Stars Aligning For Steelers To Go Cornerback In Round One

In most recent years, by the time the draft had finally arrived, it seemed more often than not that a near consensus had been reached on who the Pittsburgh Steelers would ultimately draft. At least, that was my reading.

This seemed to be the case when they drafted Maurkice Pouncey in 2010, and Cameron Heyward the year after. Last year, if he was available, it seemed likely that Jarvis Jones would be the pick. David DeCastro was an exception because he fell much further than expected.

With this draft, however, there seems to be a consensus growing more around a position rather than a specific player as to where the Steelers are likely to be headed with their first-round selection, which this year happens to be the 15th overall.

That it seems more geared toward a position rather than a player this year is not particularly surprising, given the unusually deep draft class available, where a single prospect that stands head and shoulders above the rest isn’t as prominent at most positions, with the possible exception of Jadeveon Clowney.

The cornerback position is one of those positions not only with no clear front-runner but also with a fairly healthy group at the top, which could potentially yield as many as four, perhaps even five first-rounders, depending on how things play out.

The Steelers have done little to throw the media off the cornerback scent, either, having met or are scheduled to meet with most of the top prospects.

Darqueze Dennard was in for a pre-draft visit at the beginning of this month. Both Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were also in attendance for his Pro Day as well. As the draft approaches, he may indeed be honed in on as ‘the one’ destined for the Steelers.

Though not, as of yet, scheduled for a pre-draft visit, the Steelers did meet with Justin Gilbert during the Combine and they also attended his Pro Day. Kyle Fuller, gradually making his way up the list of mock drafts, is scheduled to be in for a pre-draft visit soon.

They’ve also brought in Bradley Roby and Jason Verrett for pre-draft visits, both of whom could squeeze into the back end of the first round. Roby has even been mocked to the Steelers in the first round at 15 once or twice, though crazy things tend to happen every now and then when it comes to analyzing mock drafts.

With Ike Taylor in his last season and very little depth behind Cortez Allen and William Gay, current personnel on hand dictate that the cornerback position must be addressed in significant fashion, and soon.

The Steelers’ pre-draft interests in many of the top prospects at the position strongly indicate that that is indeed a prime target area. The way the draft is likely to play out, there’s an excellent chance that at least one of the top three prospects will be available to them at 15. Are the stars beginning to align?

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Jason

    I really can’t make up my mind on any of these prospects. We are flooded with so much draft info that you could love or hate a guy based on 2 different “experts” analysis. Early on I thought if we could get Dennard I’d be doing backflips but now I’m reading as much negative as positive. One thing is for sure we need a corner early and probably one in the middle rounds (4-5). But we need a WR too and DE and I forgot a DT and yep a MLB almost forgot we’re thin at OLB, do we trust this O-line? Better get one of those too and a change of pace RB. Other than that not really many needs.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    This will be a make or break year for Cortez Allen. Either he is a future starter at CB and they will sign him to a long-term deal after the season or he is not the answer and they will need to replace both Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen, which means they really need to add CB this year to be ready for next year at this position. I personally like Allen, but I wouldn’t say he had a great year last year. I’m looking forward to seeing what he shows us this year. If he does well, we can’t let him go like we did Lewis. I would be happy with any of these guys coming out in the draft that you mentioned above Matt. There is really good quality depth at this position deep into the draft.

  • Brian Tollini

    I think Dennard is the right pick if available. Physical, high character, excellent awareness, and he played his best when it mattered the most.

  • Steven Bigrigg

    In addition to everything you’ve mentioned, he was one of the best players on arguably the best college defense last year.

  • Ahmad

    I may be in the minority here but I don’t believe the Steelers are going to draft a CB in the first round. I think its all a huge smokescreen to distract teams from their true target. Will a CB be picked in the early rounds? Probably so but don’t expect it to happen in the 1st round.

  • Tullydew

    I won’t be surprised to see Fuller be the pick at 15.

  • pittsburghsteelerz

    I tend to agree… most of those prospects are late first rounders they’re hoping are available in round two. The exceptions would be Dennard and Gilbert. There’s always the chance they’ll fall in love and have one of them as their best player on the board at 15 overall.

  • Jason Brant

    If he’s there, we take him. That would be two elite level defensive players in two years. I like it.

