Steelers top needs include CB, WR, RB
Round 2 of the NFL draft begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. in what is believed to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.
Top prospects left on the board include Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle, USC OT Charles Brown, Maryland’s Bruce Campbell, Indiana OT Rodger Saffold, OLB Daryl Washington, USC DE Everson Griffen, USC Safety Taylor Mays, Notre Dame WR Golden Tate and Illinois WR Arrelious Benn.
All are prospects who have drawn a 1st round rating by some scouts.
Steelers Draft Buzz
The Steelers have the 20th overall selection in the 2nd round and the 18th overall selection in the 3rd round.
Cornerback, wide receiver and running back are the Steelers biggest needs going into day 2. Lesser needs for the Steelers are at linebacker and defensive line. However, both are areas the Steelers could go if they select the best player available.
There’s a strong group of 2nd round-3rd round linebacker prospects and a few defensive linemen who have fallen into the 2nd round that are great value. For example, Alabama’s Terrence Cody falling to the Steelers at No. 52 would be tempting. The Steelers going either way can’t be ruled out.
At the linebacker position, the Steelers brought in Penn State linebackers Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman and Utah’s Koa Misi in for visits. All three players will be drafted tonight in either the 2nd or 3rd round.
While there is a lot of buzz today pointing towards a wide receiver in the 2nd round, the most pressing need for the Steelers is clearly cornerback.
However, going cornerback on Day 2 is not a guarantee.
The Steelers depth chart is thin at the position and it was one of the major weaknesses for the Steelers in 2009.
Ike Taylor returns as the Steelers only legitimate starter but he’s entering the final year of his contract and turns 30 on May 5th.
William Gay returns on a one year contract and flopped as a starter in 2009. Behind Gay is 2nd year pro’s Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett.
Both players are unproven and it’s a risk to count on either player to make a significant impact in 2010.
Lewis’ development was hindered due to a back injury in 2009. Some scouts fell he’s more suited for a free safety role in the NFL than cornerback.
Joe Burnett saw some playing time late in the season. The Steelers like his playmaking ability but he was a 5th round pick and only drafted that early because of his punt return skills, not his cover skills.
He’s under-sized (5-9, 198) but of the two, Burnett has the look of being a better fit in the nickle.
Five cornerbacks went in the first round and Virginia’s Chris Cook (6-2, 212) is expected to be the first cornerback off the board in the second.
Cook is unlikely be around at the No. 52 selection.
A player believed to be very much on the Steelers radar is Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee. Based on talk around the league, there’s an extremely good chance that Ghee will be available for the Steelers at No. 52.
Ghee (6-0, 192) possess excellent physical skills and posted the fastest time among cornerbacks at the combine, running a 4.45 40-time.
According to scouts, he can come in and play in a zone scheme right away.
Ghee was among the Steelers first visits this off-season and is an extremely hard worker off the field. Going into his junior season, he was considered a 1st round talent but his production hasn’t always met his physical skills.
Two other names rising the draft charts who are expected to be under consideration in the 2nd round is South Florida’s Jerome Murphy (6-0, 196) and Iowa’s Amari Spievey (5-11, 198).
I’ve heard Murphy connected to the Steelers in recent days.
Both are under-rated in the media but not with teams around the league. Spievey though would be considered somewhat of a reach in the 2nd round.
Oklahoma’s Dominique Franks, Indiana (PA) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and Oklahoma’s Perrish Cox are all very good values in the third round.
Highly respected draft guru Don Banks of Sports Illustrated has Pittsburgh selecting Owusu-Ansah in his second round mock draft and that would be awful high for Owusu-Ansah.
The Steelers have got burned on drafting small school corners in the past.
The position that there’s little talk about is running back. Running back is believed to be a priorty for the Steelers but how early?
2nd-3rd round running back prospects include Standford’s Toby Gerhart, Rutgers Dexter McCluster, Mississippi States Anthony Dixon, Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty, Aubun’s Ben Tate and USC’s Joe McKnight.
Pittsburgh has been linked to McKnight and Dixon in the third round.
A 2nd round target could be Rutgers Dexter McCluster who would be a great change of pace back to Rashard Mendenhall.
The consensus is that the Steelers won’t address running back until day 3 either through the draft or via trade.
The Steelers have been linked to Notre Dame’s Golden Tate, Illinois Arrelious Benn and Ohio’s Taylor Price. All are considered second round prospects.
Offensive Line doesn’t appear to be a priority for the Steelers in day 2 and the only way I see them going that direction is if one of the top available tackles in Maryland’s Bruce Campbell, USC’s Charles Brown or Indiana’s Rodger Saffold fell to them.