2011 NFL Draft Results: Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1st Round Selection

Nick DeWittAnalyst IApril 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Results: Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1st Round Selection

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Cameron Heyward #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases after quarterback Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl runners up, have made their first selection of the 2011 NFL Draft, their first opportunity to improve the team since falling at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

    How did the Steelers grade with their first pick?

    In a draft filled with twists, turns and surprises, their pick was certainly not one expected by most analysts. Read on and find out how the Steelers graded out and how Cameron Heyward will likely fit into the team's plans.

Meet Cameron Heyward

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Cameron Heyward #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates with Devon Torrence #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes after Torrence returned an interception 34-yards for a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Position: Defensive End

    Measurables: 6'5", 288 pounds

     

    The Skinny

    Heyward was among the upper echelon of defensive line prospects available in this year's draft. When the Steelers selected at 31st overall, he was among the top available players.

    Heyward is an above average pass-rusher who projects as a speed rush end or possibly and outside linebacker in the NFL. He can—and will—likely get to the quarterback frequently, but his size is a bit small for an NFL end. It remains to be seen exactly where he will slot in position-wise.

Heyward and the Steelers

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    TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 26:  Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his team play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Raymond James Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Where He Fits?

    At this point, it's hard to tell. Heyward plays defensive end. Pittsburgh has immediate openings and major needs at corner and along the offensive line. They have no need for another defensive end, having just spent a first round pick on Ziggy Hood two years ago.

    Perhaps Heyward can slot in at outside linebacker due to the size concerns, but there again he is blocked by franchise player Lamarr Woodley and star James Harrison.

    So where do you put this guy? Time will tell.

     

    Most Likely Scenario

    It's wide open right now. At this point, he'll spend his rookie year platooning and fighting for special teams time. After that, maybe we'll see why this pick is supposed to make some kind of sense.

Overall Grade

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  A general view of the draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Final Thoughts

    It's hard to give a good grade to a draft pick that has serious size concerns for his position and doesn't fill any major or even supplementary need. If the major concern was depth in the wake of the expected departure of Nick Eason, then the team could have addressed that with a later pick, as was projected. Instead, they once again failed to address their biggest weakness in the first round: a corner who can shut down opposing receivers.

     

    Overall Grade, Round 1: C

    I'm not going to flunk them for getting a decent player, but I'm not giving them anything higher because they failed in the most basic tenet of smart drafting: getting someone you need and not a surplus. Save the surplus building for the end of the draft.