Well honestly, the NFL Draft Daily’s first inclination was that the Pittsburgh Steelers would head into their off season with the possibility of there being no Troy Polamalu or Ryan Clark; unfortunately Clark was the one who had to go. Pittsburgh attacked the safety position when free agency hit, signing harrowed safety Polamalu to a new extension; and also signing Mike Mitchell from the Carolina Panthers, to be their new head hunter next to the “Head & Shoulders” star himself. Shamarko Thomas is planned to be the eventual replacement for Polamalu when he decides to call it a career, but it becomes quite confusing what the Steelers plan on doing at the corner position. Their safeties may be set, but their corners have been a huge disappointment and lack the playmaking ability needed to cover the skilled wide receivers in the division. Their corners combined for a total of four interceptions last year, and gave up a bucket full of big plays, getting beat in coverage numerous times during the year.
Experts could also make the argument that the Steelers need to finally draft a big bodied wide receiver for Ben Roethlisberger. Other needs also include a defensive end opposite of Cameron Heyward on the defensive line. Nonetheless, corner needs to be the most valued commodity for Pittsburgh going into the draft, and the two distinguished top corners in the draft are Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. Both are ball hawking corners, both can play man and zone defense alike, and both have been known to lock down their side of field with ease. The problem is that in the NFL Draft Daily’s recent coverage, the Detroit Lions have already taken Justin Gilbert, fortunate enough for the Steelers; Darqueze Dennard’s name is still flashing on the board. Not much separates the two when it comes to coverage skills. Gilbert has the size, speed, and returning advantage; but Dennard has arguably the better technique and the more fluid hips between both him and Gilbert. Dennard shuts down his opposing wide receivers, leading Michigan State to having one of their most dominant defenses in recent memory. A tenacious corner who has a knack for being around the ball, and that can support in the run, and lay the boom when needed; is somewhat the best description which fits one of the best corners to come out of the Big Ten Conference.
Wide receiver may be another position they may address quickly as well in the 2nd or 3rd rounds in the NFL draft. The Steelers may take a long look at play making wide receiver out of Fresno State, Davante Adams. Adams standing at 6’2, would provide the height needed to help Roethlisberger. The wide receiver out of Fresno State has great run after the catch ability, and made countless deep ball catches throughout his college career playing with other notable prospect, quarterback Derek Carr. Two years of college experience at Fresno State, Adams has a combined 38 total touchdowns; it’s not just a coincidence that he finds the end zone that often, he’s good. A possible look at tight end could happen with Heath Miller getting up there in age, even though they gave him a two year extension not long ago. The more play making ability on offense, the better, for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger has been requesting weapons for years, and its about time Pittsburgh antes up and help their two time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman