“With the 31st pick in the NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select, Cameron Heyward”, said Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whether you stayed up for the festivities, or waited until the morning paper arrived, you were probably familiar and surprised at the Steelers selection. With the draft coming to an end today, let’s take a look at the Steelers selections and their overall draft grade:
1st Round: Cameron Heyward, Defensive End, Ohio State – People around Pittsburgh are familiar with the name Heyward as his father, the late-great Craig “Ironhead” Heyward starred at running back for Pitt before having a 11-year career in the league. Many wanted the Steelers to select a defensive back or offensive lineman in the first round, but as I said in my draft preview, the Steelers were in the position to take the best available player on the board. The fact that Heyward slipped to the Steelers made him just that. While I felt they could have gone after corner Ras-I Dowling or a defensive tackle, I will never question the Steelers with their draft history (at least in the first round). Heyward is another example of the Steelers grooming a player for a few years down the road. With Brett Keisel at 32 and the ever uncertainty of Aaron Smith’s health, the Steelers are going to have Heyward ready to pass the torch too in a few years and will look for him to be able to contribute before then. Heyward was a 4-year player at Ohio State and has a knack to get to the quarterback.
Grade for Heyward: A-
2nd Round: Marcus Gilbert, Offensive Tackle, Florida – The Steelers selected their lineman from Florida, but it wasn’t who the fans were clamoring for. While fans wanted Mike Pouncey (who was drafted 15th overall), the Steelers selected a solid lineman in Gilbert who was overshadowed by Pouncey. Gilbert is very good in the pass protection and will try to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright this season. Still a project but better than what the Steelers have now, especially with Willie Colon looking to be on his way out the door.
Grade for Gilbert: B
3rd Round: Curtis Brown, Cornerback, Texas – While most analysts felt that the Steelers would select Aaron Williams in the first round, the Steelers opted to take his teammate Brown in the third. In my draft preview, I said I felt the Steelers would select Brown as he fits their scheme perfectly. He is a terrific corner in zone coverage and possesses great athletic ability. He needs to work on his run defense however if he wants to get adequate playing time early. Look for Brown to play mostly dime and special teams this year, with some nickel thrown in.
Grade for Brown: B+
4th Round: Cortez Allen, Cornerback, Citadel – Allen has the size advantage, but is very raw. Not sure I like the selection here, as I would have went offensive line to look for a guard. Allen will play mostly special teams and compete with Crezdon Butler for playing time.
Grade for Allen: C-
5th Round: Chris Carter, Defensive Line/Linebacker, Fresno St. – While many scouts had Carter not even getting drafted, the Steelers took a chance on Carter, hoping to groom him into an outside linebacker. Carter won’t see the field outside of special teams this season.
Grade for Carter: C-
6th Round: Keith Williams, Offensive Guard, Nebraska – Williams is a workhorse, but has work to do if he wants to succeed at this level. Will probably be a backup for his career but with his grit and determination, he will be serviceable at his job. Steelers are weak at offensive guard and Williams will play a pivotal role
Grade for Williams: B-
7th Round: Baron Batch, Running Back, Texas Tech – A big back that was Big-12 honorable mention and 8th all-time on the Texas Tech rushing list. The Steelers needed a backup for Rashard Mendenhall, but I felt they should have selected Noel Devine from West Virginia for a player that has more breakaway speed. Batch is 5’10 and 210 pounds that will push Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer for playing time this year.
Grade for Batch: C
Overall Draft Grade: B
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com