2011 NFL Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Steelers Solidify Biggest Needs

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IMay 1, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Steelers Solidify Biggest Needs

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the 2011 NFL draft with only a few needs; however, those needs had to be addressed.

    Most of us agreed that the three positions that the Steelers really needed to upgrade were offensive line, defensive line and cornerback.

    The offensive line was devastated by injury in 2010.  There is no guarantee that Ike Taylor comes back at cornerback, and they need to get younger on the defensive line.

    All of that said, who did the Steelers actually pick?

    Now that the draft is over, it is time to give the Steelers an early grade on how they did.

Round 1 (31)

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    Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State

    I think the Steelers really hit a home run here, and Cameron Heyward will now pair with Ziggy Hood as the future of the defensive line.

    Heyward will help the Steelers stay great against the run and will even bring a little pass rush to the team as well.

    He also is very versatile and has the ability to play 3-4 end, play inside in certain packages and also drop in coverage occasionally in one of Dick LeBeau’s zone blitzes.

    For more analysis on the Steelers' first-round pick, read this article I wrote.

Round 2 (63)

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    Marcus Gilbert, OL Florida

    This was a great pick up by the Steelers, given all the injuries the offensive line went through in 2010.

    Marcus Gilbert has the ability to start at right guard or tackle day one. However, with Flozell Adams probably coming back, he will be competing for that guard spot.

    Whether he starts right away or the Steelers elect to have him sit for a year, the team got a future starter somewhere on their offensive line.

Round 3 (95)

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    Curtis Brown, CB Texas

    With the labor situation, the Steelers have no idea what is going to happen with Ike Taylor and needed to upgrade the secondary.

    Although Curtis Brown is not as big as the Steelers usually draft their corners, he has great coverage skills and will come in and immediately battle for that third corner spot.

    For more about the Steelers' second- and third-round selections, see this article.

Round 4 (128)

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 22:  Carl Moore #16 of the Florida Gators catches a pass against Cortez Allen #13 of the Citadel Bulldogs during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty I
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Cortez Allen, CB Citadel

    Cortez Allen is the type of big, tall, fast corner the Steelers love to draft, although he is probably better in man coverage than in zone.

    The Steelers will give Allen a chance to compete for playing time in camp. However, I think he probably will not see the field much as a rookie.

    I would not be surprised either if the Steelers planned on eventually converting Allen to safety either eventually or immediately.

Round 5 (162)

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    Christopher Carter, OLB Fresno State

    Well we all knew the Steelers could not go a draft without taking a linebacker, although they did last until the fifth round where they picked up Christopher Carter.

    Carter will need to add some bulk and won’t see the field much at linebacker as a rookie; however, he could develop as a pass rusher for the Steelers and will give the Steelers some depth and will contribute on special teams.

Round 6 (196)

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    Keith Williams, G Nebraska

    I love the fact that the Steelers decided to go out and solidify both the secondary and offensive line in this draft.

    Keith Williams may not turn out to be a starter for the Steelers, yet he will add some much needed depth to a line that may lose a bunch of guys to free agency and also has many guys coming off injury.

Round 7 (232)

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    Baron Batch, RB Texas Tech

    The Steelers are probably going to lose Mewelde Moore in free agency, which will leave a vacancy at the team's third-down back spot.

    Batch has some good size and speed, and if he makes the team, he could become a decent threat out of the backfield for the Steelers.

Draft Grade

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    I definitely give the Steelers draft an A.

    The Steelers decided to stay put and not move around like some of us thought they would, and they ended up getting a solid player in pretty much every round.

    They selected three or four eventual starters, along with getting a few other guys who will be contributors as backups for the team.

    The only guy I am even worried will not make the final 53 man roster is their seventh-round pick Baron Batch, and I could even see Batch having a great camp and making the team.

    Either way, the Steelers had a great draft in my opinion, although we all won’t know how good it really was for a few years when we see how these players develop.