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Cornering the market

May 8, 2014 - Ray Eckenrode

Ranking positions of need
#1 WIDE RECEIVER: Jasper Collins. Danny Coale. Kashif Moore. Lanear Simpson. These are WRs on the Steelers current roster. Look it up if you think those are made-up names. However, with the deepest WR class in history, Pittsburgh could conceivably wait until Round 3 and still get a solid guy.

#2 CORNERBACK: There’s not the depth problem here that there is at wideout but the top-end guy (Ike Taylor) is at the very end of the line and there is no margin for error. The corner picked HAS to be ready to start next year, making this the overwhelming bet for the first-round pick.

#3 INSIDE LINEBACKER: If Sean Spence is truly healthy then this drops down the priority list, but absent a position change this could be a huge issue in the 2014 season.

#4 DEFENSIVE END: Right now, Pittsburgh lists Cam Heyward, who finally produced a few splash plays in 2013, and two rookies as DEs. Expect this to be addressed early.

#5 OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: You might have noticed that last year’s top pick, Jarvis Jones, did not exactly set the world on fire last season and this is such an important piece in the Lebeau/Butler scheme that it’s not out of the question that we’d see another high pick here if the right guy fell to the right spot.

Odds on Steelers No. 1 pick:
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Odds: 3-1
Of note: Some concern about his speed at NFL level, but his physical style matches Pittsburgh’s MO and he’s likely CB to still be there at #15.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Odds: 4-1
Of note: Recent rumors have tagged him as the CB the Steelers really covet, but there’s no way to tell whether that’s legit info or a smoke screen.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Odds: 5-1
Of note: Not really a true press corner but too much athletic ability to bypass if he’s still there.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Odds: 8-1
Of note: A lot of experts think he’s the most NFL-ready wideout in the deepest wideout draft ever.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Odds: 15-1
Of note: Biggest risk/reward pick in the first round. If the team that takes him is right, he’s a potential franchise changer.
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Odds: 25-1
Of note: Everything about this guy’s pedigree and style of play says Steelers.
Trade down
Odds: 40-1
Of note: Every year just about every team wants to trade down. It takes two to tango.

Second-round speculation
Want: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Prediction: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

Grading the Steelers 2011 draft
1: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Grade: C
A few splash plays finally in his third year.
2: Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
Grade: C
Serviceable in the run game, huge liability in pass pro.
3: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Grade: F
A big reason Steelers are looking for a CB tonight.
4: Cortez Allen, CB, The Citadel
Grade: B
Has looked at times like he might blossom but still waiting.
5: Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State
Grade: C
Undistinguished, but he’s still there.
6: Keith Williams, G, Nebraska
Grade: D
Sleeper pick was a real snoozer.
7: Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech
Grade: C
Injuries sidetracked potential draft steal.
In a nutshell: No huge busts but a basically a ZERO IMPACT draft. Heyward finally has become serviceable, but it took three years. Gilbert remains a liability on way too many plays for a second rounder. Cortez Allen looks like best pick but he’s an average NFL starter.
Overall grade: D-

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