The annual mock draft season is in full tilt with the NFL officially in offseason mode, and as fans prepare for the start of free agency in early March, what everyone anxiously awaits is the NFL Draft. This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a wide array of needs which all could be addressed in some way, at some time, in the upcoming draft.
Many mock drafts have suggested the Steelers will immediately turn to the cornerback position, especially with the cornerback class being very deep and strong in the 2016 crop of talent. However, fans of the team realize the Steelers rarely dip into the cornerback pool in the first round, and with their needs at other positions, the team very well might put the cornerback draft pick on the back burner, at least in the first two rounds.
When Sports Illustrated constructed a 2-round mock draft, they have the Steelers addressing two needs for the team, but not a cornerback. See who they have the Steelers selecting with picks No. 25 and 58.
Round 1: No. 25
S, Boise State
We talked about "draft crushes" on last week's On the Clock podcast, and Thompson was on that list for me even before he excelled at the Senior Bowl. The Boise State product was all over the field in Mobile, breaking up countless passes in drills. Adding Thompson would allow the Steelers to use hard hitter Mike Mitchell more often as an in-the-box defender.
Round 2: No. 58
Before fans of the black and gold head for the closes bridge to jump off, remember what I said earlier about this year's cornerback draft class. There will be defensive backs to be had in the later rounds, but not the high profile players every fan wants on their team.
Remember when fans were pining for Justin Gilbert? How about Darqueze Dennard? Anyone still want those players on the team? After those two players, I trust Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin in the war room. If the Steelers are lucky enough to get a player like Darian Thompson in the first round, and Joshua Garnett in the second round, you are getting two elite NFL-ready players in the first two rounds.
The draft, and mock drafts, are a guessing game. No one thought Bud Dupree would be available when the Steelers picked in the 2015 NFL Draft, and you know how that panned out. If there is one truth to this mock draft, it is this: Fans should prepare themselves for the realization the Steelers could ignore the cornerback position in the early rounds in the upcoming draft.