Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day three targets

Here are some players the Steelers could be targeting in rounds 4-7 on the final day of the draft:

DL
Anthony Gray, Southern Miss.
Zach Taylor, Auburn

LB
Sam Acho, Texas
Mario Harvey, Marshall

TE
Julius Thomas, Portland State

OL
Keith Williams, Nebraska
Jason Pinkston, Pitt

CB
Darryl Skrine, Tenn-Chattanooga
Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech
Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State
Cortez Allen, The Citadel

WR
Denarius Moore, Tennessee
Edmund Gates, Abilene Christian

RB
Taiwan Jones, E. Washington
Noel Devine, West Virginia
Da'Rel Scott, Maryland

PK
Alex Henery, Nebraska

Friday, April 29, 2011

Curtis Brown info

CURTIS BROWN
Cornerback
University of Texas Longhorns
#3
5:11.5-185
Gilmer, Texas
Gilmer High School

OVERVIEW
Despite enduring its first losing season since 1997, Texas employed excellent talent in the secondary in 2010. The
Longhorns finished second in the Big Twelve Conference and sixth in the nation in pass defense, surrendering just 161.58
aerial yards per game. That effort was led by fourth-year cornerback Curtis Brown – an 11-game starter at left cornerback
who earned All-Big Twelve second-team accolades.

Brown has been a steady contributor at defensive back and on special teams throughout his career in Austin. After
arriving on campus as a heralded prep recruit, Brown went on to play in all 52 games of his collegiate career, garnering
all-conference honors for his play on defense in his final two campaigns. He was also the recipient of the Frank Denius
Award as Texas’ Most Valuable Special Teams Player during his junior season.

Brown is an exceptional athlete who developed into a fantastic football player over his career with the Longhorns. As a
former standout prep wide receiver, he has explosive change of direction ability and loose hips to mirror receivers. He
also boasts a size (5:11.5) and length (32 1/4-inch arms) combination that is much desired by NFL franchises looking for
cornerbacks.

Brown enjoyed a decorated prep career at Gilmer High School, where he burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2004.
He started at cornerback for the Gilmer Buckeyes’ 16-0 Class 3A Division II State Championship squad and was named
District Newcomer of the Year, as well as 13-3A Sophomore of the Year. He delivered 46 tackles, 18 pass deflections and
five interceptions, adding 239 yards with a touchdown on 16 receptions (14.94 ypc) and 104 with another score on 15
carries (6.93 ypc).

Brown moved to receiver prior to his junior season and excelled at his new position, as he registered 63 receptions for
974 yards (15.46 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. He added 750 yards with eight more scores on 47 carries (15.96 ypc) and was
named the District 15-3A Most Valuable Player after leading his team to a 10-2 overall record.

During his final season at the prep level, Brown led Gilmer to a 10-1 overall record while catching 40 passes for 970 yards
(24.25 ypc) and 14 touchdowns, adding 168 yards and another score on 16 carries (10.50 ypc). He earned 3A All-State
first-team honors by the Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association, and participated in the prestigious
U.S. Army All-American Bowl after the season.

Brown’s exploits on the gridiron made him one of the most highly regarded prospects in the nation. He was given the
highest rating of five-stars by recruiting services Rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals listed him as the second-best
cornerback and 21st overall prospect in the nation, as well as the fourth-best recruit in the state of Texas, while Scout
ranked him as the third-best cornerback in the country.

Brown’s main suitors included Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, but the decision was ultimately an easy
one for the standout prospect. Less than 48 hours after receiving his official offer from the Longhorns, Brown gladly
committed.

Brown graduated from Gilmer early and enrolled at the University of Texas in January of 2007. The early arrival allowed
him to participate in spring camp and gave him a leg-up on the depth chart. The true freshman played in all 13 games as
a reserve cornerback behind starters Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster, in addition to seeing significant time on special
teams. He delivered 13 tackles (11 solos) with one pass deflection.

As a sophomore in 2008, Brown provided depth in the secondary. He played in all 13 games and started on four
occasions – once at right cornerback, twice when Texas opened in its nickel package and again when the team began in
the dime defense. He also continued to contribute on special teams and finished with 28 tackles (23 solos), five pass
deflections and a quarter-back pressure.

Brown enjoyed a breakout junior campaign in 2009, as he started all 14 games, including 10 at right cornerback, one at
left cornerback, two in the nickel package and another in dime. He registered 47 tackles (34 solos), including 1.5 stops for
combined losses of 11 yards. He returned his only interception 77 yards for a touchdown and added seven pass
deflections, a forced fumble and a blocked punt. He also returned one punt for five yards.

Brown’s efforts on defense earned All-Big Twelve Conference honorable mention, as he helped the Longhorns finish
second in the Big Twelve and 19th in the country in pass defense (179.57 ypg), as well as third in the conference and
tenth nationally in pass efficiency defense (100.48 avg). At the team’s postseason banquet, he was the recipient of the
Frank Denius Award as Texas’ Most Valuable Special Teams Player.

Brown entered his senior season as a member of Watch Lists for the Bronko Nagurski (top college defender) and Jim
Thorpe Awards (top college defensive back). He played in all 12 games and started eleven contests at left cornerback,
earning second-team All-Big Twelve Conference honors for his performance. He posted 23 tackles (14 solos), including a
two-yard stop for loss. He returned his only interception for a 74-yard gain and added four pass deflections, as he also
returned 13 punts for 194 yards (14.92 avg).

