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Steelers CB Ike Taylor Believes FSU WR Kelvin Benjamin Is A “Game Changer”


By Josh Svetz

Ike Taylor has some pretty good first hand knowledge of one of the Pittsburgh Steelers potential draft targets.

Taylor has been training this offseason with Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in Orlando, FL and the Steelers cornerback has been shown a glimpse of his talent.

Taylor reflected on his impressions of Benjamin during Trib Live Radio’s “The Ike Taylor Show” Tuesday morning.

“He (Benjamin) plays faster than his 40 time,” said Taylor. “He has something you can’t coach in height and size. He is aggressive and plays receiver with a defensive mentality, he has great ability in the red zone as well as being a deep play threat, and I think he could be a game changer.”

While Taylor certainly doesn’t have any say in who the Steelers draft, one would imagine that he’s likely shared his thoughts on the young wide receiver with Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert.

Furthermore, Tomlin and Colbert both had a visit with Benjamin and his teammate, running back Devonta Freeman, last Monday and then attended the Florida State Pro Day the following day.

Recently, several of the major media draft prognosticators have the Steelers selecting Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard if they end up staying put at the 15th overall pick. However, if the Steelers decide to trade down, then Benjamin could be the selection if still available.

This past week at the NFL owners’ meetings, Colbert hinted at his openness to trading down, but countered that by saying, this upcoming draft will feature many teams trading down; at least that’s how he evaluates the situation.

With that said, trading down wouldn’t be bad for the Steelers, as they have many needs to fill this off-season and grabbing extra picks on top of their nine picks already could constitute a trade up later in the draft, like they did with safety Sharmarko Thomas last year.

Overall though, while trading down could be an option, it may be more difficult than most imagine.

As for Taylor’s thoughts on Benjamin, this isn’t the first time he’s endorsed a player that was brought in by Pittsburgh.

Last year, Taylor knew quite a bit about Florida State linebacker Vince Williams after training with him in Florida under the watchful eye of renown trainer Tom Shaw before the draft.

Only time will tell if the Steelers wind up drafting Benjamin, but for now, Taylor does offer up an interesting evaluation of one of the top prospects in the draft, at a position that figures to be a big need.

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  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Is it just me or do somebody else also think Steelers will on this draft day, 1st round list the players they’d rather have than play against? I don’t even grade Benjamin that high but… if the Steelers truly believe that its better to have him than playing against him and the Ravens (yes, they want him too) then I guess I wouldn’t be too against him at 15. I’d rather have other players but I wouldn’t be angry. He most definitely draw close comparison to Plaxico Burress.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Reason I mentioned Aaron Donald on other post because I’m afraid if he fall, Bengals will grab him. Totally unfair haha

  • RW

    If only we had 5 first round picks…

  • Joe Gulaskey

    If Dennard, Gilbert, and Evans aren’t there I would be on board with this. I would rather have Benjamin then Ebron or any OL in the first round.

  • John C

    Agreed…..I think OL with any of our first 4 rounds would be a waste and I am not sold on Ebron.

  • RW

    Ebron could drop to the second round with his pro day performance. Stupider things have happened… if he’s there at 2.15 I’d take him.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Obviously, if he works his ass off Benjamin could be special, as he has all the physical assets, so once they talk to him they will know if he has his head on straight or is a shathead. But I am hoping the Steelers can set up meetings with guys that would be great trade fodder. If they meet with guys like this and Donald, etc. that would be great.

    Someone will drop to them, and a team like SF, with their 12 draft picks, might come calling for a trade. That would be ideal for the Steelers. I am still praying for the trade down scenario. Cleveland has a lot of picks. Who else has lots of picks this year?

  • Steelers12328882

    I was looking at a mock draft where it suggested the QBs are not as highly rated as everyone has been talking them up, and only 1 QB was taken in the 14 picks before the Steelers. In this scenario a few players the Steelers(fans) covet were already gone by the time we pick, like Evans, Ebron, Gilbert, Dennard, even Fuller and the 2 safeties. The only players left that seem under our radar were Barr, Lewan, Mosley, Nix, Lee, Benjamin, Hageman and Tuitt. The mock had us taking Hageman, but out of those players I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Steelers take Benjamin. Ideally the Steelers would trade down in this instance, but Colbert suggested that’s not likely to happen.

  • kev4heels

    I hear ya’. But you can’t draft like that. You have to take BPA as it bisects with needs. Anyone that says that take a player strictly on BPA is lying. If he happens to line up with what you need – great.
    I can see us taking Benjamin at 1.15. I mean, most have him in the early-20’s anyway. Maybe we can trade down and still get him?

