For those of you readers who have not noticed, a new and updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft will be published by one of FanSided.com’s affiliated sites every week until Draft Weekend in May. This week, Erik Lambert published NFL Mocks’ newest Mock Draft and projected that the Pittsburgh Steelers would select the following player with the 15th overall pick:
Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
The secondary is old and depleted in terms of overall talent. The Pittsburgh Steelers have managed until recently to avoid taking corners early in the draft. They can’t afford that luxury anymore. Justin Gilbert is a big, long cover man out of Oklahoma State with the speed and athleticism to mirror receivers downfield while also playing the football.
As most of you already know, I would rather see the Steelers select an offensive weapon in round one as opposed to using the pick on a defensive player. To read the full explanation why I believe that the Steelers need to look towards the offensive side of the ball in the early rounds, you can follow this link.
Yet if the Steelers’ brass do decide to upgrade their defense with their first round pick this May, then there are four players I would like to see them take with the 15th overall selection: inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama, linebacker Kyle Van Noy of B.Y.U., cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State and cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State.
In terms of filling a pressing need and picking the best possible player on the board are concerned, the Steelers might very well find that particular combination if Gilbert falls to them.
Projected to be a high-round pick last April, Gilbert went through an up-and-down junior campaign in 2012. To his credit, the former Cowboy was nothing short of stellar out on the edge this fall. Outside of the 42 tackles he racked up, the cornerback led his team in interceptions (seven), passes defensed (14) 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 depleted secondary. Although he is less of a zone-scheme fit than Dennard and is not as able to play against the run as well as the former Spartan, his athletic ability, speed and skills in press-man are far superior to the 2013 Jim Thorpe winner’s.
In addition to his prowess on the defensive side of the ball, Gilbert is a weapon in the return game. The cornerback returned six kickoffs for touchdowns during his collegiate career, and his ability to contribute in the return game would give the Steelers a much needed spark on special teams.
Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher