The 2014 NFL Draft is Thursday and all the mock drafts will come to a head as we’ll see where all these young prospects will end up. The Pittsburgh Steelers will look to the draft to fill some voids, enhance positions and possibly find future stars to carry this team into the playoffs once more.
Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State
The Pittsburgh Steelers greatest need in this year’s draft is a cornerback. Justin Gilbert is capable of being a top 10 pick but a lot of mock draft boards have the corner slipping out of the top 10. If he doesn’t get drafted within the first 10 picks then he should be in position for the Steelers to select him with at 15th overall.
Gilbert is an ideal pick to help the Steelers’ secondary. This draft is heavy when it comes to corner so there’s no need to panic should Gilbert be unavailable in the first round. However, he’s been the player I’ve been praising, and hoping the team will go after. If he’s there it’s a no brainer. This team needs Gilbert.
Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State
Another area of emphasis in this year’s draft is wide receiver. After the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, the Steelers’ receiving corps has changed. There’s still Antonio Brown, who will be the clear number one but last year’s draft pick Markus Wheaton will be asked to step into a bigger role while the team added veteran Lance Moore to hopefully fill Cotchery’s shoes.
Kelvin Benjamin fits the mold for what Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is looking for. Stadning at 6-foot-5, the Florida State reciever is a steal in the second round. Last season Benjamin ammased 1,011 yards on 54 receptions and scored 15 touchdowns. His stats show that he’s a high-level player and he would be an excellent weapon to add to and help Roethlisberger’s arsenal.
Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive end, Texas
A huge concern coming into this season for the Steelers will be defensive line. The Steelers have to get back to applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks while doing a better job of stuffing the run. The Steelers have always been a team that’s been able to apply pressure but have lacked this trait in recent seasons.
Jackson Jeffcoat is well-eqipped to boost the Steelers’ defensive line. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in a 241 pounds this former Longhorn is big, physical and posses a good work ethic. Developing Jeffcoat into a full fledged NFL-caliber defensive end shouldn’t be a difficult given he’s already a solid player. One area of concern is the fact he’s battled injuries throughout his career and the Steelers aren’t the luckiest when it comes to dodging injuries.
Jeffcoat would be an ideal pick in the third round for the black and gold, and could play the role of DE or a pass-rushing OLB.
Charles Sims, running back, West Virginia University
The Steelers added LaGarret Blount to the backfield to backup Le’Veon Bell. Normally there’s three running backs on the depth chart and picking up Charles Sims in the fourth round would be an excellent move by the team.
Sims had a great career in junior college and carried his success over to West Virginia last season. What’s great about Sims is his ability to catch passes when coming out of the backfield. Sims would add another option for Roethlisberger who will be working with few new faces at wide receiver this season.
Sims is a third running back and a potential threat at receiver. It’s a win across the board if the Steelers can add a versatile player like Sims.
Tre Boston, safety, North Carolina
The secondary needs all the help it can get. Tre Boston is a former cornerback who displays great athleticism. Boston lacks “football inteligence” as he tends to second guess himself at times. However this is fixable with the help of a reliable coach and veteran secondary players.
Boston’s hard-nose, hitting mentality makes him worth the time it may take to groom him into a skill orientated player. The safety position is lacking after veteran Ryan Clark departed to Washington, even though Clark’s play was far from good. A younger secondary is needed and the assistants of players like Boston is needed.
Cornillius Lucas, offensive tackle, Kansas State
For the Steelers, having depth on the offensive line is a must. Lucas is a monster in size- towering at 6-foot-8, Lucas is a site to be seen on the gridiron.
Despite his large size, Lucas still has a ways to go. Lucas is a work in progress but after the team brought in Mike Munchak to coach the offensive line you have to feel he’ll be able to fix Lucas’ flaws. A big offensive lineman like Lucas can’t go unnoticed in this year’s draft and he’d add solid depth to a line that always seems to be shaky.
Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
What’s a Steelers’ draft without linebackers? The Steelers have taken a linebacker in six of last seven drafts since Mike Tomlin’s been the head coach. This totals to 11 linebackers taken in those six drafts.
Avery Williamson is productive player out of Kentucky who could help backup the starting inside linebackers this coming season. He shows great tackling abilities and overall quality linebacking instincts. He’s especially good when it comes to understanding defenses which is a great bonus.
He’ll most likely be a special teams player but there’s nothing wrong with that. With time, Williamson could develop into someone worth keeping around.
Devon Kennard, OLB, USC
The Steelers need help on the outside and although Devon Kennard may not be an immediate answer he’s still worth a look. Kennard is a versatile player. He’s played defensive end, outside and inside linebacker which helps in emergency situations.
Kennard will likely see time as a special teams member as he too as a way to go in terms of being a full-throttle NFL linebacker. If there’s any defense that could mold him, the Steelers have to come to mind.
Blake Annen, tight end, Cincinnati
The tight end position isn’t an imidiante need with veterans Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth coming back next season. However, both Miller and Spaeth aren’t getting any younger and grooming their possible replacement may be a good idea.
Blake Annen, at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, comes from a program that helps lift tight ends to the next level. He’s shown good signs during all offseason training days, his pro day and practices. He’s raw talent that could be harnessed by the Steelers. He’ll be a solid player in the NFL one day and that may be after Miller has seen his days numbered.