Will a first round cornerback be the apple of the Pittsburgh Steelers eye in the 2016 NFL Draft? If so, will that apple be Eli Apple of Ohio State? Several early offseason mock drafts believe that will indeed be the case and the latest offering from Todd McShay of ESPN has the Steelers going that direction with their 25th overall selection.
With good length (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and top-end speed, Apple showed he could turn and run with Notre Dame speedster Will Fuller during the Fiesta Bowl. He’s also a strong tackler and run supporter, which are qualities the Steelers value highly in their defensive backs.
By the time the scouting combine rolls around, most of you will be able to rattle off Apple’s stats from last season as if they were your own phone number. The lengthy underclassmen registered 33 total tackles last season with one interception and 8 passes defensed. He was a two-year starter at Ohio State and will likely be drafted somewhere in the first found or early second.
It seems like every year that most of the early mocks include the Steelers drafting a cornerback in the first round even though history tells us that won’t ultimately be the case. The Steelers ability to scout cornerbacks over the course of the last 15-plus years hasn’t been great and while the need is certainly always there, you would hate to see them miss on another one that just so happened to be drafted in the first round.
Apple is this third cornerback off the board in McShay’s latest mock draft as he has Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves III both going in the top 10. In McShay’s first mock that released in mid-December, he had the Steelers selecting Tennessee cornerback Cameron Sutton in the first round. In this mock, Sutton is nowhere to be seen in round one as he decided not to declare as an underclassman.
If you missed the recent profile of Apple that Josh Carney posted a few days ago, you can find it here.