Pittsburgh Steelers Final 2014 NFL Mock Draft Roundup
This year’s draft may be among the most unpredictable in recent memory. There’s no clear-cut top pick. There’s no clear-cut top quarterback.
And for most teams, there’s no clear-cut top option.
That’s lead to a multitude of different selections among mock drafters. The Pittsburgh Steelers are said to be targeting cornerbacks and wide receivers, but whom they covet and who will be available when they’re on the clock remains to be seen.
Some well-respected analysts see the team trading down in an effort to secure more picks. Others think they’ll stay put and land Justin Gilbert, a player they’re presumed to have been targeting for some time now.
Who the Steelers will select is just mere hours from being found out, but in the meantime there’s still room for some last-minute speculation. So, let’s take a look at what route some prominent draft experts see the Steelers taking.
Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball.com)
The Pick: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Justin Gilbert is a player I noticed many Steeler fans clamoring for in the lead-up to the NFL draft. But with several corner-needy teams ahead of Pittsburgh, he’s no sure bet to be on the board at No. 15 overall.
If he is available at that point, as WalterFootball.com suggests, he’ll be tough to pass up. This mock has a run on cornerbacks from picks No. 13 to 15. Surprisingly, both Bradley Roby and Kyle Fuller are selected before Gilbert. As Cherepinsky notes, landing a prospect expected to go higher would continue a trend for Pittsburgh:
The Steelers always manage to secure a falling prospect. It was David DeCastro two years ago, and it happened to be Jarvis Jones last April. There's a good chance that it'll be Justin Gilbert this time around. Gilbert is this top corner in this class, but there isn't much buzz surrounding him for some reason, despite his excellent Combine performance.
Gilbert’s combine was outstanding; his performances in the 40-yard dash (4.37) and bench press (20 reps of 225), per NFL.com, suggest he’s got the speed and strength to excel at the next level.
He’d be a no-brainer pick for Pittsburgh if available. The only question is if he will be.
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report)
The Pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It’s highly unlikely that Steelers fans would be unanimously praising the selection of Taylor Lewan. After all, what would that say about the two first- and two second-round selections the team’s used on offensive lineman since 2010?
Coupled with that, Lewan’s accused of assaulting two Ohio State fans shortly after his Wolverines lost to the Buckeyes, per ESPN's Michael Rothstein. Even still, just as Miller suggests, Pittsburgh could field a very formidable starting five with the addition of Lewan:
The team had good success with Kelvin Beachum at left tackle in 2013, but realistically he's a guard. With Lewan on the left and Beachum, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro in the middle, the Steelers can keep Marcus Gilbert at right tackle and have a very good starting five.
If Lewan can keep his head on straight, he’s got the tools to be a stalwart left tackle for years to come. However, it shouldn't be in Pittsburgh. The team’s O-Line gave up just seven sacks in their final seven games last season and should only improve under new offensive line coach Mike Munchak.
Bucky Brooks (NFL.com)
The pick: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Odell Beckham Jr.’s draft stock has been on an upward climb for months now. The conversation has changed from whether he or former teammate Jarvis Landry will be the better pro to whether or not he’ll be a top-10 selection.
Beckham may not have the size the Steelers covet in their receivers, but then again, they had no problem trotting out Antonio Brown (5’10”, 186 lbs) and Emmanuel Sanders (5’11”, 180 lbs) last year. The 5'11", 198-pound Beckham should garner serious consideration if available.
As with Gilbert, the primary concern is whether or not he’ll be on the board. Brooks has him as the third receiver selected, but if Mike Evans goes at No. 7 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there will be ample time for one of the receiver-needy teams ahead of the Steelers to pull the trigger on Beckham.
In fact, according to NOLA.com’s Jim Kleinpeter, both Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required) and Todd McShay (subscription required) have the receiver gone by the time Round 1 reaches the teens. Kiper has him going at No. 10 to the Detroit Lions, while McShay has him going a few slots later at No. 12 to the New York Giants.
If Beckham does make it to the Steelers’ first pick, that would mark an ideal time for the team to consider trading down.
Peter King (Sports Illustrated)
The pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
As noted in the previous slide, the Steelers should be able to find an interested trade partner if Odell Beckham lasts to their pick. In King’s mock draft, that’s exactly what they do.
King has the team swapping picks with their in-state neighbors, the Philadelphia Eagles, exchanging its pick at No. 22 with Philadelphia's selection at No. 15 overall. And it is in fact Beckham whom the Eagles move up to grab. The Steelers pick up the Eagles' second-round pick in the swap, a valuable commodity in such a deep draft class.
King goes on to explain why Fuller should appeal to the Steelers, saying, "The Steelers are desperate to rebuild their cornerback depth chart, and this four-year starter in the ACC is a good way to begin. He’s physical too, the kind of player Mike Tomlin demands in the defensive backfield."
Considering Pittsburgh will likely be eying Fuller in their original slot, moving down and adding him plus an extra pick or two would be a great coup.
Andy Watkins (Bleacher Report/Daily Collegian)
My pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Along with Beckham, Fuller has been one of the biggest late-risers in this year’s draft class. WalterFootball.com has him as the second corner off the board, ahead of both Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. B/R’s Matt Miller has him second as well, ahead of Dennard.
If either holds true, the Steelers certainly won’t be able to trade down and land Fuller. Shoot, if WalterFootball's prediction proves accurate, they may not even get a shot at him. Presuming they do, though, he should be the pick.
Fuller may not boast the athleticism of a Gilbert, but he’s no slouch either. He makes up for a lack of elite speed with instinctive, heady play. He’ll never be a premier ball hawk, but he should still be able to serve up a few timely turnovers.
But it’s another aspect of Fuller’s abilities as a defender that should really appeal to Pittsburgh: He flourished in run support and as a pass-rusher through his four years as a collegiate starter. For a team that uncharacteristically struggled at both aspects at ’13, selecting Fuller would be a good step toward rectifying the problem.
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