Steelers Draft '15: First Round Odds

Any of several troubled top prospects could slip to the Steelers at pick 22.

One after another the troubles of those who had been Top-10 prospects have caused a shift in this year's draft rankings.

The draft's best cornerback was kicked off his team last November.

The best running back went down with a torn ACL a week later.

The best safety hurt his shoulder in December, didn't lift at the Combine and looked out of shape at his pro day.

The most sudden pass-rusher smoked so much weed late last year that even stopping for two months didn't help him pass the Combine drug test.

And the pass-rusher with the best motor has a foot injury that caused at least one team to strike him recently from its board.

Forgotten in this wave of trouble is Jameis Winston, the perpetual bad-boy quarterback who's come full circle and is back at the top of the draft board, tucked safely away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not that he was ever a question.

But who will the Steelers take at pick 22? Well, here are my odds with less than a week to go:

* La'el Collins OT-OG 20-1 -- The Steelers have shown no interest in first-round offensive linemen, but Collins, a terrific tackle-guard zone/power prospect, is listed only as my form of protest.

* Landon Collins SS 15-1 -- He's been the go-to choice of national media who don't seem to realize Shamarko Thomas will get first crack at replacing Troy Polamalu. Also, Collins injured his shoulder late last season and he didn't look like he wanted to tackle anyone.

* Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE 14-1 -- This is my guy because of his athleticism, motor, the way he overcame childhood hardship, his work ethic, the way he can turn speed to power and harass quarterbacks, and also his ability to play the edge in both the run and pass-downs schemes. But the Steelers seemingly aren't interested.

* Preston Smith DE 13-1 -- Less of a need is the 4-3 end who can move further inside on pass downs, but at least the Steelers have shown interest in Smith.

* Byron Jones CB 11-1 -- Jones has the size and Superman-like athletic skills, but for whatever reason the Steelers have shown little interest. Maybe it's the shoulder injury that wrecked his last season. Maybe it's Jones' lack of tape against top competition after moving to the corner from safety two seasons ago. But he seems to make sense in the way Ryan Shazier did last year as a 9-1 shot. But I've made Jones' odds longer because I believe the Philadelphia Eagles will pick him at 20.

* Jalen Collins CB 10-1 -- A lot of people who are smarter than me are mocking this guy to the Steelers. Yes, Collins has the size and speed, but the guy started only 10 games in four years (one redshirt year) at LSU. Collins even admitted his problems had to do with off-the-field issues. I just don't understand the attention from the draft media.

* Randy Gregory OLB 9-1 -- The best pass-rusher in the draft has two strikes against him: 1.) chronic pot smoker, and 2.) at 230 pounds was easily pushed around (and hurt) by the college game's bigger tackles last season. Also, there's a good chance Gregory won't make it to pick 22.

* Kevin Johnson CB 8-1 -- In my opinion, Johnson's a better cornerback than Trae Waynes, the consensus No. 1 corner in this draft. Johnson seems to be a better fit for the Steelers, too, but I just can't imagine Mike Tomlin getting all that excited about a 185-pounder in the first round, even if he is available.

* Eric Rowe CB 7-1 -- Size, speed and Rowe can fall back to safety if he doesn't have enough deep speed to be a pro cornerback. In his only season at the position, Rowe showed remarkable press-man skills and would be an ideal replacement one day for Ike Taylor as a lockdown type. Rowe may very well become my draft-day prediction, but right now there's very little public interest in a guy most view as a second-rounder.

* Marcus Peters CB 6-1 -- Troubled but exceptional, Peters is physical in the Steelers' mold. But is he too much trouble? Should a team that's lost an abundance of character and leadership take a chance on a guy who was kicked off his college team? Well, cornerback has never really been a position of leadership. Sometimes the ornery guy is too far away from everyone else to be much of a worry.

* Shane Ray OLB 5-1 -- This could be the player who drops into the Steelers' lap and causes another sprint to the podium. A foot issue hindered Ray's pro day numbers, and while he said it's not a problem, the Dallas Cowboys, for one, have taken him off their board. In a first round that's top-heavy with pass-rushers, Ray could be the one to slip, and the Steelers would likely pounce.

* Eli Harold OLB 4-1 -- Harold ranks a half step back from the top tier of pass-rushers in this draft because he needs to add more weight and is probably a year away from being much help to an NFL team. But Harold would some day be able to play both DE and OLB in the Steelers' packages, and he'll likely be available at pick 22.


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