CAREER NOTES
Started 27-of-52 games for Texas – 12 at left cornerback, 11 at right corner-back, four at nickel back and two at dime
back...Recorded 108 tackles (82 solos) with 2.5 stops for combined losses of 13 yards...Caused one fumble...Gained
151 yards with one touchdown on two interceptions (75.50 avg)...Deflected 17 other pass attempts...Blocked one punt
and notched one quarterback pressure...Gained 199 yards on 14 punt returns (14.21 avg)...His 77-yard interception
return for a touchdown vs. Oklahoma State in 2009 is the 11th-longest interception runback in school history.

2010 SEASON
All-Big Twelve Conference second-team selection...Earned Big Twelve Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week
honors vs. Texas Tech...Member of Watch Lists for the Bronko Nagurski (top college defender) and Jim Thorpe Awards
(top college defensive back)...Played in all 12 games, starting 10 contests at left cornerback, as he came off the bench
vs. Oklahoma and Baylor...Recorded 23 tackles (14 solos), including a two-yard stop for loss...Key member of a
secondary that finished second in the second in the Big Twelve and sixth in the country in pass defense (161.58 ypg), as
well as fifth in the league and 36th nationally in pass efficiency defense (118.92 avg)...Registered one interception,
gaining 74 yards on the return...Deflected four other pass attempts, including three on third-down attempts...Made 43
plays vs. the aerial attack, as he allowed 18 receptions for 316 yards (17.56 yards per completion/7.35 yards per pass
attempt) and 11 first downs that included five scores, as he rerouted/jammed his coverage assignment on 18 incomplete
pass attempts, recording 12 third-down stops and one more on a fourth-down snap...Posted 10 stops vs. the ground
game, limiting runners to 39 yards (3.90 ypc) and one first down...Delivered one of his hits inside the red zone...Added
one tackle on the kickoff coverage unit and another in punt coverage duty...Gained 194 yards on 13 punt returns (14.92
avg).

2009 SEASON
All-Big Twelve Conference honorable mention...Recipient of the Frank Denius Award as Texas’ Most Valuable Special
Teams Player...Started all 14 games – 10 at right cornerback, two at nickel, one at left cornerback and another in
dime...Ranked eighth among Longhorns defenders with 47 tackles (34 solos), including 1.5 stops for combined losses of
11 yards...Key member of a secondary that finished second in the Big Twelve and 19th in the country in pass defense
(179.57 ypg), as well as third in the conference and 10th nationally in pass efficiency defense (100.48 avg)...Registered
one interception, gaining 77 yards with a touchdown on the return...Deflected seven other pass attempts...Caused one
fumble and blocked one punt...Also gained five yards on his only punt return.

2008 SEASON
Played in all 13 games with four starts – two at nickel, one at right cornerback and another in dime...Recorded 28 tackles
(23 solos)...Key member of a secondary that finished seventh in the Big Twelve and 104th in the country in pass defense
(259.38 ypg), as well as second in the conference and 59th nationally in pass efficiency defense (124.21
avg)...Registered five pass deflections and added one quarterback pressure.

2007 SEASON
Played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive back and on special teams, as he registered 13 tackles (11 solos) with one
pass deflection...Made his collegiate debut in the season-opener vs. Arkansas State and assisted one on tackle...Had
one solo stop vs. Texas Christian and Central Florida...Notched a season-high five solo tackles with one pass deflection
vs. Rice...Tallied two solo stops vs. Iowa State...Had a solo tackle vs. Texas Tech...Assisted on one stop vs. Texas
A&M...Contributed one solo tackle in the Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State.

AGILITY TESTS
4.54 40-yard dash (electronic)...1.63 10-yard dash...2.65 20-yard dash...4.00 20-yard shuttle...11.00 60-yard
shuttle...6.59 three-cone drill...39 1/2-inch vertical jump...10’8” broad jump...Bench pressed 225 pounds 10 times...32
1/4-inch arm length...9 1/2-inch hands...75 3/4-inch wingspan.

Marcus Gilbert info

MARCUS GILBERT
Offensive Tackle/Guard
University of Florida Gators
#76
6:06.1-330
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
St. Thomas Aquinas High School

OVERVIEW
While most of the media attention paid to Florida’s offensive line in recent years centered on the Pouncey Brothers, Mike
and Maurkice (Pittsburgh Steelers), there is no shortage of talent among the rest of the Gators’ up front. Many
professional scouts feel that Carl Johnson and Maurice Hurt are also capable of playing at the next level.

But those same scouts feel that Gilbert has the potential to be Florida’s best product produced at the offensive tackle
position since Kenyatta Walker was the 14th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.

The son of a retired secret service agent who protected Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Gilbert was so
focused during the 2009 preseason that every night before he went to bed, he wrote himself notes of what he must
improve upon during the next day’s practices.

“Coach (Steve) Addazio and he developed a father- son type relationship,” said former Florida head coach Urban Meyer.
“He is going to graduate from Florida. He will have an opportunity to play at the next level, and he is one of our most
consistent linemen. That’s just one of those great stories, when you have a great mom and dad, which he has, and a
position coach who is just non-stop on him and then obviously the God-given tools. He has turned into one of our better
linemen. He’s very consistent right now. We moved him from right to left, which is sometimes an issue, but he picked it
right up.”

Gilbert had some good football peers during his younger days. He grew up with former Miami safety Anthony Reddick.
According to Gilbert’s sister, Reddick taught Gilbert how to play ball when they were younger. Gilbert’s brother, David
Walker, was a defensive lineman at Iowa who completed his eligibility following the 2005 season.

