The Steelers 2011 NFL Draft is now over and we have 7 new Steeler players to welcome to the fold and it consists of 7 seniors this time around. 5 of these 7 players made pre draft visits to Pittsburgh. Day 3 of the draft was as exciting as the first 2 days in my opinion and the draft seemed to move at a good speed. Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert clearly did not reach per his usual style at let the draft come to him as expected. Rounds 1 through 3 draft picks, Cameron Heyward, Marcus Gilbert and Curtis Brown were all quality need fills and the players drafted in rounds 4-7 today all seem to be tremendous prospects. Below is recap of the day 3 draft picks.
Round 4: CB Cortez Allen (Citadel) – The Steelers certainly acknowledged their uncertainty at cornerback that they talked about during their pre draft press conference and pleased several in Steeler Nation by drafting yet another cornerback in the form of Cortez Allen out the Citadel. They drafted Texas cornerback Curtis Brown in the 3rd round Friday night and went back-to-back at the corner position by drafting Allen. Allen is a long, nice sized cornerback at around 6’ tall and 200 lbs. He is regarded as a quick, fast guy that plays physical according to new defensive backs coach Carnell Lake. He is raw in nature because the time he has to dedicate to the Citadel and not to his craft. Like most Steeler draft picks, he is a high character guy with a strong work ethic. Because of his inexperience, he does not have many bad habits to break. He plays off coverage and bump-and-run well much like free agent cornerback Ike Taylor does. He projects as an outside corner with the Steelers and on paper, looks like the future corner we have all longed for. In addition to his work at corner, Allen has been a part, in some way of all phases of special teams outside of field goals.
Round 5: LB Chris Carter (Fresno State) – The Steelers love linebackers, especially the tweener types. They showed that love by selecting Fresno State defensive Chris Carter in the fifth round. Carter is regarded as an edge speed rusher, but did stand up some and play some in a two-point stance while in college. He is deemed a motor guy that can get after the quarterback. He is regarded as speedy and the Steelers had his 40 time at 4.66 seconds. His transition could take a few years as he learns where to line up and how to recognize coverages in the Dick LeBeau 3-4 defense. He will also have to learn more counter moves so he is not regarded as a one trick pony. If he is to make the 53 man roster he will have to be a special teams demon and show that he can pick up the nuances of the complicated defense very quickly. The longer the lockout goes, the less chance he has as the OTA sessions are crucial for all rookies, and especially tough for defensive ends converting to outside linebacker in the Steelers defense, just ask 2010 draft pick Thaddeus Gibson. More than likely, Carter will be a perfect candidate for the practice squad if he catches on quick.
Round 6: G Keith Williams (Nebraska) – Offensive line coach Sean Kugler likes his linemen mean and nasty and 6th rounder Keith Williams seems to fit that mold. He is a left guard that is very aggressive and finishes well in the run game. He admits that his pass protection needs work though and Kugler thinks it is because he gets over aggressive at times. He comes from a pretty balanced offensive system where they ran the ball well because of the offensive line play. He did well on the big board with Kugler during his pre draft visit to Pittsburgh and is regarded as a smart kid. He has pulling skills and will taught both guard spots initially and could end up being the heir apparent to left guard Chris Kemoeatu in the near future.
Round 7: RB Baron Batch (Texas Tech) – By the time training camp rolls around, if it rolls around, I guarantee that Texas Tech running back Baron Batch will be the Latrobe favorite and this years Isaac Redman or Frank Summers so to speak. The Steelers drafted the Texas Tech product with their final pick of the draft in 7th round and he has a great back story of overcoming adversity. He grew up in a large family and was a middle child. The family was very poor and he ended up losing his mother to multiple sclerosis. While at Texas Tech he tore his Achilles and had to have multiple surgeries because of infection. When healthy, Batch is regarded as a natural pass catching running back and he projects as a third down back at the next level. He measures in at 5 foot 10 and 200 pounds and is polished in his blitz pickup already. He is very physical and a willing special teams contributor as well. You will hear more about the Batch story over the next few days and I suggest you read this blog of his as well.