By Tom E. Curran
The Patriots turned their nose up to Ohio State defensive end Cam Heyward, preferring instead to deal the 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints. Two picks later, the Steelers grabbed Heyward. But while people will see "DE" and think the Pats passed on a pass-rusher, that's not really the case. The feeling is that Heyward will be more of an anchoring 3-4 end in the NFL and his pass-rush ability is low. But the Steelers - with James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley - aren't hurting for pass rushers. They needed depth and successors for ends Brett Kiesel and Aaron Smith. And in Heyward - 6-5, 295-pounds and a treasure in terms of intangibles - they got that. Pittsburgh followed up Heyward by taking the 6-6, 330-pound tackle Marcus Gilbert from Florida in the second round. The Steelers' offensive line is a perennial question mark.Not sure if Gilbert is an answer, though. Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrockisaid Gilbert's a 25 cab ride to get around but described his temperament as that of a "chardonnay drinker." (He calls tough hombres "glass eaters"). The Steelers then went after two long, lean corners who aren't exceptionally physical but are very athletic. They took Texas' Curtis Brown in the third round then Cortez Allen from The Citadel in the fourth. They are 6-foo and 6-foot-1 respectively and are going to provide immediate special teams boosts in addition to being able to sic on bigger receivers (in theory). Chris Carter, an outside linebacker from Fresno State, seems like a great value pick in the fifth round. He was a defensive end at Fresno and is a terrific pass rusher (11 sacks, four forced fumbles) and you wonder why the Patriots didn't take a run at this kid more-so than with Heyward. He's got to make the DE to OLB conversion in the pros. The Steelers rounded it out with offensive lineman Keith Williams from Nebraska and RB Baron Batch from Texas Tech, a change-up back, in the seventh. SUMMARY: No stars, just solid. The Pittsburgh offensive line is a major shortcoming and was not really addressed unless Gilbert comes on really strongly, but the combo of Heyward, Brown, and Carter is a real winner. (Other AFC elite reviews: Colts. )
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.