Steelers 2011 Draft Class Now Down To Four Remaining Members

Outside of the timing of it, the decision made on Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers to release cornerback Curtis Brown wasn’t a surprising one, but now that he is indeed gone, the 2011 draft class is now down to four remaining members.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward, cornerback Cortez Allen and tackle Marcus Gilbert have started and played extensively since being drafted while linebacker Chris Carter has been nothing more than a bit player and special teams contributor with no guarantee he makes the final 53 man roster this year.

Missing with third round draft picks happens quite a bit around the league and that’s exactly what Brown was, a miss. While he contributed quite a bit on special teams during his time in Pittsburgh, he never seemed to be able to handle the mental aspects of the game that come with playing the cornerback position in the NFL.

As far as Heyward, Allen and Gilbert go, the jury is still out on two of them. Heyward showed last season that he should be considered a force at defensive end for the Steelers for several years to come, while Allen and Gilbert, despite both having some bright spots during their first three years in the league, still have to show they can be consistent players.

The addition of Mike Munchak as the new Steelers offensive line coach this offseason could be exactly what Gilbert needs, while the biggest obstacle for Allen moving forward might very well be him staying completely healthy and receiving more playing time.

As far as Carter goes, any improvement would be spectacular, but with Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, and potentially even LaMarr Woodley, all ahead of him on the depth chart, the hope is that we don’t have to see him on the field other than playing special teams in 2014, if indeed he makes the roster.

The Steelers cut guard Keith Williams, their 2011 sixth-round draft pick, after his initial training camp and their seventh-round pick that year, running back Baron Batch, had his NFL career flame extinguished by the Steelers prior to the start of last season.

It’s hard to get upset about Williams and Batch not working out, but with Brown quickly becoming a distant memory and Carter currently on the edge of becoming one, the Steelers need Heyward, Allen and Gilbert all to excel in order to make the draft class of 2011 a successful one.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    well we got 3 right, lets hope this draft class stays around for a bit longer

  • Brandon James

    It looks as if with Gilbert/Allen/Heyward we have 3 Quality starters, with Heyward emerging as an Impact future Pro-Powler. If that stays true for the next few years, I can’t complain with this draft.

  • James Kling

    Move Carter inside.

  • j m

    Some mighty big “ifs” in that assessment.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I want to see what Joey Porter can do with Carter…I really do. I have always felt that Carter doesn’t play with enough anger. If that can be fixed, it would be helpful.

  • SteelersDepot

    Why? What is your reasoning behind this? Would love to read it.

  • PA2AK

    as is the nature of the NFL

  • Alan Felicia

    Well 2010 Draft class dwindled as well with Pouncey, Worilds, and Antonio Brown left. Sanders, Dwyer, and Sylvester are all Unrestricted FAs. Who’s to say that if Worilds didn’t have a strong (contract push) games this past season, he would’ve been gone too?

  • James Kling

    Carter was a conversion project coming out of Fresno, where he played DE, but was clearly too small to play that spot in the NFL. He was productive in college and looked like he might develop some pass rush abilities outside, but the knock then (and now) was his inability to drop into coverage, and perhaps more importantly how easily he is washed out at the POA.

    Now, you can look at his numbers (triangle, KEI, agilities) and compare them to top NFL ILBs and frankly they stack up rather well; of course, the numbers are OK when compared to guys who are succeeding or have succeeded at OLB in our system (Woodley, Worilds, Porter, et al.), so numbers don’t tell the whole story. But whatever Carter’s inability to make the leap thus far, it’s not necessarily because of limitations of frame, speed (short or long), strength and explosion, or ability to bend the corner.
    What he does have is the ability to stunt and find holes, and has decent flow to the action, so he might struggle in the traditional buck role but be a decent backup at mack. Right now, he doesn’t even appear to be a worthy backup at OLB. Just based on measurables, he’s faster, stronger, and more explosive than Vince Williams. I feel like we have a lot of guys at ILB, none of them outstanding (except Timmons), and even Carter might do better than Williams beside Timmons, he’s certainly got the ability to cover ground if given the shot.
    IMO, Timmons (drafted as OLB, per Tomlin) was taken to fill the wrong spot; so it was with Carter.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I have no problem with looking at Carter at the ILB position but from what I have seen of him he just cant get off blocks and doesnt. He doesnt have enough strength to get off of them and not enough speed to avoid them…bad comination. This is Carter’s last shot so I am willing to let him try ILB just to give him a chance to stay on the roster but he is fired at the OLB position IMO.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think it is great that we believe in Porter to bring something different to our OLB’s but he will not be a savior like many think. Carter IMO just does not have the physical ability to be an NFL OLB.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    We are a preseason away from down to 3 guys…Carter is as good as gone. Hope he makes a huge jump like Worlids but at least Worlids had some glimmers of hope here or there…I have seen none with Carter.

