My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Pittsburgh Steelers who hold the #15 pick in the first round.
The Pick: Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
I wasn’t sure the Vincent Jackson comparisons were warranted for Mike Evans, especially since he’s coming out of college after just two year. After watching some tape and the scouting combine I’m beginning to understand why the two are often mentioned in the same breath. Evans is every bit of 6’5″ with deceptive quickness and speed. He has a variety of ways to gain separation from defenders and the explosion leg power to go up and get the football at the high point. He is a nightmare on third down and in the end zone. As he continues to hone his discipline and technique, he is only going to get better.
Why: Ben Roethlisberger needs a reliable big target
The thing to remember about the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is they got by a lot in 2013 with smaller receivers. Antonio Brown (5’10″) had an outstanding year while Jerricho Cotchery (6’1″) offered a slightly bigger and reliable target outside of tight end Heath Miller. However they never truly had that imposing presence on the outside, the one who forced defenses to adjust their assignments in order to put their bigger corners in a specific place. Ben Roethlisberger could do a lot of damage with such an advantage at his disposal. It also would ease up the pressure on a struggle Steelers ground attack, opening up chances for Le’Veon Bell.
Argument: Justin Gilbert offers help in aging Steelers secondary
There is no doubt the Pittsburgh Steelers defense needs attention as well. Their once dominant core has slowly depleted due to age and the team has to continue bringing in young talent. One area that seems to especially need it is the secondary. Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor are both well into their 30s and can’t be expected to carry the load anymore. With Keenan Lewis gone, the team could really use a press corner who can assume the mantle once Taylor retires. OklahomaState product Justin Gilbert would fit perfectly. He’s lengthy, strong with great athleticism and the instincts to know when to get his head around to play the football.
Counter-argument: Dick LeBeau and deep corner class can manage
There is no denying Gilbert would help but the truth is despite their struggles at times last season the Steelers defense still finished better in the rankings compared to the offense. They have Dick LeBeau for their coordinator, one of the best in the business and most importantly the 2014 NFL draft class is reportedly very deep in corners. It is not deep in a talent like Evans however. Ben Roethlisberger is now their best hope to reach the Super Bowl and giving him such a big, athletic weapon will only help.
That is why I would take Mike Evans if I were in charge. What are your thoughts?