2011 NFL Draft: Grading Curtis Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers

Nick SeroCorrespondent IIIApril 30, 2011

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19:  Wide receiver Lyle Leong #19 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs the ball past Curtis Brown #3 of the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw two rounds fly by before them while seemingly missing out on prospect after prospect listed on their big board. The Steelers may have entertained offers but were unable to move up or down in the draft.

The Steelers still were able to find players with immense upside and players that have greatly impressed the coaching staff.

That should be enough to make a great draft every year, right? What about if you're most glaring need for an immediate starter has yet to be filled? I am talking about cornerback, of course. There is always the chance that the Steelers and Ike Taylor will get a deal done, and they will be able to retain Taylor's skill set.

Or, the Steelers could realize the business aspect of the game and know that a run including multiple Super Bowl appearances will cause you to lose a star or two. It happened to the Steelers of the mid-'90s, who after their crushing loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX were forced to part ways with big-name and big-paycheck guys.

It took some time for the Steelers to become contenders again, arguably a decade. Eventually the Steelers will have players like Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall, LaMarr Woodley and Maurkice Pouncey to offer high value extensions to. Adding some space to the salary cap could be their best option.

The Steelers will look at Ike Taylor's contract demands and have to take in consideration LaMarr Woodley's impending free agency. It is no surprise to anyone that the Steelers covet linebackers much more than cornerbacks, so Ike could find himself in a new city soon.

Before we begin to speculate about free agency, however, we will look at how the Steelers addressed the third round.

With the 95th pick in the draft, the Steelers finally addressed their need for a cornerback. The Steelers were supposed to draft Texas corner Aaron Williams, but instead went with his Texas teammate Curtis Brown.

Brown is a taller cornerback, standing at just about 6’0”. At only 185 pounds, Brown will certainly have to add some bulk to his frame to play special teams in the pros. Brown will be utilized mostly in the nickel defense in 2011, as his run support won’t be strong enough to make him a starter for the Steelers. Brown does possess very good speed and has zero durability concerns.

Brown is a smarter cornerback and won’t get caught looking in to the backfield too often. His cover skills are there and he will play with swag similar to that of Ike Taylor. What Brown brings to the Steelers defense that fans should get excited for is his quick break on the ball. Steeler corners aren’t asked to play on the line very often, and Brown’s instincts to jump the pass while playing off a receiver could surprise in the Steel City.

Brown moved up the draft boards for some time, and now makes me think that the Steelers were simply using Aaron Williams as a smoke screen. Brown brings immediate upside as a nickel corner back. That could mean the starters will be William Gay and Bryant McFadden, however.

I am going to give Brown a B-. He is still a little raw and needs to work on his run support and tackling ability. His value this year will to blanket the third receiver against spread offenses. In order for Brown to become a starter, however, he will have to add some bulk to his frame and learn to drop the hammer when tackling.

The Steelers are going to get a very nice grade from me on this pick as well, a solid B+. The Steelers waited and waited, much to the chagrin of their faithful, but finally found their cornerback in the draft.

Brown wasn’t a reach; in fact, some expected him to go even sooner than 95th overall. The Steelers may not have added a talent similar to Ras-I Dowling, but they do add a durable and consistent cornerback.