NFL Draft 2011: 5 Options for the Steelers in Round 2
The Pittsburgh Steelers have done an exceptional job in past years when it comes to grabbing a starting quality player with their first-round picks. The next big step to building through the NFL draft is to locate talented players in the second round and later.
There is no question that the Steelers need to address their needs at offensive line and cornerback early in the draft, but in the second round, teams need to start thinking about taking the best available players. Who could some of those players be?
In this slideshow, we will take a look at five options for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round. The list includes a defensive lineman, corner, two offensive line prospects and a game-changing running back.
Kenrick Ellis, Nose Tackle, Hampton
Some dark horse picks for the Steelers in Round 1 include Cameron Heyward of Ohio State and Oregon State's Stephen Paea. The fact that those two players are options for the Steelers in round one indicates that the team could be targeting help along the defensive front.
One great way to add talent to the team's three-man front would be to take Kenrick Ellis from Hampton when they are on the clock in Round 2. Ellis would be a nose tackle in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense and could be groomed into Casey Hampton's eventual successor.
The big concern with Ellis is his past character issues. Ellis was dismissed from South Carolina for multiple violations of the school's policy. His issues include academic problems, prior marijuana usage and a 2010 arrest for assault that got him suspended for the season opener.
If you look past those issues, Ellis has the skill to succeed. You will rarely see Ellis pushed backwards, and he uses his arms and length very well. Ellis holds his ground and is not afraid to take on the double team. His size and strength will attract a number of teams.
James Carpenter, Offensive Line, Alabama
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James Carpenter has the ability to play either tackle or guard in the NFL, and his versatility gives him more value for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The two-year starter earned All-SEC honors in 2009 and 2010, while blocking for top-ranked running back Mark Ingram.
Carpenter is a very athletic offensive line prospect who excels in pass protection. He moves very well side to side and makes defenders work hard while they are trying to get around around him. With Ben Roethlisberger saying he would like to see the team pass more, adding player like Carpenter would help satisfy the quarterback's wishes.
Curtis Brown, Cornerback, Texas
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Everyone knows that the Steelers need to address the cornerback position, and Curtis Brown is a name that has been connected with the team more often as we draw closer to draft day. Brown was overshadowed by his teammate Aaron Williams during his college career, but don't underestimate his talents.
Brown is a very physical corner who was tested by top wide receivers such as Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon during his time at Texas.
The former Longhorn is never afraid to stick his nose around the ball and will come up to make a tackle. Brown would be a perfect fit for the Steelers.
Marcus Gilbert, Offensive Tackle, Florida
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Marcus Gilbert is a former teammate of current Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. While many fans would like to see Pittsburgh bring in Pouncey's brother Mike, their former teammate would be a great addition for the Steelers in Round 2.
Like the previously mentioned James Carpenter, Gilbert brings versatility to the offensive line. He would be able to fill in at multiple positions if the offensive line was plagued with injuries. Gilbert projects to right tackle but could also see some time at guard.
Gilbert is more well-rounded than a guy like Carpenter in the second round, and he would bring a more physical mentality to the team.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Oklahoma
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While many may not look at running back as a huge need for the team, Oklahoma star DeMarco Murray would be a brilliant selection for the team in round two. Murray is a speedy back who would bring a home run threat to the backfield.
Pittsburgh currently has Rashard Mendenhall as the full-time starter, but bringing in a guy like Murray would be a perfect complement.
Murray is a brilliant receiver out of the backfield and is more polished of a route runner than one would think. The former Sooner was very productive during his college career and has the potential to be the best running back produced from this draft class.
There is a strong possibility that Murray will not be available at the end of Round 2, but with Mark Ingram's stock sliding, the first running back off the board may not be until the second round, which would allow Murray to be on the board later than a team could imagine.
If DeMarco Murray falls into the Steelers lap, they have to pull the trigger and select the dynamic tailback.