During his three-year career as a starter at football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Gilbert played guard
and tackle on the offensive line, as well as doubling on the defensive line. He moved over to offense following his
sophomore season and became one of three major recruiting prospects, as Sam Young and Dan Wenger eventually
enrolled at Notre Dame.

Gilbert received a four-star prospect rating from both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Scout also regarded him as the 42nd-
best offensive lineman in the country. He was selected to participate in the 2006 CaliFlorida Bowl. He was also a member
of the varsity basketball team and competed in the shot put and discus throws for the track and field squad.

Gilbert was recruited by renowned offensive line coach, Doc Holliday, signing his national letter of intent to attend the
University of Florida on December 31st, 2005. He was also heavily recruited by Auburn, Florida State, Louisiana State and
Miami. He played sparingly in 2006 and retained freshman eligibility.

Gilbert returned in 2007, seeing action in all thirteen games. He made his starting debut at right guard in the Florida
Atlantic contest. He continued to be in the offensive lineman rotation as a sophomore in 2008, seeing action in all but the
Arkansas contest. He started at left guard vs. Miami and Hawaii, in addition to seeing time at tight end vs. Tennessee. He
also performed for the team’s field goal unit.

Improved work ethic in the classroom carried over on to the football field in 2009. Gilbert lined up with the first unit in all
fourteen games. He earned Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week honors vs. Kentucky and turned in
the highest blocking consistency grade (99% vs. Georgia) of any Gators blocker during his junior campaign. He would
grade over 90% five times during a season that saw UF lead the SEC and rank sixth in the nation in total offense (457.86
ypg).

What impressed the coaching staff the most about Gilbert in 2009 was his renewed dedication. While most players sleep
or play video games in their downtime, Gilbert was often seen doing “homework” to prepare himself for the next day. One
example: Gilbert made a few mistakes during a practice which allowed defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine
Cunningham to penetrate the pocket. Gilbert reminded himself that night that he was ``giving a soft edge.''

“So the next day I decided to get deeper in my set and fast off my set and throw my hands out and that was my focus, so I
improved,'' Gilbert said. Gilbert's nightly homework also included reviewing his playbook. In addition to the Gators' base offense, Florida coach Urban Meyer used several I-formation sets that season, which allowed QB Tim Tebow to work
occasionally as a drop-back passer.

This new aspect of UF's offense made Gilbert's job even more demanding. Not only did he have to protect Tebow, but
Gilbert also had to help his quarterback show off his newly learned footwork for NFL scouts. Gilbert now saw his future
taking shape. ``I want to play in the NFL,'' Gilbert said. ``That's what I came here for and that's what I want to do. I'm at
the right tackle position, a position I always wanted to play since I got here, and now I'm here and I'm going to take full
advantage of it.''

Right after his 2009 campaign, Gilbert seriously thought about leaving school to enter the 2010 NFL Draft, but elected to
remain in Gainesville. "I think my papers I got back from the NFL weren't what I wanted them to be -- fourth round," Gilbert
said. "I think this year (2010) I can improve. I know I've got a lot of work to do in the film room, studying defenses and
becoming a better tackle. That was really my first year starting, so I didn't see any need to come out early with just a little
bit of experience. I can get another year under my belt and improve myself as a player."

As a senior, Gilbert shifted to the demanding left tackle position, receiving All-SEC recognition in 2010. He received the
team’s top blocking grade in six contests, but the young offense struggled, finishing 82nd in the nation with an average of
350.85 yards per game in total offense. One of the few bright spots for that unit was the offensive line, as that quintet
improved from allowing 2.14 quarterback sacks per game in 2009 to an average of 1.85 sacks in 2010.

Gilbert would cap his college career by accepting an invitation to play in the 2011 Senior Bowl. Fellow offensive lineman,
Carl Johnson offered accorded this praise upon Gilbert during their final season together, “He is a competitor, hard
worker, great athlete. Most people don’t know he came here at 270 pounds looking like a tight end. They beefed him up
and put weight on him, but he is a phenomenal athlete and that is something you can never coach. Something you can’t
motivate is what you are born with, and he is blessed.”

CAREER NOTES
In his two seasons as a full-time starter, Gilbert manned the left offensive tackle position for thirteen games and played on
the right side for fourteen contests, recording 142 knockdowns and 22 touchdown-resulting blocks during that span.

2010 SEASON
All-Southeastern Conference second-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, earning third-team honors from Phil
Steele...Shifted to the left tackle position as a senior, starting all thirteen games...Registered a career-best 81
knockdowns with thirteen touchdown-resulting blocks, as Florida averaged 350.85 yards in total offense and 166.54
rushing yards per game...Was a key member of an offensive line that surrendered one sack or less in seven
contests...Gilbert graded out a Champion (top performance) in six of Florida’s games, including three in a row vs. Miami,
South Florida and Tennessee...Graded 93% with eight knockdowns vs. the Tennessee Volunteers...Part of a front wall
that allowed 24 quarterback sacks, a reduction from the 28 given up during his junior campaign.

2009 SEASON
Gilbert took over right offensive tackle duties, starting all fourteen games for a unit that led the Southeastern Conference
and ranked sixth nationally with an average of 457.86 yards in total offense per game...The ground game benefitted from
Gilbert’s drive blocking, finishing tenth nationally and second in the league with an average of 221.79 yards per
game...Named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his efforts vs. Kentucky (92%) and turned in one of UF’s highest
grades of the 2009 campaign when he earned Champions’ Club honors with a 99% blocking consistency mark in the win
over Georgia... Checked in at 95% in UF’s win over Arkansas and tallied a 90% mark both the Troy and Tennessee
contests.

