Pittsburgh Steelers: Ranking the Expectations for Every Steelers Rookie in 2011

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Ranking the Expectations for Every Steelers Rookie in 2011
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

For every franchise, the annual NFL Draft is an exciting opportunity to cultivate team success for the seasons ahead, and Steelers fans have been spoiled by a number of fantastic selections. 

In the past decade, rookies have included a franchise quarterback, a game-breaking wide receiver and the most free-flowing, aggressive locks of hair to ever blow in the winds of an NFL defensive backfield.

Unfortunately, for every managerial draft dream, there is an unenviable recruitment reality that is the draft bust.  The long-term success of an NFL franchise can be secured or eradicated with one decision, as every Manning vs. Leaf debate only ever seems scary in retrospect.  At the time of selection, everybody knows "everything," but anybody could know nothing.

There are no guarantees!

While the urgency of these choices diminishes as rounds pass, there are steals to be had throughout the selection process, evidenced by James Harrison.  The linebacker went undrafted in 2002.

With the lockout nearing its final days (hopefully) and NFL action seemingly ready to resume, Steelers fans will soon become much more familiar with seven great athletes looking to make a name for themselves while wearing black and gold polyester. 

As always, it will be compelling to find out which players stand out, surprise or fall short.  With the aforementioned lockout keeping the team's new players from a proper rookie offseason, as well as the scourge of public evaluation, it is an even more challenging feat to determine how the new Steelers will fare. 

The 2011 NFL Draft saw Pittsburgh select the following players, in order of round:

1) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (6'5", 294)

2) Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida (6'6", 330)

3) Curtis Brown, CB, Texas (6'0", 185)

4) Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel (6'1", 197)

5) Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State (6'1", 248)

6) Keith Williams, OG, Nebraska (6'4", 318)

7) Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech (5'10", 207)

Which players will excel at their positions? 

Will any secure a roster spot via hard work, such as excelling on special teams?

What are the team needs, and how will this affect each rookie?

Who will make the community proud by wearing the distinct black helmet with those triple hypocycloids on only one side?

With these questions on the mind of every Steelers fan, it's time to look ahead at each Steelers rookie.

The following list is worst to first ranking of the team's draft picks based on their potential impact on the franchise this upcoming season!  Not to be ignored are the draftee's long-term abilities, which will also be addressed.

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