Sports Illustrated Draftnik Has Steelers Taking MSU CB Darqueze Dennard In Latest Mock Draft

We are staring to see a trend in the latest batch of mocks of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed free agent safety Mike Mitchell. Outside of Rob Rang of CBS Sports, the major media draftniks appear to be abandoning the notion of the Steelers taking a safety in the first round.

Don Banks of Sports Illustrated has now released his second mock draft version of the offseason and like Charles Davis of the NFL Network on Tuesday, he has the Steelers drafting Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard with the 15th overall selection in round one.

Banks writes:

The Mike Mitchell signing in free agency seems to eliminate safety as a first-round option, but the Steelers would still be wise to get younger in the secondary, where there’s a little too much experience on hand. Dennard is a pro-ready prospect and Pittsburgh could use more defensive backs who give Dick LeBeau’s defense a fighting chance against the likes of AFC North receivers A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith and Josh Gordon.

Banks is on point with his view of the Steelers and I suppose this will be the general thinking of other major media draftniks for the time being.

Two offensive targets the Steelers might have interest in, wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Eric Ebron, Banks has coming off the board a few picks before Pittsburgh is on the clock. In addition, Banks has three tackles being selected within the first nine picks along with three quarterbacks. We can only hope that the actual draft plays out like that.

Get after it now in the comments.

  • Biggie

    At this point I think our top three targets will be Evans, Gilbert and Dennard and Dennard will be the only one there at our pick, making him the likely selection. I prefer Gilbert but will be ok with Dennard. To early for Ebron in my opinion, he is a solid receiver but has alot to learn as a blocker, taking a TE that high he better be great in all facets. Other options might be Mosley, Tuitt depending on how FA continues. Nix is likely out of the picture now as is both Safeties.

  • dgh57

    Going defense with Dennard would be a smart move as he would add a little more toughness to our defense and a guy that has press coverage skills something we don’t have to much of. We also might be adding Sammy Watkins to the AFC North if the Browns find him to tempting to pass on.

  • I still think Mosley would look great in the Black and Gold next to Timmons, but it would be hard to pass up on a top CB if he’s there, and certainly Dennard would be a solid pick. I generally agree with the comment about Ebron below. I’d love to have a receiving TE not just to groom for the post-Miller era but also to be able to run out two TEs like the Pats and Bengals have had success with, but it’s not at this point an urgent necessity. And while a stud WR would be nice, I have full confidence that the Steelers can find a couple of next-tier WRs later in the draft. They’ve had huge success with that in the past and of course, as we all know, this is a loaded draft for WRs.

    Anyway, it’s good to see a prominent national draftnik say something smart and realistic about the Steelers and their needs, though Banks is usually good anyway.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Agree with most everything you said. Ebron is tricky because he’s not a true TE, he’s a hybrid TE. You have to think of him more as a WR. Look at it this way…

    Mike Evans (who is somewhat limited in his route running tree, cuts, etc.) is 6’4″ 225 pounds and runs a hand timed 4.50 forty.

    Eric Ebron is 6’4″ 250 pounds and runs a hand timed 4.50 forty.

    We could literally line Ebron up outside every single snap and have the same basic type WR as Evans.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I have to disagree a bit on Mosely. Is he a good LB? Yes. The problem is he’s best suited to play the SAME position Timmons is now playing (Mike ILB) not the Buck.

    Mosely is 6’3″ 234 and his tape shows somewhat of a weakness in getting off blocks. You can’t have that from a strong side Buck ILB. Plus he has some injury concerns, and Buck is an extremely physical position.

    If I’m drafting an ILB at 1.15 he better be a sure pro bowler. He better look like Patrick Willis or Luke Kuechly and Mosely is far from that IMO.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I agree that Dennard would be a good pick. Another option would be trading down a few spots, picking up another pick, and drafting Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech. I think he’s as good as Dennard. Then they can use the extra pick to trade up in the second round to get Tuitt. I’d be happy with that.

  • JohnB

    That paragraph that Banks wrote hits the nail on the head. Most importantly that last sentence. Do you feel comfortable with the talent we have now against top receivers in our division six games a year? and that’s just our division!

  • Very good points. Perhaps Mosley would be a more likely target if the Steelers managed to trade down. But of course if they could get a top CB they might not want to do that.

  • JohnB

    I share your love for Mosley as I think he’d be a good pick but the more I see of Dennard, the more I like. I hope it comes down to the two. As much as we need a receiving threat, we can attain one in the second round or even third.

