PITTSBURGH -- Following up on a post about the 14 players I don’t think will be available when the Pittsburgh Steelers select, here are five targets who might be available to them in the first round. I do expect the Steelers to look into moving down in the first round and collecting an extra pick or two.
I ranked these five in descending order based on the likelihood that the Steelers draft them.
5. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Three-down linebacker would make for a nice pairing with Lawrence Timmons, and he could be an immediate starter, as loathe as the Steelers are to play rookies extensively. Mosley had some injury issues in college, so the Steelers would have to be comfortable with him medically to take the 2013 consensus All-American this high. I think the Steelers wait to address this position later in the draft, but Mosley would shore up an area where they could use help if he has checked out medically.
4. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina: The best tight end in the draft has drawn comparisons to the 49ers’ Vernon Davis because of his size and athleticism and ability to stretch the field. Ebron would give Ben Roethlisberger a tall, athletic target as well as a complement -- and future successor -- to Heath Miller. The biggest question with Ebron is how much of a blocker he will develop into at the next level. The Steelers will be tempted if he is still on the board at No. 15, and they could try to trade down if Ebron is there and another team wants to move up to take him.
3. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: There is a ton to like about Gilbert, who has decent size and ran a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. He intercepted seven passes last season, returning one for a touchdown, and he also excelled as a kick returner. The knock on Gilbert is that he is not the best tackler nor is he particularly strong in run support. Tackling the catch, as the Steelers call it, is essential in Dick LeBeau’s defense, which is why they might shy away from Gilbert.
2. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner has Steelers written all over him. He is tough, physical and is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need to start building around at cornerback. The biggest question about Dennard is whether he will still be available when the Steelers make their first pick tonight. A handful of teams picking ahead of the Steelers, including the Lions and Titans, could take a cornerback. If Dennard is on the board when the Steelers pick at No. 15, it might be a coin flip between him and…
1. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: He is similar to Dennard in that he is physical and is good in run support as well as in coverage. Fuller is a little bigger and might have better ball skills than Dennard, something that might appeal to a team that has intercepted just 20 passes in the past two seasons combined. Fuller doesn’t have any flaws in his game, is a high-character guy and would be a really good fit with the Steelers.