On Thursday, May 8, the NFL world will have all eyes on Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Fanbases will be anxiously waiting to see who their favorite team will select in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
After back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly are drafting higher than they are used to. At the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Steelers certainly have some possibilities and flexibility with their selection.
There has been talk of trading back in the draft as well as trying to trade up to get a high profile talent, but in this scenario the Steelers are staying put in the 15th spot; but who should they select?
The Steelers have many needs that should be addressed in this year’s draft, but the biggest positions of need would have to be wide receiver and cornerback. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, this draft is extremely deep in both of those positions. However, making the right choice will depend on who is still available when the clock finally turns on the Steelers to make their selection.
Of the two positions of need, cornerback is by far the bigger of the two. The Steelers need to find a corner to not only play, but play immediately in 2014. The Steelers have seen third and fourth round cornerbacks be nothing more than special teams players on their roster. This year they need a playmaker.
Looking at the cornerbacks available, it boils down to the top four cornerbacks entering this year’s draft. Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State, Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State, Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech and Jason Verrett out of TCU. All of these players could go early in the first round, and the Steelers have looked at each of them extensively.
At the onset of the combine, Gilbert was thought to be the golden goose in terms of cornerbacks entering this year’s draft, but Dennard has slowly taken away a lot of Gilbert’s thunder since then. The Steelers’ selection will come down to Gilbert or Dennard, depending on who is available.
Gilbert has the flash and the ball skills that will take him off the board early, leaving the Steelers selecting Dennard in the first round. Dennard is a physical corner who will fit the Steelers’ style of defense from day one, and taking him in the first round would not be a mistake.