Steelers Have Done Their Due Diligence When It Comes To The Top-Rated Cornerbacks

It’s no secret that cornerback is a huge position of need for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year as relates to the 2014 NFL Draft and the team has seemingly done their due diligence when it comes to evaluating the top-rated prospects that defend against the pass.

On Monday, Gil Brandt of NFL.com reported that Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller will be in Pittsburgh for a pre draft visit this week and he’ll make the sixth player that plays the position to stop by the Steelers facility that we know of.

The only top-rated cornerback that apparently hasn’t visited Pittsburgh over the course of the last several weeks is Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, but the Steelers were present for his Pro Day. Maybe he’s already been in town and it just wasn’t reported.

By the looks of things, the Steelers are primed to select a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft and that has only happened twice since Kevin Colbert became the general manager in 2000. In 2004, the Steelers drafted Ricardo Colclough out of Tusculum with the 38th overall selection and a year later Bryant McFadden was selected with the 62nd pick of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Florida State.

The last time the Steelers drafted a cornerback in the first round was in 1997 when Chad Scott was selected with 24th overall selection out of Maryland.

Last year, four cornerbacks were selected in the first round and the year before that the number was three. History is just that when it comes to the draft, however, as every year presents a different class strength along with different needs of teams. That being said, one would think that no more than five cornerbacks will be drafted this year in the first round.

While there seems to be a pretty good consensus as to which cornerbacks make up the top five or six in his year’s draft class, the rankings of those players really seem to differ from one draftnik to the next. Rankings are subjective of course and they likely differ from one team to the next as well depending on the style of play one is looking for as well as the kind of defense being implemented.

With the draft now just a little more than two weeks away, you all should be fairly well acquainted with top-rated cornerbacks in this year’s class. You should also have a good idea as to what the Steelers are looking for when it comes to the cornerback position.

In the comments below, rank the top five or six cornerbacks if you were drafting for the Steelers. Feel free to explain those ranking as well. Let’s see what the reader consensus is.

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

    1) Fuller
    2) Roby
    3) Dennard
    4) Verrett
    5) Gilbert

  • Craig Ressler

    All the Beckham/Cooks talk just doesn’t make sense to me. Not sure why you’d draft a WR in the 1st if you CAN’T get one of the top two WRs since the drop off from from middle 1st round WRs (presumably 3rd best WR) to the 2nd round WRs is that much. However, the CB drop off from the beyond the top 3 or 4 to the 2-3 round CBs is much more. From a pure value stand point it would make so much more sense to draft CB, then WR or even CB, another position and then WR if they do in fact plan on addressing the WR position earlier.

  • James Kling

    I think you have the right top 5, JMO:
    1. Dennard
    2. Verrett
    3. Fuller
    4. Gilbert
    5. Roby
    With 1 & 2 very close, and 3 & 4 very close.

  • chris ward

    Top 5 CB’s for the Steelers in the draft JMO
    1). Fuller
    2). Gilbert
    3). Dennard
    4). Verrett
    5). Roby
    Fuller- Like the way he plays football, aggressive and competitive. Not afraid to come up in run support. Has good awareness and ball skills.
    Gilbert- Impressive athlete, nice size and speed, also can help out in special teams. Had 7 INT’s in ’13. Not as physical in run support at times.
    Dennard- Nice press corner with nice size, plays physical. Has stiff hips at times and gets grabby when beat.
    Verrett- Tough aggressive player, that has nice footwork and is a great athlete. only 5ft9, but plays with competiveness and toughness.
    Roby- Has impressive speed and overall a good athlete, Can be inconsistent at times, thought Abbrederis exposed him at times in the Wisconsin game IMO.
    Think Fuller would be a good fit for the Steelers, Gilbert and Dennard are solid players as well.

  • steeltown

    1.Gilbert 2.Dennard 3. Fuller 4.Verrett 5.Roby

    But, based purely on the player that Pittsburgh needs-

    1. Fuller 2.Dennard 3. Gilbert 4.Verrett 5.Roby

    I view Verrett and Roby more as slot CBs at the next level. We do not need more nickel CBs on roster.

  • dgh57

    1.) Dennard
    2.) Fuller
    3.) Gilbert
    4.) Verrett
    5.) Roby

    One and two are pretty close to me and would be happy with either one. Depends on who the coaches believe is the easiest to be coached up if both are there at 15.

  • Steele Cut

    Only if Mike Evans is off the board at steelers pick I select Dennard 15th overall… he has great size and ball skills… he is not affriad to get dirty… to me he has steelers written all over him… could be a little faster but I think he quickness would make up for speed…

  • joed32

    I like Dennard too but only if Evans is gone. Some of those CBs will be there for taking I think Gilbert will be gone and possibly Dennard as well.

  • http://batman-news.com steellife007

    1.) Dennard
    2.) Gilbert
    3.) Fuller
    4.) Roby
    5.) Verrett

    If Dennard wasn’t allowed to play press man the majority of the time my rankings would be different. I can only assume the Steelers would play to their players strengths. Dennard is the best CB in the draft unless a coaching staff/playbook required him to play another style.

  • cp72

    1. Gilbert
    2. Fuller
    3. Verrett
    4. Dennard
    5. Roby

    I am not as high on Dennard as others. Average height, average speed, average athleticism. To me he looks well average. I think he is a number 2 corner that is going to need help over the top. Not what I would spend the 15th pick overall on.

    I like Gilbert the most for his special teams ability and huge upside. He has some ball skills which is sorely needed in our secondary. He definitely has a bust factor ro him, but I think he has the best chance of being a true lock down corner.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I’m a little puzzled by the Steelers visits this year. They’ve had so many late 1st round guys come in (of all different positions). Not so many mid rounders. And not so many of those top ten-ish guys either.