  • srdan

    no chance

  • dkoy85

    Honestly I get the feeling the Steelers and a few other teams, including the Ravens at 1.17, are higher on him than most believe. I really don’t believe he’ll make it past the Ravens. I’m not one to say grab him so the Ravens cant, but I will say grab him at 1.15 if you like him. I believe Benjamin is better than Evans but Evans’ combine and pro day have scouts overly high on him. Benjamin is going to be a beast and his redzone production cannot go unnoticed. He has the ability to replace Cotcherys TD numbers from last year… as a rookie.

  • mlc43

    Maybe he seems faster than his 40 time to Ike because Ike still thinks he’s fast. joke

  • mlc43

    I’d bet your panties that at least 2 QBs are gone by 15 and 3 wouldn’t surprise me.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    The Steelers “reached” for Bell last year in the second, as many had him projected as at least a third-round prospect. With Benjamin, some have him falling to the second, which could happen, but more than likely, he’ll go later in the first.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Steelers grab him, and really, it wouldn’t be that big of a reach if they think he’s a difference maker.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I’m with you that trading down is NO guarantee the Steelers get Benjamin. I believe that if they want him, they’ll simply select him at 15. Trading down may leave them choosing someone like Jordan Matthews instead (another solid prospect), but you don’t leave your top prospects to chance (if Benjamin is indeed one).

  • Jason Vancil

    This kid is going to have to work on the “details” of his game. I think he will be a “teaser” and never reach his full potential. I wouldn’t touch him before the 2nd round.

  • AndyR34

    Here is the key: “if they think he’s a difference maker”! While I’m just a fan with no capability to thoroughly examine game film and judge any player’s true worth to the Steelers, it is not far-fetched to believe that Benjamin could…not will, but could…be a difference-maker as a rookie. I also think that, used properly, Ebron could be one as well, so only the coaches and the FO are in a position to make that judgement as to which player is the best selection for now and the long-term. It is unlikely that any of the defensive players, although skilled in their own right, will be difference-makers as rookies. They are more likely to be contributors at best in the later part of the season.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Pats will snatch him up in first rd if he makes it that far i wonder if he know this and did poorly on purpose

  • srdan

    You are kidding right?

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I agree with you. Dennard, for instance, is not going to be shutting down Green, Smith, and Gordon his rookie year. More than likely, he’ll come in on sub packages and make his biggest contributions as a special teams player. Benjamin, on the other hand, has a much better chance of seeing the field 10-15 snaps per game, depending.

  • Bartholomew Wimer

    I just did a draft with that exact scenario…
    1 HOU Blake Bortles
    2 CLE* Johnny Manziel TRADE #4, #35, & #83 to STL
    3 JAX Jadaveon Clowney
    4 STL*^ Jake Matthews
    5 OAK Sammy Watkins
    6 ATL Khalil Mack
    7 TB Greg Robinson
    8 MIN Teddy Bridgewater
    9 BUF Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
    10 STL* Mike Evans TRADE #13 & #83 to DET
    11 TEN Justin Gilbert
    12 NYG Aaron Donald
    13 DET*^ Darqueze Dennard
    14 CHI Anthony Barr
    15 MIA* Taylor Lewan TRADE #19 & #81 to PIT
    16 DAL Kony Ealy
    17 BAL C.J. Mosley
    18 NYJ Eric Ebron
    19 PIT*^ Kelvin Benjamin
    20 ARZ Calvin Pryor
    21 GB Louis Nix
    22 CIN* Kyle Fuller TRADE #24 & #123 to PHL
    23 KC Marqise Lee
    24 PHL*^ Timmy Jernigan
    25 SD Dee Ford
    26 SF* RaShede Hageman TRADE #30 & #94 to CLE
    27 NO Odell Beckham Jr.
    28 CAR Zack Martin
    29 NE Jace Amaro
    30 CLE*^ Allen Robinson
    31 DEN Xavier Su’a Filo
    32 SEA Austin Seferian-Jenkins

    After doing this mock and ending up with Benjamin, I started to get excited about what Big Ben could do with a huge talented target. The offense could be unstoppable. Over half of these first round players don’t pan out anyways, so if you see someone you like, don’t worry about how others have him ranked. Having done this whole mock, I now feel it would be legitimate to take him at 15.

  • cp72

    I would bet my house Ike still runs a 4.5.

  • joeyp

    That is why you don’t read Yahoo Sports mock drafts. That was the biggest pipe dream mock I had ever read.

  • cp72

    6’5 240….running in the 4.5s. The “details” are not as important for getting open as they would be for a 6′ 200 lb guy.

    This kid could catch 8 tds and only need to learn a fade, post, and crossing route.

  • dgh57

    Don’t see us drafting a WR in the 1st rd. when the position has already been addressed in FA. They’ll be plenty of WRs to choose from after the 1st rd.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Moore simply gives the Steelers veteran depth with Cotchery’s departure. He is not the future of the Steelers’ receiving corps. WR was a need before Cotch left, and it remains just as big a need now that he’s been replaced.

