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2011 NFL Mock Draft: After Super Bowl Loss, Could Steelers Pick A Cornerback?

SBNation.com's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft doesn't have any huge surprises in the top ten picks, with Auburn's Nick Fairley going to the Carolina Panthers with the first overall pick and Patrick Peterson, Marcel Dareus, A.J. Green, Von Miller and Da'Quan Bowers following him, respectively. 

We now know the Steelers will pick 31st overall, and their pick in this post-Super Bowl mock is a relatively new one:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers targeted William Gay early and often in Super Bowl XLV, and we all saw the results. An upgrade opposite Ike Taylor is needed, and Smith has the size and physicality to excel in the back end of the Steel Curtain defense.

While watching the Packers target Gay again and again at the Super Bowl party I was attending, I mentioned the possibility of the Steelers drafting a cornerback. We all agreed that the Steelers wouldn't draft a cornerback merely because things went wrong in the Super Bowl. It's still just one game. But the fact remains that the Packers were attacking a genuine weakness. Not just Gay, but the cornerbacks in general after Ike Taylor. The Steelers badly need to re-sign Taylor in the offseason, and they really could use a cornerback upgrade on top of that.

They also need offensive linemen, although the much-maligned o-line actually played pretty well in the Super Bowl. And they need defensive linemen as well - they'll have Ziggy Hood as a solid young talent at defensive end, but they can't depend on Brett Keisel and/or Aaron Smith forever. Hood could give them the flexibility to put the defensive line on the backburner a bit in next year's draft, but it's something they need to be thinking about.

That leaves the offensive line and cornerback. This particular mock has a lot of the top offensive line picks (Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, Mike Pouncey, Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Nate Solder) going off the board before it's the Steelers' turn. If that is how the draft plays out, a cornerback would make a fair amount of sense.

By the way, this mock also leaves Pitt wideout Jon Baldwin out of the first round. Most recent mocks have him going somewhere near the end, and if he's still there at the end of the first round, he surely won't last long in the second.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.