By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 5, 2014
The Pittsburgh Steelers are potentially a few pieces away from returning to their winning ways after back-to-back .500 seasons. The 2014 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday night, will serve as an opportunity to acquire those pieces. See who the Steelers nab in this final seven-round mock draft, which was conducted on First-pick.com's mock draft simulator.
Cornerback is the Steelers' most pressing need. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is perhaps the top cornerback of the draft. It would be a seemingly perfect marriage. Gilbert's superb speed and fluid hips could allow him to blanket opposing receivers in the NFL. If he's still on the board after 14 picks, it's hard to see Pittsburgh passing on him.
The Steelers are rumored to covet a big-bodied wide receiver for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Few receivers fit that mold better than Penn State's Allen Robinson in the class. A big, smooth target with excellent route-running prowess, Robinson compensates for a lack of top-end speed with physicality and sound technique.
The Steelers could use another fresh pair of legs to complement second-year running back Le'Veon Bell. West Virginia's Charles Sims would be an ideal fit in the third round. Sims could be a true asset for the Steelers as a runner and a receiving option out of the backfield. He's been compared favorably to Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte.
Former starting defensive end Brett Keisel remains a free agent, and the Steelers have shown little interest in re-signing him. Thus, snagging a defensive lineman at some point during the draft is likely a priority. A stout run defender like Ed Stinson of Alabama would fit the bill.
Injuries and bad luck prevented Matt Patchan from having a successful collegiate career. His ability suggests he's capable of holding down a roster spot if not a starting role down the road with better health and fortune. The Steelers need depth at the tackle spot.
Despite drafting Jarvis Jones in the first round last year and getting a solid season out of Jason Worilds in 2013, the Steelers could use another pass-rushing outside linebacker. Division II standout Ethan Westbrooks has an intriguing skill set and raw edge-rushing ability.
Max Bullough has reportedly piqued the Steelers' interest in the pre-draft evaluation process as a potential run-stuffing inside linebacker. His skill set would be a welcomed addition to what was the league's 21st-ranked run defense in 2013.
A rangy free safety prospect with high upside, Western Kentucky's Jonathan Dowling could provide the Steelers' secondary with depth if nothing else.
UCLA's Shaquelle Evans could become a steal on the draft's third day given his potential as a productive possession receiver at the next level.
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