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NFL Draft primer 2014: Better to receive or defend?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

NEW YORK — On this day between Stanley Cup playoff games up here, I’d like to lock in on the NFL Draft that opens Thursday night right here in the big city.

But why type when I can just blab on video in front of the draft site, Radio City Music Hall, about the Steelers’ possibilities for the first-round pick at 15th overall?

So, wide receiver or corner?

Which would be your choice?

The need is easy: It’s at corner. Ike Taylor is 34. He’s got one more year in him, if Dick LeBeau is lucky, and the only younger candidate for starting duty, Cortez Allen, lost his job last season to journeyman Willie Gay. That’s not depth. That’s despair.

So maybe Taylor was onto something when he blurted out on his TribLIVE Radio show last month that the team’s plan is to take a corner first. Maybe management will take that longer route, as it often takes longer than a full season to learn the position at the NFL level. Maybe they’ll bide their time and hope for the next Rod Woodson.

But then, this is the Steelers. Mike Tomlin’s all about the now, if you’ll recall. Even at the end of a lost 2013, he still had a lame duck Ryan Clark at safety rather than getting Shamarko Thomas valuable reps.

As noted in the video, but I’ll take the receiver.

Imagine bookend studs around Ben Roethlisberger, with Antonio Brown on one flank and, say, the golden hands of Texas A&M’s Mike Evans or the overpowering stature of Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin on the other on the other. That’s where the star power is in the all-pass NFL anymore.

Here’s Evans, who’s shooting up the charts and might not be there:

And here’s Benjamin, who probably will:

Take the corner in the second round, toss him a playbook and take a year to teach him right.

The corner to watch, in the event of a first-rounder, would be Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard:

>> Here’s the NFL Draft 2014 official page on NFL.com. It’s outrageous.

>> Here’s the Steelers Draft Central page on Steelers.com. It’s equally outrageous.

>> Here’s TribLIVE’s Steelers page and our Steel Mill blog.

>> Here are all of beat writer Alan Robinson’s position-by-position breakdowns that have been running daily in the Trib for a couple weeks now: Kicker, linebacker, running back, quarterback, offensive line, defensive line, cornerbacksafety, and today’s final installment for wide receiver.

>> Here’s a sample of some of the exemplary work our editors, copy editors and page designers do for the print product, this one a double-page look at the Steelers’ history in the first round:

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 9.33.34 PM

>> Some recent Steelers features and news articles:

The Steelers won’t trade up, by Robinson.

Ben Roethlisberger talks QB class, by Robinson.

The defense has gotten younger, by Mark Kaboly.

And culled from that two-page display up there, here’s the online version of the franchise’s all-time best first-rounders, by Robinson. As well as a discussion of same from our Subway Final Word panel last weekend:

>> Thank you, as always, for reading. We’ll all have much, much more draft coverage in the days to come, including a column I’ll write from the Steelers’ South Side headquarters Thursday night.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

 
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