    If Benjamin is “their guy,” they’ll take him. They don’t just want “a WR,” they want the guy they want. Bell was their guy last year. And if KB is that this year, they’ll take him.

  • treeher

    I’ve stated before I’d rather have a CB with my first pick … but after realizing that we have three receivers under 6′, I’d sure like a big one. It will be interesting to see what Stillers do. Might come down to BPA between CB and WR.

  • Jeff

    Ike’s downfall has been his hands, not his speed… The guy ran a 4.18 coming out of college.. He’s slowing down, yeah, but for a very long time he was responsible for the opposition’s best wide receiver.. So I think Colbert/Tomlin are a little more open to hearing what he has to say about prospects than you might think.

  • Jollyrob68

    What’s you backup plan if Jets or Ravens draft him? Mine would be Kyle Fuller

  • mlc43

    Did we just ignore the word joke under my comment.? Lighten up peeps.

  • dgh57

    More like Gilbert or Dennard is their guy as there’s a bigger need at the CB position. I know that Moore takes the place of Cotchery but as I already said the WR position can still be filled in the 2nd or 3td rounds.

  • Steelers12328882

    lol I like all mock drafts. I think they’re fun for everyone from experts to amateurs, because really no one has a clue as to what might happen. There’s always players dropping and rising from where they were projected and what I liked about this one was the value it placed on the CBs. Having 3 Cbs taken before the Steelers pick, especially Kyle Fuller, was an interesting thought.

  • cencalsteeler

    Sure, Kelvin is a game changer. Unfortunately for us, we need a game changer on the secondary side first. Plenty of nice wr’s can be had in the latter rounds.

  • dgh57

    I totally agree that CB is the way to go!!!

  • Toddy Bravo

    No question. I doubt her runs any slower than 4.45 these days. As others have said, he was Mike Wallace fast coming out of college. While players lose a step or two in their 30s, they don’t lose that much. Let’s also not forget that he trains like a madman in the offseason, specifically working on his speed and agility probably more than any other payer on the team.

  • Jason Vancil

    I prefer the tape to measurables. He may develop, but I would describe him as a bit of a project. Not what I want at 1.15.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I hear you too but we got Maurkice Pouncey much earlier than expected. Many projected him to go later, in 1st round to specific teams that we were drafting in front of. If we do feel like we like him enough and wouldn’t be there if traded back, yes its very possibly we will get him.

  • Robert Loveless Reid

    During last years camp, many said ike put up a couple of 4.4’s while racing the youngsters on the team!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    This is a very interesting point. What if Benjamin ran a 4.50 at the combine? And Evans ran a 4.60? How much would that change their perceived rankings?

  • Ike Evans

    I never say trade back NEVER..but this year I think they will

  • Ike Evans

    Gi!lbert and dennard may not be there with Detroit, st. Louis, tennessee, and buffalo being CB needy picking in front of us

  • Ike Evans

    Holy shit the eagles just released desean jackson

  • Jeff

    I read that as Ike was a joke, not that you were joking… My bad! … a few additional words woulda made up a nice, understandable sentence :)

  • alex

    the smart team in need of a QB will draft ‘best players’ in round 1, then go for QB in round 2 like Carr or Garopollo

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I think the same the same thing can be said of any position. Plenty of good CB’s in later rounds. Plenty of good 3-4 DE’s in later rounds. Etc.

    We “need” game changers at like 5 positions. My big issue is points. What players can affect the points scored in any given game (on offense or defense). We need CBs who can stop opposing WR’s from catching TD passes. Or we need WR’s/TE’s that can catch touchdowns.

    I’m okay with front 7 defenders as long as they get after the QB. I don’t see a lot of those that fit our scheme/needs around the 1.15 range. So I think a CB or WR/TE is the most impactful choice.

  • Donte Williams

    i have to chime in on this whole WR talk. I can dig Benjamin hell i actually liked him when i watched him play but i also like Dennard the moment i seen him play i was like man if the Steelers can get him we will have our shut down corner we havnt had since Rod. back to WR though I can see Robinson from PSU on the team he is 6.2 runs a 4.5 or 4.4 good hands and is a big target. I would to go CB-WR in that order then in the 3rd get your skat back or that LB from FSU who i also love. i dont think Archer will fall to our 3rd pick at #97 but if he was there snatch him. also when was the last time Steelers took a WR in the 1st round? wasnt patterson sitting there last year at 16 and we passed on him?