2008 SEASON
Gilbert played in thirteen games...Contributed to Florida’s SEC and BCS National Championship Game victories at both
offensive guard and tackle, in addition to playing on the field goal unit...The Gators led the SEC in total offense (445.07
ypg) and rushing, as their ground attack placed tenth in the nation with an average of 231.14 yards per game...Started at
left guard vs. both Hawaii and Miami and lined up at tight end for a play vs. Tennessee...Graded a season-best 93% for
blocking consistency in the 70-19 win over The Citadel.

2007 SEASON
Played in all thirteen games as a guard, earning his first career start vs. Florida Atlantic at right guard, replacing Maurkice
Pouncey...Was the last of 22 Gators who made their first career start in 2007...Helped the team lead the SEC with an
average of 457.15 yards per game in total offense.

2006 SEASON
Retained freshman eligibility after playing in two games. AGILITY TESTS
5.46 in the 40-yard dash...1.93 10-yard dash...3.14 20-yard dash...4.69 20-yard shuttle...7.66 three-cone drill...29-inch
vertical jump...8’5” broad jump...Bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times...33 1⁄2-inch arm length...9 3⁄4-inch hands...80 3⁄4-
inch wingspan.

HIGH SCHOOL
Attended St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach George Smith...Played
guard and tackle on the offensive line during his prep career, as well as doubling on the defensive line...Moved over to
offense following his sophomore season and became one of three major recruiting prospects, as Sam Young and Dan
Wenger eventually enrolled at Notre Dame...Received a four-star prospect rating from both Scout.com and Rivals.com.
Scout also regarded him as the 42nd-best offensive lineman in the country...Added Class 5A All-District XVI honors and
was selected to participate in the 2006 CaliFlorida Bowl...Also a member of the varsity basketball team and competed in
the shot put and discus throws for the track and field squad.

PERSONAL
Family, Youth and Community Science major...Brother, David Walker, was a defensive lineman at Iowa who completed
his eligibility following the 2005 season...Active member of the Goodwill Gators who participated in visits to Terwilliger
Elementary and the Shands Medical Plaza/AGH...Son of Katrina and Jeffrey Gilbert...Father recently retired from the
Secret Service. When the Florida Gators visited the White House to celebrate their second national championship in four
years in April of 2009, Gilbert received special recognition by new President Barack Obama during the ceremony because
his father, Jeff, was a Secret Service agent who helped shield the past three presidents from harm...Born
2/15/88...Resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Day 2 targets

After grabbing Cam Heyward in the first round of the draft on Thursday, here are some players the Steelers could be targeting in the second and third rounds:

CBs
Ras-I Dowling
Curtis Brown
Johnny Patrick
Darryl Skrine
Rashad Carmichael

S
Rahim Moore

OL
Orlando Franklin
Marcus Gilbert

WR
Randall Cobb
Denarius Moore

RB
Taiwan Jones
Da'Rel Scott

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everything you need to know about Cam Heyward

CAMERON HEYWARD
Defensive End/Tackle
The Ohio State University Buckeyes
#97
6:05.1-288
Suwanee, Georgia
Peachtree Ridge High School

OVERVIEW
The son of former NFL great, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, who passed away in 2006, Cameron is following his father’s path
to the professional ranks. But instead of carrying the ball like his father, Cameron is the one chasing down ball carriers in
the opposing backfields.

In his 11 seasons in the NFL, Craig Heyward amassed 4,301 rushing yards, 177 receptions for 1,559 yards, and 34
touchdowns. He played for the New Orleans Saints, who selected him 24th overall in the 1988 draft, Chicago Bears,
Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams, and Indianapolis Colts during his career.

Cameron started 46 of his final 47 games for the Buckeyes, appearing in 52 contests since forcing his way into the lineup
during the sixth game of his true freshman campaign. While listed as a defensive end, he was utilized at all four positions
on the defensive front wall. His fifteen quarterback sacks tied linebacker A.J. Hawk for 11th on the school all-time record
list, as his 37.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage places him tenth in OSU annals.

At Peachtree Ridge High School, Heyward received a four-star prospect rating from Rivals.com. That recruiting service
ranked him as the seventh-best overall prospect in the state of Georgia and the 13th-best defensive tackle in the nation.
Scout.com ranked him 15th overall in the state and 20th nationally at his position.

A scholar-athlete, Heyward was named the 2006 Georgia Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year, helping Peachtree
Ridge capture the state championship that season. He produced 103 tackles with 12 sacks as a sophomore, adding two
sacks with 48 stops as a junior before ending his prep career with 88 tackles and 11 sacks during his senior campaign. He
graduated with a 3.2 grade point average.

Heavily pursued by Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State, Heyward instead signed his national letter of intent to attend
Ohio State on January 31, 2007, having been recruited by former Buckeyes defensive lineman and assistant coach, Luke
Fickell. In 2007, he played in a reserve role for the first five games, but he took over weak-side defensive end duties for
the final eight contests, recording ten stops for loss, 2.5 sacks and 33 tackles (21 solos) for OSU’s national championship
runner-up squad.

Coming off 2007 Freshman All-American honors, Heyward started all 13 games in 2008, rotating across the defensive
line. He produced 36 tackles (13 solos) that included three sacks and 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, as OSU
went on to lose to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.

