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Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby beginning to emerge as mid-first round option

Darqueze Dennard's stock is going down for possibly smoke-filled reasons, but Roby's stock is increasing on what could simply be forgiveness for a rough 2013 season.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Darqueze Dennard, one of the top cornerback prospects available in the 2014 NFL Draft, is suffering from not playing.

Dennard, long considered to be the most logical choice for the Steelers at No. 15, fell all the way to 30 in NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's most recent mock draft. In that, he has the Steelers taking Ohio State CB Bradley Roby - who apparently has improved quite a bit from not playing.

"I think it's a real possibility (Dennard slips)," Jeremiah said on NFL Network's 'Path to the Draft'. "You talk about Bradley Roby from Ohio State, watching him over the summer based on last year's tape, I thought he was outstanding. Maybe the most talented corner in the entire draft class. Now this year, didn't have as good a year and had a bad game against Wisconsin.

"This time of year, you're starting to hear his name move up the board."

And that's where the real speculation begins. It's easy to see why Roby is allegedly rising (if such a concept can be applied to a process that's neither scientific nor has one gatekeeper to measure such activity). He is a high-level cornerback who had a very memorable bad game against Wisconsin in the 2013 season.

The fact he was arrested last year for punching a bouncer at a bar may not be appealing to many, but I'd rather have a cornerback unafraid to hit a guy who was probably twice his size. Then again, maybe that same mentality is what caused him to smack Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in the head, leading to his ejection. That's beside the point.

Roby is an incredible athlete with good size and decent skills, considering his level of experience. Given the choice between him and Dennard (or Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett), it seems if the Steelers wanted to take their first cornerback in the first round in 17 years, this is as good a group to do it with as any other.