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NFL Draft: Day 2

April 30, 2011 - Ray Eckenrode

> The Steelers have a long history of ineptitude when it comes to picking offensive guards and tackles with monumental No. 1 busts like John Reinstra and JamainStephens and recent washouts like Cam Stephenson (2007), Tony Hills (2008) and Kraig Urbik (2009). So when the Steelers pick a guy like Marcus Gilbert and the scouting service reports include words and phrases like “soft,” “lacks drive” and “chardonnay drinker” (the ultimate putdown for an OL in scoutspeak), there is clearly reason to be concerned.

> But Gilbert is not without his supporters, including the NFL Network’s Pat Kirwan (a former NFL talent evaluator who can speak with authority on the subject), who was very impressed with Gilbert’s quickness and athleticism at the Senior Bowl and thought he might sneak into the second round.

> Based on both those factors (Gilbert’s bad rep and obvious potential), we’re going to assume Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have a ton of faith in new offensive line coach Sean Kugler.

> We would assume the Steelers’ plans are to re-install Max Starks at left tackle, bring Flozell Adams back for one more year on the right side, re-sign Willie Colon (if they have to once we have rules for 2011) and kick him back into guard, have Jon Scott and Tony Hills compete for the swing tackle backup position with the Big Legursky taking the swing interior spot, all while Gilbert gets a year to develop.

> When Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling (a guy the Steelers hoped they might get with the 63rd pick) went to the Patriots at the 33rd pick, it was apparent Pittsburgh was going to have trouble getting a corner on Day 2. Under those circumstances, the selection of Texas’ Curtis Brown in the third round was a good fit for Pittsburgh because Brown was really the only highly rated guy left on the board whose style matched the Steelers’ scheme. Brown will be a “cover corner” in the NFL (who plays off the receiver and closes upfield on the ball if it’s thrown his way) as opposed to a “press corner” (who tries to hold the receiver up at the line of scrimmage and must be skilled at recovering downfield if need be). The Steelers play very little press coverage.

> Of course, Brown played college ball opposite Aaron Williams, the DB most experts thought the Steelers would select in the first round, and while Williams is the better athlete, many experts (and apparently Pittsburgh’s personnel people) think Brown is the better true corner (with Williams probably becoming a safety eventually in the NFL).

> The big winner Friday for the Steelers? Ike Taylor, who got richer with every cornerback that went off the board before the Steelers finally selected one. Although it’s not their style to paint themselves into such a corner (get it?), Pittsburgh MUST sign Taylor now (or an equally skilled veteran free agent) with A.J. Green (Bengals), Torrey Smith (Ravens) and Greg Little (Browns) coming to the AFC North.

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