The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is now in the books and the Steelers drafted Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward with the 31st pick. Today the draft will consist of rounds two and three and we will now look ahead to the game plan the Steelers might have in these rounds.
Heading into the draft cornerback, tackle and defensive end were the biggest needs the Steelers wanted to fill and they took care of one of those with the selection of Heyward. The draft went the Steelers way on Thursday and sets up perfectly for their other two needs heading into Friday. Only three cornerbacks were drafted in round one with only two of those three likely even being players the Steelers would have drafted. Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith has several character issues and although I was unhappy to see him go to Ravens, the Steelers likely would have passed on him had he fallen to them at #31. Quite a few mock drafts had the Steelers selecting either Texas cornerback Aaron Williams or Miami cornerback Brandon Harris at #31, but the Steelers bypassed both and neither were selected in the first round. They do however remain the top two cornerbacks on the board and both likely will be drafted in the first 10 picks of the second round.
The longer either stay on the board the better for the Steelers. In addition it looks likely that another quarterback or two will be drafted in round two along with a few more linebackers and wide receivers. There is still a real good chance that either Ras-I Dowling, Davon House or Curtis Brown are still on the board by the time the 63rd pick rolls around. If you do the math, 5 cornerbacks would have to be drafted in the next 30 picks for the Steelers not to have a shot at one of them. That is highly unlikely. I predicted in my final mock draft that it would be Brown that the Steelers select in round two and I really like the chances of that being the pick considering the outcome of the first round. I would not be disappointed with either of the other four if Brown is not the pick. Dowling in fact, as I have mentioned previously, would likely be a first round corner had he not had the injury issues last season. So fear not Steeler Nation a cornerback should be on deck in round two.
Should the Steelers not make any trades, they are scheduled to pick 31st in the third round. There are five tackles that I think are deserving of being drafted in the next two rounds and they are, Orlando Franklin, Marcus Gilbert, James Brewer, Jah Reid and Joseph Barksdale. Marcus Cannon could also be in the mix, but with the recent news that he has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it might be enough for him to slide down later in the draft. He remains a wildcard at this point. If none of the other five mentioned make it to the bottom of the third round, I think the Steelers might go another direction. That direction could be another cornerback, a tight end, a guard or a wide receiver in my opinion. I think it all depends on how those tackles shake out. Currently only three wide receivers have been selected and no tight ends. You should see Kyle Rudolph drafted in round two so it is up in the air how long a guy like Lance Kendricks last after that, but there are a few more tight ends like Luke Stocker and D.J. Williams that might still be on the board late in round three. Only two interior linemen have been drafted thus far, but more will undoubtedly come off the board in round two. The talent at that position gets thin quick though. As far as the wide receiver position goes, there is a good chance that pre draft visitors Edmund Gates, Denarius Moore or Vincent Brown will be still on the board late in the third. If the Steelers aren\’t able to get a tackle, I like the chances of the Steelers drafting one of those three.
So to recap, expect a cornerback in round two and keep your fingers crossed a tackle I mentioned falls. If one doesn\’t, I see tight end or wide receiver as the likeliest position to be selected in round 3 and tackle will be put off until day three. Enjoy day two of the draft.