Steeler Nation can settle down now. The six-time Super Bowl champions acquired help at cornerback by selecting Curtis Brown, CB, Texas with the 31st pick of the third round (95th overall). As Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Steelers wound up drafting two of the three primary positions of need -- cornerback and offensive line.
Brown, a 6' 180 pound corner born and raised in Texas, was considered to be the tenth best corner in this year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. According to Carnell Lake (via Jim Wexell's Twitter page), Brown was the Texas Longhorns' best corner this past season, primarily because they thought of Aaron Williams more as a safety than cover corner. The one knock on Brown is his diminutive stature. A wide receiver in high school, Brown only played corner for three years at Texas, as he saw the field mostly in special teams situations as a freshman in '07. Subsequently, he's probably nowhere near maxed out in terms of learning how to play physically from the position. That can be taught though.
What can't be taught is Brown's natural physical gifts. He was a top performer in the vertical jump, the broad jump, the 20 and 60-yard shuttle, and the three-cone drill. He's not Ike Taylor or Mike Wallace fast, but scouts seem to believe that he has enough speed and hip fluidity to run down the field with speedy WRs.
As for his low interception totals, I say ignore that. It's a very random stat really. I mean, Rahim Moore hauled in 10 one year at UCLA, and 1 another. All that you need to know is that Brown has great hands and will not blow an opportunity to force a turnover if the ball is in his hands. The question will be whether Brown can put himself in position to make those types of plays, particularly in zone coverage where he's not all that experienced. There's also concerns about Brown's ability to provided consistent support in the running game. Even though I loved seeing the sure-tackling Bryant McFadden wrap up running backs this year before anything could materialize on the perimeter, I'm not too concerned about this for the moment. Not with the current state of the Steelers' defensive roster. Brown's 10 teammates can help him in this department while he bulks up a bit and gets his feet wet with what's required of him from a physical standpoint at the next level.
Brown has great foot speed and enough size to develop into a quality starting cornerback at the next level. He has the long speed to blanket receivers on go routes and the hip fluidity to maintain momentum on double moves. He is effective on an island in man coverage and is well positioned in zone. He is a bit of a liability in run support, but he is a quick-twitched athlete that should not have a problem covering agile slot receivers in the NFL. Brown should be able to play immediately in nickel and dime packages and he will probably be a second day pick.
We'll have much more on Brown and Day 2's proceedings a bit later. But like we did with Cameron Heyward and Marcus Gilbert -- the Steelers' picks in rounds one and two respectively -- for now we just extend a Steeler Nation welcome to Mr. Brown, a soft-spoken kid from Texarkana, Texas that is the most recent addition to the Steelers family!