The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense needs to get younger and better, especially in the secondary.
The Steelers’ secondary may have been the teams biggest weakness last season. Too often the secondary was giving up splash plays and allowing quarterbacks such as Matt Cassel to carve them up. It was a major issue and the team needs to look toward the draft to improve the secondary.
The 2014 NFL draft is the perfect draft for the Steelers to add quality members to their secondary and the defense in general.
This draft has a lot of options and the number one priority for the Steelers should be at cornerback. This draft is heavy in the cornerback position and of all of the corners in the draft the Steelers need to eye Justin Gilbert, out of Oklahoma State.
Gilbert is a very athletic corner and he’ll give the Steelers something they’ve lacked for a long while now, the ability to make big-time plays.
Ike Taylor has been the Steelers number one corner for years now but now he’s beyond his prime and will most likely only return to Pittsburgh by taking a major pay-cut. If Taylor refuses to take a pay cut, he won’t be returning to the Steelers.
If the Steelers are able to snag Gilbert I believe he’ll be able to make an immediate impact. It’ll take a little time to adjust to the NFL game but overall this kid has the ability to be a playmaker. He’s a versatile player that can only make this aging secondary better.
Taylor has been a good shut-down corner but his inability to produce turnovers has haunted the Steelers’ secondary. So many missed opportunities, especially this season. The Steelers defense didn’t produce a turnover until week 5 this past season.
The Steelers have to correct this and get back to making game changing plays on the defensive side of the ball. More turnovers in some of the games played last season and there’s no doubt the Steeler walk away with maybe one or two more victories on the year.
A playmaking corner like Gilbert boosts this defense going forward and that’s what this secondary needs.
If Gilbert is drafted before the Steelers’ pick at 15, there are still a lot of other choices in this draft to improve the secondary.
Other corners include: Darqueze Dennard, out of Michigan State, Marcus Roberson, from Florida and Jason Verret, out of TCU to name a few. All of these guys are first round picks and are more than capable of helping the Steelers from a cornerback standpoint.
The cornerback position should be the number one priory but that’s not to say the Steelers don’t addresses their issues at safety either. Veteran Ryan Clark isn’t expected to return and while Troy Polamalu is still playing at a high-level he continues to get older and won’t have all this gas left in the tank for that much longer.
Safeties the Steelers could pursue include: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, from Alabama, Calvin Pryor, out of Florida State or Ed Reynolds, from Stanford. Some these players are projected to be first rounders while other could slip to the second round.
The secondary needs to find help and this draft is stacked with help. The Steelers should look to take a cornerback in he first round then address the safety position next. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Steelers took defensive guys at least through the first three rounds of the draft.
The defense and it’s secondary need a tune up and the fixing process begins with the draft.