Categorized | 2014 Draft, Article

CBS Sports Analyst Pat Kirwan Has Steelers Taking CB Darqueze Dennard In Latest Mock Draft


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.

Kirwan writes:

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.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Geoff Cordner

    Okay, hasn’t it been said more than once that Dennard’s skill set doesn’t match Steelers scheme well? Am I the only one getting tired of Steelers drafting players that don’t fit their scheme well.. ala Ziggy Hood. I hope the Steelers never have to draft any higher than they do this year (unless they acquire a pick via trade) .. but, man, I hope they draft a player that can fit right in with the team…

  • Kenneth Wilt

    His stats look great. That being said, he had 3 games against ND, Mich, and OSU. None of those teams have a QB who could get the ball to their #1 receiver if they had to. The stats may be a little distorted.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    He isn’t a bad fit scheme wise if he is replacing Ike, who often is left on an island man to man. He could be a bad fit for the other CB spot who is often 10 yards off the LOS, unless we are willing to still let him play press coverage.

  • Geoff Cordner

    Ah! So, best case is that he turns into an Ike Taylor that can catch the ball..!

  • dkoy85

    That’s not what he said. He can be an all-pro CB that will do what he’s good at, and it just so happens our defense has been utilizing a guy in similar fashion in Taylor. Plus Taylor wasn’t too damn bad. If he could catch the ball he would have made the probowl many times.

  • dkoy85

    Best case is he turns into an All-Pro shut down CB.

  • cp72

    Yawn…I’m tired of the speculation. Gotta wait three more freaking weeks. Thanks Roger.

  • Lamarr56

    Sounds like a pretty damn good scenario of you ask me.

  • 804Stiller

    I’ve always wondered why a good man to man corner doesn’t fit our scheme. I would think a defensive coordinator would love to have a corner who could potentially lock up one of the other team’s best receivers. I know Ike did that at times. It sounds like he is a willing tackler too. I woundn’t be upset if he fell to us at 15.

  • Jason

    Look at the bright side. This gives us enough time to fall in and out of love with every potential Steelers draft pick. I’ll admit at first I would have done back flips for Dennard now I’m not that sure. Or am I

  • Jason Brant

    If he falls to us, we take him. Same as Jones last year.

  • dgh57

    After starting off ice cold Kirwin finally gets it right!

    We could use a guy like Dennard who is good in press coverage to jam and reroute WRs which I think would work best in helping take away the short passing game. Teams would have to think twice before they decide to nickel and dime us down the field with short passes if we had a CB with that skill set. With Taylor about done now’s the time to start the grooming process at the CB position.

  • http://www.thesportsbonanza.com/ TheSportsBonanza

    Yeah I would take that scenario in a heartbeat

  • Steve

    Cause we don’t have a person that can cover man to man. Ike use to but that went to hell last year and they scraped that idea. With crossing routs and 3 or 4 receivers bunched together, that is done to open up people. Am all for us drafting the best player available.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    You change your scheme, if Deon was coming out this year, you change your scheme. Kevin Colbert-”If you have red paint, paint the barn red”

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Not his fault, Steelers make a habit of beating rookie QB’s does it mean they aren’t good? Play who lines up across from you

  • Ike Evans

    Smh….this moving the draft 3 weeks back business is WACK

  • Jason

    Yes this would work in theory. However, I am convinced that Lebeau genuinely doesn’t know you’re allowed to press receivers.

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers need to evolve and fans are stuck in the dark ages of “3 yards and a cloud of dust” The league is about pressure and making windows tighter for QBs. When the Steelers beat the Cheatriots in 2011, what defense did they play? Press man coverage! Dennard skillset helps the defense evolve and not continue to have to play 5+ yds off the LOS.

  • James Kling

    Yeah, it’s like being told you have to wait 3 weeks to take a dump. “Here, have a big bowl of Fiber One while you’re waiting!”

  • http://thereactionblog.com Michael Stickings

    If he’s there, I’m convinced he’ll be the pick (unless Evans falls). But something tells me he won’t be, and so we’re back to a WR: Benjamin (who should be a TE, as DTT said) or Beckham.

    But what do I know? The more I read about the draft, about the prospects, the less certainty I have about anything.

    Seriously, can we just have the draft already?

