Wexell: Odds Breakdown On 14-Horse Field
Odds Breakdown On 14-Horse Field
Odell Beckham TD
By Jim Wexell
Jim Wexell horses around with the wide-open draft field staring the Steelers in the face on Thursday night.
* Louis Nix 20-1: I only listed him in case he's the last option of a trade-down group. The Steelers certainly wouldn't draft a NT and suddenly move Steve McLendon to end. That would be a great big-picture option, but I can't see the Steelers running with that plan right now.
* Stephon Tuitt 18-1: This guy just bores the bejeebus out of me. Yes, the Steelers need a defensive end, and yes boring is what they seem to like from their DEs in their scheme, but not with another first-round pick. That should be reserved for a guy who blows things up, like ...
* Ra'shede Hageman 15-1: This is the guy I would consider as my heavy strong-side anchor with mashing potential opposite weak-side playmaker Cameron Heyward. But only if the team psychologist says Hageman can survive the horrifying upbringing two losers have bequeathed this poor child. And you see my odds.
* Anthony Barr 13-1: Sure, I complained about his inconsistent season, but that was when people were calling him a top-five talent, not when it was possible he could slide to pick 15. What an athlete! Would the Steelers admit last year's OLB wasn't as great a pick as they thought while they were sprinting to the podium? Probably not.
* Brandin Cooks 12-1: If any team should draft Antonio Brown II it would be the team that has Antonio Brown I, no? Well, he's on this board for his return skills. Of course, the Steelers might already have Antonio Brown III in Markus Wheaton, so enough smurfs already.
* Calvin Pryor 10-1: The Steelers have five safeties, yet still had Pryor in for a visit and not HaHa. That fits right in with Mike Tomlin's past draft-day desires of "run-and-hit" specialists.
* Ryan Shazier 9-1: Same thing with Pryor, except Shazier -- who looks more like a 4-3 will than a mike -- plays a position of need here. His instincts seemed off at Ohio State, but his burst on film was supported by a 4.3 40. Yes, it was on the ultra-fast Ohio State track, but 4.3 run-and-hit says Tomlin, and Ohio State says Dick LeBeau, and Shazier's character says Steelers. The odds seem a little short, but only because I fear someone uses this good logic and takes a big swing at me.
* Justin Gilbert 8-1: Doesn't tackle like a Steelers DB, but has the size and speed and also returns kicks. Sucker bet, in my opinion.
* Kelvin Benjamin, Eric Ebron 7-1: Both guys would present schematic mismatches and both guys drop the ball too much. Ebron has these long odds because he might not make it to pick 15; Benjamin because he's not a tight end in a WR-saturated market.
* C.J. Mosley 6-1: This quiet leader could fill a troubled buck LB position for the next decade. He can cover and he can stuff the run and he's likely to be there. But this team has a bigger need for playmakers, and playmakers need to be picked in the middle of the first round.
* Kyle Fuller 5-1: My favorite cornerback would be your favorite cornerback if you turned on the Virginia Tech-Alabama game. Can cover, WRs don't separate on him out of breaks, anticipates routes, can tackle, great bloodlines, great character. I would pick him. My perception is the Steelers don't like him as much as I do.
* Odell Beckham 4-1: The most polished and NFL-ready receiver in the draft has 4.3+ speed, great hands, character, and return skills. I want to see the tape LSU reportedly shows incoming coaches of the endless acrobatic catches made by Beckham and teammate Jarvis Landry during practices and of course games.
* Darqueze Dennard 3-1: I want to discount him because he lacks off-coverage skills, and the main Steeler dudes don't abide that in a cornerback. But at Michigan State, Dennnard's press man skills put the cherry on top of its cover-3 zone. That's where the Steelers have evolved with Ike Taylor, and Ike turns 34 tomorrow. Happy birthday, Ike. Here's your replacement.
Five first-round targets for Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- Following up on a post about the 14 players I donít think will be available when the Pittsburgh Steelers select, here are five targets who might be available to them in the first round. I do expect the Steelers to look into moving down in the first round and collecting an extra pick or two.
I ranked these five in descending order based on the likelihood that the Steelers draft them.
5. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Three-down linebacker would make for a nice pairing with Lawrence Timmons, and he could be an immediate starter, as loathe as the Steelers are to play rookies extensively. Mosley had some injury issues in college, so the Steelers would have to be comfortable with him medically to take the 2013 consensus All-American this high. I think the Steelers wait to address this position later in the draft, but Mosley would shore up an area where they could use help if he has checked out medically.
4. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina: The best tight end in the draft has drawn comparisons to the 49ersí Vernon Davis because of his size and athleticism and ability to stretch the field. Ebron would give Ben Roethlisberger a tall, athletic target as well as a complement -- and future successor -- to Heath Miller. The biggest question with Ebron is how much of a blocker he will develop into at the next level. The Steelers will be tempted if he is still on the board at No. 15, and they could try to trade down if Ebron is there and another team wants to move up to take him.
3. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: There is a ton to like about Gilbert, who has decent size and ran a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. He intercepted seven passes last season, returning one for a touchdown, and he also excelled as a kick returner. The knock on Gilbert is that he is not the best tackler nor is he particularly strong in run support. Tackling the catch, as the Steelers call it, is essential in Dick LeBeauís defense, which is why they might shy away from Gilbert.
2. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner has Steelers written all over him. He is tough, physical and is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need to start building around at cornerback. The biggest question about Dennard is whether he will still be available when the Steelers make their first pick tonight. A handful of teams picking ahead of the Steelers, including the Lions and Titans, could take a cornerback. If Dennard is on the board when the Steelers pick at No. 15, it might be a coin flip between him andÖ
1. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: He is similar to Dennard in that he is physical and is good in run support as well as in coverage. Fuller is a little bigger and might have better ball skills than Dennard, something that might appeal to a team that has intercepted just 20 passes in the past two seasons combined. Fuller doesnít have any flaws in his game, is a high-character guy and would be a really good fit with the Steelers.
I think Wexell is right on the money. Flip flop Beckham and Fuller though