Top 5 Prospects In Each Position Of Need

With the NFL Draft just three days away from kicking off, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be under the microscope as in who to add to help form their team that has needs across the board. Some say the Steelers need to hit a home run in this draft and I agree. Who will be on the Steelers’ draft board when they are on the clock during the draft? Hard to say, but I will be giving my top five players at each position the Steelers are in need of.

Running Back

  1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama – Lacy has the potential to be the league’s next Marshawn Lynch, but I would not say this is where the Steelers should address day one. Lacy is a big back with light feet who uses the spin move to an advantage while carrying the ball. Grade: 86
  2. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina – Bernard is very close to being my top running back because he is everything this NFL is coming to. Often compared to Lesean “Shady” McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles. Scouts question his speed but I see no problem with his ability to get around the edge to make plays. Was a punt returner and returned the winning touchdown against N.C. State in 2012. Grade: 85.5
  3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin – I really like Ball and what he was able to do at Wisconsin. The only thing that scares me is his career in the NFL. Many say he will not last very long because of how many touches he has had during high school and college. Ran the ball over 350 times in his senior year alone. Grade: 82
  4. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA – Johnathan Franklin is a big play waiting to happen. He is very small, but with that size comes elusiveness. He is the most elusive back in this draft in my opinion. Reminds me of a Darren Sproles/Ray Rice type half back. Can work from any formation, but will not over power because of size. Needs to work on fundamentals like pass blocking awareness. Grade: 79
  5. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State – Randle is the most complete running back in this class, but is not a star in any real attribute. He is good with pass blocking and catching, but does not have high-speed that other backs higher than him possess. Not a real “make you miss” type back, but made Kenny Vaccaro tackle the air last year when they played Texas. Reminds me a lot of DeMarco Murray from the Dallas Cowboys. Grade: 77

Wide Receivers

  1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia – Amazing what the NFL Scouting Combine can do to a player’s draft stock. After running an amazing 4.34, forty-yard dash in Indianapolis, Austin’s ranking shot straight up. All the way to being projected as a top ten player. Though the Steelers will most likely not have the chance to snag Austin, his talent goes unquestioned. Extremely dangerous when the ball is in his hands. Grade: 93
  2. Robert Woods, USC – Just a slot receiver considered by many, but I see a lot more when looking at Robert Woods. I like what he is capable to do at USC and is a catching machine. Great hands. Grade: 88
  3. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee – Patterson is downgraded by many scouts and evaluators, but I really like what he is capable of doing. A very elusive guy that the Steelers could use on the roster after losing Mike Wallace in free agency. A Devin Hester returner but much better receiver. Grade: 85
  4. Keenan Allen, California – The sky is the limit for Keenan Allen if his medical issues check out. He has had surgery on his ankle and missed the final three games of last season due to a knee injury. Slow burst off the line, but has a second gear. His size allows him to win majority of jump balls. Grade: 83
  5. Justin Hunter, Tennessee – Another player that possesses extreme talent, however has had issues of dropping the football in his college career. Great size and finds ways to get into great position to make good catches. Grade: 80

Outside Linebacker

  1. Dion Jordan, Oregon – Jordan’s skill set as a pass rusher matches up with a lot of good pass rushers in the league today. That is why scouts love him. Will most likely not make it down to seventeen where the Steelers first strike the clock, but has good skills. Probably fits better in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Grade: 90.4
  2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia – A player the Steelers are linked to quite often. Excellent pass rusher. Led the nation in three categories: sacks, tackles for a loss, and forced fumbles. However lacks good run defensive skills. Eddie Lacy had his way on his side of the field last year. Big health issues as far as his neck is concerned. Grade: 88
  3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers – Greene impressed in 2012 coming off a broken ankle and making 136 total tackles, 6 sacks, and 10 hurries. Offers very good value as you get to the middle rounds. He over runs plays while others he doesn’t hustle enough. Grade: 79
  4. Sio Moore, Connecticut – Compared to Michael Boley from the New York Giants. Good disciplined linebacker. Made a lot of plays for the Uconn defense.  Racked up 7.5 sacks in 2012 and 72 total tackles. Grade: 77
  5. Chase Thomas, Stanford – A player that can play outside linebacker or defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. Either way, he is a good edge player. Finds the ball and makes plays. Lacks power and great pass rushing skills but can be molded. Grade: 75

Cornerback

  1. Dee Milliner, Alabama – As doubtful that it is the Steelers will take Milliner, there is no question he is the top cornerback in this class. A player with a ton of upside, and not much down. Ran a 4.37 at the combine and really a potential shutdown corner. Grade: 96
  2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State – A three-year starter at Florida State. Although not a solid tackler, Rhodes’ cover skills are very advanced. His big size allows him to play good press coverage and jams off the line. Grade: 90
  3. Jamar Taylor, Boise State – Lacks good man-to-man coverage skills, but a good zone player (Steelers run a lot of zone). Not afraid to get physical with his match up and resulting in nine pass break-ups in 2012 along with three forced fumbles. Recorded four interceptions. Grade: 85
  4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State – Recruited as a safety out of high school, Banks is a physical corner with adequate cover skills. Has all the skills to become a starter his rookie season. Compared to Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots. Grade: 84
  5. Desmond Trufant – Trufant is a four-year starter with good experience coming into the league. He has two older brothers already in the league (Marcus and Isaiah). In college, he was a shutdown cornerback. Quarterbacks would tend to stay away from Trufant, resulting in just one interception in 2012. Grade: 83

Safety

  1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas – Vaccaro is an overall good athlete. Starting material, but I still believe he is raw. I seen him fall for a few play actions and miss some tackles from over running the ball carrier. A good role player and excellent on special teams. Grade: 89
  2. Eric Reid, LSU – Started every game for the Tigers in 2012 racking up 91 total tackles, 7 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. Needs to work on coverage technique. Gets under receiver too easily. Grade: 85
  3. Matt Elam, Florida – A two-year starter at Florida. In 2012, racked up 76 total tackles with four interceptions. Elam has great energy and emotion. Rallies up the troops and makes key plays along with some big hits. Grade: 82
  4. John Cyprien, Florida International – The best player coming out of Florida International in years. The All-time leading tackler in team history and he’s a safety. Known for his big hits. Aggressive and a smart player. Not a starter on day one, but will develop into a good role player. Grade: 80
  5. DJ Swearinger, South Carolina – Another safety known for his big hitting ability. He was actually suspended one game after placing a hit on a defenseless receiver. Coaches will most likely want him to tone that down in the pros. Covers receivers and tight ends exceptionally well. Grade: 78
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