After two straight 8-8 seasons in which they missed the playoffs -- their longest stretch of non-playoff seasons since 1998-2000 -- the Pittsburgh Steelers went 11-5 in 2014, winning the AFC North and hosting a Wild Card game at Heinz Field. They ultimately lost that game to division rival Baltimore, however, and have their work cut out for them staying atop a division that features two other perennial playoff contenders in Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Jeff Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain is charged with improving the Steelers in our 2015 NFL mock draft, and with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round, he's rolling the dice on one of the most talented defensive backs available this year.
22. Steelers: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
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Hartman: The Steelers have needed to address the cornerback position for years now, and 2014’s abysmal secondary combined with most elite pass rushers off the board has given the Steelers a chance at a top-tier cornerback in the first round. Peters comes with baggage, but Pittsburgh has a close-knit locker room run by a very player-friendly coach in Mike Tomlin.
Peters is considered one of the most talented defensive backs in the upcoming draft, but his issues off the field have dropped him off many draft boards. Peters’ physical style will be a perfect fit for the Steelers’ defensive system, and his talent out of Washington certainly will be needed in a thin secondary.
With the Steelers seeing the Ike Taylor tenure coming to a close, Peters will have every possible chance to see significant playing time as a rookie, when the only cornerbacks on the current roster are William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake and B.W. Webb.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: The pick of Peters by the Steelers is, ahem, a steal. Get it? Peters is the draft's best cornerback and the player the Steelers need. Pittsburgh has gone too long without drafting a high-level corner, and it shows in the team's depth chart. Peters could be brought in and put on an island on the outside. He's a big-time playmaker, and a really good choice.
Dan's top five players remaining
- 13. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
- 17. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
- 19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
- 20. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
- 24. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
All picks from this mock draft
- 1-22: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
- 2-56: (coming April 16)
The first round of our 2015 NFL mock draft rolls on at noon ET, with Pride of Detroit picking for the Detroit Lions at that time.
SB Nation presents: A breakdown of our latest mock draft