The 2011 NFL Draft has come to an end for the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It was quite the weekend for the Steelers, and Kevin Colbert, director of football operations, has to feel oustanding about the talented crop of draft picks they were able to acquire.
We’ll turn our attention to recapping the entire Draft a bit later, but before we do so, a few quick words about the team’s selection in round seven — Texas Tech running back Baron Batch.
Firstly, let me state that I love this pick. The Steelers obviously had huge needs to address at cornerback and offensive line in the earlier rounds. They did just that, selecting an offensive takcle in round two, cornerbacks in rounds three and four, and an offensive guard in round six. In the seventh and final round, with those needs addressed fairly aggressively, the Steelers used their final pick on a talented, experienced back that could very easily make this year’s squad. The selection also could signal the end of the Mewelde Moore era as a third-down back in Pittsburgh.
Batch was extremely productive during his four years in Lubbock both catching and running the ball. For the first three years, Batch was featured in Mike Leach’s pass-happy system, primarily as a pass-catching threat because, well, that’s what Leach likes to do: pass, pass, and then pass some more.
Batch had 45 and 57 receptions in his sophomore and junior seasons respectively, before seeing that total dip down to 32 as a senior in Tommy Tubberville’s more conventional approach to offense. Batch did however set a career high with 177 rushes in 2010, besting his previous high mark of 168 set the year before as a junior. When it was all said and done, Batch left Texas Tech in ninth place on the all-purpose yardage list (3,612), tied for eighth in touchdowns (32), and eighth in career rushing yards (2,501).
Make no mistake about it though — the selection of Batch by the Steelers is intriguing because of what he brings to the table as a passing threat. The question is whether or not the Steelers decide to re-sign Mewelde Moore, the team’s veteran third-down back this past four seasons. Moore is currently a free agent, and though he won’t command top dollars on the open market, the Steelers must decide how much they’d be willing to pay retain a proven, reliable guy like Moore than at this stage in his carer has very little burst or explosiveness left in his legs.
Stay tuned here and at Behind the Steel Curtain for even more 2011 NFL Draft analysis and reaction. For now, a hearty congratualations to Kevin Colbert & Co. for a job well done this past three days. Go Steelers!