One of the most historically successful franchises in the history of the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock at No.15. With defensive tackle Aaron Donald coming off of the board to Chicago with the previous selection, might the Steelers turn to the secondary with their first-round pick?
The Steelers finished 2013 with an 8-8 record and nearly made the playoffs – quite an astounding accomplishment for a team that looked like a lost cause starting the year 2-6. Many mock drafts have the Steelers looking at cornerback in the first round, despite the fact that Pittsburgh had the ninth-best passing defense in the league. The reasoning is that one of their starting cornerbacks, Ike Taylor, will be 34 by the time the season begins. Taylor has just one year remaining on his contract and his play has been declining as of late. William Gay, the starting corner opposite Taylor, is also getting somewhat long in the tooth (he turned 29 in January). After he spent a year with Arizona in 2012, Gay was brought back into the fold by the Steelers, but Pittsburgh could certainly benefit from an injection of youth into their secondary.
Looking at our Fan Mock Draft board, only one cornerback has been selected to this point. Justin Gilbert went to Detroit at No. 10, but there is still a wealth of talent from which Pittsburgh could choose. Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, considered the top cornerback in the class by many, remains available. Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller are also still on the board.
Staying in the secondary, perhaps the Steelers will look to draft a safety in the first round. Troy Polamalu remains a presence in the Steelers safety group, and Will Allen was re-signed to start at free safety, but there are some attractive safety names that could be an option here. Louisville's Calvin Pryor is an option at No. 15. Among the other best players available at pick No. 15 are Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Notre Dame's Louis Nix III and Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Steelers could also use a big, strong nose tackle to help beef up the defensive line, so a player like Nix III or even Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman could be in play.
Another possibility is that the Steelers flip the script completely and look for an offensive player. Former Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is now a member of the Denver Broncos, leaving the Steelers with a hole at the wide receiver position. Premier names like Odell Beckham Jr, Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks could all be wearing yellow and black a week from Thursday.
Or, an often leaky offensive line could be bolstered by Notre Dame's Zack Martin.
The Steelers have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but they could be just one solid first-round pick away from another chase for the Lombardi Trophy. Who is that player? You decide …
1. Houston Texans -- LB Jadeveon Clowney
2. St. Louis Rams -- T Greg Robinson
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- QB Johnny Manziel
4. Cleveland Browns -- WR Sammy Watkins
5. Oakland Raiders -- LB Khalil Mack
6. Atlanta Falcons -- OT Jake Matthews
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- WR Mike Evans
8. Minnesota Vikings -- QB Blake Bortles
9. Buffalo Bills -- TE Eric Ebron
10. Detroit Lions -- CB Justin Gilbert
11. Tennessee Titans -- DE/OLB Anthony Barr
12. New York Giants -- OT Taylor Lewan
13. St. Louis Rams -- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
14. Chicago Bears -- DT Aaron Donald