2015 Steelers NFL Mock Draft: 7 Rounds v14.0

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Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers do not possess tremendous amounts of experienced depth at the cornerback and safety positions. Ike Taylor and Will Allen do not appear to be “must re-sign” priorities for the front office at the moment, Brice McCain signed with Miami, and William Gay’s current deal is set to expire next spring.

As I mentioned in previous mocks, the Steelers could try to select a defensive back prospect with some positional versatility like Eric Rowe or Byron Jones. With their needs in secondary and the other prospects in mind, Josh Shaw of Southern California could be someone who is targeted on the second or third day of the draft by Pittsburgh’s front office, coaches and scouts.

Defensive backs with great size, long arms and the versatility to play multiple positions are highly valued in the NFL, and Shaw fits that particular mold. After transferring from Florida after his freshman season, Shaw enjoyed extremely productive sophomore and junior seasons at Southern California. Shaw manned the cornerback, free safety and strong safety positions during those years and recorded 97 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 6 INTs and 13 PDs.

While he did play cornerback with the Trojans, I see Shaw’s best fit at the NFL level as a safety. He has the ball-skills, tackling skills and size to be an effective player both inside and outside the box. In addition, his length and cornerback experience could make him a valuable chess piece in the secondary against “joker” tight ends on passing downs.

On film I was worried about Shaw’s ability to flip his hips smoothly and run with faster receivers, but I was extremely impressed by his workout at the Scouting Combine where he appeared much improved in that area. However, I did notice on film at times that Shaw was susceptible to being beat in man-coverage by faster & quicker receivers if he could not engage them at the line of scrimmage. In addition, he did take some questionable angles on running plays, but I am less worried about that than him being taken advantage of as a cornerback.

In terms of his overall talent, I see Shaw as a late-second round pick. Unfortunately for the former Trojan, an off-field incident from last season which stemmed from the defensive back lying about injuries (which along with his suspension limited him to three games last fall) he sustained during an altercation with his girlfriend has many questioning his character.

Next: Round 5