Saturday, April 30, 2011

We Like ...

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls like the Steelers' second- and third-round draft choices.

The team appears to have gotten "value" players from big-time programs (Florida and Texas) at positions of need (tackle and cornerback).

At 6'6", 330 lbs., Marcus Gilbert is big enough, that's for sure, as he joins fellow Florida Gators alumni
Maurkice Pouncey and Max Starks on the Steelers' offensive line.

No doubt the Steelers asked Pouncey about Gilbert, since they played together on the same line at Florida, and the reports must have been satisfactory. One of the TV draft gurus last night said Gilbert has quick feet.

He'd better have quick feet, if he's going to handle the likes of pass rushers like Dontay Moch, the seriously fast (4.4 40 at 248 lbs.) linebacker out of Nevada, drafted in the third-round by the Cincinnati Bengals, daggnabbitt. Whatever. Gilbert can only help. We hope.

Curtis Brown, the third-round corner from Texas, made a great impression at the Combine a couple months ago. In fact, of all corners, he made the entire Combine's single, standout-highlight play during the skill drills.

Watching this unfold live on The NFL Network,
Joey Porter's Pit Bulls literally sat bolt upright and said, "Who's that guy?!" when Brown leaped high to make an acrobatic, leaping, twisting, one-handed interception of a deep throw along the sideline -- a catch he made with the ball at its apogee and his feet way off the ground. Cameras caught the play in super-slow-motion high-definition, and showed it in replay with the announcers oohing and aweing just before a commercial break -- after which they came back to it, showed it repeatedly and continued their expressions of amazement --- making the point that Brown not only came down with the ball, he immediately turned upfield and ran it back. Dude can leap, and if that play was any indication, he has great hands, even if he did have only two interceptions at Texas. Our only concern is that he looks a little thin, so we wonder if he'll be tough against the run, which the Steelers require of their corners.

Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake, who knows something about playing corner and safety, acknowledged that Brown's former teammate Aaron Williams is the bigger player, but said that Brown is the better corner, as
Ed Bouchette reports in today's Post-Gazette:

Surprisingly, new Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake said Brown was the more polished of the three Texas cornerback prospects in this draft.

"Probably the best cover corner coming out" of Texas, Lake said. "Aaron Williams was the first [Texas] corner taken. Aaron's bigger, but we thought he was more of a safety."

So, those second- and third-round picks assuage our concerns that the Steelers may have misfired on their first pick.

Plus, the more we hear about first-rounder
Cameron Heyward, the more we like him. He will probably never be a superstar or rack up an eye-popping number of sacks, but he should fill the run-clogging/take-on-the-blockers role the Steelers require of their defensive ends and which Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel have performed so admirably for so many years. He started for perennial contender Ohio State for three-and-a-half years, so he is experienced in a big-time program, and by all accounts he is a high-character guy. No worries there.

Today: The Steelers are still on the clock. By the time anybody reads this, it may be a moot point, but the one player we'd like for them to nab? Taiwan Jones, running back, Eastern Washington, a young Fast Willie.

Damn, never mind. Jones just went to the Raiders. Just finished typing that, too.

Oh, here we go ... the Steelers just selected Cortez Allen, cornerback, The Citadel. Sounds good, with favorable comments from all the guys on The NFL Network ... good size, good speed, good tackler, they say. Good hands, and a nearly 40-inch vertical leap.

Just switched over to ESPN, and Mel Kiper has nothing but good things to say about Allen.

Let's see what Chad Reuter's scouting report on CBS Sportsline has to say ...

"The 2010 second-team All-Southern Conference pick (22 tackles, two INTs, five PBUs) has a build and movement quite similar to those of former Tennessee State star Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was Arizona's first-round pick in 2008. Allen has not been as productive as "DRC" and is not quite as physical, but has prototypical height and similarly quick feet. Those attributes should get him consideration in the mid-to-late rounds."

"Typically used in man coverage, lines up well off the line, in press-bail or occasionally in press. Excellent reaction time to attack the run and close on passes. Good range and hustle to chase down ballcarriers from behind. Quick hands, length and straight-line speed allow him to get good contact within five yards and stay with receivers down the sideline. Excellent height and vertical in one-on-one situations, FCS teams do not often test him downfield. Uses length and speed to recover if beaten on an inside or double move. Extremely quick feet and reactions on run plays, usually jumps around blocks to get into the play. Will also punch and slingshot around receiver to get off a block. Solid cut tackler whether supporting the run or in the open field; takes out the legs of oncoming receivers. Good hustle to help teammates, even to the opposite side of the field. Team captain in 2010."

Sounds good.

Who's next to the Steelers? A running back? A receiver?

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