Draft Series: Prediction

Dunta Robinson had his fun with Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, but Manning had the last laugh on the rest of the South Carolina defense that afternoon.<br><br> As Robinson, the savvy South Carolina left cornerback, faked blitzes, dropped out of press coverage, into bump coverage and generally messed with Manning's mind, Manning checked off and found open receivers throughout the rest of the field.

The one time Manning did try Robinson's side, he threw deep but Robinson jumped to break up the potential touchdown pass before falling face-first from the apex of his leap.

It was an outstanding play, one befitting a first-round pick. Robinson's a solid cornerback, and at times spectacular, but he wasn't making a difference.

Manning, with time, gave his best Joe Montana impersonation that day. Manning not only found the open man on seemingly every pass play, he hit him on the numbers and in stride. Manning also showed amazing agility at one point to avoid a sack. He proved he's worthy of the draft's first pick.

The point, however, is that Robinson, albeit a quality corner, could not dominate play. Would a pass-rusher? Not with the quick drops Manning used.

It's a problem the Steelers had last year. They'd blitz, but to little avail against the short-dropping and accurate quarterbacks of the league.

It's not the cover man who controls play. Nor is it the rusher. It's the quarterback.

The Steelers, of course, won't find Manning with the 11th pick, but they might be able to snag the next best thing: Phillip Rivers. He's the guy they want. Unfortunately, as we've learned during these days leading up to the draft, so do a couple of other teams.

There is another quarterback who interests the Steelers, and, if the Oakland Raiders pass on him, Ben Roethlisberger should be the pick.

The Steelers are entering this draft with the idea of drafting either Rivers or Roethlisberger. If neither is available, they'll decide between Robinson and trading down for offensive tackle Shawn Andrews.

The prediction here is that Roethlisberger will be their pick. In the second round, the Steelers will follow their prescribed M.O. and select Oklahoma cornerback Derrick Strait, a productive player from a big school.

The Steelers' biggest weakness is right offensive tackle, but coach Bill Cowher believes he can get by with Oliver Ross. He'll remind us that the New England Patriots won a Super Bowl with Greg Robinson-Randall at right tackle.

The late word is Cowher wants a quality running back in this draft, so in the third round look for the likes of Tulane's Mewelde Moore or Notre Dame's Julius Jones.

Let's look to tackle in the fourth round. Kansas' Adrian Jones, a converted tight end, has outstanding athletic ability and one year of experience at the position. He fits the Steelers' profile for tackles and would fill the back-up spot on the left side.

Cowher is painting himself into a corner with his recent remarks about Jason Gildon, so the Steelers can't wait past the fifth round to draft an outside linebacker.

Now, if the Steelers are left with Robinson as their pick in the first round, a wide receiver is a possibility in the second round. So is Florida State running back Greg Jones, who could become the next great power runner in Pittsburgh.

Here's a review of our value board from the last three weeks, with a few additions/upgrades (*) and subtractions based on late information:

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