With the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine beginning Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of positions of need to focus in on.
I already looked at three specific targets the Steelers should look at, beginning with the safety position.
Today I will look at another position of need: cornerback.
To say the Steelers have a need at corner is an understatement.
Ike Taylor could be let go after a poor 2013 season that saw him ranked as the 97th best corner in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Cortez Allen had an up-and-down season and is entering the final year of his deal. Overall there is a general lack of talent and quality youth at the position.
Here’s a look at four guys the Steelers should have their eyes on at the Combine:
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
I am going under the assumption that Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert will be off the board before the Steelers select at No.15. That leaves Dennard as the next best option if the Steelers decide to go corner in round one.
Dennard has decent size at 5’11”, 195 pounds, and teams love his physicality, something that would fit in nicely with the Steelers. Dennard recorded 62 tackles and intercepted four passes last season while playing for one of the best defenses in college football. The Steelers haven’t used a first-round pick on a cornerback since Chad Scott in 1997, and they won’t get a crack at Dennard in the second round.
The one knock on him though is his speed, so he will have to run very well in the 40 at the combine.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
If the Steelers elect to not go for a corner in round one, it is almost a certainty that they will look at one in the second round being that they do not have a third round pick.
I like a pair of Florida Gators here that could both be available in the second round.
There doesn’t appear to be any weakness or limitation for Purifoy as an athlete. He has ideal size for a cornerback with the agility to turn and run with receivers. He also is very good in tight coverage.
The one question on him is his ball skills as because of his coverage he didn’t have many passes thrown his way in college. He had only two career interceptions and 11 passes defensed, which other top corners in this class have in one season. There are also question marks about his ability to play the run, which have to be answered.