  • SteelersDepot

    Ebron is less of a hybrid than you make him out to be. Sift extensively through his tape and you will see that he has some upside to him as an in-line TE. While not a great blocker, he’s better than what most give him credit for.

  • cencalsteeler

    This solidifies that the general outside consensus is that our secondary is the weakest link and should be addressed first and foremost. Hard to argue that one.

  • Ike Evans

    You really don’t know if mike is limited yet….A&M doesnt really run a lot of different routes and just because a guy didn’t do something in college do to scheme doesn’t mean they can’t. So I think for him the extent of his route tree remains to be seen because for a guy his size his hips are very fluid…unlike kelvin Benjamin who actually is route tree limited

  • blackandgoldBullion

    You make a great point and that’s one of the reasons why I believe he will truly be a beast. Ebron will be a nightmare to match up against, especially in the red zone. Put him out there with Heath and there are unlimited possibilities.

  • mlc43

    If we go offense with the 1st pick this is the route I would like to go. There are some other nice options at TE later in the draft…C.J. Fiedorowicz is one. He ran a 4.76 to Ebron’s 4.6 but at 6’6″ and 265 he might be just the answer for replacing Heath.

  • Jay Jaber

    I’m calling it right now the steelers will not draft a cb in the first round. Idk why you guys are saying our secandary needs an upgrade so bad, we do need to start grooming our next cb to replace Ike next year but not at the cost of a first round pick we have a very good secandary I think Cortez will show us why the steelers chose him instead of keenen. We have William gay a really good back up and Ike who can still get it done, I saw last year he really wasn’t that bad as everybody made out to be. Everybody is forgetting we have shamarko he can play corner he proved that last year before he got injured. We have three solid corners and a safety who will play mostly corner(dime). We will draft a corner but it will in the third round steelers have been very sucsessful drafting cbs in the third. So I predict mike evans will fall to 15 and we will scoop him up. And DL or CB in the second. I really like Shane scove from Stanford if he falls to in the second we will take him

  • Jay Jaber

    And the weakest link to our defense last was not the CBs it was the safty and the DL

  • mlc43

    Bro, I’m sorry. Our Secondary needed a serious upgrade. Ike will be serviceable for one more year if they don’t ask too much from him…Serviceable. Allen has a lot more to prove and I’m hoping he does just that this year. Gay is a Back up…Back up and while he played well last year in that role we’ve all seen him not play all that well. We may not draft a CB in 1 but if they have a chance to pick up Gilbert or Dennard they would be idiots to not do so.

  • Chad H

    I believe Fuller is a better fit in the Steelers system. I am one that thinks Dennard is over valued at 1:15 for us. He is a better fit for Vikings or Lions than the Steelers. The guy has talent but is not a zone cover corner.

  • Xclewsive

    Dennard would be a smart move moving forward considering the Steelers haven’t had much of a pass rush. So having a press man CB would enable the Steelers to send more pressure. If Dennard is the pick what has to be taken into consideration also is that there are still above average CBs still on the roster.

    Ebron schematically does so many things for the Steelers offense. While some knock his blocking it’s decent enough for now as he could learn from Heath. That couldn’t be a better combination for the Steelers offense moving forward. That 12 Offense would be crazy, especially when it comes to passing Big Ben would have a wealthy of targets. Wheaton/Brown outside, Ebron/Miller up the seams and Le’Veon Bell in the flat. Good Gosh that’s a huge headache for a DC.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I like Fiedorowicz a lot too. He could be had in the 3rd round, I believe. He’s a very good blocker and Spaeth will be gone next year, which means no depth at TE.

  • dgh57

    I like Fuller also but if they should decide to draft Dennard it will be because they want to inject some more physicality and press coverage skills into their defense to give offenses something else to worry about. IMO not a bad idea.

  • dgh57

    I agree!

  • Chad H

    I agree with you and I think Fuller offers all that. I also think there is more upside with him over Dennard. Plus he is an inch taller and a little faster. I believe he is a better athlete than Dennard. IMO he is the second best corner in this draft.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m with you! I even see us getting two CBs in the first 4 rounds.

  • steelster

    well put

  • Ernest

    I prefer Fuller but I’m not sure steelers take him. Didn’t see anything saying Steelers brass being at his pro day today. I figured if their considering him then I would at least expect carnell lake to be there.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    You have to remember Ebron put on significant weight in an effort to improve his blocking. In my opinion he probably should be playing more around 230-235 pounds to optimize his speed/quickness.

    There is no doubt Ebron has upside as a blocker. I just think you have to choose which is more important: speed or blocking. And have him play at the appropriate weight.

    I personally would have him play at about 235 pounds.