    This tells me they’re very concerned with determining each players true value. Meaning, they’re not just determining who is better between Dennard and Fuller. They’re trying to figure out exactly where each guy should be drafted, or what ranking they have in comparison with each other.

    This really smells of a trade down scenario. Colbert always talks about identifying the 6 to 8 “special” players in each draft. Those are tier one. After that you have all of your tier two guys. That is where he is focusing.

    Colbert made a comment a couple years ago about how one year they had 3 or 4 guys they liked about the same. And that if they traded back 5 spots they figured one of them should still be there. They didn’t end up doing the trade because the return was not enough but that was their thinking.

    I think this year, he is looking to trade back about 5-6 spots to pick up a CB/WR and an extra 3rd rounder. Based on the pre-draft visits, that is his focus range.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I like production and consistency, especially in CBs. I’ll take Gilbert over Dennard because of his game changing plays in a major conference, size/speed combo and elite kick return ability. I love Verrett’s game, but I have to break my own rule and give Fuller the nod as the #3 solely because of Verrett’s small stature. He’s a great player, but these days we have to consider one very important thing when evaluating smallish CBs–AJ Green in our division. Roby had a great 2012, but where was the consistency when defending against Wisconsin in ’13. Joyner is my #5, still small but plays much bigger and consistently makes plays.

    1. Gilbert
    2. Dennard
    3. Fuller
    4. Verrett
    5. Lamarcus Joyner

  • Toddy Bravo

    Scouting late first rounders could mean they’re doing they’re due diligence in case a trade down becomes possible, but it also could mean that they’re doing it in case one or more of them drops to the 2nd.

  • wdhammer

    Smoke and mirrors .Steeler don’t draft a corner till rd 2 after they trade down..

  • Matt Manzo

    1st tier:
    Gilbert
    Dennard
    Fuller
    Watkins
    Roby

    2nd Tier: we need one of them too!

    Verrett
    Purifoy
    Gaines
    Desir
    Reynolds
    SJB
    McGill
    Breeland
    Cockrell

    I would be sooo happy with one from each group. Verretts only in group 2 cuz I think Shark is the same as him and I want a taller CB.

  • http://batman-news.com steellife007

    Exactly!

  • shawn

    Dont see how people have Roby on there … Verret is possibly the top guy unfortunately he’s more of a slot guy (size) but in todays NFL about just as important as a #2

    You know what scares the heck out of me is our last 3 top picks at CB … (Colc, Scott, Mcfadden) ALL BUMS …. doesnt inspire confidence … but there are a lot of decent DBs this year (just not any great ones) all the guys above with the exception of Roby should/would be a decent/ solid pick at least so maybe Colbert won’t screw it up this time !

  • shawn

    I completely agree with your analysis even down to Dennard being the safer pick, but like you i see him as more average … but i think at the least he could be a solid #2 DB and lets face it here, we need help in a hurry in our secondary … and while I would love a PLAYMAKER back there, i would also be very happy with 3 or 4 SOLID DBs as well !

  • shawn

    I hope you are right …. cuz thats our best value … and i think colberts analysis is spot on … that if there are 3 or 4 guys they like almost equally it makes sense to trade back a few spots and get that extra player in the 3rd round … would be thrilled with that !

  • pittsburghjoe

    Wow..Great breakdown guys. I have nothing to add. Nice Comments.

  • gene mann

    I looking at Dennard ,Fuller ,Verett

  • Brian K

    Dennard, Fuller, Gilbert, Verrett, McGill

  • Brian K

    The smoke and mirrors I see is that they’ve focused on all of them but kind of left Gilbert hanging. I think they could like Gilbert but are trying to hide it by focusing on the others. I don’t see them bringing in that many top players just to create an illusion for another position and then wait to draft one in the 2nd

  • Brian K

    Would love a combo of either Dennard or Fuller in the top and McGill, Cockrell or Watkins in the middle.

  • Josh Knepshield

    Kyle Fuller is the best fit. Verrett is too small. Steelers prefer bigger CBs. Gilbert scares me, and he doesn’t quite fit our system. Dennard would be a reach at 15 now that his stock has dropped. Fuller at 15.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Well, to be honest, it going to come down to two guys Gilbert and Dennard if they use the 15th pick for a CB. I personally think Gilbert doesn’t make it to 15 since the Lions will most likely take him. Their old coach would have wiffed and we would have a chance.

    People love Gilbert for two reasons. He’s probably the best in coverage of all the DBs in the draft. Add to that his special teams skills and what’s not to like about that. Glad you asked. The guys is weak in tackling, lacking in run support and doesn’t play physical. Can you coach that up? I not so sure. Also, like #1 WRs doing punt returns, I’m not sure you want your top corner doing that often.

    Then there’s Dennard. People love his physical play, very good on run support and a press man corner. Seems like a great fit for the Steelers. What’s not to like? Well his coverage needs work. As folks already stated, bad hips and for a corner that’s not good. Can you coach that up? Maybe. The real question with Dennard is do you believe he can be better than Ike Taylor. Hmmm, not with his speed. We don’t need to replace Ike, we need a young Ike that can catch. Not sure if this is that guy.

    I would love to hear what Ike would have to say about these two guys. Maybe he did but I did not hear it. Personally, I think we are stuck with Dennard since I think Gilbert is gone by 15 but I’m not sure if Dennard is a pro-bowl player in the making. I was way more confident in taking Bell from Michigan State than Dennard. The Steelers might go in a different direction but something tells me they take Dennard because of the success with Bell and maybe his minimal input.