  • Ike Evans

    I want a corner but I been saying they may not be there so what if dennard and gilbert are gone because that’s very possible….I don’t like robinson on tape…he reminds me of limas sweed…he has a hard time getting any separation from recievers…but he’s big and hackenerg didn’t have anyone else to throw to

  • Donte Williams

    agree if gilbert and dennard are one and fuller goes to Chicago then Benjamin may be the man I dont want Evans nor Ebron and Watkings isnt getting out of the top 5. so Benjamin good pick up, Dee Ford or Eonly or however you spell his name. cause there are still good corners after the top 3 verrit who i like from TCU Roby may be ok with the likes or lake and lebeua teaching him techiniqu. and is Desir a WR or CB i think he is a WR 6’5 and ran a 4.3 or i could be thinking of the dude from Pittsburgh State he was very impressive at the combine. i have fiath the Steelers are going to get back to that Steelers ball and will get a CB or two. and lets not forget we still have Justin BRown who wer drafted last year on the team think is is 6’4 and Moye is another one the question will be can they blossom

  • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

    pretty sure Holmes was the last time a receiver was taken in the first by the Steelers.

  • Joe Gulaskey

    Just a reminder Ike endorsed Tayvon Austin last, said he was going to be a special kid. Let that be your judge for how to take these comments.

  • charles

    With an anemic pass rush, I don’t understand your draft strategy. Our offense was playoff good last year and with the addition of Munchak should be stronger this year. The fellow from the Chargers is a little disapointing, but reserve judgement until we can see him perform w Steelers coaching. It is clear that our DL took at least a depth hit in FA. The DL is in emergency status with only the draft left to upgrade.

  • Joe Gulaskey

    You are right our DL needs upgraded through the draft, but both Hood and Heyward were not contributors their first 2 years really. I don’t think the Steelers will take a DE in the first round because regardless they will have to break down that player and turn them into a 3-4 end that occupies linemen and holds their gaps. The Steelers have two DEs that they are high on from last year, Arnfelt and Nick WIlliams. Arnfelt even saw some snaps at the end of the year last year. If anything they will use a 4th round pick on a DE As for NT, I don’t see a NT in this draft worth a first or second round selection for the Steelers and their system. I am not a fan of Nix, I think he wants to be more of a 4-3 DT and not a 3-4 NT that plugs linemen. As for the anemic pass rush, you have to hope that J. Jones improves as a pass rusher this year or the Steelers badly over picked him in the first round and Worilds showed promise.

  • http://cityofchampionssports.com/ Josh Svetz

    Fair point, of course, Tavon Austin has shown glimpses of ability. Its only been a year, can’t write the book on him yet.

  • Joe Gulaskey

    I agree I think he is a player to watch this year. I think I miss typed that, I think Ike knows talent he wouldn’t make something up. The biggest thing about these comments are if Benjamin is working out with Shaw you know he is going to be in good shape, which is one of his red flags on the pre-draft report done by Dave on here.

  • mlc43

    No bro. I love Ike. Granted he has crappy hands and has lost a step. I still think he has a couple years in him…just not as our no 1 cb.

  • rey perez

    I love the idea of us drafting benjamin and theres a under the radar cb prospect that not alot of people are talking about and thats dontae johnson the guy is 6’2 and ran a 4.45 40 at the combine studied the kid a little and I think hes this year’s sleeper and if the steelers were to draft him it’d be ike replacement next year and would shore up our cb problem

  • Larry L. Ward

    By pick 1 15th 2 QBS will b taken,,, some will b happy, others won’t

  • charles

    Strongly agree with most of your reply. However the ‘system’ sometimes needs the rules broken. In this case it is draft class production. The free agency mania won’t allow for the four year production schedule. If the Steelers had the idea of Heyward, Kiesel, and Cam Thomas as the first line of attack, it will be a looong season.
    Doom and gloom aside, the Arnfeldt, Williams possibilities are exciting, Jones expectations are not just sky high, but neccesary if we are to have a successful season. The applicable truth though, is that it would be great to hit a home run on a defensive lineman and get 7 sacks and 10 pressures.

  • rey perez

    do can cb in this deep cb class

  • Steelers12328882

    Hey, looks like that Yahoo Sports mock draft wasn’t too far off, and it sure nailed the 1 QB scenario. Not bad for a pipe dream lol.

  • Steelers12328882

    You and the guest that up voted you owe me a pair of panties lol. Hope your wife is hot :D

  • joeyp

    LOL even the blind squirrel gets the nut sometimes brother. Mainly I was disagreeing that the Steelers would select Hageman. I am absolutely stoked they got Shazier he was my 3rd place wish list after Evans and Gilbert. So I am having a good day so far :)

  • Steelers12328882

    lol I just came back here to claim my panties from the other guy and saw your post. Cheers!

  • joeyp

    Be kind and share if mic43 comes through on his end of the deal.

  • mlc43

    Don’t make it sound like it was some crazy suggestion. First of all it was said months and months ago before the combine and workouts. Still..up until last night most “experts” thought the same thing lol. But you did call it so…gratz

  • Steelers12328882

    lol

  • Steelers12328882

    Cheers!

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