Steelers draft: Ho-hum
Saturday, April 30, 2011 08:15 AM
Written by Bob Smizik
Not quite halfway through the NFL draft, the Steelers have filled their needs as expected, although not quite in the order expected.
Few saw the Steelers going for a defensive end in the first round, and that remains a surprising selection. Forget the qualities that Cameron Heyward bring to the team, forget the unique circumstances of him having been born in Pittsburgh, still having grandparents living in Pittsburgh and being the son of a famed Pittsburgh athlete. Almost everyone was surprised by the choice.
The second and third round picks, made yesterday, were exactly as expected -- an offensive tackle, Marcus Gilbert of Florida, a cornerback, Curtis Brown of Texas.
It is sheer folly to attempt to rate a draft in the days, weeks or months following it. But let’s take a conservative stab at it.
For starters, the Steelers did not appear to greatly help themselves for next season, as they did last year with the first-round selection of Maurkice Pouncey, who became their starting center and top offensive lineman.
First-round choice Heyward looks to be little more than depth with Aaron Smith,
Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood in front of him. Nothing wrong with that. As Kevin Colbert, the team’s director of football operations, has pointed out, the longer young players can be held out of important roles the greater their chance for success.
Nor does it appear Gilbert will be much of a contributor next season.
Despite the instant help Pouncey gave the team, offensive linemen are traditionally slow in developing. That’s particularly true with the Steelers returning four tackles who have started at various times. Those would be Max Starks, the starter at left tackle last season before being injured; Flozell Adams, who started every game at right tackle; Jonathan Scott, who took over when Starks was injured; Willie Colon, who missed all of last year, but who had been the starter at right tackle for the previous three seasons.
Gilbert has time to develop and judging from most reports, he will need that time.
Brown probably has the greatest opportunity of offering immediate help, although that’s more because of the Steelers need at cornerback than any special skills he brings. It’s true, Ike Taylor was a fourth-round selection. But Taylor had limited college experience and mainly watched with the Steelers for two years before becoming a starter. Brown lacks the blazing speed usually associated with the best cornerbacks.
But with the status of Taylor, an unrestricted free agent, uncertain and with veteran cornerbacks B[B]ryant McFadden and William Gay considered barely adequate[
/B] as starters, Brown has a chance.
As a result of this draft the Steelers are not a whole lot better for 2011 than there were in 2010. Some of that has to do with how good they were in 2010 and some of it with the caliber of players they selected.
(Oh wonderful, the number 1 and 2 picks probably won't start which disposes of the twin theories that our pass rush and pass protection are going to be any better this year than last year. Our third pick is another slow CB! Oh well I guess the two slow CBs on the roster we had weren't enough.
Wow I'm so hopeful and excited about this draft. (Sarcasm intended.)
So that leaves us with hands of stone Taylor if he returns, the oft injured Troy, a new slow rookie CB, and the "barley adequate" McFadden and Gay in the secondary.
We are going to get ripped to shreds by any half way competent QB with a quick release and a spread offense. Even if by some miracle we reach the playoffs we'll just get bounced out. Stick a fork in the season it's already over.
It's clear the Steelers front office has gone into rebuild mode with this team. Here's to a nice long strike so I won't have to watch the Steelers get shredded by Cry Brady. - mesa)