kareem Daniels

    He does a lot of grabbing and holding that he want be able to get away with in the NFL.

  • CW

    Only if the team is planning on moving to mostly man coverage should the Steelers draft someone who plays best as a man coverage corner. Not that I wouldn’t support the Steelers drafting a good corner in the first round if they were able to draft the right sort of player, but I’d rather they look at someone who fits the total scheme better.

  • Steelers12328882

    I’d be happy with either Gilbert or Dennard, but I like Gilbert more because he’s faster and more fluid, his kick return ability and he also seems to bait the QBs which is what separates the great CBs.

  • mem359

    I wasn’t clear on that point about zone.
    Are the reporters saying that he has problems playing zone, or that MSU had him playing man so often that he hasn’t demonstrated that he can play zone?

  • JT

    Unless he plays in Seattle.

  • Rob H

    What I read in a few different reports is that they had him play press man in college, both because that was his strength, and because he has “issues” playing in zone coverage.
    I don’t watch much college ball myself, but if I were to guess, I’d say maybe he just has trouble learning zone concepts and responsibilities which are based a lot of times in what the offense shows pre-snap and what defense is called, either way it would be a huge red flag for me. I could see taking someone that you have to teach from the ground up mid to later in the draft, but not that high.

  • dkoy85

    Colbert was quoted, quoting a mentor of his that said “If you have red paint, paint the barn red.” And I believe that was when Colbert was asked about talent that doesnt fit the overall scheme which Dennard certainly is.

  • dgh57

    These so called draftniks are something else!

    First it was Kirwan who had us taking Kony Ealy who is most likely projected to play DE in a 4-3 defense or a OLB in the NFL to play DE for us.

    Now Davis has us taking a CB who mainly played press man coverage in College and who is reported to be to stiff in the hips to play ZONE in our get this: ZONE DEFENSE!

  • Xclewsive

    I agree with Charles Davis and that it’s tougher to play man to man then it would be zone. Dennard is my favorite player in the entire draft because he’s just tough. If he was drafted by the Steelers he’d the Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers CBs.

  • Rob H

    Yeah, I heard that on the podcast the other day myself, but Colbert isn’t going to ask LeBeau to change his entire defense so they can draft Dennard @ 15, the last time they drafted somebody in the first round that didn’t fit with their system was Ziggy Hood @ 32(and we all know how that worked out).
    I can see making some major tweaks to accommodate a single player, if you think he’s the next Rod Woodson, or Reggie White, but I don’t think anybody is going to make that comparison here.

  • SFIC

    I watched a lot of Dennard this year and I really, REALLY like him. But just like with DTs Donald and Jernigan he just doesn’t fit our scheme. The reason he didn’t play zone at MS was brought straight out front in the Combine field drills. Remember what happened to Asomugha’s play after he left the Raiders? As much as I like Dennard I very much doubt he will be drafted by any team who plays primarily zone coverage.

  • Xclewsive

    My question for you is why is “zone defense” so much harder to play then man to man? Is “flipping your hips” something that can be worked on or is it genetic?

  • Nolrog

    There are going to be 100000 mock drafts between now and the actual draft. I can’t place a lot of stock in any one of them. A lot of times, they change just for the sake of being different. They are good conversation pieces, and little else.

  • Matt Manzo

    I know this isn’t a mock site but I can’t help it!!! Telvin Smith got me fired up!

    OK! My 1st mock this year(still unsure on late round picks):

    If Gilbert and Evans are gone:

    1: trade down a few spots for low 2 or high 3.
    – Fuller CB

    2: Telvin Smith…Can play OLB, MLB and Safety! Vocal leader on the field. I would like to see him used as a Polamalu/Timmons type.

    Low 2 or High 3: Montavious Bryant WR.
    (Maybe go JMatthews w/2 and TSmith with this pick?)

    3rd Comp: Torn between Safety and CB here? TSmith could be a good S, or maybe ILB so a good OLB would make sense, but I’m too in love with:
    Desir, RReynolds, McGill. Would take one of them!

    4: J. Ellis DT

    4 Comp(KLewis): Adrian Hubbard OLB

    5: A. Exum S

    6: Ladamian Washington WR

    7: any bad ass DE!!!

    Critique Away!!! Even if you hate it!!!

  • dkoy85

    Probably a natural skill that can be worked on but at an NFL level going from stiff hips to fluid hips is probably a lot harder than college where you can mask those weaknesses with raw talent. Not saying Dennard is raw, but I’d believe it will be hard for him to get better at that. Too much of a project.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If the draft goes this way I want Pittsburgh to pick Eric Ebron. I believe he is going to be a monster and a nightmare for opponents. As much as I want almost every pick in the draft to be defense, this would be my pick. I really want Gilbert if he’s there, but it is unlikely that the Lions pass on him.

  • dkoy85

    Love the Fuller pick and would be my ideal 1st round move. I’m not sold on Evans… looked great at the combine but his tape andack or redzone production have me worried- he’s not Benjamin in the redzone.

    Gotta admit I know nothing about Smith and wanted CB and WR 1st and 2nd round pick but if he is as versatile as you say and a solid player I wouldnt mind it but preferrably in the 3rd- might change after I watch the tape.

    I think that S wont be much of a need this year because I think it will be the position focused on in FA with a solid veteran starter like Clark was and they just might sign Allen for depth so I’d rather see BPA with our 3rd.

    Replace your sixth with Archer ideally.

