My entire 2011 Draft Analysis is available HERE
OVERALL 2011 DRAFT GRADE (INITIAL): 2.90 GPA (B-)
OVERALL 2011 DRAFT GRADE (1-YEAR):
Analysis & Comments:
I would consider this a good, not great, draft for the Steelers. I see a lot of serviceable players that should see considerable playing time over the course of their careers. This is a low ceiling, high floor draft as I think Heyward, Gilbert and Brown will definitely provide much needed depth at their positions and see the field sooner rather than later.
What really dictated how this draft progressed all came down to the Heyward vs. Sherrod vs. Ras-I Dowling selection at pick #31. If we select Sherrod, then many picks after are effected by that decision, as evidence by what I would have done in the Steelers’ draft slots:
1-31 Derek Sherrod, OT
2-63 Davon House, CB
3-95 Curtis Brown, CB
4-128 Marcus Cannon, OG/OT
5-162 Chris Carter, OLB
6-196 Jarrell Powe, NT
7-232 Deunta Williams, S
Note, I am not saying this is a vastly superior draft, just a different way to prioritize needs and value. This draft above also highly overdrafts Davon House (by two rounds), but he is a player I have high confidence will turn into a very decent cornerback. Note if I had known House would be available in round 4, maybe I go Sherrod and Gilbert back-to-back (and put House in for Marcus Cannon), but I would not have risked waiting on cornerbacks like that real-time.
As with later round picks, I also have my differences - especially with position and where I think competition on the roster is more needed (NT and S). I have consistently emphasized these positions often the last couple of seasons. My draft also fails to really provide more depth at DE, which could be a risk (but I didn’t know Aaron Smith was still hobbled either).
Overall, I think the 2010 short term goals are primarily if we see snaps from Heyward early, Gilbert flashed starting ability somewhere on the right side and fits embraces the "Florida" them with Pouncey/Starks, and Curtis Brown quickly passes Gay and Mundy for snaps in our nickel defense personnel (let’s say by mid-season).
What could turn this draft from good to very good this season is if Cortez Allen or Chris Carter flash real NFL starting talent. We all know those selections need time and work, but if we can see the tip of the iceberg at some point then this draft class has a lot of potential. However if Allen fails to beat out Lewis or Carter doesn’t impress enough to keep nine linebackers and both are cut, I would be disappointed with those selections.
Long term, where Curtis Brown and Marcus Gilbert end up could be the deciding factor. Does Curtis Brown develop into anything more than a #3 CB? Does Gilbert not only win time on the offensive line but excel and improve the group? Based on Colbert's track record, we all know Heyward will contribute. It's what the draft offers after that.
The nightmare scenario is the only real player we find is Cameron Heyward. If Gilbert looks just like all of our other late round right-side linemen, if Brown looks just like William Gay, if Allen/Carter fail to make the roster, then this draft starts to look pretty bleak.
I don’t think that’s the case and see a relatively solid draft just with little upside that reminds me a bit of 2009. That year Wallace surprised and hopefully someone from this draft will do the same. This unknown is what makes this process so much fun.