The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in the last eight years. After a season where the team finished in the top ten in passing yards allowed, the team could be looking for reinforcements to build up an aging secondary. Pittsburgh has the No. 15 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft and if they can make it happen, the pick should be Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.
The team’s starting corners from last season in William Gay and Ike Taylor are getting older with Gay being 29 and Taylor at 34 years old. There are many draft experts who believe the Steelers are going to make the move at cornerback with either Gilbert or Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Gilbert however is the better player of the two and Pittsburgh should be very lucky if he does fall all the way to the No. 15 spot. He has been looked at a player who could be drafted as early as No. 8 to the Minnesota Vikings or No. 10 to the Detroit Lions.
Gilbert is six foot and showed at the college level that he can be a shutdown corner. There are some talented wide receivers in the AFC North with A.J. Green in Cincinnati, Josh Gordon in Cleveland and Torrey Smith in Baltimore. Gilbert would likely find himself trying to slow those three down twice a season. He also brings kick return ability with six career kickoff return touchdowns and ran a 4.37 40 at the combine.
The biggest thing however is slowing down the three receivers mentioned before. If the Steelers can draft Gilbert and he is able to slow down Green, Gordon and Smith in the passing game, Pittsburgh becomes a potential playoff team in 2014. Here is a look at Gilbert in pass coverage from his time with Oklahoma State.
There are going to be some anxious hours ahead for the Steelers on Thursday night hoping to get a high-quality corner in the first round. Gilbert must be the choice if he is still around at that part of the round. The best cover corner in the draft could send the Steelers back into the conversation for the AFC North title in 2014.