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Not blaming him, but the stats have to be looked at from a proper perspective. Yep, lowest total since 1998. Great, but just understand that the stat may be misleading. Is it his fault? No. Does that mean we should draft him? Not necessarily.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    The intelligent man knows that the more he learns the more he comes to realize how little he actually knows. So no one can know everything about everything. Anyway, sometimes that’s the way I feel about the draft. You know damn well that once those surprise picks start coming in then everything will change during those 3 days and even afterwards….. signing UDFA’s after. So I figure I will just relax and enjoy.

  • Matt Manzo

    I just saw a mock with us taking Nix in one, with Gilbert, Dennard and Evans still on the board! Disgusting!

  • dennisdoubleday

    That was 1968, not 1998. Very impressive.

  • 804Stiller

    True…….In regards to Ike, it’s hard to say whether his struggles last season were due to “age” or just the “ebbs and flows” of his career. Man, Ike has struggled in the past. He has been benched before and bounced back. Last year he gave up a rack of yards to Josh Gordon when we had the game in control and gave up a plethora of yards against Megatron (but he torches almost everyone.) He has shown the ability to bounce back though. So, I wouldn’t be surprise if 24 has a solid year for us and mentors his replacement.

  • Weiss Chad

    He will be best cb steelers have had since Blount if not best they ever had

  • Weiss Chad

    We have a need at cb.this guy is the best cb to come out since prime time .I’m willing to bet the farm he’s gonna be better than Taylor ever was

  • Brendon Glad

    That would surprise me, and slightly disappoint me. I think several better CB’s who fit into what the Steelers do with their CB’s will be available later. Deion Sanders said Dennard is a “press corner only”. And the Steelers usually have their CB’s off. So either I’m wrong on how the Steelers play, they are changing how they play, or it will be another poor fit at DB like we’ve been well too known to do. Or Deion is wrong, which he almost never is when he analyzes CB’s.

  • Brendon Glad

    Spot-on Geoff Cordner.

  • dkoy85

    If Dennard is as special as his stats show then I’d bet they do a little tinkering to allow him to do what makes him great- Kinda like Polamalu.

  • dkoy85

    The interesting/scary thing about Dennard is how physical he is. It could go a couple ways- either he gets flagged or they let him play. The Seahawks got away with murder at times last year, including Sherman, and he is considered to be the best in the league- actually the unit as a whole was the best.

    I don’t know how Dennard will pan out because I just don’t have the tape or first hand knowledge of him, but it is VERY hard to ignore his statistics and hard not to fall in love with his physicality. If he’s there at 1.15 he’ll probably be the best player available and it just so happens to be a position of need.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think the Lions are the ones goin CB before us, right?
    Everyone says they’re goin Gilbert, but isn’t it possible they too think Dennard is better? I think they could, local boy too!
    I’d be fine with either but isn’t Gilbert’s strength man coverage too?
    I really want one of those 2 at #1 cuz I think it allows everything else to fall in place.
    CB at 1 and another later. WR, DE, LB in 2 and 3. CB, WR, DT, LB in 4 and 5.
    There are so many options and scenarios that I think we’ll be fine either way but I feel better with a CB in 1.
    It’s my favorite position and with TE I think the most difficult to play! We need solid DB play and I think we’ll get 2 good DBs this draft!
    IS IT MAY YET?!!!

  • Matt Manzo

    I think the winds of change are blowing!
    I’m tired of the 20 yards back off coverage, and I think Lebeau is too. I also think Butler is gaining some influence and will be a bit more aggressive!
    I’m assuming he’s still the heir.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think the winds of change are blowing!
    I’m tired of the 20 yards back off coverage, and I think Lebeau is too. I also think Butler is gaining some influence and will be a bit more aggressive!
    I’m assuming he’s still the heir.

  • srdan

    lol

  • srdan

    Hopefully this evolution is fortified as we transition from Lebeau

  • srdan

    he certainly will have to wise up on sundays if he doesn’t want to alter his game.

    I love his leadership.

  • Xclewsive

    LeBeau isn’t the issue it’s the talent on defense. Every thing that happen to the Steelers defense last season outside of the Cheatriots game was on the players. Titans, Bears, Bengals, Vikings, Raiders and Dolphins all were games that players were out of position or missed a tackle that resulted in a big play. LeBeau isn’t without his faults but last season “talent” and be fundamentally sound doomed the Steelers.

  • srdan

    I disagree. Keenan lewis left pittsburgh and is playing man every down for the saints. press man. He was asked ot do that here 1% of the time. That talent was here but not utilized.

    I think the steelers in general come in with a gameplan to wear teams down. And they would ratehr give up 15 play drives, than a bomb. This seems to be the philosophy, thus the cushion.

