Following the Super Bowl, the offseason really began with the news that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger saying that he was considering retirement. Suddenly, that should start a clock for the Steelers. Win now at any cost while Roethlisberger is still playing because without him the team may face a rebuild.
Offensively, the Steelers are pretty set with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The defense, however, could still use some pieces and parts so Roethlisberger and Co. don’t have to try and score 30 points a game. The two key pieces that Pittsburgh needs to add are a cornerback and a pass rusher. In our mock draft, Jeff Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain knows which one he’d pick for Pittsburgh.
30. Steelers: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Hartman: The Pittsburgh Steelers need a pass rusher in a bad way, but they also need to add to their secondary. With some of the team’s favorite pass rushers off the board, the Steelers turn to their next best position of need and take a player who some consider the second best cornerback in the draft. Gareon Conley might not be as good as his teammate at Ohio State, Marshon Lattimore, but he is an NFL ready corner who can step in and compete for a starting position from Day 1.
While some might view this pick as a stretch, the fact Conley can play a multitude of secondary positions, as well as different styles of defense, will help improve the Steelers defense immediately. What he lacks in run support, he makes up for in his pass coverage skills. He is a great fit for both the Steelers’ zone coverage schemes, as well as their desire to run more press-man coverages in the future.
The Steelers hadn’t drafted a cornerback in the first round since the mid-90s, and could be doing so for the second straight year after taking Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The fact remains, with this pick, the Steelers recognize the pass rushing pool is much deeper than the secondary, and the team approach of Best Player Available trumps all when it comes to this selection.
Analysis: This is another situation where if it were the real draft I’d say the Steelers should trade back. There are so many pass rushers and cornerbacks left that the Steelers could move back and acquire an extra pick and still good a really good player at one of those positions.
Regardless, if cornerback is the pick, I like this one. There’s not as much as you think separating Conley and teammate Marshon Lattimore. Conley probably has a more well-rounded game but he’s not as great of a pure athlete. But with Burns and a player like Conley, the Steelers could finally be done fixing their cornerback room.
Dan's top five players remaining
- 21. Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
- 26. Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
- 30. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
- 31. Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
- 34. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
- 1-30: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
- 2-62 (coming April 24)
What grade do you give the pick of Conley by the Steelers?
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