Maybe the NFL Draft should be held earlier in the offseason

Kirk Irwin

Right after the Super Bowl, straight through to the NFL Draft, there's almost daily analysis and speculation as to what team should pick what player based on varying and changing opinions about his size, speed, strength and what he did in the Combine and on his Pro Day. Crazy thought: Maybe it's time to go back to having the NFL Draft right after the Super Bowl. At least, then, we'd have more time in the offseason to second-guess the first round pick.

Last week, I wrote a piece about the Steelers great need for a cornerback and how the time could be right for them to go in that direction in Round 1.

I have been of that opinion for quite some time. To reiterate: If a team is looking to improve a position, and there is a high-pedigree choice or two or three available in the first round, wouldn't it be a sound investment to use your first pick to solidify that position?

For my story, I used Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard as an example of a fine choice for Pittsburgh at number 15.

Why? For starters, a lot of mock drafts have (had) him being available to the Steelers when their time on the clock commences on May 8. Also, just watch these highlights; the dude looks awesome and even has a cool nickname: "No Fly Zone." (I can just picture the Black and Gold shirts, and maybe a Benstonium video or two, complete with funny stock footage from the movie Airplane: "There's no catching in the "No Fly Zone.")

I'm ashamed to say that after reading some of the comments from BTSC readers regarding my story and Dennard's talents (or lack thereof), I almost felt compelled to change the accompanying picture to that of Bradley Roby, and alter the last line of the piece to state, "My money is on Bradley Roby of Ohio St. becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler on May 8."

This would have been unethical, of course, but could you really blame me? Just call it collateral damage from a dozen too many mock drafts, and absorbing far too many opinions based on Pro Days,  the Combine, size, speed, lateral movement and Wonderlic tests.

So, why did  I feel compelled to alter my story in a pro-Roby kind of way? According to this fine piece written by Neal Coolong (who, by the way, has great lateral movement but doesn't get out of his backpedal fast enough) Roby is moving up the boards fast and is now projected by some to be Pittsburgh's choice in Round 1.

As for Dennard, the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner (you know the trophy they give to the top defensive back in the country) has evidently slipped to the end of  the first round in some mock drafts.

Why? Time, perhaps? As in too much time on everyone's hands.

There's no secret that this time of year is rather boring for football news. Just read your typical reaction to just about any "outside the box" article: "Must be a slow news day."

Of course it's a slow news day; it's April, and tomorrow  will be May, and then after that it's June, and we'll still be three months away from the start of  the regular season.

I digress.

There's certainly a football void to be filled this time of year, and nothing fills that void for football junkies better than fluid (and I mean FLUID) draft speculation and news that seems to change almost daily.

If I sat and pored over the dozens of different player profiles that exist out there in Internet Land, I'd have varying opinions on different draft prospects, too.

Just look at some of the quotes about Dennard, courtesy of his NFL.com Draft profile:

As you start to read the profile, you may feel good about things. In addition to the Jim Thorpe Award, Dennard was also a First Team All-American (Roby was voted a Second Team All-American).

And in terms of physical tangibles, he "Looks the part," is "Field-fast with competitive play speed," and "Has very good eyes and anticipation and reacts quickly to what he sees." I'm not even sure what most of  that means, but it seems nice.

I'd go on, but I don't want you to fall in-love with him just yet. After all, those are just his strengths. If you read further, you'll see that Dennard has some weaknesses:

In addition to a double-hernia operation (ouch!), Dennard also "Showed some hip stiffness in combine drills," and "Was not asked to play a lot of zone coverage." I'd go on, but I don't want you to think he's a horrible player and start calling for Roby, instead......whoops, too late.

So, in like a two minute span, you may go from loving Dennard, to wondering if he should even be drafted at all.

If you read the profiles for other potential first round corners--Roby, Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller--you might have the same feelings of uncertainty.

Maybe things need to go back to the old days, when the NFL used to hold its draft right after the Super Bowl.

I realize this would totally ruin an entire industry (pre-draft analysis is almost an industry independent from the NFL Draft), put many people out of work, cause thousands of football fans to suffer from major draftnik withdrawal and force NFL coaches and scouts to draft players based on college production and not on what they did during three days of running around in Under Armour attire.

But at least we wouldn't have to spend months fighting over what cornerback the Steelers should pick in the first round, and instead, we'd have many more months to second-guess that first round selection.

Can you imagine the second-guessing industry that would create?

"May, 2018, Mocked Draft: Who the Steelers SHOULD HAVE DRAFTED in 2014."

I'd subscribe.

You might hate the thought of no draft speculation to argue about for three months, but don't worry, you'd still have NFL free agency to embrace: "Yay, the Steelers signed some guy that another team cut!"

Oh well, at least the draft is still a few weeks away, and Dennard has time to increase his draft value and maybe even threaten Jadeveon Clownney for No. 1, overall.

Anyway, my money is on Bradley Roby of Ohio St. becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler on May 8.

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