As a junior, Heyward garnered All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors. He started 12-of-13 contests, coming up with
46 tackles (21 solos) while finishing tied for eighth in the league with 6.5 sacks. He also posted 10 stops for loss and
recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the Michigan clash.

Voted team captain as a senior, he received All-Big Ten first-team accolades in 2010. He recorded a career-best 48
tackles (23 solos) that included three sacks, as his 13.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage tied for fifth in the league. He
advanced a fumble recovery 9 yards vs. Ohio University and rumbled 80 yards with an interception vs. Miami.

Heyward closed out his career with a pair of assisted sacks and 3.5 stops for loss among his six tackles vs. Arkansas in
the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

CAREER NOTES
Heyward started 46-of-52 games at Ohio State, missing just one starting assignment in his final 46 appearances...
Recorded 163 tackles (78 solos) with 15.0 sacks for minus 98 yards, 37.5 stops for losses totaling 150 yards and six
quarterback pressures...Recovered two fumbles, including one in the end zone for a touchdown...Gained 80 yards on a
pass theft and broke up five other throws...Also caused two fumbles...Heyward’s 80-yard fumbled interception return vs.
Miami in 2010 ranks as the seventh-longest return by a Buckeye in school annals and the longest run back by a defensive
lineman...His 37.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank tenth in school annals, while his 13.0 stops in 2010 placed
tied for 23rd on the Buckeyes season-record chart...Totaled 150 yards in losses on those tackles, the 13th-best career
total by an OSU player...Tied A.J. Hawk (2002-05) for 11th place on the school all-time record list with 15.0 sacks...
Amassed minus 98 yards from those sacks, tying John Kacherski (1988-91) for 15th on the school career-record chart.

Draft day stuff, Day 1

Guys - and gals - here's where we can put thoughts from tonight's draft.

Interesting read by Lance Zierlein on the Steelers' draft process

Lance Zielein, son of the former Steelers offensive line coach, has an interesting read on the Steelers' draft process.

You can find it here: http://thesidelineview.com/

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Steelers draft odds

Here's my feeling on the odds on who will be the Steelers' top pick Thursday when the NFL draft begins:

Aaron Williams, DB, Texas (2:1) - The odds on favorite if he falls. Though Williams ran in the mid-4.5 range at the combine and looked stiff in the hips, he was much quicker, sub-4.4, at Texas' pro day. His size also gives him an edge over Miami's Brandon Harris. Williams could eventually shift to free safety to replace Ryan Clark.

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fla.) (4:1) - There's a chance Williams won't be available when the Steelers pick. Harris is the draft's next best corner and has a lot of upside. At 5-9 1/2, he's lacking in ideal size, however.

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State (6:1) - Sherrod is the most likely of the linemen to fall, not counting Danny Watkins, who's just too damned old. He would tempt the Steelers despite their DB need.

Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (6:1) - If Williams and Sherrod are gone, it could come down to Harris or Heyward. The defensive line isn't the glaring need that the secondary is.

Trade down (8:1) - There will be a number of teams looking to move up from the early to mid-second round if they don't take a QB in the first round. The Steelers could slide back 10 to 15 spots and still take a DB such as Virginia's Ras-I Dowling.

Mike Pouncey, G, Florida (10:1) - This would require a trade up, something the Steelers are open to. If he gets past the Giants at 19, Pouncey could be in play for the Steelers. Tampa coach Rahim Morris and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin are very close and the Bucs own the 20th pick.

Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (10:1) - A sleeper pick here. Moore's one of the best playmakers available and was coached by new Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake. Some teams feel he's got the quickness to play corner and he's open to such a move. Like Williams, he ran better at his on-campus workout than he did at the combine.

Final mock - Harris is the man

1. Carolina, Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - The Panthers pass on Marcell Dareus to take a possible franchise QB.

2. Denver, Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama - Denver’s run defense was atrocious in 2010.

3. Buffalo, Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M – The Bills could take QB Blaine Gabbert, but Miller is a much safer pick.

4. Cincinnati, A.J. Green, WR, Georgia – The Bengals are also a possibility for Gabbert, but hope the pick of Green can entice Carson Palmer to stick around.

5. Arizona, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri – The Cards are pretty good at every position except QB. As can be seen from where they are drafting, that position is pretty important.

6. Cleveland, Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina – The Browns are shifting to a 4-3 and need edge pass rushers.

7. San Francisco, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU – Houston may be willing to move up for Peterson, but San Francisco may not be able to pass him up.

8. Tennessee, Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn – The Titans’ defense wasn’t the same in 2010 without a motivated Albert Haynesworth in the middle.

9. Dallas, Tyron Smith, OT, USC – The Cowboys haven’t selected an offensive lineman in the first round since Jerry Jones has been running the show. Time for that to change.

10. Washington, Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – Jones is too good to pass up here. The Rams may be on the phone talking trade if he gets this close.

11. Houston, Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri – A premiere pass rusher for the Texans, who need to improve the defense to take the next step.

12. Minnesota, Jake Locker, QB, Washington – Had he come out in 2010, Locker may have been the first QB picked. He’s got plenty of risk, but the Vikings need help at the position.

13. Detroit, Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska – The Lions continue to improve their defense.

14. St. Louis, Corey Liuget, DT. Illinois – The Rams would have preferred a receiver, but settle for help on their defensive front.

15. Miami, Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas – Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen and Chad Pennington aren’t getting it done.

