2011 NFL Draft: Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Draft

Keet BaileyCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2011

Cameron Heyward can do a little jawwing.
Cameron Heyward can do a little jawwing.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The runner-up for the NFL’s best team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, were targeting a few guys that would really put their team over the edge for 2011.

After the secondary of Pittsburgh was embarrassed by Aaron Rodgers, the No. 1 target seemed to be a cornerback, and one that could make an impact right away. But they opted to boost the depth in the trenches early, and grabbing corners in the middle rounds.

Round 1, Pick 31: Cam Heyward, DE, Ohio State

The Steelers have had to battle injuries on the defensive line, as well as aging factors. Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel and Nick Eason have been in the league for over 10 seasons. Ziggy Hood, a former top draft pick, has been above average at best. Cam Heyward’s run stuffing ability as well as ability to keep contain made him a steal at pick 31. He was talked about as a Top 20 talent for much of the last few months.

Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 63: Marcus Gilbert, OG/OT, Florida

This pick threw me for a loop. Marcus Gilbert is a great friend of Maurkice Pouncey, and was an effective starter among the Florida offensive line, but a second round grade is a bit of a reach. I had Gilbert as a mid-fourth  round pick. But the Steelers need for big time depth and a potential starter at both tackle and both guard positions made this pick justifiable in some ways. I still think Gilbert could have been had for better value later on.

Grade: B-

Round 3, Pick 95: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

I actually had the Steelers pegged for this pick at one point in time, only in the second round, rather than the third. I think Brown is extremely talented, and he’s much more talented than the other five or six corners that went ahead of him in the twenty picks prior. Luckily for the Steelers, they get an athlete who’s not afraid to go out and make a tackle and play physical.

Grade: B+

Round 4, Pick 128: Cortez Allen, CB, The Citadel

This pick was somewhat confusing for me as Cortez Allen just doesn’t seem to fit what I consider to resemble a Pittsburgh defense. Allen plays soft, and he’s more quick and agile, than physical. He doesn’t always go in for the tackle, and he seems like an uncharacteristic fit for the Steelers. Not to mention, Allen wasn’t even ranked in my Top 200 players.

Grade: C

Round 5, Pick 162: Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State

I was wondering when they would grab their project linebacker. Carter played defensive end and outside linebacker for Fresno State over his career. He’s shown some pass rush ability and while he’s quite a raw fifth-round selection, it can hardly be frowned upon.

Grade: B

Round 6, Pick 196: Keith Williams, OG, Nebraska

I thought the Steelers were trying to get away from slow, lazy players. Williams fits the lazy, overweight lineman like Ramon Foster and the Steelers shoot for, apparently. I just don’t care for the pick, and while Williams can be a bit of a mauler, he’s terrible slow, and uncoordinated.

Grade: C-

Round 7, Pick 232: Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech

On the flip side, I like this pick. Batch is a pure third down runner, and change of pace guy. He excelled in Texas Tech’s 95 percent passing system, as he can pass protect and catch on third down, and does well on draw plays. He could become a nice compliment to Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore.

Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-


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