Kiper: CBs, WRs can be found later in draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers' needs, especially on defense, are such that they could go in a number of different directions with their first-round draft pick.

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr.Insider and Todd McShayInsider each have the Steelers taking Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III with the 15th overall pick, and that hasn’t changed from their initial mock drafts.

What is incumbent upon general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin is addressing pressing needs later in the draft, something that the Steelers have done with mixed results in recent years.

Two positions that stand out as ones where the Steelers should be able to find good players later are cornerback and wide receiver.

"Cornerback has turned out to be a pretty decent position overall," Kiper said Thursday during a conference call. "There’s probably only going to be two to three first-round corners, a lot of second- and third-round corners so you can wait a little bit on that spot maybe."

That is what the Steelers have historically done. They haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first round of the draft since they took Chad Scott in 1997, but maybe this is the year to end that streak.

Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay are the only experienced cornerbacks on the roster and with Allen the only one of the three who possesses any kind of upside.

Kiper said the Steelers should have their choice between the top two cornerbacks in the draft, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard and Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. He projects Gilbert going to the Detroit Lions at No. 10 with the Bengals taking Dennard No. 24 overall.

Wide receiver, unlike cornerback, is top-heavy in talent. But it is also deep in large part because of the nearly 100 underclassmen who have declared for the draft. Almost a fifth of those players are wide receivers.

"There’s going to be an opportunity I think at wide receiver to see guys in the third, fourth and fifth round get done," Kiper said. "That’s going to be a very deep position."