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2011 NFL Draft Results, Second Round: What Offensive Tackle Marcus Gilbert Means For The Steelers

Pittsburgh All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey will play with a former Florida teammate of his next year, but it won't be his twin brother Mike, who went to the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the NFL Draft. Instead, it will be offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, who the Steelers selected with pick No. 63.

Offensive line was an obvious area of need for the Steelers, who have struggled in pass protection for the past few seasons. Gilbert, who visited with the Steelers before the draft, is a big, big boy (6-6, 330) and has enough size, strength, and footwork to develop into a quality NFL starter at right tackle. He also has the versatility to line up at guard if necessary, so it's conceivable that he could start next for the Steelers if he has a particularly strong training camp.

Gilbert is thought to have a good head on his shoulders and a very positive, coachable attitude. While he excels at run-blocking, exploding at the point of attack, he tends to struggle when it comes to picking up pass rushers off the edge. If he can't fix this flaw, expect him to sit for a season behind Pittsburgh's veterans, while offensive line coach Sean Kugler develops his new toy. If nothing else, this will soften the blow if Pittsburgh is unable to retain the services of tackle Willie Colon, who is a free agent this year. 

The front office must have identified an impending drop-off in talent at offensive line, determining that there was enough depth among the remaining crop of cornerbacks that they could wait until the third round to address that need. If they are to draft a guy like Texas product Curtis Brown, thought, they may have to strike a deal and move up the board in the third. Stay tuned.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.