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Rice's Phillip Gaines shows more reason why the second round is stacked with the position talent the Steelers need

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Cornerbacks and wide receivers are the deepest two positions available in this draft. They're also the two positions the Steelers need to address. Rice's Phillip Gaines shows the high level of prospect that will likely be available in the second round, and making a trade-down even more appealing.


We did a breakdown of Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines, and we were wrong.

He's a better player than we initially anticipated.

Gaines has all the makings of a cornerback who is on the verge of becoming a legit stud in the NFL, but the edges he needs to sand down would likely take a bit of time. Perhaps he's not the kind of player who will be able to contribute immediately, but in the long-run, if he stays on the same path he's on, he's going to be a very good NFL player. The multiple meetings he has set up is an indication of that.

Production is key. For a cornerback, the lack of production from a receiver is key. Writes BTSC's Steel34D in his evaluation of Gaines:

"In the three full games I watched Gaines was targeted 14 times. He broke up four passes, intercepted a fifth and allowed only four catches."

Four catches allowed in 14 throws. He made a positive play on the ball more often than he allowed it to be caught. No one else with a draft future can boast those kinds of stats. He's probably not a Year 1 player, though, given the fact he's going to need some serious strength training but that's the most coachable area of any prospect.

Watching a player like this, it's really difficult not seeing a team spend a second round pick on him, particularly one that can afford to stash him away for a bit. He has a very advanced mental game, and with some time in the weight room and 1-on-1 against a tackling dummy, he could end up being an outstanding cornerback.

It leads me to think, despite the depth of top-tier cornerbacks likely to be available at 15, the Steelers don't necessarily need to take one there any more than they need to take a wide receiver there. Plenty of evidence suggests both positions will yield a good player at 46 - maybe even one on a close level to one they'd take at 15.

The real hope here is a quarterback some team really wants is available at 15 and wants to trade up. The Steelers would benefit greatly by drafting three times between 20-60.