By Shawn Bell
As the 2015 edition of the combine comes to a close the cornerback position might be the most pressing need for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year the defense was ranked 18th and allowed 353.4 yards a game. The defense allowed too many big plays and there were way too many breakdowns allowed. Typically the Steelers never invest a first round pick on a corner. Chad Scott was the last first round cornerback that the Steelers drafted. Pittsburgh has selected two corners in the first round since 1993. Deon Figures being the other. With Ike Taylor almost certain to not be re-signed and the uncertain free agent status of Brice McCain and Antwon Blake, the cornerback position is an obvious need. It’s still not a given that Pittsburgh will select a first round corner, but the unit needs to be infused with new blood and big time play makers. Depending on the value and where they have a guy targeted on their draft board expect to see 2 guys selected.
1. Marcus Peters– 5’11, 193, Washington- Peters Has the most talent than any corner in this year’s draft. Good size, Good hips, exceptional in space. A very solid tackler often compared to Aquib Talib. A head case that repeatedly got into arguments with the coaching staff and was dismissed from the team. If this kid didn’t have the off the field issue he would be the clear cut number 1 choice in this draft. He will probably be available for the Steelers in the first round. The question is do you want to take the risk?
2. Trae Waynes– 6’1, 185, Michigan State- Had a great combine. Waynes ran a 4.3 that probably pushed his stock to a top 15 pick. I would be stunned if he was around for the Steelers. Big time playmaker, Good in man has great recovery speed. Like to grab this could be a problem with the new NFL illegal contact rules. Good kid.
3. Jalen Collins– 6’1, 195, LSU- Good foot quickness, nice size and a willing tackler in run support. Hasn’t reached his full potential. Not to experience only had 10 starts in his career. Played in a tough conference. Will need a little time to develop but could be good in the right system. Should be around from the mid-20s to the 2nd round.
4. P.J. Williams– 6’0, 190, Florida State- Good size and strength pretty good in bump and run. Good timing and a good tackler. His technique can get sloppy at times but not shy about hitting. Will gamble at times. Williams had 3 interceptions last year.
5. Quinten Rollins– 6’0, 203, Miami (Ohio)- Could be the wildcard of all corners. Played basketball for 4 years. Didn’t run good in the combine. 4.57 In the 40. Very inexperience from a small school that produced Big Ben. Some team will fall in love with his talent and upside. Attacks the ball exceptional well at its high point. True playmaker with good instincts. 2nd round grade that picked football back up into this year didn’t play since 2009. Tremendous upside but a project.
6. Kevin Johnson– 6’2, 215, Wake Forest- Great size and was all ACC. Started 41 games at Wake Forest and is very experienced. Will bite of double moves but good in zone and fluid. Good confidence and a late bloomer. His body is still growing. He has the size that teams covet. Late first round pick won’t make it pass the early 2nd round. The Steelers love this kid could be the pick.
7. Alex Carter-6’0, 204, Stanford- Son of former NFL corner Tom carter. He has a NFL Pedigree. Good size and matches up well with bigger receivers. Not particularly fast but quick enough. Good awareness will be beaten deep. Has trouble against quicker receivers. Will have to learn how to use his hand placement will get called for penalties. Good prospect. 2nd or 3rd round.
8. Ronald Darby-5’11, 188, Florida State- Started all 14 games as a junior and finished with 47 tackles. 2012 ACC defensive rookie of the year. Ran a 4.32 at the combine that helped his draft stock. Extremely fast can flat out fly needs to learn how to not grab. Not great against the run but good in off coverage.
9. Ifo-Ekpre-Olomu-5’10, 185, Oregon-might have the best name out of any corner. Was projected as a 1st round pick as a junior but returned for his senior year somewhat small and had an injured knee that will need time to recuperate. Would have been a first round pick without the injury. Might need to be red shirted his first year. Has great ability and talent. The team that drafts him will need to be patience. Could be a 2nd day steal. Won’t pay immediate dividends. Great ability only downside is his size and knee injury.
This year’s draft has several prospects that the Steelers can choose from. Even if they waited until later in the draft, they can grab the guy that they want. From 3-10, it’s not too much of a difference. This draft contains guys that have good size and speed. Good year to get a corner.
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