By Josh Svetz
CBS Sports Senior Writer Pete Prisco isn’t afraid to go against the grain with his predictions.
From calling Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu the most overrated player in the NFL in 2011, to stating the Indianapolis Colts would go 1-15 in 2012 (they went 11-5), Prisco is known to make bold predictions that challenge the norm.
In Prisco’s latest mock draft, he continues this trend by leaving Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard completely out of the first round.
Some might be thinking the reason he did this is because he only has one or two cornerbacks being selected in the first round. Well, you would be wrong if you did as Prisco has five cornerbacks being taken before Dennard. This may come as a shock to most, as Dennard not long ago was considered one of the three best cornerbacks in this year’s draft class.
In Prisco’s mock, he has the Detroit Lions taking the first cornerback in Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. The second cornerback off the board actually goes to the Steelers, as Prisco has Ohio State’s Bradley Roby being taken as the 15th overall pick.
After this, the Steelers division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns both take cornerbacks according to Prisco with Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller going to the Bengals with the 24th overall pick and TCU’s Jason Verrett going to the Browns with the 26th overall pick.
The final cornerback Prisco has being selected in round one may surprise you as he has the San Francisco 49ers taking Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste with the 30th overall pick. Jean-Baptiste has gotten the least amount of pre draft buzz of the cornerbacks listed above.
In fact, NFL.com’s Mike Mayock does not have Jean-Baptiste in his top five cornerbacks and actually has Dennard listed as the top cornerback in this year’s draft. Likewise, SportsIllustrated.com’s latest prospect position rankings have Jean-Baptiste outside of their top ten cornerbacks in the draft which goes to a third-round projection.
While this is only one mock draft, seeing Prisco exclude Dennard from the first round was surprising and I believe the Michigan State product will be taken before Jean-Baptiste at the very least. As for Roby being a Steeler, it is possible as he visited with Pittsburgh last week and his draft stock is apparently rising.
With a more weeks to go until the draft, fans and experts can only speculate as to who will be taken. In terms of if Prisco’s mock is valid, sure it is, but just remember, this is coming from the same guy who said former Steeler linebacker Stevenson Sylvester could be a “starter” for a team when he hit free agency.