Steelers Draft: 2015 First Round Big Board


The draft is now only 11, yes 11, days away.  That means that the picture of what will happen in the first round is beginning to become clearer.  With the picture sharpening, here is my big board for my top five (realistic) options for the Steelers in the first round.

1. Randy Gregory, Edge, Nebraska

I broke Gregory down in depth here.  If you don’t want to read the whole thing then go ahead, if you don’t then I’ll put it a bit simpler here.  Gregory is extremely underrated because he suffered from nagging injuries in college and only weighed in at the combine at 235 pounds.

Despite the concerns that people have with Gregory off the field, I see a supremely talented edge rusher on the field.  If a team is patient with Gregory and allows him to put on necessary weight before thrusting him into a full time role he could be an extremely good edge rusher.

2. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Edge, UCLA

Odighizuwa is the polar opposite of Gregory in terms on playing style.  While Gregory relies largely on finesse to win as a pass rusher, Odighizuwa is a powerful player who struggles to win outside of the tackle.  If Obdighizuwa is drafted into a 3-4 scheme or hybrid scheme, like the Steelers, he would likely play a similar role to Pernell McPhee.

I think it’s fairly likely that Gregory is gone by pick 22, so if he is I would love Odighizuwa as a consolation prize and immediate starter.  I did an in depth breakdown for him here.

Jan 24, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad defensive corner Eric Rowe of Utah (18)enters the field during player introductions before the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The North won, 34-13. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

3. Eric Rowe, CB, Utah

My top cornerback in this class would be at the number two spot on this list if not for the severe drop off of edge rushers in the second round.  If the Steelers were to take Rowe in the first round they could be doing it with the risk of not getting a good edge rusher, but they would undoubtedly be getting a fantastic cornerback.

Rowe could succeed in various different schemes or even as a deep safety once in the NFL.  For a team that runs a predominately off-man scheme with some press mixed in on rare occasions, Rowe is a very good scheme fit along with an exceptional talent in a weak draft class.

4. Eli Harold, Edge, Virginia

Harold is very raw as a prospect and may not even be ready to take a partial role in his first season.  He was used very poorly in the Cavaliers’ defense as he spent most of his time as a 5-technique (inside shoulder of the offensive tackle).  It is promising, though, that Harold was able to be as effective as he was even while being used in role that didn’t suit his talents at all.

Whichever team drafts Harold will likely only be getting a part time pass rusher in the first year or two of his career.  Harold will have to work to gain weight, increase functional strength, develop his pass rush technique and ability as a run defender.  His natural ability gives him a high enough ceiling to warrant a late round one selection for a team that is willing to wait for him to develop.

5. Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

The last man on the first round big board is Johnson.  Other than Marcus Peters, Johnson is probably the most polished cornerback in the class.  On top of that, he fits the Steelers defense perfectly.  Johnson has exceptional footwork, the ability to mirror receivers in their routes, and good catch point defense.

Johnson will get knocked for his size despite weighing in at 188 pounds at the combine.  For a team like the Steelers, Johnson could step in as a legitimate number 1 corner at the end of the first round.

Next: Steelers 7 Round Mock Draft

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