2011 NFL Draft: 10 Prospects the Steelers Should Be Looking at in Round 1
The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely miss on a first-round pick and hit big with Maurkice Pouncey last year.
In my opinion, the Steelers top-three priorities in the draft should be offensive line, cornerback and defensive line.
The Steelers are always one of the toughest teams to predict, though, since they always go with the best available player, no matter what their needs.
Here are 10 prospects that I see still being available for the Steelers with the 31st pick in this year’s draft.
Jonathan Baldwin WR
I figured I would start with what I think is least likely to happen.
This is not a big need, however, the Steelers receivers struggled to get open in the playoffs this year, and they have not had a big guy since Plaxico Burress.
At over 6’4’’, 220 pounds, Baldwin has seen his stock rise and fall and will probably end up in the second round of the draft.
Christian Ballard DE
Even though the Steelers just drafted Ziggy Hood a couple of years ago, they still need to get younger on that defensive line.
Nick Eason is a free agent, and Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith are not getting any younger.
Ballard has seen his stock rise recently and could slip into the end of the first round as a high energy 3-4 end.
Muhammad Wilkerson DE
Staying with the defensive line, Muhammad Wilkerson is another guy that has risen up draft boards and could be there when the Steelers pick.
With good size, Wilkerson should fit perfectly as a 3-4 end, although he would need to develop a little.
Wilkerson is a pass-rushing threat at the DE position and is versatile enough to play in the multiple fronts that the Steelers deploy.
Phil Taylor DT
There have been a lot of rising defensive linemen in the draft so far, and Taylor is right in the mix.
The Steelers have been avoiding drafting an eventual replacement for Casey Hampton, but this could be the year they finally address that.
Taylor is a perfect fit for a 3-4 nose tackle which makes him a hot commodity in the draft with all of the teams now employing the system.
Stephen Paea DT
There are a lot of differing opinions about Paea and where he will end up in the draft.
The Steelers would most likely convert him to a defensive end if they took him since he is a little undersized to play the nose.
Even with his stock taking a hit, Paea still has the motor you want in a player and is stout against the run.
Brandon Burton CB
The Steelers need to resign Ike Taylor, and then, their only other starting caliber corner would be Bryant McFadden.
Burton is a smaller corner, yet is still 6’0" and could be a good slot corner with potential to become a starter.
He is also a good special teams player with some blocked field goals in his career and the ability to cover kickoffs.
Brandon Harris CB
The Steelers love cornerbacks with size, and Harris is about 195 pounds and has good speed.
With all of the defensive linemen rising up the boards, Harris has seen his stock drop, though not due to his abilities.
Harris is a good cover guy and does not mind coming up against the run and making a tackle.
Aaron Williams CB
With the way things are going, Williams probably will not make it to the Steelers at the end of the first round.
Williams has great size for a corner at about 6’1’’, 190 pounds, with good speed and outstanding ball skills.
That being said, Williams is also good in run support and is willing to contribute on special teams.
Derrick Sherrod OT
The Steelers have some decisions to make on the offensive line with Willie Colon, Doug Legursky, Jonathan Scott, Tony Hills and Trai Essex, who are all free agents.
With all the injuries this season, tackle has become a main priority for the Steelers, and Sherrod has experience playing both left and right tackle.
The Steelers need to continue to improve the offensive line, and Sherrod could step in day one at right tackle.
DeMarcus Love OT
A few weeks ago, no one thought that Love would last this long, along with some of the other guys on my list.
I think the Steelers' best option would be to take a tackle and then push Willie Colon to guard.
Love could step in and play right tackle, and it is possible that he could take over for Max Starks on the left side in the future.