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Three cornerback options for Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- Cornerback is the Steelers’ most pressing need and they are expected to take a pair of them in next month’s draft, something Pittsburgh did with mixed results in 2011.
The success of the world-champion Seahawks could enhance the value of bigger cornerbacks, and ESPN NFL draft analyst Kevin Weidl breaks down three players Insider who fit this prototype, one for each day of the draft:
> Day 1 (first round): Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State. The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner could be the first cornerback drafted and he has been linked to the Steelers in a fair share of mock drafts. The 5-11, 199-pound Dennard plays bigger because he is so physical and, Weidl writes, he matched up well against bigger receivers in college. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert offers more speed and Ohio State’s Bradley Roby is more athletic than Dennard. But, writes Weidl, “(Dennard) is the most complete player of the bunch and should start drawing attention beginning with Pittsburgh at No. 15 in the first round.”
> Day 2 (second and third rounds): Stanley Jean-Baptiste. A converted wide receiver, Jean-Baptiste has excellent size, long arms and good ball skills. Standing nearly 6-3 and weighing 218 pounds Jean-Baptiste is still a work in progress, Weidl writes, but he has a lot of upside and could go in the second round of the draft. “His high ceiling in terms of size, length and playmaking ability has scouts intrigued as a Day 2 prospect,” Weidl writes.
> Day 3 (fourth through seventh rounds): Pierre Desir, Lindenwood. Excelled at the Division II school in Missouri -- he intercepted 13 passes in two seasons at Lindenwood -- and also played well when he faced better competition at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. The 6-1, 198-pounder does not have elite recovery speed, writes Weidl, and needs to improve on jamming wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. But Desir is an intriguing enough prospect that he could get drafted late in the third round. The Steelers have a compensatory pick at the end of the third round and they have had success in drafting developmental cornerbacks from smaller schools (Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen). Writes Weidl, “Desir has the skill set to develop into an early contributor and potential starter within one or two years of development for a heavy press-man or press-zone scheme."
EJ Gaines is another guy I really like in the mid/later rounds 4-5
SJB is REALLY intriguing, but day 2 seems a little early for a guy completely switching positions. I'm sure many of you are far more informed on what kind of transition that would require.
For how big he is his best quality is body control and timing. He is excellent at sinking his hips in coverage and not wasting motion with extra pivots or steps. He really is an intimidating corner, and has a GREAT ability to win one on one matchups in both man and zone. Love how physical he is, but its his recognition and reaction time that makes him special for being so big.
Originally Posted by Mick'sTeam
Also, he was a WR in HS and in 2010 or 2011...hes played CB Full time for 2 seasons now after nebraska lost Amukamara and Dennard
I like Desir or Baptiste a bit more than I like Dennard (in terms of value, not ability). The Steelers have shown that they can develop raw, athletic corners, and in the case of Allen, he was logging significant snaps very early.
Thanks for the information, didn't realize he had a couple years at CB under his belt. Love his size and general atheticism.
Originally Posted by K Train
The time could be right for the Steelers to go corner in Round 1
By Anthony Defeo on Apr 10 2014
The Steelers haven't drafted a corner in the first round since 1997. Much like the offensive line, a position that hadn't been infused with first round talent for close to a decade until Maurkice Pouncey was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the time might be right for Pittsburgh to go corner in Round 1 on May 8.
The Steelers have many needs. Yes, it's true, they have signed an awful lot of free agents this offseason (from other teams and everything), but the needs are still aplenty for a team that broke even in the win/loss column over the past 32 regular season games.
The NFL Draft is still approximately a month away, and with so much speculation on who Pittsburgh will select with the 15th pick of the first round, it tells me, again, the needs are aplenty.
So, while rebuilding (yes, I said it) a team back into a playoff and championship contender, what position would be the absolute best to focus on?
Basically, I could blindly throw a dart and probably hit a major need, but if I had my druthers, I might just roll the dice and go cornerback (in a non-reaching kind of way, of course), because it's been an awfully long time since that position was addressed with the high profile first round selection. In fact, not since Chad Scott was selected in Round 1 of the 1997 draft, have the Steelers gone in such a direction so high.
During the years that Ben Roethlisberger suffered physically and the fans suffered emotionally from an offensive line that was lacking in high-end talent thanks to draft additions no higher than the third round from 2003-2009, I was of the opinion that every unit on a football team needed a stud, and if the team wanted to improve the offensive line, the best way to go would be by infusing it with at least one player of high-pedigree.
In stepped center Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh's first round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft (18th, overall), and as soon as he strapped on a helmet and participated in his first practice, it was quite apparent he was the most talented offensive lineman on the roster--and it wasn't even close.
The Steelers spent another first round pick and two second round picks on the offensive line in subsequent drafts, and while these infusions of talent didn't necessarily improve the overall performance of the unit, Pouncey has already been named to three Pro Bowls and is regarded as maybe the best at his position. And my money is on David DeCastro, Pittsburgh's first round pick in 2012, soon achieving that same elite status at the right guard position.
Two Pro Bowl caliber offensive linemen might not equal five, but they provide a talented core to build around. And it proves the point that if you want a stud at a certain position, you can't always hope that a late round pick or undrafted free agent will develop into one (James Harrison, Brett Keisel and Antonio Brown are the exceptions and not the rule), you usually have to target one in the first round.
You want a stud safety, you draft Troy Polamalu; you want a franchise quarterback, you draft a Ben Roethlisberger; you want a stud wide receiver, you draft a Santonio Holmes (crazy, but a stud).
There's no question the Steelers defense can use an infusion of talent (even if it isn't as old as it used to be), and cornerback, a position that's been a sore subject more often than not in recent years, is as good a place to start as any I can think of at the moment.
The Steelers might be thinking along those same lines; according to BTSC's informative prospects visits list, corner is tied with wide receiver for most pre-draft visits to the South Side by players who hope to make their living at those positions; and if most mock drafts are any indication, Pittsburgh could have a shot at one or two highly thought-of corners when its time on the clock commences on May 8.
With this possibly being Ike Taylor's last year with the Steelers, and with Cortez Allen's inability to play both sides of the field at once, corner might be a position that's hard to ignore if a suitable player is available in the first round.
This might be one of the deepest drafts of all time in terms of overall talent, but the possibility of it turning into one on par with the historic 1974 class for the Steelers is highly-unlikely.
Let's face it, as the Emperor would perhaps phrase it, "The Steelers have holes, and they are many," and it's doubtful that all those holes will be filled in the upcoming draft.
This might be the year to take a shot at finding at Pro Bowl-caliber corner in the first round--much like the offensive line, pre-Maurkice, it's been a position that has been bereft of first round talent for far too long.
My money is on Darqueze Dennard of Michigan St. becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler on May 8.