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Three Todd McShay takes on NFL draft

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ESPN NFL draft analyst opined Todd McShay opined on several different players and positions Friday in an hour-long conference call.

Here are three items of interest to Steelers fans:

  • The Steelers have hosted Virginia defensive end/outside linebacker Eli Harold for a pre-draft visit, and the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Harold could be an outside possibility for them in the first round. Harold is among the group of pass-rushers generally rated behind Dante Fowler Jr., Randy Gregory, Vic Beasley, Shane Ray and Bud Dupree. McShay seems to like Harold, who had 7½ sacks last season, as an early second-round pick. Edge pass-rushers are such a commodity, however, that Harold could go in the first round. “I see a guy that has the tools and he’s a good worker,” McShay said. “You can see that he gets underneath guys’ pads and is able to drive offensive tackles back. I think his ceiling his higher than what you’ve seen on film. He’s around the ball, he makes disruptive plays and he should continue to ascend as he continues to get stronger.”

  • McShay said the top three cornerbacks in the draft are Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Washington’s Marcus Peters and Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson. UConn’s Byron Jones is right behind that trio, McShay said, and is also a likely first-round pick. The Steelers have hosted Peters for a pre-draft visit and he will likely go in the first round despite getting kicked off Washington’s team last November. Peters should be in consideration for the Steelers’ first pick (No. 22 overall) -- if they are comfortable that the run-ins with a new coaching staff that led to the 6-foot, 197-pound Peters' dismissal from the Huskies are behind him. “He’s the best cover corner in this draft," McShay said of Peters. "You see the instincts and I think he’s highly confident in what he’s doing. Just understands how he has to read receivers and then get his eyes back to the quarterback and just has great ball skills, too. Natural playmaker. Locates the ball quickly, tracks it well over his shoulders, goes up and contests for it, has good hand-eye coordination.”

  • McShay has given seven running backs draft grades of third round or better. They include Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, T.J. Yeldon and Duke Johnson. The draft is such a strong one for running backs that the Steelers could find a quality player at the position in the later rounds. “One of the deeper running backs classes I’ve seen in a long time,” McShay said. “After [the top seven] there’s a still a bunch of really good players that I think can work in a rotation and provide something for their team.”