One might forgive ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper for going back a bit on original sentiment this time of the year. The level of coverage required of the NFL Draft today is astronomical, so perhaps Mel forgets a thing or two - like the fact he made LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. the team's pick in his "Grade A" mock draft a few weeks ago, only to tab Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard the "best fit" for the team in the same round of the same draft.
We could get into semantics over the definitions of the criteria involved, but there are really two truths here. Either Kiper forgot about his previous prediction, or it really just is that tough to pin down exactly what direction the Steelers will go with the 15th overall pick.
And Mel is covering his butt.
Posted by ESPN reporter Scott Brown Wednesday:
"I think the ideal pick if you’re the Steelers is Darqueze Dennard," Kiper said of the Michigan State cornerback during a conference call on Wednesday. "He’s a Steeler. Rough, tough, aggressive football player, plays with a chip on his shoulder, very good in coverage, plays faster than he timed. Just a whale of a football player."
If we were forced to bet on who the Steelers' pick would be, we'd probably take Dennard, and we'd expect him to be the odds-on favorite come May 8, provided he's still on the board (all indications are he will be).
We think the Steelers will exhaust all efforts to trade down, and will use the vast majority of the time they're given in order to rule out the possibility a trade is possible. In the end, they'll select the "rough, tough, aggressive football player" at the team's biggest position of need.
Unless, of course, they don't.