    7th round you could go DE Ramsey out of Boston and from Uniontown. Playing for the Steelers would be his dream. Before injuries thought to be 2nd to 3rd projection now might not even go undrafted. I hate that the Bengals got Burfict and if I see another defensive player go to a division rival that has the potential to be really good go to a divisional opponent I’ll be pissed


    How is he in off man? The Steelers play a lot of that correct?


    zone coverage sucks anyway. Any good NFL QB can destroy it.


    It seems the Steelers are the only team not getting away with it. I see a bunch of grabbing in other NFL games. My reaction is always “the Steelers would be flagged for that”.


    the Steelers drafted Hawthorne last year because of his ability to play press man. I think they would do more of it if they had the personnel.


    the Steelers don’t just play Zone.

  • Matt Manzo

    I wanted Burfict so bad!!! Last year it was Simon that went to the Ravens.
    I’m also not saying TSmith is a sure thing, I just got excited, but think it might be too unorthodox for Lebeau; hoping that Butler will be a little more rock n roll?
    I also forgot about a speedy RB, we need one of those too.
    Your also right about FA Safety, im crossing my fingers for TJ Ward.
    I’m not completely sold on Evans but the FO might be. Gilbert is deffinetly my true #1 but I’d like to see a trade down. With all of our needs this year we might be able to pull off a good smokescreen and get some one to jump?!

  • SteelersDepot

    Um, we post them to create conversation about players.

  • HereComesTheCollapse

    Agreed, the point is to generate discussion to help formulate ideas about what good picks would be for the team.

  • HereComesTheCollapse

    Me too, just not sure if he will still be there at 15.

  • HereComesTheCollapse

    My preference is that we don’t get another sub-6 foot corner, we need a taller CB to help offset the taller receivers/te that are proliferating in the league. Which CB do we currently have that can out jump tyler eifert?

  • dkoy85

    Forgot to say Id be happy with your draft though. As long as they get the best player at the positions of need with cb being priority and defense priority im going to be happy.

  • Brian Miller

    I see what you did there…nice.

  • Xclewsive

    Project? I don’t believe Dennard is a project at all. I’d say he’s a unfinished product.

  • Matt Manzo

    Thanx! I think there are so many scenarios that can work out for us this draft. But I’m starting to think Telvin Smith could be special. He could be the defensive presence for us that Troy has been for so long. But since we never get my favorite guys I’m prepared for some AFC North team to get him! Only glimmer of hope is that Bell was my guy last year and it felt so good!!!

  • dkoy85

    A zone scheme project yes because that is not what he is natural at. If you have to teach and wait and mold and create that is considered a project. So project? Yes project. But only if Steelers draft him to fit into their scheme.

  • Xclewsive

    Can someone please tell me why teaching a kid to keep the play in front of him is harder then telling he to turn and run with his man. I’m really not understanding that concept. Dennards has stated he’s played cover3 in college last season. Dropping in a zone has what to do with a players hips?

  • dkoy85

    Its annoying but in a scheme like the Steelers the corners rely heavily on the pass rush and when lacking any flaws in the CBs game are exposed.

  • Xclewsive

    Or the flip side is that Dennards ability to play a scheme that could ultimately help better the steelers pass rush. QB are to well prepared to defeat zone defenses in today’s game.

  • Brandon James

    But his skill set may not properly fit in with our scheme. That should be the #1 Priority, and with the 15th pick you don’t gamble.

  • dgh57

    Yes I know but do we play to much zone to need Dennard? Now if we’re moving to more press man coverage(of which I wouldn’t mind) then okay.

  • Brandon James

    Its because zone defense requires less athletic ability, but much more analyzing and reactionary play. With different receivers running in and out of your zone, there are times when you have to leave your zone, and its not just go to your man and stick with him. There is a huge break down of Asomugha’s play, and trust me if you don’t get the zone concepts and you don’t have the skill set then you should be playing man.

  • CW

    If that’s the plan then I’m fine with it as a draft move, but if they are sticking more with zone or even planning to have a play by play man/zone scheme where the coverage alters on the fly based on the read of the offense then drafting Dennard could be a serious issue if he can’t adjust to the zone scheme.

    That’s all I’m saying. We’ve all seen teams with corners not suited to their scheme and watched even impressive multiple Pro Bowl players fall apart when out of their particular comfort zone. Maybe he can play both schemes or the Steelers are planning to move to man coverage exclusively or mostly. Then he could be a great piece for the secondary.

    Otherwise… we could all be saying what a huge mistake taking Dennard was next year at this point if he can’t play the scheme effectively.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like Dennard but not for us…hs isnt that bigger cb that LeBeau likes in his defense. I could live with the pick though as he would bring an interesting wrinkle to our defense.

  • Don

    Agreed. Unless you bring pressure, which has been a problem in recent years.

  • Xclewsive

    Then that’s a plus for Dennard because it’s been stated that he doesn’t have elite athletic ability. It’s still harder for a CB to play man to man over zone. Zone’s either leave in a trail technique or the CB drives on the ball. Man that’s your guy all over the field that to me is a much harder assignment. I get that Deon and a few others made their comments, but I probably also believe they wouldn’t pass on Dennard for that either.

  • Tom

    Every mock draft article I read has the Steelers selecting a different player.

    That means most mock drafts are horribly inaccurate….right?

    Other than getting a little info on the potential players available…What’s the point? Am I missing something?

  • shawn

    i think the Seattle DBs are going to get a dose of reality from the Refs early next year …. the cat is out of the bag and people are catching on about their tricks … i think the refs will make an example out of them early so they back off that style !!!

    they did a nice job at taking advantage of it while it lasted

  • shawn

    Seattle used the notion that the refs CAN’T and WON”T call PI EVERY play … which i have to say is pretty smart … but that will change this year i think … they will be made an example out of !