With the 95th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Curtis Brown, a 6’0″, 185 lb. cornerback from Texas.
I hate to brag, but I actually called this pick. If you click on the link below and read my comment dated April 23rd, you’ll see that I said that I wanted the Steelers to take Curtis Brown in the 3rd round of the draft. Click the link to read my exact comment.
Okay, now that I’m done bragging, let’s evaluate this pick.
First of all, I like this pick. It meets an important team need, and Brown is a very good player.
Curtis Brown is undoubtedly one of the top 10 cornerbacks in this year’s draft class. Some scouts even had him rated higher than Aaron Williams, his teammate at Texas.
Everyone knows that the Steelers were interested in Aaron Williams. Brown and Williams are approximately the same height, but Williams weighs almost 20 lbs more than Brown. But Brown is actually a better athlete than Williams. Brown is faster, closes on the ball better in coverage, and recorded the highest vertical jump (39.5 inches) of any cornerback in this year’s draft at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Brown is good in both man and zone coverage. He has quick feet, and changes directions well. He has the speed to run with most receivers. Moreover, his 6’0″ height and his 39.5 inch vertical leap allows him to challenge tall receivers as well. His athletic ability allows him to be extremely confident in his coverage abilities.
Brown played wide receiver in high school, so he understands the receiver position. This helps him when he’s defending wide receivers. He stays close to his man, and seldom bites on double moves. is as good at starting and stopping as any cornerback in this year’s draft.
He tended to play a bit far off his man at the line of scrimmage, but that’s actually how Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau tends to have his cornerbacks play the position (as opposed to playing them close at the line of scrimmage and jamming them on the snap), so that shouldn’t prove to be a problem.
Most importantly, Brown is a willing participant in run support. That’s mandatory if he ever hopes to get on the field for the Steelers. Brown is an aggressive tackler, and he’s willing to throw his body around. Unfortunately, his small frame (185 lbs.) prevents him from being a punishing tackler. He uses cut tackles to offset his lack of bulk. It would probably be fair to categorize him as “aggressive”, but not “physical”.
Besides his lack of bulk, Brown is also going to have to improve his backpedal. He has good closing speed, and mirror’s receivers well, but his backpedal isn’t fundamentally sound. Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake is going to have to work with him on that.
Brown was also used as a punt returner at Texas. This may help him to get on the field as a rookie, since few rookie defenders ever break into the starting lineup in Dick LeBeau’s defense.
Overall, there really isn’t much to dislike about Curtis Brown. People who want to nitpick his game will probably point out that he only had 2 career interceptions at Texas. But he showed great hands at the NFL Scouting Combine, and I don’t think this is a concern for most teams that scouted him. I see Brown as a future #2 cornerback. He probably doesn’t have the pure physical talents of an Ike Taylor, but he’s probably better than Bryant McFadden or William Gay right now. He merely has to learn the Steelers’ defense, which should take him at least a year to master.
Analysis of all 2011 Steelers Draft picks:
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