On Friday, CBS Sports analyst Pat Kirwan released his latest mock of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and after previously having the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 15th overall selection, he now has them taking Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard this go-around.
The Steelers have many needs but if Dennard falls this far, one of the biggest needs is resolved. Rookies don’t usually start in Pittsburgh but this guy will, and he’ll be there for a long time.
That’s a pretty bold statement by Kirwan as it certainly will be tough for Dennard to crack the starting lineup right away. In his defense, however, he doesn’t say when the Michigan State product will start, so that gives him 16 weeks of leeway.
Dennard seems to be the flavor of the month right now when it comes to the major media draftniks and it’s understandable as to why so many are going that direction. The Steelers have already had Dennard in for a pre draft visit and they were present for his Pro Day in addition.
In case you missed it, here is an interesting nugget that Dave-Te Thomas of Scouting Services included in his full player profile of Dennard.
The media has attached the moniker of “Air Traffic Controller” on the senior cornerback and dubbed the territory that Dennard covers as a “No Fly Zone.” The Spartan defender has more than lived up to that lofty billing. During his senior campaign, Dennard had 118 passes targeted into his area, allowing just eighteen of those tosses to be completed (15.25%) for 104 yards, as he recorded fourteen passes defended (four interceptions, ten deflections) and rerouted/jammed his man coverage assignments away from 67 of those tosses (56.78%).
Those receivers produced an average of 5.78 yards per reception vs. Dennard, the lowest figure by any starting defensive back since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era began in 1998. He also held the opposition to an average of 0.88 yards per pass attempt. That pass attempt figure is the lowest ever recorded by any college player since The NFL Draft Report, a scouting information service, began compiling in-depth statistical reports for the league in 1968. In fact, only two other players went through an entire season allowing less that one yard per pass attempt.
The Steelers have certainly done their homework on Dennard, so now we have to wait and see if he falls to them in the first round.