Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 NFL Draft Review

The Steelers once again had a functional, but non-sexy, draft that brought in players who fit their system. Again the Steelers’ hierarchy – Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin – waited patiently for their pick and did not reach for any player. Traditionally, the Black and Gold stay true to their board and take the best player according to their grades. Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh’s first pick, could be considered sexy by some because of his talent level. He is powerful and explosive off the ball with his quick first step. His game is all about power and strength. Cameron Heyward is a perfect fit for the Steelers’ defensive end position. He is big, strong, and very athletic. Heyward was one of the few defensive linemen in this draft who could play any position on any defensive front. The Buckeyes moved him around to take advantage of match-up weaknesses. He has the talent to be a dominating player. He can explode and unlock his hips with force. He plays with a good power base and lower body strength, can bend his knees, and plays with leverage. He has innate strength to run over a blocker on his bull rush. He has been known to collapse the pocket with vertical push and effort. Marcus Gilbert started at right tackle in 2009 and left tackle in 2010. A big man with good athletic ability, he works to keep his hands inside on the breast plate. He plays balanced with a good base in pass protection. Athletic on pulls, he stays on his feet and plays with quick feet in pass protection. He will be an eventual starter if he plays with overall technique in the pass and run game. Curtis Brown is physical and sticky in coverage. He has the tools to help immediately as the nickel or dime corner, but with improvement could move outside if his coverage discipline improves. A former wide receiver, he is athletic with functional corner speed. He has a good closing burst on the ball and will contribute on special teams coverage. He has experience as a gunner on punt teams. Cortez Allen was the second cornerback chosen by the Steelers. He played only one year of high school football, then started 30 games at the Citadel. Allen is an athletic big corner with size and leaping ability. An ascending prospect, he has solid developmental ability. He has track type speed and is loosehipped for smooth turns with acceleration and catch-up speed. Chris Carter played a rush end in a four man front at Fresno State. As a high school senior he recorded 21 sacks. Last year he had 11 for the Bulldogs. A natural edge pass rusher, he has explosive first step quickness, is active and athletic, uses multiple moves, and gives a top level effort every time out. He was the WAC defensive player of the year. He is a projection as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Carter has good arm length and strength, has good use of his hands, speed, quickness, and strength in his pass rush skills. Keith Williams is a physical player who started 33 games at left guard. He uses his hands effectively to lock on and stay engaged. He gets a good fit in the zone blocking scheme. A natural knee bender, he can move his feet. He has good awareness on blitz pickups or on combination blocks to the second level. A developmental player, he has decent athletic ability. He is a better run blocker than pass protector at this point. Baron Batch was Texas Tech’s running back, but in their spread offense an every-down back is like a pro offense’s third down back. He rushed for 2501 yards and caught 140 passes, scoring a combined 32 touchdowns in his career. He possesses reliable soft hands, catching the ball out of the backfield. He is smart and can read and find weaknesses in coverage. Batch has been competitive and productive over his career. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

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