  • srdan

    Three quality starters per draft is pretty good. Especially when one of the guys is a stud in teh making like Cam.

  • shawn

    Definitely did pretty well with those 3 and that is right about on par with normal drafts … not too bad … but lets get rid of Carter already … he’s a waste of space on our team

  • shawn

    Have to agree .. predicting big things for Cortez this year much like Heyward last year !

  • shawn

    not really

  • cp72

    2010 and 2011…6 starters, two pro bowlers (Pouncey and Brown), and a potential star on the rise (Heyward). If I could tell any team in the league they will draft 6 starters and two to three pro bowlers in the next two years they would be ecstatic.

  • SumnerYoung

    James, I like your analysis. But I don’t think Carter is as strong as Vince Williams. I actually think Carter is a smaller, weaker linebacker … especially by NFL standards. His inability to make the leap could be his lack of NFL level strength and the ability to shed blocks, which is what I see when I watch him. However, do you think he may not have the mental capacity to learn the complex Lebeau system? If that’s a part of it too, then he would struggle at MLB too. I don’t know though, just more topic for conversation.

  • shawn

    Yup … also i think you will be able to add Cortez to the Stud list after next season 😉

  • Milliken Steeler

    Toward the end of the year, I saw Williams flat out manhandling people at times, including one armed tackles etc.

    With his work ethic and the way he will thump the runner, the Steelers are just watching to see how much he improves his coverage skills.

  • cencalsteeler

    True. I see a huge upside with Williams.

  • cencalsteeler

    Nice post James. I like how you think outside the box. Would having him in on quarters packages thinking out of the box too much?

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I have a feeling we will after the draft assuming we get a late round OLB to be just as good

  • shawn

    i’ll take an UDFA with potential at this point lol

  • RyanW

    People overreact to this kind of stuff. You only have 53 spots on your roster and every year for the most part you have at least seven draft picks (barring trades and such) its very rare that more than 3 or 4 from every draft sticks on a team beyond their rookie contracts. Between veterans already in place and free agent signings its just unrealistic to expect much more than that. Look around the league and especially at contenders youll see its about the same.

  • Craig Ressler

    I despised the C. Brown pick from the start!! Not surprised at all!!

  • joed32

    Getting 2 starters is pretty good and you’re right, 3 is very good.

  • joed32

    Why was that?

  • James Kling

    I’m hoping the upside is there with Williams. I do like his leadership and obviously the coaches think he must have his head on straight. Ceiling to his cover skills though?

  • James Kling

    Yeah, hard to say about the mental aspect. I just see a guy whose measurables compare favorably to Steelers LBs past and present, as well as other ILBs around the league. So perhaps the issue is technique, or mental shortcoming, lack of want-to, I don’t know.

    One other factoid, for better or worse: he’s the same age (24) as our first round pick last year.

  • John

    As to Carter, while the posts are enjoyable, you need to know how to play to be successful. Those that know how to play but have certain strength or speed issues can work on those and eventually be successful. Those that do not know how to play and have been in the system for a few years and still do not know how are useless. Moving positions does not help as they cannot understand how to play in general.
    That being said, the Steelers need to shorten the three year windows they have built in for development of certain players as we hold them until their FA years and then have to pay thru the nose to keep them or face losing them. Not the way you want it to work.

  • Craig Ressler

    I want to know what made Brown worth a 3rd round pick? Solid combine? His game,plain and simple, wasnt that impressive. He was an avg football player coming into the league. Nothing special about him. I felt strongly that the pick wasn’t going to work out when we drafted him and it didn’t.