  • dkoy85

    I like Dennard and Fuller at 1.15- but I also like Benjamin and Tuitt. Our draft position is unique in that, because of the lack of standout players, and other than Dennard, it will seem like a reach grabbing anybody else. I’m a big fan of Fuller, but to me if Dennard is there they have to take him.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is THE draft to trade back in to get the most value out of our 1st round picks. However, there are plenty of “2nd tier” options I would be happy with at 1.15.

  • treeher

    What is their true target? So many needs that maybe it is best athlete available … CB is probably biggest need and there’s a bunch of good ones available, but they won’t last long. And a CB just might be BAA. I think they take a CB in first round.

  • Geoff Cordner

    You can imagine a solid undrafted player coming in to play ilb or olb or even a rough DE. But, do we see many undrafted CB become starters? Just not many of those type of players walking the planet. I’d say we draft 2 CBs and whomever we can’t fill during the seven rounds we grab as undrafted. Oh, I don’t know! Just draft already! This is taking forever.

  • Biggie

    Pick should be out either Gilbert or Dennard, dependent on who is there as they should be BPA and at a need. If neither is there BPA could be someone like Barr or Mosley, Don’t want to reach at either CB or WR as both are deep positions in the draft and should be hitting CB twice in the draft as well as after the draft for UDFAs. Would definitely prefer #1 ILB, #2 OLB or #1 or 2 DL over #3 or 4 CB or #3 or 4 WR.

  • dgh57

    We have missed on so many draft picks at the CB position since 2009 that if we don’t take one in the first round then history is more likely bound to repeat itself and we’ll have to settle for another 2nd tier CB like a J. Burnett, C. Butler, C. Brown, and Terry Hawthorne. Letting K. Lewis walk just compounded the problem at CB and some would argue if C. Allen has stepped up to be our #1 CB. We have the 46th pick in the 2nd round which means plenty of chances of a run being made on CBs.

  • Steelers58

    All those positions you listed as areas of need. Remember we r not gonna fill all the needs in one draft. And that s ok. It will take a few more drafts to build this roster into a solid team.
    Key to that is take the best player available in each round. We need to upgrade the talent on this team.
    Everybody is trying to do this in one draft, not gonna happen.
    Slow and steady wins the race. I find this period of time for the steelers exciting. We r in transition n building the next great team, especially the defense. I love when they find the building blocks in the draft.
    Wait till

  • PoKey21

    There is obviously a clear line drawn with the elite corner prospects in this draft and the rest of the Field. Gilbert, Denard, Fuller, Roby, and it seems Verrett sneers into the group. Obviously there could be sleepers in the late rounds as usually but these are the best. Consensus says Gilbert is the best of the best and I think without question if he’s there at 15 you pounce. My question is out of the other 4 does anyone believe that one could drop to us in the 2nd round? Any would be a steal at R2-15 but whats the chances? Personally I think we roll the dice and wait until R2 to grab our CB even though its probably our biggest need. Anyone agree with the gamble?

  • cencalsteeler

    Depending on how the draft cookie crumbles, ANY of the corners mentioned in the article should be the first pick for the Steelers. I have a hunch Ike will be exposed this season, much like Clark was last year. I hope I’m wrong, but father time is always undefeated.

  • Cols714

    Um, we’ve done a really great job developing CBs from later rounds. Ike, Gay, Allen, Lewis were all later round picks that the Steelers successfully developed. They are pretty good at getting value out of that position.

  • vinnie12

    I don’t understand all of the love for Dennard! He is slow, he gets beat at a 60% rate when receivers get even up in their routs! He holds more than any other corner in the draft! Gilbert would be a way better pick! With him you get the recovery speed and a kick returner to boot!

  • Rick Bowser

    Gilbert may be gone by #15, Dennard clearly the 2nd best CB option or they may take WR’s Beckham or ( if he plummets that far ) Evans.

  • vinnie12

    Just my opinion, But I think Fuller is a better choice than Dennard>
    Plus if all those other players are gone before that, It may be that Ebron will be there! If so, You then draft Ebron and wait till the 2nd round for a C.B. instead of reaching!

