- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are meeting with a pair of NFL draft prospects today, including potential first-round target Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard, a cornerback from Michigan State, and Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who is also visiting the Steelers, are both projected as early-round picks in May.
The 5-foot-11, 191-pound Dennard became the first player in Michigan State history to win the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the best defensive back in college football, as he intercepted four passes and made 64 tackles in 2013.
Dennard, who also led the Spartans with 10 passes broken up last season, is widely considered one of the best two cornerbacks in the draft along with Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Dennard as the 19th best player in the draft, a physical cornerback who would appear to be a good fit for a team that needs to get younger in the secondary.
Along with cornerback, the Steelers are expected to address defensive end early in the draft, and Tuitt fits the prototype of one in a 3-4 scheme.
He is 6-5, 304 pounds and has long arms that allow him to fight off blockers. Tuitt, who is projected as a first- or second-round pick, played defensive tackle at Notre Dame and his 21.5 career sacks are tied for the third most in school history.