It has become an annual trip for head coach Mike Tomlin to take part in the Michigan State Spartans' Pro Day. This visit comes on the heels of the Steelers re-signing CB Ike Taylor last night. It does appear to be ironic that he is in East Lansing the day after this signing. Was this visit already scheduled by Mike Tomlin, therefore, just ‘routine’ as he would most eloquently put it? Or is there still interest in taking a cornerback in the first round at 15 and wants a better look at CB Darqueze Dennard? I highly doubt he is there to scout LB Max Bullough or any other Spartan player.
Last year, Mike Tomlin took former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell out on multiple dates, aside from the customary interview at the Combine and Pro Day visit. They spoke informally on numerous occasions and went to dinner. Tomlin usually only goes to the Pro Days of prospects they are seriously considering for the first or second pick, (second in the case of Bell). It is not absolute that they will pick Darqueze Dennard, but he is receiving high consideration judging by the intense conversations between Tomlin and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio at Pro Day. Perhaps Mr. Dennard is the next in line and will be courted by the Steelers.
Does the Steeler organization like Darqueze Dennard more than Justin Gilbert? Gilbert will most likely be off the board at 15, but so may Dennard. Despite all that speculation that they will attempt to upgrade the position in free agency, is Dennard too appealing to pass up with the 15th overall pick. Are they looking at Dennard as a possible 1st round pick or are they looking at trading back to acquire him? He has a lot of strengths and is a solid all-around player. Dennard is one of the top three cornerbacks in the draft. It all depends on how the chips fall. There are always teams who change the course of the draft in the first round by snagging a player off the radar.
The Steelers have needs at almost every defensive position and although they usually address the cornerback position later in the draft, it is quite possible that he will be the best player available on the board and fills a need. The Steelers aren’t used to picking in the middle of the first round so they are in unchartered waters. Under normal circumstances, GM Colbert would be very unlikely to draft a corner this early. Dennard presents a package that is hard to come by. Even though he is a boundary corner, his impact being a great coverage guy, especially in press coverage, improves all aspects of the defense from setting the edge in the Steelers' 3-4 defense and applying pressure on the opposing quarterback. Plus, Dennard's ability to play back on the ball in a trail position could be effective in defending the vertical passing game.
Dennard has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Steelers' 15th pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. With free agency starting later today, though, this plan could change in just a few hours and become obsolete.