16. Jacksvonille, Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue – The Jags have seemingly been in search of pass rushing help forever.

17. New England, J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin – Watt is the perfect fit for a 3-4 defense.

18. San Diego, Cameron Jordan, DE, California – Another solid 3-4 defensive end.

19. N.Y. Giants, Mike Pouncey, G, Florida – The Steelers were hoping Pouncey would slip to 20, where they may have been able to work a deal with Tampa Bay.

20. Tampa Bay, Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Bowers falls because of a knee problem.

21. Kansas City, Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – The Chiefs keep building on that running game.

22. Indianapolis, Athony Costanzo, OT, Boston College – The Colts have to try to keep Peyton Manning around as long as possible.

23. Philadelphia, Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado – The Eagles take a chance on the talented but troubled Smith.

24. New Orleans, Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – A positive test for marijuana at the combine – ouch – but Clayborn can get after it.

25. Seattle, Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – The Hawks would love to move down for a QB, but can play Solder at guard for the time being.

26. Baltimore, Aaron Williams, CB/S, Texas – There’s no receiver worth taking this high and Williams can play CB until Ed Reed calls it quits.

27. Atlanta, Justin Houston, DE, Georgia – Another player who had a positive test at the combine for marijuana but can get after the QB.

28. New England, Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA – I expect this pick to be moved to a team wanting a QB. But Belechick can’t continue with Tully Banta Cain on the outside.

29. Chicago, Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State – The Bears’ line was atrocious in 2010.

30. New York Jets, Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor – The Jets need a man in the middle.

31. Steelers, Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fla.) – Would have loved for Carimi or Sherrod to fall. But with top offensive line talent gone, the Steelers take the best corner available.

32. Green Bay, Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State – Heyward can be dominating at times and is a nice fit for a 3-4 end.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Draft thoughts

After listening to Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin today, I truly think the Steelers are trading down in this draft.

The Steelers believe there is value deep into this draft and given the fact that they like to have their bases covered at all times, they'll want to acquire as much talent as possible with the unsettled nature of the league right now.

There's no telling what the free agency rules will be once that hits - or if the Steelers will be in a position to sign any. Remember, they could wind up being over the cap if a new CBA is put in place with a significantly lower cap - which is what many owners are pushing for.

© Another thing I came out of the sitdown with was that the Steelers badly need a cornerback or two. They are looking at this thing as if Ike Taylor and William Gay aren't on the team and won't be on the team. That leaves you with Bryant McFadden, Anthony Madison, Keenan Lewis and Crezdon Butler as the team's lone cornerbacks.

There's no way the Steelers are comfortable with that.

While the Steelers would have enough decent talent on the offensive line to line up and play with if they had to tomorrow, they cannot say the same thing at cornerback.

© The headline on Ed Bouchette's piece about Texas defensive back Aaron Williams was somewhat misleading.

"On the Steelers: Williams not the cornerback the Steelers need," the headline said.

But nowhere in that piece is there much to back that up.

Sure, there's some quotes in there from respected scout Jack Butler about the difficulty of taking a safety and making him a corner.

But Williams played cornerback at a big-time school and though his 4.55 40-time isn't ideal for a cornerback, his size (6-0, 205) is an ideal fit in the Steelers defense.

The same thing cannot be said about 5-9 1/2-inch Brandon Harris of Miami, the other top defensive back who could be available when the Steelers pick in the first round.

The wildcard is Virginia's Ras-I Dowling. Dowling has outstanding size, speed and playmaking ability. But he also played in just three games his senior season due to a myriad of injuries.

Do the Steelers roll the dice and take Dowling in the first round or do they play it safe and take Williams?

Again, a trade down five to 10 picks to take Dowling and pick up another third-round selection would seem to make the most sense.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Complete Mock Draft

Here's the final version of my first mock draft – though in the past week, I've already changed my mind on some picks. But sticking with the original first part of the draft, here's one way things could happen – with no trades. I'll do another one Wednesday - full version - with any changes I see happening.

1. Carolina, Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - They could take a defensive tackle such as Marcel Darius, but I think Newton will be the guy.

2. Denver, Marcel Darius, DT, Alabama - A much safer pick than Nick Fairley.

3. Buffalo, Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M – Miller might be the surest thing in this draft.

4. Cincinnati, A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - If Newton isn’t there, the Bengals wait until later to grab a QB.

5. Arizona, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - The Cardinals need a QB, but pass on Blaine Gabbert.

6. Cleveland, Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina - The Browns need defensive front help.

7. San Francisco, Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska - The 49ers could be a prime trade partner looking to move down - hello Minnesota.

8. Tennessee, Nick Fairley, DT. Auburn - The Titans keep building up their defensive front.

9. Dallas, Tyron Smith, OT, USC - The Cowboys seem to be zoning in on Smith.

10. Washington, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - The Redskins can afford to give Gabbert a year to learn behind Donovan McNabb.

11. Houston, Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – Adding Jones to an already potent offense could make the Texans a playoff team in 2011.

12. Minnesota, Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple – I don’t expect the Vikings to pick in this spot. They’ll trade it for a QB, either an established veteran or moving up to get Blaine Gabbert.

13. Detroit, Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – The Lions need to keep QB Matthew Stafford upright and healthy.

14. St. Louis, Cameron Jordan, DL, California – A receiver would fit better, but Jordan could immediately step into the rotation.

15. Miami, Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas – The first big surpise of the draft. Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen are not the answer. The Dolphins would love to move down and make this pick.

