I've since learned that Mike Tomlin had indeed wanted the Steelers to attempt to go and get the brother of Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, as NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora had reported prior to the draft. But Kevin Colbert wasn't willing to commit the resources necessary to make such a move. So the Steelers opted to wait the first round out and wound up with Cameron Heyward.
With all due respect to Mike Pouncey, it worked out to the Steelers' advantage.
The younger Pouncey may contribute more quickly at the NFL level than Heyward, but Heyward will eventually more than justify the Steelers' investment.
His selection alone makes the 2011 draft a good one.
It can and will be regarded as a great draft if the question marks on the second, fourth and fifth rounds pan out.
In Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers landed a mammoth offensive tackle who habitually underachieved at the University of Florida in the estimation of some scouts. Those that didn't like him all that much questioned his want to/dedication and his football IQ. But even Gilbert's critics appreciated the combination of size, athleticism and "very good feet," even if they perceived Gilbert as a "tease."
I'm thinking Sean Kugler can work with that.
In Cortez Allen, the Steelers secured the services of a cornerback who was beaten for three TDs and benched against Appalachian State. Yet Carnell Lake saw size and potential, and what might be possible once Allen's experience and technique begin to catch up with his physical tools.
I'm willing to trust the instincts of the new DBs coach on this one, even if one of Allen's NFL critics didn't like, among other things, Allen's handshake.
And in Chris Carter, the Steelers brought aboard another one of those defensive-end-to-outside-linebacker projects they've had so much success with over the years. Scouts' opinions differed drastically on Carter, from those who didn't even consider him a potential prospect to those who thought he could have/should have been drafted much higher.
"He could play for us," said one scout who particularly appreciated Carter's pass-rushing talents and admired the selection.
I'm guessing Keith Butler can take a guy like that and coach him up in a couple, three years and make the pick pay dividends.
If those three all become big-time contributors the 2011 yield will go down as more than the Steelers had a right to expect to glean given their unfavorable draft position.
If not, the Steelers will still have Ironhead's son, which should turn out to be a bigger deal in the long run than having Maurkice Pouncey's brother now.
Besides, as Mike Pouncey told SCI publisher Jim Wexell at the combine, "there's free agency in the NFL."