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Steelers' Mike Tomlin attends Darqueze Dennard's pro day

Tuesday was a busy day around the league with the start of free agency, but not everybody was back at team headquarters trying to strike deals. Several front-office staffers made it out to Michigan State's pro day, where the star attraction was undoubtedly highly regarded cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

While nobody was surprised to see several Detroit Lions personnel make the short drive to East Lansing, the presence of a number of Pittsburgh Steelers decision makers raised more than a few eyebrows.

As the Detroit Free Press pointed out, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was on hand last year at the Spartans' pro day, and the team ended up drafting former MSU star Le'Veon Bell. In addition to Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert made it out to see Dennard.

That's significant, with most predicting that Pittsburgh will opt for a top defensive player in the first round after sinking to 24th in the league against the pass last season. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis has the team drafting Dennard at No. 15 in his latest mock draft.

Dennard (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) recorded a vertical of 36 inches and a broad jump of 11-foot, 2 inches at pro day. Both unofficial numbers provided by the school topped what Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert put up at the NFL Scouting Combine. NFL Media's Mike Mayock has Dennard and Gilbert rated Nos. 1 and 2 in his latest rankings at the position.

Those pro day numbers should continue to keep Dennard in the conversation in the upper half of the first round. In addition to the Steelers, the Lions with the 10th pick and the Bears with the 14th pick could also end up grabbing Dennard.

Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's best defensive back last season and was a unanimous first-team All-American. He figures to be a busy man over the coming weeks as he meets with teams to answer questions about his durability and how he would fit in zone coverage schemes. It seems clear based on his tape and numbers, however, that he'll still have plenty of suitors come May.

Also working out at the Michigan State pro day was former Titans running back Javon Ringer, who posted an unofficial 4.61 40-yard dash. Ringer is hoping to impress scouts enough to get a second look in the league after suffering a knee injury last year.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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