For those of you readers who have not noticed, a new and updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft will be published by FanSided.com every week until the momentous weekend in May. This week, Erik Lambert published FanSided’s newest Mock Draft and projected that the Pittsburgh Steelers would select the following player at number 13 overall:
Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
Offensive line is another obvious choice but the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is declining in a hurry. They need more help, particularly in the secondary. Justin Gilbert is a tailor-made 3-4 corner, big and fast to play tight man coverage with the instinct to go after the ball.
I will be the first to admit that the Steelers’ offensive line has been a casserole of nonsense for much of this season. That however has been more due to injuries, the constant turnover of players and guys playing out of position more than anything else. While many, including myself, believe that the Steelers could stand to acquire a long-term option at the left tackle position, Kelvin Beachum has been a solid stop-gap for the team.
In fact, the former S.M.U. Mustang’s emergence could allow the Steelers’ brass to select a raw prospect in the middle-late rounds of the draft process to develop over the next couple of seasons while the versatile Beachum keeps the seat warm.
The Steelers already have two solid guards in the forms of David DeCastro and Ramon Foster, a Pro Bowl-caliber center returning next fall in the form of Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert could inevitably duke things out for the starting right tackle job in 2014. If those guys stay healthy, then I see Pittsburgh’s brass targeting offensive linemen for developmental purposes outside of round one.
As far as upgrading the cornerback position is concerned, the Steelers might have no other choice than to select one as early as the first round despite the fact that they have not selected one that high since 1997 (Chad Scott).
As sad as it sounds, the Steelers have zero experienced depth behind their top three rotation of Ike Taylor, William Gay and Cortez Allen. I should also add that Taylor and his base salary of $7 million could make him an attractive player to cut during the offseason. Even if they return all three of the aforementioned players, Pittsburgh’s defense cannot get by with Curtis Brown, Antwon Blake and Isaiah Green behind Taylor, Gay and Allen.
I am certainly a fan of Gilbert’s, and he would present an attractive draft choice in the middle of the first round for a team like the Steelers.
After a down junior campaign in 2012, Gilbert has been nothing short of stellar for the Cowboys this fall. Outside of the 40 tackles he has racked up, the cornerback leads the team in interceptions (six), passes defensed (13) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (two). Gilbert’s frame (6′ 200 lbs.), physical nature and ball-skills would make him a solid fit in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme, and his experience as a kickoff returner (six career touchdowns) could give the Steelers an upgrade in that area as well.
Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher