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Countdown to Combine: Pittsburgh Steelers CBs


A closer look at the areas the Pittsburgh Steelers could address in the draft. The final one is a look at the cornerbacks, which are scheduled to work out Monday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: Forget that the Steelers have not drafted a cornerback in the first round since Chad Scott in 1997. The highest pick they have used on a cornerback since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007 is a third-rounder, and neither Keenan Lewis (2009) nor Curtis Brown (2011) is still with the team. With veteran Ike Taylor at the end of his career and unlikely to return in 2015 and Cortez Allen coming off a disastrous season, the Steelers have little choice but to make the position a priority in the draft.

Three cornerbacks the Steelers could target in the draft:

Trae Waynes, Michigan State: Steelers fans were calling for the team to draft Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard a year ago. The Steelers bypassed Dennard, who went No. 24 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, and now they will take a hard look at his college teammate. The 6-1, 186-pound Waynes has good size and is tough and physical. He has good ball skills -- Waynes intercepted three passes apiece in his two seasons as a starter in East Lansing -- and could be the top cornerback in a draft that lacks a surefire top prospect at the position. Waynes needs to improve his technique and get away from using his hands so much. But he will be hard to pass on if he is still available when the Steelers make the 22nd pick in the draft.

Jalen Collins, LSU: The 6-2, 198-pounder is fast and rangy and may have the most upside of any cornerback in the draft. The problem with Collins is he only started 10 career games at LSU and intercepted just three passes. If the Steelers are looking for immediate help at the position, Collins may give them pause since he still needs some work. But if they are patient with the player that NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is really high on, there could be a significant reward down the line. Collins has all of the physical attributes to excel at the next level and his best football is still in front of him.

Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest: ESPN draft analyst Kevin Weidl ranks Johnson as the second-best cornerback prospect in the draft and compares him to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the 16th overall pick of the 2008 draft. Johnson started 31 career games at Wake Forest and intercepted seven passes while breaking up 32 of them. He is polished, fluid and has good size and Johnson could help right away. The 6-1, 175-pounder also has the frame to add more bulk, which will be necessary at the next level.