  • dgh57

    I’m talking about only going back to 2009 of which C. Allen is the only one still on the roster. That is a lot of years to be missing on CBs with the names I already mentioned and a big part of the reason why we lack depth at the CB position. Letting Lewis go and then following that up with missing on the Hawthorne pick in last years draft also hurt the depth at CB.

    Taylor(4th rd.) Gay(5th rd.) Allen(4th rd.) Lewis(3td C rd.) all were mid rd. picks not later rd. picks.

  • dave

    Since when do the Steelers draft by need? This team has always drafted the best available player. If that happens to be a CB, so be it. With as many holes as this current team has, BAP better be their mantra.

  • WIINGY

    Ike wasn’t exposed last year? Huh?

  • WIINGY

    nonsense

  • 804Stiller

    We will draft the best player available at the hand full of positions of most need. For example, I don’t see us taking Clinton-Dix or Mosley even though they could be the BPA at 15. Also, I don’t see us grabbing a lineman unless one of the top 2 (Matthews and Robinson) somehow drops because that is a lesser need. So, I see us taking the Corner or WR we like most with a mid 1st value. I’m starting to warm up to Beckham to be honest. I just hope we get a potential player maker/game changer not just a solid player.

  • steelster

    The 2015 cb first round draft class will be way way better than the 2014. None of the 2014 1sr round corners excite me. Why not take a cb in the 3rd round this year and have the 2015 1st round pick be a cb.

  • Weiss Chad

    He gave up 18 catches on 118 passes thrown his way for 108 yards the entire year.I

  • cencalsteeler

    LMAO! Great point!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I’ve never understood that type of thinking. Taking the #1 LB over the #3 CB? What if the #1 LB sucks that year? Or what if it’s one of those years that have 3 golden CB’s? You’re going pass up on a gem CB just because there happens to be two other elite CB’s that year as well?

    In 2004, there were 8 teams who passed up on the #3 QB (Ben Roethlisberger) to get the #1 or #2 in other positions. The next year, in 2005, the 49ers took the #1 QB (Alex Smith) whereas I would’ve gladly taken the #6 WR (Roddy White) instead.

    My point is you have to evaluate the player himself, based on the quality of his talent. Not where he ranks compared to others that year.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Vinnie-

    What happens is, fans see that we have a huge need at CB (which is true) and then they look at draft sights and find a CB ranked about where we pick at 1.15 (Dennard) and connect the dots to say “That’s our man.”

    They don’t necessarily watch the game tape. They don’t compare him to CB’s from past drafts. They don’t look at scheme fit. They just assume he must be great.

    Having said that, I think Dennard would be a good addition to our team. I just don’t think he presents great value at 1.15.

  • Jason

    Agree. Total nonsense. They draft the highest ranked player on their board at a position of need. Example would be if Teddy Bridgewater is there at 15 we aren’t picking him regardless of where he is on their board. Bank on that

  • blackandgoldBullion

    And how about if one of the supposed great CB’s drops to 15, but the stars align for a great tradedown for the Steelers. Now that would be perfect! Imagine Dennard or even better Gilbert sitting there at 15.

    Now San Fran, with 12 picks and 6 in the first 3 rounds, starts thinking if they can get a plug and play CB, and a LB in the 2nd, and maybe a WR in 3……..Hmmmmm. The possibilities to win it all are there! Great! Because if they think that they may give the Steelers a deal they can’t refuse, all the better.

    Perhaps Pittsburgh can make out like bandits this year. “San Fran on speed dial.” I’ve been praying for it.

  • c t s

    Interesting thought. But will that still get us the quality player by trading back that fills a need? Draft is deep, but we aren’t in grooming mode to take a lot of shots in the dark with late round picks that we need to start now.

  • Biggie

    I’m talking this year not years past, didn’t feel like going overly in detail with names such as: #1 ILB (Mosley) or #2 OLB (Barr) or #1 or 2 DL (Hageman, Nix) over the #3 or 4 CB (Fuller, Roby) or # 3 or 4 WR (Beckham, Cooks) because I consider the previous as better players than the latter. I am not worrying about the past years, that’s over with. In other words I consider Gilbert, Dennard, Barr, Mosley, Hageman, Nix better options than Fuller, Roby, Beckham, Cooks. Hopefully that clears it up.