The BTSC Draft Committee went after a player who could make plays on the quarterback in the first round of the 2014 SB Nation Bloggers Mock Draft, selecting Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
In the second round, it wanted someone who could make plays on the ball.
Another pick that likely will be seen as a surprise, the Steelers selected Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines with the 46th pick, giving them a high-level cover cornerback who will grow into what the Committee believes will be one of the better all-around corners in the NFL.
The Steelers play their cornerbacks in zone. Not exclusively, but certainly enough to consider a cornerback's skills in that defense a priority for their selection.
This is a great play in zone coverage. He shows great instincts, vision and athleticism.
Credit Steel34D, a Committee member, with identifying Gaines in a great breakdown from March.
Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar wasn't impressed with the Committee's selection of Donald in the first round, and we think he's taking his foot off the gas for the sake of keeping a friendly tone in the series.
The Steelers need to come out of the first two rounds of the draft with a starting cornerback. While this may seem a little early for Gaines, he fits the mold in Pittsburgh. He's an aggressive, physical corner who gets a good jump on the ball. Another corner the Steelers should consider in this range is Lindenwood's Pierre Desir. He does many of the same things as Gaines, just slightly better.
We feel we highlighted Gaines well enough to justify why he's a better choice than a Division II player.
We wouldn't expect Gaines to start this season. The Steelers have three cornerbacks who can play at a reasonable starting level right now. Our plan is to immerse Gaines in Dick LeBeau's defense, get him in the weight room and prepare him compete hard in training camp. If he wins the starting job, great. We'd rather develop the right player than force the wrong one into the starting lineup.
2014 SBN Bloggers Mock Draft
2014 SBN Bloggers Mock Draft
In the end, our reasoning was more based on what Gaines can offer us over the next two years. In those two years, the cornerback position becomes much more of a need than either wide receiver or nose tackle (although we do feel both should be considered priorities in this draft). We feel with the right system in place, Nix will provide a good amount of value, and there is little chance he'd last until the third round. The same can be said for Moncrief.
With Nix, though, we're concerned with a 22-year-old at 330 pounds who has knee issues. Considering his size, it's possible further knee injuries wouldn't come back 100 percent. Some will give him a pass for less-than-stellar tape from 2013 because he was injured. What happens if his knees simply can't hold his massive frame over time?
That said, we only considered that as a means to eliminate him from consideration. We feel he's definitely worth a second-round pick, but upon increasing the lens on the microscope, he has a flaw we feel Gaines does not have.
Moncrief is a fine player, and while the concept of a "big" wide receiver isn't something we want to readily ignore, we don't feel that, in and of itself, justifies his selection. Judging by his film, we're not entirely sure he even plays to his size anyway, and there are still plenty of smaller receivers available who have more speed and also won't be sure-fire winners in 50/50 situations.
This isn't to take the shine of Gaines, though. A great player filling a position of need with a top 50 pick - we're excited about it.