16. Jacksonvillle, Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue – Kerrigan is the pass rusher the Jaguars have been lacking for several years.

17. New England, J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin – Watt is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense.

18. San Diego, Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Bowers is a top-10 talent, but there are questions about the health of his knees. San Diego rolls the dice.

19. New York Giants, Mike Pouncey, G, Florida – Pouncey loses a bet with his brother, going one pick behind where the Steelers selected Maurkice in 2010.

20. Tampa Bay, Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – The Bucs were terrible against the run last season and need help at end.

21.Kansas City, Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – This is one tackle the Steelers have kept a close eye on. He doesn't fall to them.

22. Indianpolis, Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State – The mini-run on offensive linemen continues as the Colts try to keep Peyton Manning healthy for another three or four years.

23. Philadelphia, Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado – The Eagles like physical corners.

24. New Orleans, Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – Back-to-back Buffalos.

25. Seattle, Andy Dalton, QB, TCU – The Seahawks crave a QB and Dalton is shooting up the boards.

26. Baltimore, Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland – The Ravens badly need to add speed at wide receiver and Smith is one of the fastest players in the draft.

27. Atlanta, Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa – The Falcons need a pass rusher to work with John Abraham.

28. New England, Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama – Enough of the running back by committee stuff.

29. Chicago, Danny Watkins, G, Baylor – The Bears need offensive line help … badly.

30. N.Y. Jets, Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor – Back-to-back Baylor picks. Rex Ryan doesn't mind having some troubled character guys around.

31. Pittsburgh, Aaron Williams, CB, Texas – Williams has good size, decent speed and is an underclassman coming out of a major program.

32. Green Bay, Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State – A nice fit for a 3-4 defense.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Steelers schedule released

Regular Season
Sunday, Sept. 11 at Baltimore 1 p.m CBS
Sunday, Sept. 18 SEATTLE 1 p.m. FOX
Sunday, Sept. 25 at Indianapolis 8:20 p.m. NBC
Sunday, Oct. 2 at Houston 1 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Oct. 9 TENNESSEE 1 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Oct. 16 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Oct. 23 at Arizona 4:05 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Oct. 30 NEW ENGLAND 4:15 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Nov. 6 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. NBC
Sunday, Nov. 13 at Cincinnati 1 p.m. CBS
Sunday, Nov. 20 Bye
Sunday, Nov. 27* at Kansas City 8:20 p.m. NBC
Sunday, Dec. 4* CINCINNATI 1 p.m. CBS
Thursday, Dec. 8 CLEVELAND 8:20 p.m. NFL Network/KDKA
Monday, Dec. 19 at San Francisco8:30 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, Dec. 24* ST. LOUIS 1 p.m. FOX
Sunday, Jan. 1* at Cleveland 1 p.m. CBS

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mock draft through 20

Here's my mock draft through 20 picks. We're inching closer to a complete deal – though I may do another in the final week. I've got some surprises in the second 10.

1. Carolina, Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - They could take a defensive tackle such as Marcel Darius, but I think Newton will be the guy.

2. Denver, Marcel Darius, DT, Alabama - A much safer pick than Nick Fairley.

3. Buffalo, Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M – Miller might be the surest thing in this draft.

4. Cincinnati, A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - If Newton isn’t there, the Bengals wait until later to grab a QB.

5. Arizona, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - The Cardinals need a QB, but pass on Blaine Gabbert.

6. Cleveland, Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina - The Browns need defensive front help.

7. San Francisco, Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska - The 49ers could be a prime trade partner looking to move down - hello Minnesota.

8. Tennessee, Nick Fairley, DT. Auburn - The Titans keep building up their defensive front.

9. Dallas, Tyron Smith, OT, USC - The Cowboys seem to be zoning in on Smith.

10. Washington, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - The Redskins can afford to give Gabbert a year to learn behind Donovan McNabb.

11. Houston, Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – Adding Jones to an already potent offense could make the Texans a playoff team in 2011.

12. Minnesota, Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple – I don’t expect the Vikings to pick in this spot. They’ll trade it for a QB, either an established veteran or moving up to get Blaine Gabbert.

13. Detroit, Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – The Lions need to keep QB Matthew Stafford upright and healthy.

14. St. Louis, Cameron Jordan, DL, California – A receiver would fit better, but Jordan could immediately step into the rotation.

15. Miami, Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas – The first big surpise of the draft. Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen are not the answer. The Dolphins would love to move down and make this pick.

16. Jacksonvillle, Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue – Kerrigan is the pass rusher the Jaguars have been lacking for several years.

17. New England, J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin – Watt is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense.

18. San Diego, Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Bowers is a top-10 talent, but there are questions about the health of his knees. San Diego rolls the dice.

19. New York Giants, Mike Pouncey, G, Florida – Pouncey loses a bet with his brother, going one pick behind where the Steelers selected Maurkice in 2010.

20. Tampa Bay, Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – The Bucs were terrible against the run last season and need help at end.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Updated visit list

Here's the final list of rookie visits for the Steelers.