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers don’t play a “bend don’t break” defense. The Steelers are about creating tight windows for QBs to try and complete passes. The Steelers defense isn’t meant to be on the field a lot and last year through the defenses own doing along the the offense shortcomings. That over exposed the defense and it wore down. Keenan Lewis did himself a disservice by not playing till his contract year. The Steelers gave him a chance and he wasted it away in Denver during the preseason.

  • mlc43

    A lot of college DBs strength is man. They play more of it there. Not to say that zone is never played. Gilbert though, is thought to have the skill set to be better in the Steelers zone speed. He’s much faster and has very quick closing ability. That’s what’s typically needed in our D. Dennard has concerns about his quick closing ability, long speed and he is awful handsy. Anyway, that seems to be the reasoning behind why some think Gilbert would fit better for us than Dennard. Me, I doubt either falls to us but I would be happy with either one.

  • mlc43

    The Steelers defense WAS about shutting the run down completely and LIMITING big plays in the passing game. You don’t create many tight windows playing off the WR. Yes, sometimes the drop zone can surprise some QBs, but when dealing with good ones, they got picked apart. What the Steelers defense has been about the past couple of years. Who knows? Maybe just trying to survive lol.

  • srdan

    I’d have to disagree again. The Steelers philosophy is to control teh TOP. First stop the run, then stop the pass by keepiing it in front of them. We match up poorly wiht the cheatriots because they do the dink and dunk, which our defense is designed to give up and our usually sure tackling corners make tackles. The tight windows is true, but all that is zone.

    You still didn’t account for Lewis. you said that we dont have teh talent to play press man, but as soon as one of our young corners left, that is all he does. This leads me to believe that there is capability on the team, we just choose to keep everything in front of us with a cushion. Except fo rthat one game against the patriots, which also showed that the talent was there to do it.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah, I’m with you…if we are going to go to more press coverage, then I would have a far less problem with Dennard as the pick. I always kind of wondered if Ike Taylor may have been a more explosive CB in that technique. (ie, a cover 2 press corner)…where his responsibility is extreme physicality at the LOS…then releases and faces the QB and oncoming receivers into his zone. He tends to be able to catch balls better when he’s squared up, as opposed to catching balls on fades or sudden breaks on the ball. Plus he’s physical. And when you watch Richard Sherman’s combine drills, he REALLY struggled catching the ball on those types of drills…and look at him now. I don’t know, but I’m feelin’ ya matt manzo

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers had problems getting off the field last year. Not because of the zone they played but because players failed to make the necessary plays when required. Every teams philosophy to some degree is to control the clock and limited their defensive TOP. The Steelers need a pass rush and when they have one the defense is very good/great/elite. Last year the team lacked any consistent pass rush which left the secondary over exposed. I don’t care if the Steelers had Keenan Lewis the problems extended way beyond one player.

    The Saints were a man pressure defensive scheme before Keenan Lewis showed up. Its not like Keenan Lewis man coverage skills made the Saints alter there defense. I guess the Steelers could of taken the same stance they did with Worilds and applied it to Keenan Lewis. Salary cap issues probably restricted their ability to make that happen.

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers relied to much on there old philosophies on defense which put then in the predicament they are in now. They lack playmakers or very good players at key positions. ROLB is the key to the Steelers defense it’s been that way for 20 yrs. When that position is great to elite the defense is dangerous.

  • Weiss Chad

    I could be wrong but I’m guessing the steelers think he will fit there system if they brought him in for pre draft visit.Providing Evans and lewan are gone I can’t see them going any other way .I’m pretty sure Evans and lewan won’t be there

  • Steve

    The defensive problems cannot all be blamed on Ike. Clark had a dismal season and lost his job. With a year under the rookie LB’s and letting go of Woodley we will see if the D is better. Too many plays for over 10 yards killed us. The base D needs to be played more but in order to do that we need a more reliable front seven. Need to get back to Men doing their own job and not being out of position.

  • Steve

    Wow, better than Rod Woodson?!?!

  • Matt Manzo

    I’d rather have Gilbert! I’m hopin the Lions star falling in love with Dennard and Gilbert falls to us. Crazier stuff has happened!

  • Weiss Chad

    Rod Woodson is my favorite player of all time and yes

  • Kenneth Wilt

    No, they have been keeping the stats since 1968, but this is the best since 1998.

  • dennisdoubleday

    The 5.78 was the lowest since 1998. The 0.88 per attempt was the lowest ever, since they started in 1968

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