Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books. After selecting Cameron Heyward, a defensive end out of Ohio State, in round one Thursday night, the Steelers addressed their two biggest needs on Friday with their second and third round selections. I have major reservations about the Steelers’ second round pick, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert from Florida, but couldn’t be more optimisitc about the team’s third round selection, cornerback Curtis Brown from the University of Texas.
Here’s three things right off the bat to get Steeler Nation familiarized with Brown:
1. Brown is incredibly soft-spoken. Borderline shy even. You wouldn’t know it based on how he plays though. Brown, despite being a bit undersized for the time being, throws himself willingly at guys, eager to make a big hit without playing an undisciplined brand of football. To me, this combination of humility off the field and controlled aggression on it, is a great thing. He’ll keep his head down, absorb as much knowledge as he can, and more than likely, not buckle under pressure when it’s time for him to step up and contribute on Dick LeBeau’s defense, perhaps as early as 2011. Brown’s uncle, Hosea Taylor, was an All American defensive end at the University of Houston that went on to play for the Baltimore Colts for three seasons in the 1980s (‘81-’83).
2. Brown’s a great athlete. Not the fastest guy in the world by any stretch of the imagination. (He’s fast enough however, as evidenced by his 4.5 40-yard dash time at this year’s Combine). How about that vertical leap though? His 39.5 inch vertical jump in Indianapolis this past February was the second highest amongst corners. Brown was also a top performer in the broad jump, the 20 and 60-yard shuttle, as well as the three-cone drill. The kid may need to add 10-15 pounds of muscle, but he’s got the frame to do that without compromising any of his top-shelf athletic attributes.
3. Brown is very competent on special teams. I doubt that he’ll be used as a return man, at least not in ‘11. But Brown will likely be a gunner on punt coverage and play on the Steelers’ kickoff coverage unit as well as a rookie. Brown led the Longhorns in special teams tackles as a junior in 2009 (15) while also blocking a punt. The year before as a sophomore, Brown recorded nine special teams takedowns, tied for the team lead. And finally, as a freshman in ‘07, Brown also led the team in ST tackles with nine. That’s three straight years either leading or being tied for the team lead in ST tackles. You better believe Mike Tomlin and Al Everett will be pleased to welcome a willing and capable contributor in the all important third phase of the game.
For more 2011 NFL Draft coverage, stay tuned here throughout the rest of the weekend, as well as at Behind the Steel Curtain.