Middle Tennessee quarterback/receiver Dwight Daisher

Alabama A&M defensive tackle Frank Kearse

Portland State tight end Julius Thomas

Texas cornerback Curtis Brown

Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones

Hampton defensive tackle Kendrick Ellis

Florida State center/guard Rodney Hudson

South Carolina offensive tackle Jarriel King

Alabama tackle/guard James Carpenter

TGC tackle/guard Marcus Cannon

Nebraska guard Keith Williams

North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little

Florida offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert

California defensive end Cameron Jordan

Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey

Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh

Tennessee wide receiver Denarius Moore

Southern Miss defensive tackle Anthony Gray

Tennessee-Chattanooga cornerback Buster Skrine

Citadel cornerback Cortez Allen

Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis

Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott

Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling

Auburn defensive tackle Zach Taylor

Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor

Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmund Gates

Bridgewarter wide receiver Tyler Beiler

Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mock draft, the first 10

I'm going to do this in parts this week, so you'll have to wait to see who the Steelers pick at 31.

1. Carolina, Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - They could take a defensive tackle such as Marcel Darius, but I think Newton will be the guy.

2. Denver, Marcel Darius, DT, Alabama - A much safer pick than Nick Fairley.

3. Buffalo, Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M – Miller might be the surest thing in this draft.

4. Cincinnati, A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - If Newton isn’t there, the Bengals wait until later to grab a QB.

5. Arizona, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - The Cardinals need a QB, but pass on Blaine Gabbert.

6. Cleveland, Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina - The Browns need defensive front help.

7. San Francisco, Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska - The 49ers could be a prime trade partner looking to move down - hello Minnesota.

8. Tennessee, Nick Fairley, DT. Auburn - The Titans keep building up their defensive front.

9. Dallas, Tyron Smith, OT, USC - The Cowboys seem to be zoning in on Smith.

10. Washington, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - The Redskins can afford to give Gabbert a year to learn behind Donovan McNabb.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preseason schedule released

The Steelers will play one nationally televised preseason game during the 2011 preseason, a Thursday night matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, and will also host the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced today.

The Steelers will open the 2011 preseason on the road vs. the Washington Redskins, the fifth straight preseason matchup between the teams at FedEx Field. The Steelers are 5-13-1 all-time in the preseason against the Redskins in the preseason series that started in 1967. The game will be televised locally on KDKA-TV.

The Steelers host the Eagles in a nationally televised contest on Thursday, Aug. 18 (Week 2), at Heinz Field. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be televised on FOX (locally WPGH-TV). It marks the first preseason matchup between the teams since 2008.

Pittsburgh plays its second of back-to-back preseason home games with a Week 3 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, which will be televised on KDKA-TV. The two teams have not played a preseason game in Pittsburgh since 1978. The Steelers hosted the Falcons in the 1998 preseason in a game played in Morgantown, W.Va.

The Steelers will conclude the preseason on the road vs. the Carolina Panthers, the ninth consecutive year the two teams will play in the preseason finale. The game also will be televised locally by KDKA-TV.

The times and dates for the three games to be televised on KDKA-TV have yet to be finalized.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Who has visited the Steelers thus far

Here's a list of 21 players who have visited the Steelers thus far or who will visit them in the next week or so.

NFL teams are permitted to bring in 30 prospects - not counting regional guys – so I'm not counting the guys from local colleges.

I'll rank them in order of what round it appears the player will be selected in.

Remember as well that Mike Tomlin has had more free time on his hands with the lockout and has personally attended a number of pro days - more than usual. For example, Tomlin has been at Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina, to name a few, getting meetings with a number of their prospects without them being counted against the 30.

Cameron Jordan, DL, California, 1st round
Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor, 1-2
Rodney Hudson, C-G, Florida State, 1-2
Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia, 1-2
Curtis Brown, CB, Texas, 2
Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton, 2-3
James Carpenter, OT, Alabama, 2-3
Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville, 2-3
Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State, 3
Jarriel King, OT, South Carolina, 4
Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State, 4-5
Buster Skrine, CB, Tennessee-Chatanooga, 4-5
Da'rel Scott, RB, Maryland, 5-6
Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee, 5-6
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington, 5-6
Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel, 6
Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn, 6
Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall, 6-7
Anthony Gray, NT, Mississippi State, 7
Frank Kearse, DT, Alabama A&M 7
Tyler Beiler, WR, Bridgewater, 7

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Three more visitors

The Steelers have hosted, or are prepared to host, four more prospects.

They are Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis, Alabama A&M nose tackle Frank Kearse, Utah State corner Curtis Marsh and Louisville corner Johnny Patrick.

None are considered first-round prospects.

Pettis is a slot-type receiver who's all over draft boards. I've seen some that have him as the fifth-best receiver in this class. Others that have him much lower.

He had a suspension as a sophomore that has not been explained - at least publicly - by the school. But anybody who saw Boise play this season knows he's a talent.

Kearse is an interesting late-round prospect. He was pretty productive at Alamaba A&M - he even had two interceptions as a sophomore - but lacks the overall athleticism of some of the top interior prospects.

He's an overachiever-type who would fit in well with the Steelers.

Marsh and Patrick are both decent-sized corners - though Marsh is bigger and faster. Both are likely second-round or lower picks.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Two more offensive line prospects visit

The Steelers hosted Alabama offensive linemen James Carpenter and South Carolina's Jarriel King Friday as they continue to bring in a bevy of linemen prior to the draft.

Carpenter is something of a sleeper in this year's draft. At 6-4, 321 pounds, he's likely a RT or guard prospect and is rated as a second-rounder.

King, 6-5, 317, only played half of the 2010 season. He was suspended while being investigated for receiving improper benefits from a hotel. He also missed time with a concussion.

He's more of a third-round prospect, but with the visits of Carpenter and King, coupled with previous visits by Rodney Hudson and Marcus Gilbert, a couple of other second-to-third-round line prospects, you get an idea of what the Steelers are thinking.