NFL Draft 2011: Pittsburgh Steelers' 3 Potential Round 2 Targets

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 29, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Pittsburgh Steelers' 3 Potential Round 2 Targets

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Danny Amendola #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is tackled by  Ras-I Dowling #19 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on January 1, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    With Round 1 in the books, teams open Friday looking ahead to the second round of the draft. There were surely surprises on Thursday night, none bigger for Steelers fans than the selection of a defensive end (Cameron Heyward) in the first round rather than a corner or offensive lineman, which would have filled the team's most glaring needs.

    As Round 2 progresses, the picture for the Steelers will become clearer, but here is a Friday morning look at three prospects that could be in the conversation for Pittsburgh with the 63rd overall choice.

Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 09:  Ras-I Dowling #19 of the Virginia Cavaliers against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


    After skipping out on Aaron Williams in the first round, the Steelers almost have to go with a corner in the second round. There will still be good players on the board when they select, so there's no reason to think a player like Dowling will not develop into a star.

    Dowling is a fast player who can make plays in coverage and can stay with virtually any receiver. He's a smart player as well and could use his speed to eventually develop into a fine blitzing corner for the Steelers.


    He should be there at 63rd overall. His injury concerns have dropped him down some draft boards, which could bode well for the Steelers, who took another injured Virginia player and turned him into a star. You may have heard of Heath Miller somewhere before.

Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert #76 of the Florida Gators takes a breather during a stoppage in play against the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. Florida defeate
    Doug Benc/Getty Images


    The Steelers have had success with Florida linemen. Max Starks and Maurkice Pouncey are already on their offensive line.

    Gilbert fits the Steelers' blocking scheme very well and would give them a solid right tackle who could sit behind Flozell Adams and push him for playing time before ultimately taking over. At that point, the team could re-sign Willie Colon to play at guard, giving the Steelers a very dangerous-looking offensive line in front of Ben Roethlisberger and his playmakers.


    He's another one that I expect to be available when the team selects, and he fills their other big need. There's virtually no chance they miss out on filling a major need in both of the first two rounds, so look for someone like Gilbert to be the pick if they shy away from the defense.

Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jarvis Jenkins #99 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


    If you can take anything away from the first-round choice, it's that the Steelers firmly believe in the theory that a stellar pass rush is more important than a good secondary. If the team felt otherwise, it wouldn't have used a high draft choice to stockpile talent up front.

    In that line of thinking, Jenkins is another player who makes sense. He fits a more immediate need as a player who can step in behind Casey Hampton at the nose tackle position and eventually replace the longtime star. Jenkins is a good interior rusher who can take up multiple blockers and open holes for his linebackers.


    He'll likely be available, but I don't think the Steelers would spend two picks in a row on the defensive line. You never can tell, though. No one thought they'd take a defensive end anywhere near the first three rounds.